world war 2: warsaw uprising 1944

Waclaw Micuta. From Old Town to Zoliborz. In: Andrzej M. Kobos, Kanaly w Powstaniu

Warszawskim. Zeszyty Historyczne, No. 109, Instytut Literacki, Paris, 1994.

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  zoskaCaptain Waclaw Micuta 'Wacek', decorated with the Order of Virtuti Militari and Cross of Valour [ medals ], commanded an armored platoon of two captured German 'Tiger' tanks with 'Zoska' battalion. The platoon fought in the Wola district liberating the 'Goose Farm' (Gesiowka) camp [ Goose Farm ]. On August 11 his unit, before retreating to the Old Town quarter, burnt down and abandoned both tanks.

Translated by Łukasz Nogalski.

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Part of our platoon started to descend into the sewers. If I recall correctly, there was an issue of communication between the Old Town and Zoliborz. I was under the impression that the best way will be to go through the sewers. ‘Jerzy' 1 told me, that he sent one or two patrols down there, but they came back and said that a passage is impossible because of strong currents and there was also the possibility of being washed down to the Vistula river. In addition, there were a couple of open manholes which were guarded by the Germans and under which one had to pass with the utmost care.

It was then that I found out that many of our Jewish colleagues survived the German occupation by moving through the sewers. They got to know these sewers very well and had a very good sense of direction down there. I recall that some of these Jewish guys, I believe two of them, ‘Heniek’2 and ‘Gutek'3, then went and with them went ‘Bialy’4 and I think also you, ‘Antek’. That was a difficult passage, but they knew it well. They cleared the path5, returned, and said that the way is free. It was then that our patrols started to go to Zoliborz bringing back ammunition with them. It appears that ‘Bialy’ and you, ‘Antek’ were one of the first who brought the ammunition. At that time I received an order from ‘Jerzy’ to secure the entrance to the sewer and to keep our patrol in the sewer at all times.

I wanted to add two more recollections which just came to my mind as I was listening to ‘Antek’. One was a very dramatic moment when our patrol was guarding a manhole cover on Franciszkanska Street and the Armia Ludowa (People's Army) left its positions, I believe those on Mostowa Street6. As I was told later, they left their positions without a specific order thereby greatly endangering our forces. Fortunately, the Germans did not realize this and there could have been a great disaster. This was a dramatic story because there was an order not to let anyone through and they were approaching us fully armed in complete disarray. Then our boys, I do not remember who it was, started to yell at them, because we could not have shot at our people despite the orders that we had. We had to somehow explain to them to keep their discipline. Our boys who were going through the sewers told us that the passage was difficult and the most important thing was to keep calm.

The second situation: ‘Rawicz’ was with me, we were told to secure that manhole. Our forces from Franciszkanska Street had already withdrawn7, but we were left by the entrance to the sewer. It was then that I with ‘Rawicz’ came out to the top through that basement, through those holes. We realized that none of our forces were present in the area and that in fact Germans were nearby and one could see their movements. By pure chance it so happened that ‘Rawicz’, who was an outstanding fellow with a hawk’s eye, found a Panzerschreck (bazooka), such a strange pipe and two grenades for it.

‘Rawicz’ says – “let’s drop this load on them.” I asked him – “do you know how to work this thing?” He says – “no idea, but I will take this on the shoulder, you load the grenade from the back.” So I loaded the grenade, he pressed the button and there was an explosion. The exhaust that came out the back of the pipe was so intense that we were nearly burned. With two such shots we gave the Germans a run for their money and we were able to safely descend to the sewers and because there was nothing else for us to do we rejoined our forces.

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1 Ryszard Bialous ‘Jerzy’, captain, decorated with the Order of Virtuti Militari, and twice with the Cross of Valour. Commander of the 'Zoska' battalion before and during the Warsaw Uprising. Earlier in the ' Zwiazek Odwetu' (Vengeance Association formed by 2nd Lt. F. Niepokolczycki), and the commander of the military arm of the Gray Ranks (Szare Szeregi). Died in Argentina in 1992.

2 Henryk Lederman 'Heniek', cadet officer, decorated with Cross of Valour. Joined the 'armored' platoon with the Jewish battalion after the liberation of the 'Goose Farm' (Gesiowka) camp on August 5th. Wounded, he was killed on September 5th in insurgent hospital on Drewniana Street in the Powisle (Riverside) district.

3 Dawid Goldman ‘Gutek’. Joined the armored platoon with the Jewish battalion after the liberation of the 'Goose Farm' (Gesiowka) camp on August 5th. Died on September 14th in the Czerniakow district.

4 Eugeniusz Weiss 'Bialy", cadet officer, decorated with Cross of Valour. Armored platoon. Died in the explosion of 'Goliath' [ weapons ]on September 16th in the Czerniakow district.

5 First passage through the sewers from the Old Town to Zoliborz was accomplished during the night of August 13-14th, and from the Center City to the Old Town on August 10th.

6 On Swietojanska Street (next to Mostowa Street). This happened during the night of August 27-28th or 28-29th when the units of the People’s Army (Armia Ludowa) started to leave the Old Town where earlier they defended two of the 56 barricades. One of the units of People’s Army was stopped by the gendarmerie of the Home Army (Armia Krajowa) while withdrawing through the sewers without proper authorization.

7 During the night of 28/29th of August.

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