Warsaw, 13 June 1946. Deputy Prosecutor Zofia Rudziewicz interviewed the person specified below as a witness. Having been advised of the criminal liability for making false declarations, the witness testified as follows:
|Name and surname||Leon Wojciechowski|
|Date of birth||12 January 1894|
|Names of parents||Władysław and Maria|
|Place of residence||Warsaw, Nieporęcka Street 14, flat 26|
|Place of birth||Warsaw|
|Religious affiliation||Roman Catholic|
|Occupation||chief magistrate of Praga-Południe district|
|Education||two grades of secondary school|
I am a metalworker by profession. Before the war, I worked in the of wire and nail factory, operating under the business name “Belgijska Spółka Akcyjna” [Belgian Joint-Stock Company] at Objazdowa Street 1 in Warsaw. I was a member of the board of the Metalworkers Association [Związek Metalowców], with its seat at Szeroka Street 22.
When the Germans entered Warsaw, members of the Association’s board, knowing Hitler’s draconian regulations aimed at the destruction of trade unions, ceased to organize official meetings. I don’t remember whether the Germans issued an explicit regulation on the dissolution of trade unions in Poland. I remember that right after the Germans entered Warsaw, they issued a general prohibition on the existence of any political, trade, or even sports unions, organizations or associations. I believe that this regulation was issued by the military authorities. Despite the prohibition, members of trade unions secretly kept in touch with one another. The secretary general of my trade union, Wilhelm Topinek, was killed during military operations in 1939. Soon after the former regional secretary, Piątek, sprang into the top spot. He kept in touch with board members and with the former labor inspectors and he belonged to the underground resistance. In 1943 he was arrested by the Gestapo in his house, his son was killed on the spot, and he himself was first imprisoned in Pawiak prison and then shot during a public execution. I read his name on a poster signed by SS-Polizei commander Moder, Fischer’s subordinate.
During the occupation I kept working in the wire factory, which was under German supervision; a part of the production was destined for the Germans. In spite of this, the workers’ situation was tragic. For eight hours of work daily, the average of seven or eight zlotys was paid, in accordance with the remuneration rates set by a German regulation; these rates could not be exceeded. I, as a foreman, earned twelve zlotys a day, and the prices of food products were high: a kilogram of potatoes cost four zlotys; pork fat cost even one hundred zlotys on average. A worker received food tickets the same as every other resident, in return for which he got, on average, two hundred and fifty grams of bread a day, eighty dekagrams of sugar a month (not always), ten dekagrams of meat a month (not always) and some marmalade. In our enterprise, a worker did not get any additional supplies. Only in May 1944 were we granted an additional allowance: 16 eggs per employee (half of which were bad) and one and a half kilograms of pearl barley. As to the nutritional value, the ticket food was worthless. Thus, the economic situation of workers was tragic. The district governor was responsible for this, since he was the one in charge of supply, and being familiar with the reality of the situation, he was perfectly aware of the discrepancy between the wages and the prices of food products.
The German regulations were clearly aimed at starving the Polish population to death. Workers were deprived of the possibility of fighting for the improvement of their standard of living, since any and all rallies, assemblies, and strikes were prohibited. A strike broke out in the city tramway company in 1942, as a result of which the Gestapo arrested the more active laborers together with the director and deported them.
I know from my acquaintances that in factories working for the Germans, food rations were similarly insufficient, and they got the same wages as we did.
Workers who did not perform their work diligently enough or who dared to criticize the work and pay conditions were sent to Treblinka. A friend of mine, Wincenty Górski, a craftsman in the Optical Works in Grochów, was sent to Treblinka for two months, since he criticized the soup that was served to workers in his factory. When he came back from Treblinka, he was ill and unfit for work, since the prisoners got hardly any food in the camp, yet were forced to perform excessive work and were beaten without cause.
The district authorities introduced the institution of Werkschutz in factories under German management. Werkschutz guards were there to insure that Polish workers worked diligently, were not late, and did not steal anything. The rigor in the factories was the same as in the army: Polish workers were not allowed to stop even for one moment to talk to one another. Werkschutz guards were often cruel to the workers, they hit them, set dogs on them, locked them up in bunkers or sent them to camps.
In “Belgijska Spółka Akcyjna” there were mass arrests starting from October 1940 up to April 1941. In October 1940 civilian and military Gestapo men came to the factory, surrounded it, gathered all the employees in the porter’s lodge and read out the names of eighteen workers from a list, who then were arrested. Some of them were beaten and tortured already on the spot. All of them were taken to Pawiak prison. Among them was Karol Wójcicki, an admirable Communist activist and a distinguished member of the trade unions. From persons released from Pawiak prison I learned that all the detained workers were beaten and tortured and then sent to Auschwitz, where they all were killed.
I don’t know what they were charged with. I believe that it was only with being active in trade unions and political organizations, since these were honest men who did not commit any political crimes.
Further arrests in our factory followed soon after. Out of one hundred and fifty workers, thirty were arrested, and only five of them came back.
As the head of the district, Fischer is responsible for the persecution of the workers, since the police authorities reported to him.