David P. Boder Interviews Boguslaw [last name unknown]; September 24, 1946; München, Germany

  • David Boder: [In English] München, September the 24th, 1946 at the UNRRA University in Deutsches Museum. The interviewee is now a young student, who simply calls himself Boguslaw. And like so many others he refuses . . . he refuses to, eh, give his full name, because he does not think it's exactly very safe yet to talk.
  • David Boder: [In German] Well, Boguslaw, tell me something about the Polish resistance movement in, eh, in Poland.
  • Boguslaw [last name unknown]: The Polish resistance movement originally started in 1933. I belonged to . . . this is I joined the German resistance movement 1939.
  • David Boder: The German resistance movement?
  • Boguslaw [last name unknown]: No, I joined the Polish resistance movement.
  • David Boder: And who was the resistance against?
  • Boguslaw [last name unknown]: The resistance . . . resistance movement was targeted against the Germans.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Boguslaw [last name unknown]: [coughs] We have . . . the, the German occupation was especially difficult in Poland and in some areas the Polish population . . . had to . . . had to find another way to defend itself. Can I speak Polish?
  • David Boder: Yes, say the entire thing in Polish. But not too fast, but . . .
  • Boguslaw [last name unknown]: [In Polish] Yes. The Germans behaved dreadfully in our . . .
  • David Boder: [In German] But mainly talk about yourself. Everything you have done in the resistance movement.
  • Boguslaw [last name unknown]: Yes.
  • David Boder: Continue.
  • Boguslaw [last name unknown]: [In Polish] From 1939 I belonged to the Polish Resistance Movement. After capturing Polish lands, the Germans raged against us everywhere. Everywhere they wanted . . . to destroy everything which was Polish. Transported to concentration camps. In 1939, I, myself, was destined to be transported to Dachau. Mercifully, I managed to avoid it, and started to work in the Polish military organization. The organization's aim was . . . the aim of the organization was to fight with the Germans. It was a matter of preserving . . . Polishness, a matter of not losing faith in victory.
  • Boguslaw [last name unknown]: From 1939 until 1940, a fierce training of Poles began. Military schools were established, schools for noncommissioned officers . . . officer cadet schools which were to train officers. Along with this, the Polish underground press came into being from 1939. A load of organizations came into being which then joined together and formed the resistance movement.
  • Boguslaw [last name unknown]: The Resistance Movement aimed . . . to prepare society . . . to fight against the Germans and . . . not to allow despair. At first, the work was devoted to collecting arms, to army training. It then turned to sabotage. At first, there was the so-called small sabotage . . . then small sabotage exhorting sabotaging German orders, to . . . actions against deporting Poles to Germany, an actions which had as its aim the inform Poles what was happening in concentration camps.
  • Boguslaw [last name unknown]: Then, it was time for large sabotage. I, myself, worked [unintelligible] of Poles in the Ghetto Uprising before Good Friday . . . at Easter of '43 the came the uprising in the Jewish Ghetto.Boguslaw is referring to the unsuccessful Warsaw Ghetto Uprising which took place in April 1943. About 13,000 Jews were killed, and the ghetto was almost completely razed by the Germans after the fighting.1 Three weeks before this, our leaders learned that the Jewish Ghetto was threatened . . . was threatened with liquidation. . . [unintelligible] . . . weapons were provided, and apart from that the insurgents were informed about German positions . . . after the battle in the Ghetto the Polish organization gave help . . . [unintelligible]. There, in 1941, I sat in Pawiak, saw terrible scenes, murder, [unintelligible], shootings, people thrown alive into ovens.Pawiak was the main prison in Warsaw at the time. After the German invasion of Poland in 1939 it became a Gestapo prison, and eventually part of the Warsaw concentration camp.2 Then the Gestapo officers, among them, the known executioner of Warsaw, A. Berger and [unintelligible] shot, . . . hunted the population, literally. [unintelligible] . . . beaten for hours.
  • Boguslaw [last name unknown]: Then in prison I was subjected to a hunger and salt regime. I was given . . . a mass of salt, and got no water whatsoever, so I suffered horribly from thirst. Then after three months in prison, the day before the Uprising, I was evacuated to Gross-Rosen concentration camp. The things that happened in prison were so dreadful, so macabre. They shot people by the hundreds, whom they dragged out of prison every two or three days . . . and shot them in the ruins of the destroyed ghetto. Five days before the Warsaw Uprising, an uprising occurred in Pawiak . . . [unintelligible] . . . when conditions were too hard, and there was overcrowding. Then everybody, the whole of Ward 3 where that prison uprising broke out, was shot.
  • Boguslaw [last name unknown]: I survived the prison . . . dreadfully [unintelligible] I weighed around 40 kilos, kilograms, I think. The treatment was terrible. One was beaten. Masses of scars remained imprinted on my flesh. If, today, one were to tell the Germans that they had done such things, nobody would ever admit to it . . . However, there is evidence of it, and it can be seen. When we arrived at the concentration camp we were told to forget that we were humans, and that we were just numbers. Beatings and torture at every step. People murdered one another, prisoner murdered prisoner. The capo was not a human being, he was the same Ubermensch [superior] as every Gestapo, he was just called a capo. The capo were normally recruited . . . the capo were normally recruited from amid the criminal prisoners. They were criminals, notorious recidivists.
  • David Boder: Were they Germans? Poles?
  • Boguslaw [last name unknown]: Most were Germans, but it depends on which camp. Usually they were Germans. A number were also Russian. Old-timers, Poles, Jews. I was in the camp [unintelligible].
  • David Boder: Were there Jewish capos in the Polish block?
  • Boguslaw [last name unknown]: Yes, there were. Perhaps you have some questions, Professor?
  • David Boder: [unintelligible]
  • Boguslaw [last name unknown]: . . . after being liberated by the Anglo-American army, I first stayed in an army camp, then I discovered that it was possible to study. So I came to study in Munich. I'm currently studying music [unintelligible] I'm finishing the second semester.
  • David Boder: [In English] This concludes the report—very brief but very interesting report—of Mr. Boguslaw, a . . . [ends abruptly]
  1. Boguslaw is referring to the unsuccessful Warsaw Ghetto Uprising which took place in April 1943. About 13,000 Jews were killed, and the ghetto was almost completely razed by the Germans after the fighting.
  2. Pawiak was the main prison in Warsaw at the time. After the German invasion of Poland in 1939 it became a Gestapo prison, and eventually part of the Warsaw concentration camp.
  • Contributors to this text:
  • Transcription (German) : Dagmar Platt
  • Transcription (Polish) : Alicia Nitecki
  • Translation (German) : Dagmar Platt
  • Translation (Polish) : Alicia Nitecki
  • Footnotes : Eben E. English