PERSONAL ACCOUNTS OF SURVIVORS OF THE VARIOUS
77. The march of terror to Lowitsch --
Narrative of Gotthold Starke, Chief Editor of the "Deutsche Rundschau" in Bromberg.
Military Court of the District Air Service Command 3,
Staff for Special Duties. Bromberg, Sept. 15, 1939.
Present: Dr. Waltzog, Air Service Judge-Advocate, as Judge. Charlotte Janz, as Clerk of the Court, specially detailed.
Re person: My name is Gotthold Starke, 43 years of age, a Protestant, the Chief Editor of the "Deutsche Rundschau" in Bromberg. I am married and have four children.
Re matter: On Sept. 1, 1939, at 7.30 p. m., I was arrested in my home by a Polish police officer. He told me I was under arrest as soon as he entered, and then carried out a search which yielded no result. He then handed me a red warrant of arrest on which I had to sign that a search of my home had been carried out with no result. I was then taken in a car to the former Reich War Orphans' Home in Bromberg, where I met many minority Germans and also German nationals who likewise had been arrested some time on Sept. 1st. As I learned later, a general order for the whole country had been sent out to this effect through the Polish Broadcasting Organization. The lists of persons to be detained must have already been prepared at the end of April or the beginning of May. Persons who, at a later date, had come to live in Bromberg and who might have appeared just as politically suspect as we others, or been suspected with even more reason, were in fact not arrested. On the other hand, people were sought out who had moved away within the last few months.
Legally speaking, there were three categories of arrested persons, who, however, all experienced the same treatment: firstly, those detained on a red ticket, to which group I belonged, secondly, the internees with a pink ticket, applying principally to the German nationals, but also including a few minority Germans as distinct from those of German nationality, whereas some German nationals also had red tickets; and thirdly, the evacuees with yellow tickets. On these yellow tickets was an order that the persons concerned--probably almost entirely minority Germans, not German nationals--were to go for four weeks, at their own expense, to a place in East Poland, where they were to live under police supervision. The yellow-ticket category was by far the smallest; the holders enjoyed a certain amount of preference as compared with the detained persons, which, in one instance known to me, was no doubt due to the estate-owner in question being given a good report by Poles he had billeted. As on Sept. 1st, it was no longer possible for the evacuees to travel by train to East Poland, they were put on the same footing as the detained persons, the internees also receiving no different treatment. Amongst these internees were the chief of the German Passport Office in Bromberg, Consul Wenger, and his secretary, Frl. Müller, both officials of the German Consulate-General in Thorn: I last saw Consul Wenger in Lodz, he is not yet back in Bromberg (1).
The intention clearly was to remove us to a camp where we were to be fed. Some of us were told at the time of arrest to provide ourselves with food for four days, but only very few could obtain food. On Sept. 2nd, more prisoners joined us, including the Chairman of the German Association, Dr. Hans Kohnert, likewise holder of a red ticket. While watching at the window the impact of the German airmen's bombs, we also witnessed German peasants being so severely beaten that a rifle butt was split (testimony of Frl. Müller of the German Passport Office still in Lodz). It was then that they first started the method of intimidation. Our guards, composed of police, auxiliary police and members of semi-military associations, compelled us with fixed bayonets to lie down on the ground, threatening to shoot anyone who tried to rise. In the afternoon of Sept. 2nd, at about 5 o'clock, we were assembled in two ranks and led into the courtyard. Previously, one of the Haller soldiers had singled out a few prisoners whose hands were then fettered together. We then formed a large square in the yard, rifles and machine-guns were loaded in our presence, and we were marched off, first of all through the Polish population of Bromberg who cursed and swore at us as we passed. They threatened to lynch us in front of the police prison where we were able to make a short halt. When it had become quite dark, we started off to march via Langenau and Schulitz to Thorn, a forced march of about 36 miles, quite unendurable for the old people and children who were amongst us. The hardships were intensified by the lack of food and by the constantly recurring order to go into the ditch when German airmen attacked. We were no further than Langenau when 76-year-old Frl. Martha Schnee had to remain behind in a dying condition. She was a niece of the well-known German East African Governor, and had devoted her life to the service of the poor, finally as head of the German People's Welfare.
In Thorn we were accommodated for the night in a dirty hall in a suburb. The first signs of mental derangement made themselves apparent here, women and men crying out wildly, while anti-German demonstrations were made by Polish convicts who had been added to our number. On Sept. 4th, we marched from Thorn as far as the Polish brine spa Ciechocinek. Our guard were kept busy collecting Polish deserters. Judging by the fighting, we all believed that German troops would yet be able to free us. A short way from the health resort, one of our comrades, young Gerhard. Schreiher from Bromberg, cut his throat, severing the carotid artery. A surgeon amongst
(1) Consul Wenger was saved.
us, Dr. Staemmler from Bromberg, attended to him. The injured man was taken to Ciechocinek, where he died. Dr. Staemmler told me personally that with normal treatment he would certainly have been saved. While the young fellow, whose nerves had completely given way, was lying in his own blood, he was kicked by the last Polish Chief Constable of Bromberg, who led the column. All pocket-knives and razor blades, however, were taken away from us others. In Ciechocinek we were accommodated in a camp for youths, the sexes being separated. It was again impossible to have any rest at night as there were fresh outbreaks of insanity and the hysterical cries did not cease. There was nothing to eat. On Sept. 5, we marched through the great heat from Ciechocinek to Wloclawek. Foot trouble spread, the hunger became greater, provisions which some had brought with them were distributed. Our money had been taken away; nevertheless in Nieszawa the prisoners made a collection so that bread could be bought. The commandant entrusted Dr. Staemmler with the purchase and distribution. Later, unfortunately, he had not the same generous feelings towards us.
