The eleventh day of the trial, 7 January 1947

Witness Stanisław Arnold, aged 51, domiciled in Warsaw, a Warsaw University professor, a department director in the Ministry of Education; relationship to the parties: none.

Chairman: Would you please present before the Tribunal what you know in this case.

Witness: As far as the current case is concerned, I had some experiences during the war, which are connected, I suppose, with the issues raised here during the trial. These are connected with my arrest (or rather with being rounded up in the street in 1943, being put on a list of hostages, and getting out of trouble when the completely coincidental nature of all of this was established), which can be regarded as an index of the round-up method, being taken to Pawiak prison and put on a list of hostages.

On 7 December 1943, I was returning from Praga to Warsaw; I was travelling on a tram with a few students. I taught clandestine secondary school courses. Normally, I steered clear of trams, since this was a period of a highly increased number of round-ups in the streets. After two or three days, the names of the people who had been caught appeared on lists of hostages, and then public announcements were made about executions. I was travelling on a number “5.” Since there had been a round-up on this tramline near the Kierbedzia Bridge the day before, I thought that there would not be one that day. However, things did not happen as I thought they would. Right after we had gone over the bridge, the tram was stopped by very large units of SS, police and Ukrainians; we were surrounded with a triple cordon, and approximately twenty to thirty men aged between 18 and 60 were taken aside; the remaining people were set free. We were put in a truck and transported to Pawiak prison. At the prison they took down my personal details: my forename and surname, and date of birth; they did not ask for anything else. They took us to the second floor, into a fairly large cell, where later, other groups of people that had been rounded up in the streets started to come. That day, they rounded up about 90 people in total.

I must emphasize that we all small objects were taken off us in the storeroom, such as watches, money, all bits and pieces, excluding handkerchiefs.

In the evening, when it was dark, they started taking us out into the corridor; then in turn, in groups of five, we were brought into a former prison chapel, where there were tables with some Gestapo officers sitting at them; there was a translator next to each of them. I was standing behind the man who was testifying before me. The officer asked him for his forename and surname, date of birth, address, and they asked if he was a member of, as they put it, partisan bands or some other units fighting against the Germans. The answer was no. They asked no further questions. The officer typed, then the translator read it out in Polish to the culprit in the way he or she had said it and ordered him or her to sign it. The man interrogated before me signed his name and when he went away I came up. The translator took this sheet of paper and, at the same time, also picked up from the table a fairly large sheet that had been copied with a hectograph and connected the two sheets. I noticed that in the German text it was the other way round: it said that the man had admitted that he was a member of partisan bands.

I did not notice the other document until some time later when I was standing at the table; it had the inscription Todesurteil – on the basis of the attached document where the culprit personally pleaded guilty to committing a crime, under various articles, the culprit was sentenced to death by firing squad. It was then that I realized how the infamous procedure used by police courts looked like; it was introduced in October 1943 for the so-called protection of the General Government.

It was my turn. It so happened that during the interrogation, the officer became aware that I knew German as I answered the questions asked by the translator directly in German; so, I was a different case. He asked me what I was doing in Warsaw – I was a teacher and had been assigned to one of the elementary schools – he was surprised that my Kennkarte had a rather late date of issue. I said that I had been in Vilnius and had come to Warsaw. With that, the interrogation came to an end. Then, he wrote something on a sheet of paper, which I could not see, put it on the table, put a white sheet paper on it, and ordered me to sign my name on it. When I moved the sheet of paper away, he pulled out his gun and shouted: “What! Don’t you believe in the honour of a German soldier?” It was in fact difficult for me to believe. I said I wanted to know what I was signing. He snatched the sheet from me, wrote something for the second time and gave it to me once more to sign. There was nothing bad for me there, but there was a blank space 4-5 centimetres high between the text and the place for my signature, since he showed me where to sign my name. I crossed that blank space out, which made him indignant again; I signed my name, and then the translator told me: “Everything will be fine; you will be freed tomorrow, but you will have to leave Warsaw and return to Vilnius.” I asked why. “Yes, you have to return to Vilnius.” When the interrogation was over, we were escorted to our cell; on the second day, in the afternoon, we were taken downstairs where we had a shower, underwent medical examination and our heads were shaved; then we were taken in groups of seven to individual cells. As I became aware, on the second or third day, only those people were set free whose release had been requested by various institutions, e.g. one person was employed in the city hall and the city hall intervened. There was also an employee of a private company that worked for the German army who was also released. The remaining ones were kept in cells, not examined or interrogated. We were in the so-called special section, as if in quarantine. It was out of the question to get out of that place. I realized that we were hostages; we did not know when we would be executed. The people in there were not aware of the danger they were in. I did not want to explain it to them so as not to create a bad atmosphere.

