27 January 1997
I, the undersigned, Witold Szymański, b. 9 September 1918, son of Jan and Zofia Szymański, citizen of Poland and the United States, resident of Parsippany, New Jersey, USA, hereby state and confirm the veracity of the following:
During the German occupation, I was a Polish laborer in German food warehouses in Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski. The warehouses were owned by the Wehrmacht and were located on the premises of the brewery, which the Germans had seized. Working with me were other Poles and a few Jews from the nearby ghetto. The warehouses were called Armee Verpflegungslager (AVL).
The manager of the brewery at that time was Bolesław Pożoga, a future mayor of Ostrowiec. Working in the brewery was also a cart driver by the name of Kozieł and his daughter Janina. The supervising Germans were Unteroffizier Otto Vopel from Cottbus and Unteroffizier Richard Schmidt, a Silesian. During the period discussed here, the brewery was operative and was not under the German administration.
Otto Vopel once ordered me to take a small amount of food to a person of his choosing. I immediately reported this to the underground’s leadership and was instructed to recruit Vopel, who was member of the Nazi party (NSDAP), for similar operations. Vopel agreed, in exchange for money. I also enlisted the help of Bolesław Pożoga, and then of Janina’s father, who initially transported these commodities in a brewery cart. Later, Richard Schmidt, the driver of a Wehrmacht van, joined us.
Both Germans demanded that they be paid at market prices, to which the Polish side agreed. The groceries and other commodities thus obtained were introduced to the Ostrowiec market, especially to cater to the needs of the Jewish population trapped in the nearby ghetto. Bolsesław Pożoga dealt with distributing the commodities, Kozieł the carter was at first tasked with outgoing transports, and my job was to prepare the goods, load them, and settle accounts with the Germans. Bolesław Pożoga gave the proceeds to Otto Vopel, via myself. None of the Poles made any personal or material gain for their participation in the effort described. All the time, I had a duty to report on the progress to my superior in the underground Union of Armed Struggle, and then the Home Army, Czesław Dworczak, and later I filed reports with Mr. Frankowski. I knew both of them personally. After the war, Mr. Frankowski served as a “Znak” MP in the Polish People’s Republic Sejm
The operation described above was a patriotic effort of major moral significance for the Poles and the Jewish citizens of Ostrowiec. Showing an exemplary patriotic attitude were the two employees of the brewery: Bolesław Pożoga and his subordinate, Kozieł the carter. Both are dead and deserve particular commemoration.
I have drawn up the present statement for Janina Kozieł, the carter’s daughter, married name Szczechura, currently residing in Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski [...].
The present statement is a true depiction of the facts and, being aware of potential liability and in order to preserve the memory of taking the voluntary risk of acting to the detriment of the German occupiers, I hereby append to it my handwritten signature in the presence of a public notary of the state of New Jersey, USA.