In Nieszawa we camped at midday in scorching heat on a large refuse dump. Here we were joined by a large company of prisoners from Pommerellen, women and old people amongst them, hunted, driven, emaciated creatures. Then we marched along the bank of the Vistula into the shell-torn town of Wloclawek, where we were herded together in a gymnasium and locked in. The whole night long we had no water, although we were nearly dying of thirst. As I was looking in the darkness for a way out, to get to a supply of water, I met a German farmer, Vorweyer, who had been arrested with his 14-year-old son. Later on they took the fair-haired boy away from him, and as to the boy's fate nothing is known. The next morning we were driven on. Some of the old people who could not continue, and also some women, were loaded on to a vehicle. When the two Bromberg men, Pastor Assmann, Church Superintendent, and Dr. von Behrens, both over 70 years of age, also asked permission to ride, they were refused as "particularly dangerous political bandits." Young comrades carried them along that day as well. On this day, Sept. 6, the way led from Wloclawek to the Chodsen sugar mill near Chodecz, where we were joined to several other columns from Pommerellen, the total number of abducted persons probably attaining the figure of 4,000, of which 600 to 800 came from Bromberg. Amongst these 4,000 there were about 1,000 Polish Social Democrats, convicts and other wretched-looking specimens. Other bodies of Germans had had Lad experiences in the Chodsen sugar mill which was under military command. They had been beaten with rubber truncheons, put up against the wall, terrorized, and maltreated in other ways. Some had also been shot. We were driven for the night into a narrow space between two walls, where there was barely room for one person to sit, but where we were obliged to sit on coke and liquid tar. Polish civilians with armlets, whose orders we had to obey, moved among us. Whoever approached the barbed wire ran the risk of being shot dead. Machine-guns were mounted on the factory roof. Although in the evening we had been promised barracks with straw--evidently this sugar mill was intended as a concentration camp--we were driven the next morning on to Kutno via Chodecz, a small town in which we were able to get food in the market place. On the way we were continually being called murderers, bandits and sons of bitches, particularly by the women--and by the officers. We were accompanied on the way, by columns of fugitives, military and civilian, who took every opportunity to attack us. Those who were unable to march were sometimes put on the cart, usually, however, shot dead at the end of the column. We marched from the morning of Sept. 7 all through the night, with few halts, in the ditch or in the filth of the road until 9 a. m. can the morning of Sept. 8, when we arrived at a farm, Starawies, about 2 miles beyond Kutno, where we made a halt of 4 hours. Here several of us dropped dead from exhaustion. Only a part of the column received bread, all, however, got water to drink, which meant the greatest bliss for us. We had in fact thrown ourselves down, as soon as twilight came, on the grass at the edge of the road, to moisten our tongues and lips with the dew. We were also able here and there to get a turnip from the field so as to stave off the awful pangs of hunger.
We marched on from Starawies' at midday, once more throughout the night, staggering, sleeping, constantly troubled by our insane comrades, badly upset by the shots in our column;--one of my companions alone counted 44 Germans shot dead that night--and molested by the many military columns streaming back. Anyone who could not maintain his proper position in the marching column was driven back in the ranks with clubs and bayonet' prods by the escort, who were better fed than we were and who could sometimes ride on bicycles and also 'sometimes be relieved by others. Even in the case of our doctor, Dr. Staemmler, no exception was made when he remained in the front or the rear of the endless column in order to help an unfortunate with some stimulant. He had not been allowed to bring his case of instruments. This particular night he himself commenced to rave. Dr. Kohnert and two marching next to him were beaten by passing soldiers. Time after time we had to close up because the ranks were opening out. A 70-year-old peasant, Korner by name, who could endure his thirst no longer, jumped from a bridge about 23 feet high into the Bzura, where he was shot at but not wounded. He drank some water out of his hat and was then able to rejoin the end of the column.
At 9 o'clock on Sept. 9 we arrived in Lowitsch, at a point between the powder magazine and the barracks, under intense German artillery fire. Practically all the Polish guards left us, the commandant was not to be seen. We withdrew from the danger zone into a small wood above the town, and on the way we were able to quench our thirst and wash ourselves at several fountains. Out of the column of roughly 4,000, only 2,000 were saved when we got to Lowitsch--which, at the same time, was being occupied by German troops. Of those missing, there were first of all the 1,000 Poles who had been with us, but the remaining number of 1,000 Germans is by no means just a statistical error; on the contrary, I believe that the latter lost their way in the woods, meadows and villages during that last absolutely unbearable night in which we could hardly drag ourselves along. A part of them must, be considered as definitely lost. Others kept coming into Lowitsch in little groups. Of the
final 2,000 who had remained together; about 1,200 broke away near the barracks and went to meet the German soldiers in separate groups, in some cases making prisoners of their escort, of whom finally 30 were captured. The remaining 800, including amongst others Dr. Kohnert, Dr. Staemmler, Baron Gero von Gersdorff, Herr Modrow, the chairman of the Land Union, and also myself, were taken into the previously-mentioned small wood where strzelce (semi-military riflemen), young armed bandits 17-18 years old, were waiting for us. These then drove us off another 5½ miles to the north-east of Lowitsch in the direction of Warsaw into a straggling village where water was to be had. The greater part of these 800 were Germans from "Congress" Poland (former Russian territory), who could hardly be held together, particularly when we were driven again up a hill on to a so-called gromadawiese (village common), which was exposed to fire from all sides.
Pastor Krusche, as leader of the Germans from "Congress" Poland, and we from Bromberg consulted together as to what was now to be done. Dr. Kohnert and Dr. Staemmler were commissioned to parley with the single remaining Bromberg policeman accompanying us. It was suggested that he should gather his comrades together, so that we should not be shot down by the soldiers swarming-back on the retreat, or by the young strzelce, who to all appearances had prepared an ambush for us. In return, we were willing to guarantee the guards' lives and positions if we fell into German hands. As Dr. Kohnert and Dr. Staemmler approached the policeman, he misinterpreted their action and became aggressive. Dr. Staemmler tried to wrest the weapon from him, the policeman stepped back a few paces and shot him dead. The policeman disappeared in the upper village calling loudly for revenge and for assistance. We now assumed that the defenceless 800, would be shot at from all sides. Every where Polish soldiers and armed civilians became visible. Suddenly a tank appeared at the foot of the hill. Everybody thought that it was to bar our escape to Lowitsch. Dr. Kohnert and Pastor Krusche went towards it with a white handkerchief on a stick. We hoped we would be secure against the malice of the police and the strzelce if we submitted to the Polish military. The 800 streamed after the two men bearing the flag of truce. Half-way we made the discovery that it was a German tank, which freed us. A young German officer drove through our midst on this tank, which bore the name "Ziethen," right to the upper village up the entire gromada hill. There the Polish peasants fell on their knees and kissed the officer's hands and uniform. He directed us, however, back to Lowitsch. We took the body of Dr. Staemmler and marched through potato and stubble fields where there was some side-cover, into the town, which was occupied by German troops. The march to Lorvitsch, which with deviations represented a distance of about 150 miles, had come to an end. The condition of those who had taken part was, in the majority of cases, shockingly wretched. When I was in the Commandant's headquarters, where the country doctor, Dr. Studzinski (a German) from Waldau, District of Schwetz, who had been beaten black and blue, and who attended to the most acute cases of festering foot injuries and visited those who were, seriously ill, until he dropped, I discovered among others the 68-year-old Senator Dr. Busse-Tupadly lying on a straw bed. He called me and put his arms round me, weeping. Although he is the godfather of my son, I should never have recognized him. Stones which had been hurled at him and blows of rifle butts had left his head a blue-black shapeless mass from which only the red lips, dripping with blood, protruded. Dr. Busse is one of the foremost European cattle-breeders. He was also particularly esteemed by the Poles and was well-known as a judge at all international cattle-shows. Next to him lay the 82-year-old horticulturist Bohrmann, from Schonsee, in a state of complete exhaustion. In the headquarters yard, however, there was a pile of corpses of those who even at this point had died from exhaustion and of others who had been cut off from the main column before Lowitsch and murdered by the soldiers flooding back. 26 had been counted near the gromada hill alone. The majority of them had been beaten to death with rifle butts. Deeply moved, we thanked our liberators.
