Warsaw, 20 October 1946. Judge Halina Wereńko, a member of the District Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Warsaw, interviewed the person named below as a witness. Having advised the witness of the criminal liability for making false declarations and of the significance of the oath, the Judge took an oath therefrom, following which the witness testified as follows:
|Name and surname||Paweł Branny|
|Parents’ names||Jan and Ewa, née Węglorz|
|Date of birth||13 May 1888 in Żuków Dolny, Cieszyn district|
|Religious affiliation||Roman Catholic|
|State affiliation and nationality||Polish|
|Place of residence||Warsaw, Gimnastyczna Street 3|
|Occupation||engineer, employee at the Municipal Board of Warsaw|
At the moment of the outbreak of the Second World War, I was employed as Inspector at the Technical Department of the Municipal Board of Warsaw, while at the same time serving as deputy to the head of the department, engineer Olszewski. Following the Germans’ entry to Warsaw in January 1940, I was appointed head of the liaison office of the Municipal Construction Offices. I remained in that position until 18 February 1943, that is, until engineer Olszewski’s arrest. On 19 February 1943 the mayor of Warsaw, [Julian] Kulski, appointed me to the position of head of the Technical Department. I served in this capacity until the outbreak of the Uprising in 1944.
On 29 April 1943, the Thursday after Easter, I got a phone call from the city mayor who told me that the Germans were going to blow up the Arsenal building located at the corner of Długa and Nalewki streets and which housed all the city archives. Because the offices of the Technical Department, of which I was in charge, were in the Mostowski Palace situated in the close proximity of the Arsenal, I went down Przejazd and Długa streets, along the Arsenal, to the corner of Nalewki and Długa streets, where I observed that in the Arsenal basements running along Nalewki Street, a sapper officer along with a group of German soldiers were trying to get to the public toilet that had been built before the War by the Municipal Board in the Arsenal basements at the corner of Nalewki and Długa streets. The toilet had been closed since the Polish Underground chose the place to attack the Germans and free the prisoners whom the Germans were taking to Pawiak Prison. When I asked the officer what was going on, he explained that some Jewish insurgents who stayed for a time in the bunker they had built at the corner of Franciszkańska and Nalewki streets had managed to get to the city sewers and there was a “serious danger” that they would get from the sewers to the toilet and, consequently, to the part of the city located outside the Ghetto. In the meantime engineer Jung (Volksdeutcher), accompanied by a few workers, arrived in a car of the Water and Sewer Company. A short time later they were joined by engineer Missbach (also Volksdeutcher) from the office of the district head of the German administration. We managed with difficulty to persuade this German officer and his soldiers that it was out of the question for the Jewish insurgents to get through the sewers to the toilet because the pipes that linked the sewers with the toilet were 15 centimeters in diameter. Then the Germans wanted to dam up water in the fourth class sewer (whose cross section dimension was 0.80 x 1.35 meters) in order to drown the insurgents. The sewer runs along Przejazd Street and it can be accessed through a side manhole situated at the intersection of Długa and Przejazd streets. The Germans wanted to dam up the water by throwing sacks of sand through the manhole into this sewer. Engineer Missbach drew their attention to the fact that by damming up the sewer water they would also flood some of the basements from the surrounding houses. He also added that the basements of the Brühl palace might also be flooded. Confronted with such a possibility, the Germans dropped the idea of damming up the sewer water. However, they decided to use a different method of killing the Jewish insurgents who may still have been in the sewer (the cross section dimension of which was 0.60 x 1.10 meters) into which they had entered from their bunker and which ran along Nalewki Street. With this goal in mind, they set off a highly explosive TNT charge in a manhole to the sewer situated between Św. Jacka and Franciszkańska streets. The detonation of such an explosive planted in the vault of the sewer led to the rapid increase
After the Ghetto had been burnt down and the first stage of that district’s destruction had come to an end in May 1943, in June 1943 Father Seweryn Popławski, parish priest of the Holy Mother Church at Leszno Street, turned to me with a request to intervene in favor of restoring the church to the church authorities. Father Popławski stayed in his parish until the start of the liquidation of the Ghetto in July 1942. In the latter half of July 1942, on the eve of the liquidation of the Ghetto, he had to leave his presbytery. Parish houses were converted into the workshops of the Toebbens tailoring company while the church came to be used as the company’s warehouses. In April 1943, during a fire in the Ghetto, the presbytery (former monastery buildings) suffered much damage. However, the church was saved by the Warsaw fire brigade. We were referred to General Stroop in governor Fischer’s office. Through the agency of a high ranking official working at the General Government, my and Father Popławski’s meeting with Stroop took place on the grounds surrounding the church and in the church itself (it was in June, I don’t remember the exact date). Stroop promised Father Popławski that the church and the former monastery buildings would be isolated from the Ghetto rubble. However, the promise wasn’t kept. Both the church and the buildings were first completely looted and then, during the Warsaw Uprising, burnt and blown up. The vaults of the lower church collapsed and so did the pillar in its western wall. Given this damage it was a miracle that the walls of the church survived. As some Germans from the district head office told me, Stroop was sent to Greece to crush the uprising in Athens in mid-summer 1943.
At this point the report was concluded and read out.