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13 Is My Lucky Number
Story of fighter in Warsaw Uprising in WW II

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This book describes life in Warsaw under Nazi occupation 1939-1944, the creation of the Ghetto, preparations for the Warsaw Uprising, fighting in the Uprising, prisoner-of-war camp Stalag IVB, experiences as a liaison officer with the U.S.Army in occupied Germany, life in England and later United States in the 1950's and 1960's.

Excerpts from "Thirteen Is My Lucky Number" - Chapter 5.


Scenes during the Warsaw Uprising against the Nazi occupiers, August - September, 1944

On the 5th of September, the Stuka dive bombers started a systematic attack on the area around the Post Office. Most of the soldiers of our company, who were in reserve or off duty, went into the air raid shelter built by the Germans. Some kind of premonition made me admonish Lili and several others close to us, including Staszek Brzosko,
"Don't go to the shelter! Please, listen to me, stay here!"

One of the bombs fell through one of the large windows of the central hall and exploded in a stair-well just a few feet from our headquarters room.-- B-O-O-M -- a deafening explosion. Numerous noises of falling objects. Rubble fell on us. It became completely dark, smoke and dust swirled around us. Someone cried out. Then silence.

When I picked myself off the floor my ears were ringing from the concussion. The air was so full of dust and smoke that I could not see more than a couple of feet. Except for some scratches that were bleeding, I seemed to be OK. I groped around and found Lili, I could barely recognize her. A layer of gray dust covered her completely, even her face and hair, her jacket and shirt were torn. The rest of the group were in the same shape. Only one had been hurt by the typewriter which had been hurled off the table by the force of the explosion, but, fortunately he was only cut and bleeding and had suffered no serious injury.

After the dust had settled a little, we crawled over the rubble to determine the extent of the damage. When we emerged from the wreckage of the walls surrounding our room, we were stunned to see that, although the main structure of the Post Office was standing, a portion of the south wall had collapsed. A crater in the floor under the rubble revealed that the concrete roof of the bomb shelter had collapsed from the direct hit. Not a single sign of life came from the couple of dozen of our comrades who had sought security there. Quickly, rescuers came with crow-bars and picks, but there was not enough manpower to deal with the heavy blocks of concrete. There was little hope of finding anyone alive. The only survivors were those that were with me and some others who had been in a different part of the building, farther away from the explosion. We were told to move in with the Third Company which was quartered around the corner in the Gorski High School.

Lili and I picked our way past the barricades to my father's office which was only a block away. He couldn't recognize us at first. Then he managed to find a bucket of water and a towel and some soap and helped us clean ourselves off and obtained a couple of clean shirts for us to wear. After some rest and some food we returned to our group at the Gorski school.

I obtained a group of German prisoners to dig into the rubble in the vain hope that some survivor might be found. This operation went on all night long. Truly a scene from Dante's Inferno -- bearded prisoners, most stripped to the waist, the sweat on their bodies gleaming in the light of the flaming, smoky torches that provided the only illumination, worked with iron bars and pickaxes to clear away the enormous blocks of concrete, grunting and groaning from their exertion. One by one we extracted the bodies and laid them out, covering them with whatever scraps of material we could find, bits of curtains and blankets. The force of the explosion had torn their clothes off. As dawn approached, Lili found a volunteer to continue supervising the work and dragged me away to get some sleep.


While the Soviet Army for six weeks stood still only 20 miles away, the German forces were able to continue the relentless pressure against the Polish Armia Krajowa (Home Army) fighters, now desperately short of food, water and ammunition. The following fragments illustrate the desperate situation

........ ......... Heavy fighting developed along Nowy Swiat Street and the Second Company suffered heavy losses. Brzosko was wounded and I became the acting commanding officer of what was left of the unit..........
...............we were withdrawn from the battle and placed in reserve. My command was now down to 14, including Lili and another young woman from her section, most of whom had previously been wounded, as I had been. We were the only ones of the 160, that had started fighting six weeks earlier, who could at least hold a gun. The victorious battles for the Post Office, Holy Cross Church, PASTA, the aborted attempt to capture the University and during the last few days the fight to capture the Cafe Club, commanding the crucial corner of Bracka and Jerozolimskie, not mentioning a number of smaller engagements, had all taken their toll. During the final three weeks of the Uprising we stayed in reserve, quartered in the ruins of the two story house on the corner of Widok and Bracka streets that used to house a famous vendor of kielbasa.................................


On September 12 the Soviet army resumed the offensive that had been broken off the same day the Uprising had started six weeks before. Soviet planes reappeared over the city and dropped some bombs on German positions. At night small single engine planes flying at low altitude dropped small quantities of food, weapons, and ammunition without parachutes. Most of these supplies were damaged by the drop and were unusable. On September 13 the Germans pulled their troops back from the suburb of Praga on the east side of the river Vistula and blew up the bridges. Soviet troops now faced the city from across the river, too late because we had been pushed away from it except in one small area south of the bridges. Some elements of the Polish troops in the Soviet Army made two attempts to cross the river, but received inadequate artillery support and lacked sufficient boats to put enough men across. They suffered huge losses from the heavy fire of German artillery and the attempts were driven back.


Convinced that the Polish forces were doomed and, consequently, no longer a danger to Moscow's plans for communist domination of Central Europe, the Soviets finally acceded to pressure from Washington and agreed to permit a single flight of American planes to land on Russian airfields. On a bright sunny day, on September 18, the contrails of a large group of planes appeared over the beleaguered city and the white parachutes started dropping like petals from trees. It was too late, the area in our possession had been so reduced in size, and the drop was made from such a high altitude, that most of the supplies fell into German hands. This was the only attempt to provide large scale air-drops -- too little -- too late.......................

Copyright © 1996, 1997 B. C. Biega. All rights reserved.

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