By the Bzura, where we took our first bath, we sang the German national anthems and raised a cheer of "Sieg Heil" for the Führer and the German Army. At night, we were given food and looked after by farmers from Pommerellen who had been dragged as far as the Lowitsch prison, on suspicion of espionage, and now also had been released by the German troops. In view of the fighting which was in progress, the 2,000 people saved were brought the next day, during the afternoon of Sunday, Sept. 10, on panjemagen (peasants' carts) and on 800 requisitioned bicycles to Lodz, via Glowno, where we rested at night in the open.
Dictated by the witness, approved, signed
The witness then took the oath.
Dr. Waltzog Charlotte Janz
Source: WR I
78. Father Breitinger, German Catholic Priest, Posen, on the March of the Victims Abducted from Posen
Investigation Department for Breaches of International Law, attached to the Posen, Oct. 5, 1939.
Military High Command
Pitsch, Military Inspector of Justice.
Called upon, the Rev. Father Breitinger appeared and, after being duly informed as to the oath, declared on interrogation:
R e person: My name is Lorenz Breitinger, known to the Order as Father Hilary. I was born at Glattbach, near Aschaffenburg on June 7, 1907, and am priest to the German Catholics in Posen. I reside in the Franciscan Monastery in Posen.
R e matter: Towards 6 p. m. on Sept. 1, 1939, a police officer appeared at the Monastery gate and told me that I was under arrest. To my request to be allowed to bring some clean clothing and food with me, he replied that it was not necessary, as I should soon be back home again after a short examination. Another police officer was waiting outside the Monastery with fixed bayonet, and both officers took me like a criminal with three other persons to Police Headquarters. There the police officer who arrested me handed me an internment order, taking a receipt for it, from which I saw that I was officially interned. I met with about 20 acquaintances in the police yard, and I spent the night along with them in the open air. During the night, further transports of fellow-sufferers arrived. The abbot of my Monastery approached the Chief Administrative Police Commissar to intervene on my behalf. On my return home later, he informed me that his attempt at intervention had been summarily rejected with the following words: "What, you dare vouch for such a man? You then stand up for spies and therefore deserve a bullet through the head just as the other man does." When the abbot then asked if he might bring me a suitcase with some clothes and food, he was told that the lice should eat them. My abbot was so indignant at this answer that, as he told me later, it was the first time in his life that he was ashamed of being a Pole. I was further informed by my abbot that, on my behalf, he had also called on the Provincial Governor, a good mutual acquaintance of ours. The latter answered that, unfortunately, he could do nothing in the matter because all power had passed into the hands of the military. On Sept. 2, we were ordered to line up in pairs. A police official in mufti, in the name of the Provincial Governor, deprived us of our civic rights, adding that we had now to march to a camp, and that anyone who did not march properly in the streets would immediately be shot. The police then loaded their rifles, fixed bayonets, and we were led through the streets of Posen to Glowno. The police guards again and again called out to the waiting crowds to the left and right of us: "These are all Germans," the answer of the crowd always being incredible shouting and raving, as well as awful cursing. On reaching the old market, the crowd began to grab at us, and we were beaten with sticks, kicked and stoned, so that by the time we reached the suburb of Glowno, we were covered with bruises. I felt a ray of hope when, in a tavern on the road, a catholic priest, the vicar of Glowno, entered. From him, in particular, I hoped for understanding and a protection for all of us, as well as for information as to our future fate. On presenting myself I was exceedingly surprised to hear him start questioning me in order to find out if I were a disguised spy, asking me roughly why I had taken up arms against the Poles. Entirely speechless, I gave up any further attempt at conversation.
In the late afternoon, we were led to a large meadow which was encircled by a great crowd of people. Further groups of internees came marching in, amongst them, women and children, two cripples who could hardly walk (they were war-invalids with wooden legs), and a large number with bandaged heads, whose clothes were smeared with blood. We were ordered to line up in fours in the meadow and were counted. Then at a command from the leader of our guard, which consisted of a few policemen and various grammar school pupils in the uniform of the military youth organisation, we were obliged to sing a song of hate against Germany. He then had me step out of the ranks alone, in my clerical robes, and, amidst the jeering of the crowd, made me drill. Finally, he placed me in the first row as the ringleader of the rebels as we were continually designated. We then walked to Schwersenz through a lane of enraged people who spat on us, threw horse-dung at us, and ill-used us with sticks, stones and kicks. The accompanying guard did nothing to protect us against this ill-usage, or, if the will to protect us existed, they were powerless and not energetic enough to do so. In Schwersenz, the mob, sunk to the level of the brute-beast, struck at cripples and children seated on carts, until their sticks were shattered. On the following day, I noticed that the presidents of practically all German organisations, as well as the whole of the German priesthood, had been herded together. They were persons who were convinced they had carried out their civic duties to the Polish state conscientiously and therefore, could not grasp why they were now being treated even worse than hardened criminals.
In Schwersenz, both a Protestant clergyman and myself asked if we might hold- a. service for the internees, but the man in charge of the escort roughly answered that we could not. We then again had to run the gauntlet of the fury of the crowd through the town of Kostrzyn to Wreschen. At the latter place we were again badly beaten with sticks and kicked. It was here that my Cardinal rode past us, and he must have recognized us as internees from Posen. He did not, however, say a word in our favour. In Wreschen we were again drilled in a hall, where we were obliged to stand up, sit down, go down on our knees, etc. I personally received the special attentions of the man in charge. He called me a hypocrite and a liar and said that the cross ought to be torn off me as I had been a traitor to it. The march continued at about midday. The guard rode on the waggons together with the sick, and often we were obliged to trot behind the waggons, whenever the driver thought fit. On passing through a village, we all endeavoured to cover our heads with blankets and overcoats as a protection against stones being thrown at us. It was inconceivable to me that Polish soldiers and even Polish officers should play so conspicuous a part in these excesses. It sometimes happened that Polish Army officers wearing decorations walked along our ranks, giving those of us within their reach a violent kick. At Konin we were not able to continue our march to Kutno and were suddenly marched off northwards. About five miles beyond Konin, our guard left us, leaving behind a single policeman who was mentally deficient. Meanwhile we were badly beaten with fists and stones by Polish recruits. We. were freed from this by military police. We were allowed to halt for three days at a farm near Maliniec because the policeman had to obtain instructions as to what was to happen to us.
