The end: Harrowing account of the insurgents’ final days

The end: Harrowing account of the insurgents’ final days The First News/TFN

In a disturbing account of the final stages of the Warsaw Uprising, Mrs Matuszewska recalled in her memoirs: 

“Despite the worsening living conditions, the civilians were feeding us, putting out fires, building barricades, helping build underground passages, rescuing people from under ruined buildings. They risked their lives to give us some water.

“Once, after I crossed Marszałkowska street, I was running through an empty backyard somewhere between Śniadeckich street and the back of our house at 6 Sierpnia street and I saw a wounded soldier lying in a puddle full of blood. I tried to help him in spite of the ongoing shooting. He was badly wounded in the stomach and his gut was slopping out. I kept pushing them back in. He cried: ‘Don’t worry mummy, I’m sorry!’. 

“I was holding and talking to him like a mother to a son, though I was only 17. His blood was all over me. I don’t know how long it lasted, but he died in the end. I reached our flat. When my dad opened the door, I started crying myself. He hugged me and then my parents put me in a bathtub, there was a bit of water on the bottom which they wanted to drink. My mom washed me with a sponge like a baby, cleaning the blood which wasn’t mine.

“Some other time when I was coming to my troop and got to Śniadeckich street I saw a bombed house. Some people were taking out those who were lying under the debris. I spotted a blond-haired soldier who couldn’t be taken out because his leg was crushed by a piece of concrete. He wanted to live, he begged for help. People around him were desperate and helpless, because they couldn’t move a thing. 

“I realized that we had to cut off his leg, otherwise he would not survive. Somebody gave me a knife. I cut off his leg with a bone and he was taken to the ‘Future’ school at Śniadeckich street where the Order of Malta hospital was located. It was not anything unusual for a surgeon, but I still can’t believe that I did it.

“In the last days of the Uprising the Germans committed a lot of cruel murders: at Dworkowa street they shot 120 soldiers from the ‘Baszta’ battalion which fought in Mokotów. Among them was my aunt’s son – Witold Dziewałtowski-Gintowt ‘Toluś’. 

“During the execution a German officer arrived on a motorbike and told his soldiers to stop saying that the Polish soldiers should be treated as an army according to the Geneva Convention. It was too late for my cousin… .

“After we left Warsaw, the Germans equipped in flame throwers robbed and burned empty houses in the centre. They also burnt our house which wasn’t ruined until the end of Uprising.

“Although the Uprising was a defeat every one of us will always be proud of having taken part in it. The names of all our friends who died in the Uprising are written on the Wall of Memory in the Uprising Museum’s Park of Liberty.”

Alina Matuszewska, nee Jasińska was born on January 14th, 1927 in Warsaw. She was only 12 when the Second World War broke out and quickly became part of the underground resistance movement against Nazi Germany. In August 1944, like many of her generation, she took up arms in the Warsaw Uprising.

Alina met her husband, Antoni Matuszewski, when his unit, the 1st Armoured Division under General Stanisław Maczek liberated the POW concentration camp in Oberlangen, where she was held. They got engaged 6 weeks after their first meeting, since Antoni was “tall and could drive his car just as fast backwards as forward.” 

After the war the newlyweds decided to return to their homeland, fully aware it had been completely destroyed and under the influence of the Communists, who didn’t look kindly on the Home Army veterans. Ms. Matuszewska made her career in the banking sector, while  Mr. Matuszewski worked in the National Bank’s administration and transport department and the Bookshop Storehouse. They had one daughter, Anna. Mr. Matuszewski passed away in 2005.