occupation

Aug

13

1944

Married with brass curtain rings in burning Warsaw


13 August 1944: Married with brass curtain rings in burning Warsaw

Thirteen was still lucky for me. That was the date of our wedding day – August 13. A field altar was set up on bales of paper in the store upstairs. The borrowed uniform was pushed and pulled onto me over the plaster dressing of my left arm. Finally, I was ready just as Lili arrived with an honor guard composed of six of her girls, holding a bouquet of rather wilted gladiolus in her hand. An attack on our positions had occurred that morning so none of my colleagues, not even the best man, Stas Nestrypke, could come to the ceremony.

Aug

2

1944

Warsaw insurrection becomes a popular Uprising


2 August 1944: Warsaw insurrection becomes a popular Uprising

On a much larger scale it reminded me of what I had seen with Mateczka during the siege of Lwow at the beginning of my war, almost five years earlier. We were becoming a fortress. Deep trenches were dug; pavements were torn up; abandoned tramcars were manhandled into place, then overturned to provide the framework that could be filled with enough earth and rubble to stop a Tiger tank.

Aug

1

1944

The Polish Home Army breaks into the open


1 August 1944: The Polish Home Army breaks into the open

At the corner of Franciscan and Nowiniarska Streets, I saw a small hunchback holding a sub-machine gun and firing steadily at the German file of cars. The bullets bounded off the ghetto walls. When he saw me, he held out the machine gun and said, “Citizen, you fire a salvo. It is high time you had a go.”

Jul

27

1944

RAF pilot lies low with the French


27 July 1944: RAF pilot lies low with the French

To my great satisfaction, they got their wish. Four miles down the road, this two wagon convoy was strafed by Spitfires and the vehicles were turned into wizard flamers. The two drivers, however, escaped since they abandoned their lorries at the first sign of the Spitfires. This incident was seen by several Frenchmen, who expressed their pleasure later that evening.

Jul

22

1944

Polish partisans watch the German retreat


22 July 1944: Polish partisans watch the German retreat

It took hours for the tank columns to pass our positions. Our men later said that some of the Germans riding on the tanks must have spotted us, but just looked the other way. To this day, I can’t imagine how we managed to keep cool in a situation like this, when we could all have been killed and our only defense was in lying low and waiting it out. We had become a tightly disciplined group. Nobody made a false move. About half an hour after the last tank passed, we heard a huge explosion and saw flames and smoke maybe a thousand feet behind us. We later learned that one of the German tanks had broken down; the Germans blew it up, not wanting to leave it behind for the Russians.

May

3

1944

A dangerous act of defiance in Poland


3 May 1944: A dangerous act of defiance in Poland

The door was closed behind me, and I approached the organist who was just ending one of the melodies specially intended for the May service. While the organ sheltered me from the sight of the congregation, I again showed my pistol and asked the organist in honor of our great day to play the hymn “God, Who Hath Poland Saved,” which had been our national hymn since the Uprising of 1830.

Apr

26

1944

Death of an innocent man in Italy


26 April 1944: Death of an innocent man in Italy

I drive in to Chianciano, to try and make arrangements for the funeral — and find the streets entirely empty, and on the walls a notice stating that, while the German authorities deplore what had occurred, they consider it to be the fault of the local population, owing to their unco-operativeness and general hostility. In consequence, there will be a curfew at eight-thirty p.m., and the population is warned that any further attempt at sabotage will be followed by the arrest of ten hostages.

Mar

19

1944

Chaos as the Germans begin to depart eastern Poland


19 March 1944: Chaos as the Germans begin to depart eastern Poland

Some Poles are fearful of the time between the German pullout and the arrival of Russian troops or the Home Army because they think the Ukrainians will start a massacre. Overall there is a happy feeling here. The days of our slavery are now numbered. We see Germans escaping. This is the day we have been waiting for years to see.

Mar

15

1944

Officer’s sacrifice as Japanese march towards India


15 March 1944: Officer’s sacrifice as Japanese march towards India

The Japanese then arrested 270 Karens and tortured and killed many of them but still they continued to support Major Seagrim. To end further suffering to the Karens, Seagrim surrendered himself to the Japanese on 15th March 1944. He was taken to Rangoon and together with eight others he was sentenced to death. He pleaded that the others were following his orders and as such they should be spared, but they were determined to die with him and were all executed.

Mar

14

1944

Italian civilians suffer as the struggle continues


14 March 1944: Italian civilians suffer as the struggle continues

He was chained up in the usual way, weeping desperately, clearly knowing what was coming. It took the judge minutes to find him guilty and sentence him to ten years. ‘What’s going to happen no my poor family?’ he shrieked. He was led away sobbing loudly. A sickening experience.