Beyond Slesin we passed through the first Polish lines and were lodged outside the town at a farm which was occupied entirely by Polish military. Here we encountered a young Polish officer who, with innumerable curses, threatened us with death. We were awakened as early as 2 o'clock the following morning to continue our march. The waggons with the cripples and sick remained behind. I heard later that they were shot. They included the entire Schmolke family, and another war-invalid with one leg. With the sound of the guns in our ears, we were forced on at top speed to Babiak. In the afternoon the march continued, after our having been divided into three groups, and numerous soldiers being added to our escort. On a path in the woods, we were obliged to hand over our watches and other jewellery, money and, in some cases, even wedding rings, to the soldiers. When, on the Monday morning, we were obliged to continue our march, some of us could no longer stand on our feet. Apart from five who were ill and absolutely unable to continue (among them, a lady teacher from Posen), three persons in better condition remained behind for their protection. We afterwards heard that their escort had simply shot them and stoned them to death in a bestial manner.
After long marches in different directions, lasting days at a time, while the front was moving nearer and nearer, we were finally freed by German troops on Sept. 22, 1939. We were then transported home, via Breslau, by the German military.
Dictated aloud, approved, signed
Lorenz Breitinger (Father Hilary)
The witness, took the following oath: I swear by the Almighty God that I have told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.
(signed) H u r t i g (signed) P i t s c h
By way of appendix I would add:
I was together with all the Posen internees. Among them, in my group, were also director Hugo Bohmer, Pastor Stefani, Dr. Swart, headmaster of the German grammar school, Dr. Robert Weise and other leading German personages.
I also swear to this on oath.
(Signed) Lorenz Breitinger (Father Hilary)
(signed) H u r t i g (signed) P i t s c h
Source: W R II (1)
79. Dragged off for 200 miles --
Personal experience reported by Robert Weise M. D., Superintendent of the Posen Deaconess Hospital
Investigation Bureau for Breaches of International Law at General Staff Posen, October 3, 1939.
Dr. Reger, Judge-Advocate, Bachmann, Military Court Inspector,
as President of Investigation. as Secretary.
Dr. Robert Weise's statement was taken down in the hospital of the Protestant Deaconess Hospital, of which he is the Superintendent. The attention of the witness was drawn to the fact that his statement would have to be sworn to on oath and that he should therefore speak nothing but the truth. He then declared:
R e Person: My name is Robert Weise, I was born at Birnbaum on Oct. 2, 1893. I am a Protestant, have been, up to now, a Polish citizen, of German descent. I am married and have two children aged 6 and 3.
(1) The last page of the record is given in the original (see photograph p. 274).
On Sept. 1, 1939, I was arrested at my home by the police. I had supposed I was to be interned and had therefore already prepared a rucksack. The policemen told me I need not take anything with me as I should be released immediately. I was only to give them my signature. Before I was arrested, my home was searched. They were looking for arms. After first being taken to the police station, I was removed to Police Headquarters, where a number of people were being assembled for transportation. They consisted of a large number of minority Germans who had been herded together there. I am unable to give the exact number. In my group there were about 60 to 80 men.
At about midday on Sept. 2, 1939 (until then, I had been given nothing to eat except a slice of bread and a mug of coffee) our march began. As soon as we began the stretch through Posen to Glowno, we were exposed to the worst possible ill-usage by the mob, who beat us with sticks and fists, kicked us and threw stones at us. On this occasion, in the Breite Straße in Posen, Dr. Gustav Klusack, the director of the Polish Military Agricultural Society, was struck twice so violently on the back of the head with a stone that he fell on his face on the cobbles, where he remained unconscious. As a doctor, I at once suspected that Dr. Klusack had got a fracture of the base of the skull. I therefore tried to get the man in charge of our escort, a policeman, to allow Dr. Klusack to be conveyed to a local or military hospital, but my request was refused. We carried Dr. Klusack, who was bleeding from mouth and nose, vomiting and semi-conscious, as far as Glowno. He was obliged to march with us to the end.
At Glowno our column was augmented by other groups from Posen and the Wollstein district, and now numbered about 260 men. Our guard was also strengthened by uniformed rebels, so that our escort now consisted of the latter, regular State and auxiliary police. The commandant of the column now was a sub-lieutenant who wore the rebel uniform. On the same day we proceeded to Schwersenz. There we were again ill-used by the Schwersenz populace in the same manner as in Posen. I would stress that, until the end, the police tried to protect us, but were unsuccessful. The police even charged the crowds with batons. We stayed the night at Schwersenz. The next day, we went on to Wreschen, the day after, to Slupca, and the following day to Marantow. Up to Marantow, we still had three waggons with us in the column, on which the war-invalids as well as the women and children, and later the sick, rode. At Marantow, the waggons were taken from us, but I succeeded in getting them to allow at least one waggon to continue with us. We stayed et Marantow for three days. From there we went via Slesin on to a village not far beyond it, the name of which I have forgotten. At this place we were awakened in the night and driven on with all haste in the direction of Klodawa, because the military situation had apparently become serious. As there was no longer any waggon at our disposal, a man named Schmolke, from the neighbourhood of Wollstein, who had worn an artificial limb ever since the Great War, his wife, his daughter aged about 16, and his 18 months old son, as well as another man who wore an artificial limb but whose name I cannot tell, and a certain Frau Blank, of Ketsch near Posen, were left behind. Ostensibly these minority Germans were to be brought up after us by waggon. During the midday rest at Babiak the same day, I was informed by one of our escort, who was a farm-hand on the Turkowo estate, in the district of Neutomischel, that these Germans had been shot. They were probably killed by the military, and the persons guilty are doubtless members of the Schwersenz regiment of the militia which was stationed in the Slesin district. I definitely believe that the Germans were killed by the military because none of our escort had remained behind, and the military were stationed in the village in which we were lodged. The same military unit had already taken over charge of us there.
From the photograph shown me I recognize the two invalids and the 16 year old daughter of Schmolke. Who the fourth person on the picture is, I do not know.
We then continued our march to Brzewienna Krotkie. There we stayed for the night in the open air and the next morning, the following fellow-Germans had to be left behind as they were unable to march: von Treskow, farmer, Frl. Hanna Bochnik, Frl. Molzahn, Vincenz Gierczynski, a Jew named Goldschmied, and various other persons. Hermann Pirscher, a student, also stayed behind, as he had volunteered to look after them. Frl. Bochnik had already become mentally deranged. We were again told that a waggon would be requisitioned for those who had remained behind. After we had been marching for a little more than a mile, we heard firing. There was no doubt in my mind, after what I had heard about the end of those who had been left behind previously, that this last lot had been shot as well. The exhumations that took place later confirmed this.
We were finally driven via Klodawa, Kutno, Gostynin, Zychlin to a village between Kutno and Lowitsch, on the Bzura, where we were at last freed by German troops on Sept. 17, 1939.
The distance we traversed I estimate at about 200 miles.
I should not like to omit mentioning that our money, jewellery and other valuables were taken away from us by the escort. Those of us to whom this occurred, never saw our property again. In my own case, for example, my silver wrist-watch, 280 Zlotys in cash, and my pocket-book with all my papers were taken from me.