Unexpectedly, after a few days, on 15 December, the door opened in the afternoon and an officer said I was free. At the door, I met several fellow inmates who had been rounded up with me, who had come over from different cells. We were taken to the storeroom, where they gave us back our possessions; then, we went to the administrative office, where a high-ranking Gestapo officer gave a rather long speech, explaining what danger we had been in. He showed us a poster with our names, which had already been printed on 10 November, and said that we were being released thanks to the interventions made by trustworthy people. But if we were to be caught once more, nothing would save us again. This was how I was released.

Later, when I returned home, I learnt that I had been released as a result of an intervention made by my family and friends. It was the case that if somebody was caught, it was impossible to send any information from Pawiak prison, as all the guards were Ukrainians, and we only heard from those who had been taken to aleja Szucha.

When I did not come home at the agreed time, they had started looking for me and left a parcel of food at the 7th – I think – Police Station on Krochmalna Street. The police accepted the parcel and established that I was in Pawiak prison. They started making efforts to help me. It was known that hardly any hostages were released, unless it happened accidentally, as in my case. The family found a person who knew the officer that released me; I think the officer’s name was Werner. I think it was the director of the Wedel factory, Wiśniewski, who did it. I was released, and in addition my three fellow inmates were also released; they were released probably because he did not want to release me alone.

Money was not necessary. This is how I was set free and I was able to gather some data concerning what the infamous German police courts, which dispatched thousands of our people in Warsaw into the next world, looked like.

Chairman: Professor, were you detained from 7 to 15 December?

Witness: Until 15 December. The list was announced on 10 December, posted on 11 December, and on 13 or rather 14, most of my fellow inmates were executed.

Chairman: How were these prisoners treated in Pawiak prison?

Witness: The treatment was thus: if somebody moved his or her head, they were hit or kicked. People were pushed and beaten not for offences, but because they did not turn around or do something fast enough. I did not have any contact later with the guards. The cells were opened for the roll-call; then a Ukrainian guard came – I do not know what his rank was – who checked the cells; later, only the personnel who brought food came. There was a roll-call in the evening again. Repressive measures were allegedly employed in some cells for following orders too slowly, leaving the cells too slowly, and so on. Later, no-one was interested in us anymore.

Chairman: Were you sentenced to death?

Witness: Yes, I was.

Prosecutor Siewierski: Professor, did you witness an SS officer blatantly forge the interrogation report?

Witness: Yes, I did.

Prosecutor Siewierski: Professor, when you were talking to the other witnesses in the cell, were you able to establish that the same had happened to the other interrogated people?

Witness: I asked all the fellow inmates (there were 40 of them in my cell), what they had been asked about and what they had signed. According to everybody, the translator read out what he or she had confessed and they were delighted that everything had been recorded so accurately, and signed it.

Prosecutor Siewierski: You said that these fellow inmates from your cell were taken to their death. Was the death sentence announced before they were taken out of the cells?

Witness: I do not know what happened later. But all of them were taken to a so-called interrogation.

Prosecutor Siewierski: Was the death sentence announced during such an interrogation?

Witness: No, it was a fake interrogation. On the morning of 14 December, there was a flurry of activity; I think 120 people were executed then in Theatre Square. It was then that a lot of people were taken for fake interrogation; I could hear the stamping of feet and the whole group was taken away. I have the impression that they were taken to isolated places then, reportedly on aleja Szucha, where they were subjected to various kinds of treatment: there was blood collection, they were gagged, etc.

Prosecutor Siewierski: Did the people in prison think it was done on aleja Szucha?

Witness: Yes, they did.

Lawyer Śliwowski: Professor, you said that thanks to the interventions made by some institutions, some prisoners were released. Among others, as you said, a tannery intervened, as did city hall. After you had been released, were you aware, or was it known, whether these institutions intervened on their own behalf or through the agency of their German commissars, or other German officials, who supervised these institutions?

Witness: I am not well acquainted with this issue. I only know that in some cases, when families learnt that some of their relatives had gone missing, and they suspected that he or she was in Pawiak prison, they turned to the institution where the missing person worked, e.g. to city hall, and it requested the person’s release. But I do not know whether or not this was done directly.

Prosecutor Siewierski: Did you have an opportunity later to see your name on a list of the people sentenced to death?

Witness: I saw such a document in prison; later my friends gave it to me as a memento.

Prosecutor Siewierski: Did the intervention that took place then had anything to do with an official intervention caused by your arrest?

Witness: No, that was a private intervention.

Chairman: Are there any other questions?

You may step down.