Warsaw, 10 November 1947. Judge Halina Wereńko, a member of the District Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes, interviewed the person named below as a witness, without taking an oath. Having been advised of the criminal liability for making false declarations, the witness testified as follows:
|Name and surname||Józef Murlinkiewicz (monastic name Benigny)|
|Parents’ names||Józef and Agata, née Baź|
|Date of birth||2 February 1910|
|Place of residence||Warsaw, Zakroczymska Street 1 (monastery of the Franciscan Fathers)|
|Citizenship and nationality||Polish|
|Education||secondary vocational school|
During the Warsaw Uprising I lived in the monastery of the Franciscan Fathers at Zakroczymska Street 1. This street and the neighbouring areas had been occupied by the Germans – or, to put it more properly, by the Vlasovtsys. On 31 August 1944 at around 07:00 the Germans ordered the evacuation of the residents. Everyone was directed to the "Polski Fiat" hall, where the Vlasovtsys commenced pillaging. One of the Germans threw a signal flare in the "Fiat" hall, and I think this was the sign to start the bombing of the Church of the nuns of the Order of the Holy Sacrament and the area of Freta Street, which began shortly thereafter.
At Zakroczymska Street 1 there was a home for the elderly run by Franciscan nuns from Mary’s Family, who had been evicted from Wieluń on the Noteć at the very beginning of the German occupation. When the Uprising broke out, there were some 250 elderly women there; some of them had been transferred by the nuns from Wieluń, while others had come from Warsaw. On 31 August the Germans ordered some 20 nuns to leave the facility, taking with them those of the old women who were fit to march.
I don’t know how many people were left behind. More precise data concerning this event may be obtained from the Congregation of Nuns of Mary’s Family, Warsaw, Hoża Street 53.
Towards the end of January 1945, when I had returned to Warsaw, I went to the home for the elderly at Zakroczymska Street 1. In the former laundry located in the cellars of the facility I saw the bodies of some ten women. They were lying in various positions on their beds, and some had been partly pulled down. The cellars were gutted, and the bodies were decomposing and charred. At first glance I was unable to determine whether the bodies had gunshot wounds. In the cellar corridor I saw the body of a woman that was partly covered with rubble. Here, again, I was unable to determine the cause of death. At Franciszkańska Street 6a, near the monastery, there was a home for the elderly that had been set up during the occupation and administered by the Franciscan nuns from Mary’s Family, evicted in part from Belwederska Street, and in part from 6 Sierpnia Street. It could have housed 150 elderly people.
On 29 or 30 August 1944 some of the residents perished as a result of the bombing, possibly being buried under the rubble. Therefore, when the nuns were evacuating the facility on 31 August and readying the elderly for the march, they were unaware how many of the residents were still alive. I heard from Sister Regina from the Congregation of Nuns of Mary’s Family (Franciszkańska Street 6) that the elderly who were left behind at the home at Franciszkańska Street 6 following the evacuation on 31 August had been burned to death. This information was provided to Sister Regina by a resident of the Old Town who had hid in the area after the evacuation. Sister Regina did not give his surname. The man smelled petrol, saw flames and heard the groans of the burning victims. Both facilities for the elderly were evacuated at the same time. As far as I know, more or less five elderly residents survived the evacuation. After the Uprising they resided in Grodzisk, in a facility administered by Sister Antonina from Mary’s Family.
On 31 August 1944, following the order to leave, I left the monastery with other monks, with the Provincial among others. We were all led through the "Fiat" hall and Traugutt’s park to the square at the school located in the park. Here the elderly and civilians were instructed to climb up onto some trucks, which – as the Germans stated – would take them to a hospital. The following boarded the vehicles: Mother Superior Cecylia Frankowska, Helena Adamczewska, and Petronela Żurawska. Our group was led further, to the warehouses at Stawki Street. Here we were once again segregated; the elderly were separated and promised that they would be taken by trucks to a safe location. A telling incident took place: our Provincial started to get onto one of the trucks, but one of the Germans told him that it would be best for him if he remained with us. During this segregation some one hundred people were separated from our group. From Stawki we proceeded under the escort of uniformed Germans with black epaulettes to St. Adalbert’s Church at Wolska Street. The women were led into the church, while the men were gathered near the building. The group of people whom I was with arrived at the church numbering some two thousand. These were mainly the residents of Zakroczymska, Rybaki, Sapieżyńska, and Bonifraterska streets, and up to one hundred people from areas outside of the Old Town who had come to our church on 31 August for a 40-hour mass.
On 31 August 1944 we were taken to the Western Railway Station, from where we were transported to the transit camp in Pruszków. After a few days, after strenuous efforts had been made, the clergymen, with us amongst them, were freed from the camp.
On 5 October I used my pass to go to Warsaw under a German convoy and to visit our monastery. I observed at the time that the church had been destroyed.
At this point the report was brought to a close and read out.