Dictated aloud, approved, signed
Dr. Robert Weise.
The witness took the following oath: I swear by the Almighty God that I have told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.
(signed) Dr. R e g e r (signed) Bachmann
Source: WR II
80. The murder of Dr. Staemmler, the surgeon
Personal narrative by Georg Drescher, farmer of Czempin, district of Kosten
The witness, Georg Drescher, farmer, of Czempin, made the following statement on, oath:
On Saturday, Sept. 2, 1939, I was arrested at 6 o'clock in the morning and, together with other fellow-Germans of Czempin, marched off to Schrimm. During this march we were threatened with pitchforks and sticks, beaten and horribly abused by the Polish populace. In Schrimm, too, we were ill-used; while we were lying about in a courtyard for two hours, a Polish police officer informed us that 20 fellow-Germans of Lissa had been condemned to death by the Military Court and were to be shot within two hours. I beard that 14 fellow-Germans of Lissa had in fact been shot. A group consisting of about 400 men and accompanied by an escort of police and auxiliary police, then marched off from Schrimm to Schroda via Neutomischel. We arrived at Schroda in the evening and were lodged for the night in a gym-hall. It was in the courtyard that we were first beaten by Polish soldiers; here Pastor Kienitz was also ill-used for the first time--by a Polish ensign. At noon the next day we were marched to Peisern, where we arrived in the course of the evening. There we were lodged in a hall which was intended to accommodate 50 to 60 men at the most. One can imagine how crowded we 300 to 400 persons were in the place. We were heaped together in a confused mass, nobody being allowed to leave the hall and relieve himself, or being allowed any water. In the morning we at last got some water and a few loaves. I should also state that during the night we were bound together in pairs, three pairs again being bound together with an extra rope. Our march then took us via Konin to Turek. The first death in our ranks occurred on this stretch. Old Baron von Gersdorff became weak, began to rave, stumbled a few paces backwards, and was shot with a rifle by a Polish sergeant. In the meantime it had become dark, the streets were chock-full of fugitives, and, as I had stepped out for a drink of water, I found myself in a group of 50 men who had been dispersed. We did not know what to do and therefore reported at the nearest police station. We wandered about bewildered in the village until we were stopped by a Polish infantry patrol and taken to the prison at Turek. We remained there only a short time and were then led to a forest by some soldiers. On the way, one of my comrades sprang into a waterhole with the intention of taking his life. The soldiers fired three shots at him, whereupon he remained lying in the hole. In the wood, we were placed against a fence, and a Polish officer told us that we were sentenced to death. Hereupon one of my comrades ran away and was shot down with three bullets. This man was Fritz Sonnenberg of Czempin. We were then lined up in the road and were to be shot in a sand-pit. With arms raised we were obliged to march for miles. At any sign of cramp in the arms we received bayonet prods and were hit with rifle butts. I heard shots fired behind me, from which I concluded, especially from the cries of those hit, that again a few comrades had lost their lives. Bergmann, a master-builder, received terrible rifle butt blows, Hoffmann-Waldau, the estate owner of Kurschen, near Schmiegel, received seven bayonet thrusts. I myself got a bayonet thrust in the right arm. Finally we were led to a churchyard where we were obliged to lie face downwards with hands outstretched. We awaited our death. The soldiers, however, took advantage of this position of ours to plunder us of everything we had. From me, for example, they took 165 zlotys, and everything else I had on me. Some comrades even had their boots taken, so that they were obliged to walk barefooted. This plundering lasted about two hours. We were then ordered to march again and informed that we were to be shot in a German churchyard. This march led us over ploughed land, where a comrade lost his head and tried to run away. A few shots put an end to his life. We thought our end was to come when we arrived at a village. First, we were led to a farmyard and again searched. Everything that had not been taken from us before, was taken now. We then passed through the village where there were very many soldiers. The Polish soldiers jeered, shouted, and abused us. Another group of the column that passed ours was fired on by these soldiers with rifles and machineguns. After this attack the remaining seven or eight men of this group joined ours. After half an hour we were marched on to Kolo. This march was a real funeral procession. The soldiers fired into our ranks at random. The person in charge of our escort was a Polish woman corporal. I owe my deliverance only to the fact that I was in the second row from the front and the head of the group consisted of women. It was on this march that Hoffmann-Waldau, the estate owner, lost his life. We arrived at Kolo about 10 o'clock in the evening, where we were put in gaol. There were about 28 men in a small cell. I should mention here that Bergmann, the master-builder of Schmiegel, in this funeral procession received a serious wound from a shot which smashed the bones in his forearm. Despite this serious injury, he continued the march until Saturday afternoon, that is three and a half days. It was on this Saturday afternoon that his wound was bandaged for the first time by German troops, who freed us.
We marched off from Kolo on Sept. 13, 1939, in the direction of Klodawa: From then onwards, we were also exposed to air attacks against Polish troops. Both the populace and the soldiers became more and more enraged. We were finally accommodated on a large farm beyond Kutno. Here we were set upon by Polish soldiers, belaboured with whips, and obliged to run. From Kutno we continued in the. direction of Lowitsch the outskirts of which we reached at about 6 o'clock in the morning. On account of heavy air attacks we walked back about four miles and camped in a small barn. After an air attack took place here, we went on to the next village. During this march the column became more and more straggling as we simply could not carry on. I fell back with Herr Schneider, a miller of Schmiegel; the escort had run away in the meantime. We failed to make contact with the column and wandered aimlessly through the fields in continual fear of being caught as spies and shot. We therefore returned to the last village, met a Polish policeman there and asked him where our group was. He showed us the way, and we took that route. We found however, that it was not our group but another consisting of people from Bromberg, Thorn and Graudenz. They had just left Lowitseh because it was continually being bombed from the air. There were also women and children in this group which consisted of about 800. There was also a woman with a six weeks old infant among them.
After camping for about half an hour, the policeman we had met shortly before, came back and was addressed by one of our comrades. Dr. Staemmler, of Bromberg, came up stretching out his hand with the intention of pacifying the excited, drunken policeman, whereupon the latter stepped back and shot the Bromberg doctor with a rifle bullet that tore right through his chest. Dr. Staemmler died instantly; I was about 10 yards away. The policeman was about to fire again, and it was only when several comrades implored him not to, that he desisted and rushed back to the village. After a few minutes, we saw an armoured car with machine-guns mounted coming up the road out of a village on the right, and we feared the worst. The car circled round our group, and then stopped in front of us. We cried out in fear and wanted to take cover. Others raised their arms, but then we noticed that it was a German armoured car. In the meantime a second German armoured car appeared for our protection, whereupon we started off across the fields and by-paths for Lowitsch. On the way we sang the hymn "Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott" and we looked around for comrades who, we were convinced, had been murdered in the last hours.
I saw the dead bodies of many internees lying near Lowitsch. After the German military had given us something warm to eat, we were finally transported back to our native land via Breslau.
Dictated aloud, approved, signed
The witness took the following oath: I swear by Almighty God that I have told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.
Source: W R II
81. The murder of Dr. Kirchhoff
Man with an artificial limb killed and castrated
Investigation Dept. for Breaches of International Law, attached to the Military High Command Ciolkowo, September 27, 1939.
Present: Dr. Reger, Military Judge Advocate, as President Drescher, as secretary.
I hereby swear on oath to carry out the duties of a secretary truly and concientiously, and to maintain silence.
(signed) Drescher, Secretary.
Frl. Sophie Wiese, housekeeper, was called on at the farm at Ciolkowo. It was made clear to her that she would have to take the oath regarding her statement and that perjury would render her liable to severe punishment.
She then made the following declaration:
R e p e r s o n : My name is Sophie Wiese, I was born at Marlewo in the district of Wongrowitz, on August 19, 1890, am a housekeeper in the Kirchhoff household at Ciolkowo, am a German-Catholic, single, and a Polish citizen, but of German descent.
R e m a t t e r : On Sunday, September 3, 1939 two Polish soldiers arrived at the farm in a motor car at 6.30 a. m. The car was driven by a chauffeur in civilian clothes. I am not able to tell their rank or regiment, but it is believed that the chauffeur is known in Rawitsch or Sarne.
One of the soldiers went into the stable and arrested the inspector. He handed Schulz over to the other soldier, who carried a rifle with fixed bayonet. The first soldier then entered the house from the back. He first encountered Dr. Kirchhoff, who, alarmed at the noise, had come out of his bedroom. Dr. Kirchhoff had dressed hurriedly and had on only his shirt, trousers and shoes. The soldier shouted to him in Polish to hold his hands up. In the excitement of the moment, Dr. Kirchhoff at first did not understand what the soldier wanted of him. I told him he was to raise his hands. Dr. Kirchhoff was searched at the point of the revolver. Our chambermaid, Martha Vogel, handed Dr. Kirchhoff a case containing a few articles of clothing, which had already been prepared because Dr. Kirchhoff had expected to be interned.
Dr. Kirchhoff, who was an invalid, seriously wounded in the Great War, and had an artificial right leg, asked for his walking-stick. When the soldier forbade him to have it. Dr. Kirchhoff pointed out that he could not walk without one, which is a fact. The soldier thereupon said that he would be taken by car.
We heard nothing of Dr. Kirchhoff's or Inspector Schulz's fate from the time of their arrest until Sunday, Sept. 10, 1939, when Albert and Fritz Vogt of Krähen came and informed us that corpses had been found at Malachowo, one of them with an artificial limb, and that it might be that of Dr. Kirchhoff. Dr. Kirchhoff's 71-year-old mother, who also lives here, ordered Martha Vogel and me to drive over to Malachowo to identify the body. The next day we drove to Malachowo, a village situated about 15 miles away. There, at about 30 yards from the school, lay four dead bodies. They had been dug up only the day before, but had again been lightly covered over.
Both Martha Vogel and I recognized Dr. Kirchhoff by the artificial limb, the shirt and the necktie. He still had his shirt on but his trousers were missing. The body was in a terrible state; both the arms were broken, the tongue had been torn out of his mouth, the skull was smashed in, and the neck showed signs of awful blows with rifle butts. Dr. Kirchhoff had also been castrated.
Inspector Schulz had a bayonet thrust in the pelvis, his tongue too had been torn out, the skull smashed in, showing, like the body, signs of blows dealt with the butt of a rifle.
Two other bodies were identified by another housekeeper, Gertrud Hensel of Smirowo, these bodies also being in a terrible condition. Farmer Walter Ehmann, of Smirowo, had his skull smashed in, his body showed traces of blows with rifle butts, the tongue was torn out, and one eyeball was out of its socket. His assistant, a 65-year-old man, had his head completely bashed in, his tongue torn out, and the body covered with traces of blows with rifle butts.
The other five bodies had also been dealt with in a similar terrible way. As far as I have heard, the bodies in question were those of a certain Brambar of Gostyn, his 16-year-old apprentice, of whom I know only the Christian name, Joachim, further of the foreman Lange of Osawo, and lastly of two men unknown to me.
With the exception of the 16-year-old apprentice, all the bodies showed no traces of bullet wounds; all the men. had been beaten to death.
In contrast with other rumours I have heard, I should like emphatically to remark that Dr. Kirchhoff's artificial limb was not splintered and that the other, the sound leg, had not been chopped off, but the corpse was dreadfully mutilated even so.
I am ready to swear to this statement.
Re-read aloud, approved, signed
The witness then took the following oath: I swear by Almighty God that I have spoken the truth, whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.
Second Witness: Martha Vogel.
The witness's attention is drawn to the fact that she will be called upon to take the oath, and, as in the case of the previous witness, is accordingly made to understand the significance of the oath.
She then stated:
R e P e r s o n : My name is Martha Vogel, I was born on January 14, 1907 at Ciolkowo, am a Protestant, single, of Polish citizenship, of German descent. I am a chambermaid in the Kirchhoff household at Ciolkowo.
R e m a t t e r : The witness gave the same account as the other witness, Sophie Wiese. After witness Wiese's statement had been made known to her, Vogel stated:
That statement is correct on every point, and I make it my own, in every respect, before the judge.
I am prepared to swear to this statement.
Read, approved, signed
Witness then swore the following oath: I swear by Almighty God that I have spoken the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.
(signed) Dr. R e g e r (signed) D r e s c h e r
Source: WR I
82. How Pastor Rudolph of Grab was shot from behind
Witness Karl H i r t , a butcher of Opalenitza, made the following statement on oath:
In the prison at Schwersenz there were already other Germans and, fettered together with about 20 others, I was loaded on to a farm waggon the same evening. Two lancers of the Polish army escorted the waggon. First of all we were taken to Iwno, where we waited an hour, then we continued in the direction of Gnesen. In the early morning we arrived at a form beyond Iwno. Polish military (cavalry) were stationed on this farm. In my opinion they were lancers from the Lemberg region. When we continued further into the woods two young fellows were pulled down from the waggon on pretext that they were required to scrub boilers. They had hardly been led to a clearing when three shots were fired after them. Later, when the bodies were exhumed, I found that they had bullet wounds in the chest and had also been beaten by rifle butts. After the shooting of these two comrades, whose names were Kelm and Düsterhoft, our waggon was driven about 2 miles and a half further. When we reached the last wood before Gnesen they ordered Pastor Rudolph, of Gratz, locksmith Fritz Gulde, farmer Krok of Buk, a 16-year-old boy of Zabikowo, and two other comrades down from the waggon. They were also led into the wood by the lancers and shot from behind without any reason or cause. I asked: "What on earth are you doing, shooting innocent people?", and the reply was that I had better keep quiet or the same would happen to me.
Source: WR II
83. How Pastor Kienitz of Czempin, was maltreated
Witness Herbert L e i t l a u f , farmer in Czempin, district of Kosten, deposed on oath as follows:
On the march from Schrimm to Schroda, our Pastor Kienitz received such heavy blows from rifle butts that he collapsed in the street and was brought to his feet again only after further rifle butt blows had been inflicted, and obliged to continue to march. At Schroda, in a prison courtyard, we were forced to sit on the ground with outstretched legs, while Polish soldiers hit us with their rifle butts: Pastor Kienitz suffered in particular at the hands of a Polish ensign. When he was asked how long he had lived in Poland he answered, 21 years. The ensign then struck him in the face 21 times. He was then hit with rifle butts on the chest and back so that he dizzily reeled backwards and forwards. As soon as one of us dared to raise his knees he received a rifle butt blow on the knees. Finally -we were taken to Peisern. On the march to the latter place, old Baron von Gersdorff stumbled out of the ranks, for which he received blows from rifle butts. When he raised his hands in protection he was shot down by two rifle bullets by soldiers.
Source: WR II
84. Man with an artificial limb not spared
Murder of the Schmolke family--four in number
Witness Robert W e i s e , M. D., at the Deaconess Hospital at Posen, on oath deposed as follows:
. . . As no waggon was at our disposal a certain Schmolke of the neighbourhood of Wollstein, who has an artificial limb from the Great War, his wife, a 16-year-old daughter and his 18-month-old son, as well as another man with an artificial limb whose name I cannot give, and a Frau Blank of Ketsch near Posen were left behind. These Germans were supposed to be brought along in a waggon. On the occasion of a midday rest the same day at Babiak, I learned from one of our escort, who was a farmhand on the Turkowo estate in the district of Neutomischel, that these Germans had been shot.
Source: WR II
85. The Murder of Freiherr von Gersdorff
Witness Fritz K r e t s c h m e r , labourer of Alt.-Boyen, deposed on oath as follows:
. . . I myself witnessed the death of Freiherr von Gersdorff. Herr von Gersdorff had lingered behind. He gabbled in delirium out of sheer exhaustion. When soldiers struck at him to induce him to walk faster, he grabbed at a soldier's bayonet to avoid the thrust. He was pushed into the ditch, and then the report of a shot was heard. Herr von Gersdorff collapsed and died. This occurrence took place while the old man wished to drink some water at an old well during a very short halt.
. . . If I am asked whether the village in question was Tarnowo, I cannot be sure. I do know that the village lies in the district of Turek and on the highway to Kutno in the region of Kosniewice. There we met a few of our comrades of Alt Boyen. Later on, Herr Gernoth, my master, the owner of the Kuschen estate, and some one unknown to me collapsed. They remained behind and we heard three shots. I never saw these three comrades again and I suppose they were shot. I, too, received a bullet in the knee when I reeled out of the ranks (left knee). I walked for another four days with this wound until we arrived at Kosniewice, where I remained lying for a day. I succeeded in escaping the next day.
Source: WR II
Witness K u h n e r t , farmer of Alt-Boyen, deposed on oath as follows:
. . . At Peisern, where, in the meantime, we had arrived, we were fettered together in the night in groups of six. The reason was a slight one, for in his sleep one of us, filled with fear, had called out:--"Halt! They are coming!" The result was an awful uproar. We were beaten and fettered. Two men who had been outside to relieve themselves never returned. I have never seen them again and they were doubtless killed. The names of the men in question I cannot give. And so we finally arrived in the vicinity of Turek, at a village whose name I don't know. In the row ahead of us was old Baron von Gersdorff, who, due to the undergone hardships, had already begun to rave. He was being borne along by a man unknown to me and by a farmer named Alfred Schulz of Alt-Boyen. Herr von Gersdorff fell behind; the men who bad been bearing him along had to leave him and a little later I heard the crack of a rifle. Persons in mufti were standing around; we, however, were not allowed near. Veterinary surgeon Bambauer of Schmiegel also witnessed the occurrence and reported the details.
We were allowed to drink out of a dirty, stinking pool, but we were so parched that we greedily rushed at it. On the market place of the village whose name is unknown to me the police left us for an hour at the mercy of the populace, who took advantage of the occasion to strike and throw stones at us. I myself was a witness of one of our comrades collapsing dead, hit by a heavy stone.
Source: WR II
86. Numerous dead bodies of abducted Germans on the road to Lowitsch
Witness Max H o f m a n n of Schokken, in the district of Wongrowitz, deposed on oath as follows:
. . I myself, for example, saw how a woman of the Bromberg group, no longer able to walk and already mentally, disturbed, was beaten to death by a guard with the butt of his rifle. Also the war invalid Ernst Kiok of Jaroschau near Wongrowitz, a man of about 70, who for long had not been able to walk and lay on a waggon, was dragged off the waggon by the escort, thrown into the ditch and there beaten to death by blows from rifle butts. On our way to Lowitsch there were numerous dead bodies of interned Germans lying to the right and left of the road as well as on the road itself, so that we almost stumbled over them. It was an incredible martyrdom on the road to Lowitsch. The military passing us on the road also participated in the maltreatment, etc.
Source: WR II
87. Locomotive crushes 2 waggons filled with abducted Germans
Witness Bruno R a u h u d t , farmer in Kaczanowo, district of Wreschen, deposed on oath as follows:
. . . And so at last, after many halts, we arrived at Klodawa via Konin. . . . At night fall, it was already completely dark, the following occurrence took place:
Behind the column, at about a distance of 100 yards, stood a locomotive. This was set in motion so that it ran into the rear waggons. I was not in the last waggon, which was smashed to bits and derailed. The engine then ran on into the last waggon but one so violently that it mounted it and then fell down crushing the rear part. A number of Germans were thereby killed and many seriously or slightly injured. Among the dead were farmer Pieper of Guriczki, farmer Muhlheim of Wilhelmsau, farmer Mikos of Biechowo, farmer Grawunder of Sendschau, and others. I heard that 15 to 20 Germans thus lost their lives. The bodies were hurriedly buried immediately in the neighbourhood of the railway station.
We survivors were herded together, the injured also being brought to us. We were finally penned together in one car. The train continued on its way. At daybreak, we found that two of the seriously wounded had died in the meantime. I should like to emphasize that the injured were not even bandaged by the ambulance staff. The two bodies were hurriedly buried immediately alongside the railway line by fellow Germans who were called upon to do so by the Poles. Towards evening the seriously injured were loaded on to a lime waggon. After having spent three days on this waggon, the seriously injured at last succeeded in being transported to a field hospital. After things had become so serious, we others, in the meantime, had been unloaded from the now open railway car and led on foot in an easterly direction. The greater number of compatriots were barefooted, just as they had left the car.
Although in this locomotive incident also a policeman and another were killed, there is no doubt in my mind that the locomotive was run against our two cars intentionally in order to cause mischief among us Germans. This is clearly proved by the threats uttered by the Polish railwaymen as mentioned previously.
Source: WR II
88. The fatal march to Kutno
Personal narrative by Wilhelm Romano, manager of Wongrowitz.
On Sept. 22, 1939. Wilhelm R o m a n n deposed on oath as follows:
On Friday, Sept. 1, 1939 by virtue of a red slip of paper signed by the mayor, I was arrested by a policeman and an auxiliary policeman at about 4 p. m. and taken to the police station. There I asked police commandant Nowak what was to happen to me. He was, however, unable to give me any information. The name of the mayor of Wongrowitz was Zenkteller. I had got on well with authorities in Wongrowitz, and with the officials, but nevertheless they had managed to put me on the black list. From the police station I was removed to the gaol, where the German teacher Heuchel and I were put into two indescribably dirty cells. We were able to communicate with one another through the wall. In order to get a little fresh air, I first of all smashed in the window.
On the following day. Sept. 2, 1939, the town was bombarded. The same evening I and the other internees, who had since been brought in (there were about 52 of us), were let out of the cells and set in march to Elsenau under police escort. The war invalid Kiok, a man of 65 with a wooden leg, was allowed to ride in the car. At Elsenau we were loaded on to a local train after each of us had paid four Zlotys During the night, we remained at the railway station locked into the local train without being allowed to open the windows. We repeatedly heard the railwaymen of the train saying that it would be best to shoot us down. The next morning the train was set in motion to Gnesen. There it stood in the station throughout the Sunday, and we were not allowed to leave it. Stones and bottles were frequently thrown into the compartments in which railwaymen also participated. On Sunday evening, the train continued in the direction of Thorn. At the latter station our train was again bombarded with stones, soldiers and railwaymen again taking part. They were principally after me. I was called the fat organiser of Wongrowitz. I should add that at Gnesen we were transferred to cattle trucks, 52 persons to a truck. The ventilators were nailed up and the doors locked. At one time we were obliged to hold out for six to seven hours without the admittance of fresh air and without water. Between Thorn and Wloclawek our train, which in the meantime had increased to 20 waggons, stopped on the line because the stretch bad, obviously been put out of operation by air attacks. After about a day and a half, the journey continued in the direction of Wloclawek. There we left the train and our group of 52 men was led through the town three times, and repeatedly beaten. Aubert, for example, had the bridge of his nose smashed with an bicycle-pump. Pastor Rakette was hit in the face with a hard object so that he was covered with blood. Kiok the war invalid, who had almost become insane, was knocked down.
A long column of internees stretched along the road from Wloclawek to Kutno. Ahead of us walked a column of internees from Argenau, which had a much larger escort than we had; we had only six policemen allotted to us. All of us without exception received blows on the march to Kutno. On the road itself we saw many bloodstains which must have come from maltreated or shot internees being led along the road ahead of us. At Wloclawek an internee had received a bullet in the chest from a pistol. He told me this when, on the way to Chodtz, I was allowed to sit on a waggon for about a mile, where I found him lying. After this short ride I received violent blows with a baton from a police sergeant and was driven off the waggon with the words: "You fat dog, you can walk." The police sergeant himself then sat on the waggon and ordered me to hold on and follow. But soon the speed of the waggon increased to a trot, and I had to run. If I did not keep up I was beaten by a policeman who was riding a bicycle. I had endeavoured to ride on the waggon because I had become absolutely footsore and was also very sore between the legs. No shooting or other murders occurred in our group as far as Chodtz, but during the night march we were often badly ill-used. Kiok had a brick thrown at his head, whereupon he fell to the ground and remained lying. He was, however, picked up by the group following ours and led up. to us. At about 1 o'clock at night we arrived at Chodtz and had to remain lying out in the open until morning. On the following day, the roll vas called and we were placed in a shed of the local sugar mill. We here met a group of about 30 internees from Hohensalza, as well as some from Bromberg. Before we were marched off we were divided up into groups of a thousand each. Later I heard from the army captain in charge of our group that there were not quite 6,000 internees marched off from Chodtz. I was in the third group. On the way there was wild shooting at those who tried to escape or reeled out of the ranks or fell and were unable to continue. As far as Kutno I did not see anyone shot with my own eyes because it was night. But when anybody strayed behind and fell we soon heard a shot, from which we concluded that he had been finished off by a bullet. We arrived at Kutno the next morning, where we rested and, for the first time, received a scanty meal. One loaf of bread had to do for 16 men. I should remark that, during the day, we had been accompanied by German planes which were evidently observing our fate.
When we passed Polish troops they struck at us with spades; in one of the groups behind us they shot with machine guns, once 50 to 60 shots being fired in succession.
Just before reaching Kutno, one of our number who was walking on a field alongside the road ran into the arms of some Polish troops. I saw two soldiers strike him with the butts of their rifles until he was dead. In another case a man's head was literally trampled under foot by Polish soldiers. Behind Kutno I saw an internee lying dead on the road; he had been beaten to death by rifle butt blows. From what I heard he had asked for some water, and his murder was the reply. Polish soldiers repeatedly advised our escort to kill us off as we were going to be shot anyway. I further saw a policeman using his baton on a woman carrying a child on her arm. Later on, I found her lying on the road face downwards. In my opinion she was dead The march from Kutno to Lowitsch had to be done without a halt, that is 40 to 45 miles. It was a special forced march because German troops were approaching our column. At Lowitsch our group was led to a place encircled by barbed wire. The Polish military fired at this place with machine guns. On this occasion a certain Franke of Deutschfeld near Schokken received three bullets, tried to rise, and was dead. I passed by and managed to close his eyes. In the meantime a group of soldiers approached whom we took for Germans. First there were 2, later 12. As soon as we were certain they were German soldiers we ran towards them, the Polish machine gun fire still being directed on us. After a German machine gun had engaged the Polish machine gun the latter was silent. After our release I saw numerous internees being carried together. They were loaded on to a motor truck.
The Rogasen group had -a worse time than even we had. Barber Seehagel of Rogasen could give detailed information about this. He now lives at Bukowitz, which is 5 miles from Wongrowitz. Polish military fired into the ranks of this group when German tanks approached. I was able to convince myself that he had a bullet wound in the shoulder. Further information of this group can be given by the merchant Thorn and the manufacturer Schutz of Rogasen. These two still reside at Rogasen.
In conclusion I would remark that all of us were completely broken in spirit so that we wanted to commit suicide. In my opinion, about 20 to 25 percent went mad, but many recovered their senses, especially after the release by German troops. I saw the former senator Dr. Busse completely broken down, and he is still in hospital at Lodz. The wife of an estate manager from the Argenau region lay insane in the Lowitsch hospital. I heard her screaming and shouting. Whether she is still alive I do not know.
Dictated aloud, approved, signed
Source: WR II