Excerpts from "Thirteen Is My Lucky Number"
Preparing for an Uprising against the Nazis in Warsaw
These are excerpts from Chapter 5  "Uprising"

In July, 1944, The Polish Underground in Warsaw. the Home Army (A.K. or Armia Krajowa ) was in its final phases of preparing for an insurrection against the Nazi occupiers. We were desperately short of weapons.

In the middle of July, Lili told me that one of her girls, Danuta, who worked as a maid in the Hotel Polonia (reserved for German officers), had reported that an officer wanted to sell some weapons. Danuta set up a meeting with him in one of the rooms of the hotel. I undertook this mission with considerable trepidation. Even though I entered the hotel through a side-door, I still had to pass a hall full of gray-green uniforms. I felt that I was walking into a trap. Nervously, I climbed the stairs and entered the designated room. The officer was standing there, dressed in a stained field uniform.. Suddenly, I realized that he was just as nervous as I was and my confidence returned.

"I am an Austrian," he said. "Alles ist kaputt. Ich will nur nach Hause, (Everything is over. I only want to return home)."

He gave me a list of rifles and ammunition that he could supply, twelve rifles complete with several thousand rounds of ammunition. The rifles were Belgian and used different ammunition than the standard German type that was used also in Polish pre-war rifles. I wasn't sure that this was a useful purchase and started bargaining. Finally, we agreed on a very much lower price. Then, I agreed to meet again the following day.
As soon as I left the hotel, I contacted our Company Commander Frasza. He agreed to the purchase and supplied me with the required cash in German marks. The following day, I returned to the same room in the Hotel Polonia. The rifles were stacked in the clothes closet and the ammunition was packed in parcels, each the size of a loaf of bread. I examined the supplies carefully and made sure the ammunition really fitted the guns. When the Austrian came into the room I gave him a brown paper bag containing the money. Quickly, he looked inside the bag but didn't count the money, then said, "Danke (Thank you)," and left the room. I waited about ten minutes, then Danuta quietly slipped through the door. I recognized her because I had trained Lili's section in military routines and handling of weapons. We discussed how to get the stuff out of the hotel and agreed upon a plan............

....................... On August 1, 1944, as the advancing Soviet forces were within a few miles of the eastern suburbs of Warsaw, the long awaited "W" hour arrived.

........... ......... We had hoped that a fast surprise attack would help us overcome superior forces in spite of the lack of sufficient weapons. Unfortunately, the large numbers of young people hurrying through the streets aroused the suspicions of the Germans; who were already very nervous. Already at 4 p.m., sporadic shots were exchanged between German patrols and various groups. Therefore at 4:35 we received the order to move to attack.>/p>

We adjusted our red and white arm-bands, the only article of military uniform that was common to all of us. We were all in civilian clothing, dressed in whatever each of us had available when the call for assembly had reached us. Lili was attired in gray trousers and a brown sports jacket, I wore gray flannel trousers and a light-gray windbreaker. We picked up our meager supply of arms and ammunition. I carried an automatic pistol and two grenades, several of our sections had rifles and two had machine pistols, either British Sten guns or Polish fabricated "Lightnings."

I lead my platoon down the stairs and out into the street. We dashed along the street, about 50 yards to the corner. On the opposite side of the street stood my unit's first objective -- the building of the P.K.O. (Postal Savings Bank). Another of our units had proceeded us and was already entering the bank, which was only lightly guarded by some German army auxiliary personnel. They were taken by surprise and in a few minutes the entire bank was under our control; only half a dozen shots were fired.

Simultaneously, the remaining units of the 2nd Company of the Kilinski Battalion were to secure other prominent buildings in the immediate neighborhood, particularly the 16-story Prudential Building on Napoleon Square, and some Polish police stations on adjacent streets. All of these were lightly defended and within a couple of hours all had been taken. At the same time the 3rd Company was to capture the Gorski School, which was the barracks for an Auxiliary Army Unit made up of Ukrainians. This they also accomplished.

The next step in the plan was for both companies to attack the Main Post Office, which was a tougher nut to crack. In recent weeks the fortifications had been strengthened and additional armed units had been added to defend it. Seeing that the situation at the P.K.O. was under control, I moved on with my sections to our next objective - to secure the buildings facing Napoleon Square which is three blocks long and 100 yards wide with a grass lawn in the middle. I took my platoon down Jasna Street, where we exchanged shots with two Germans, hitting both of them, to Sienkiewicz Street and then to the corner of Napoleon Square. The corner building was occupied by a German para-military unit. After a brief skirmish, they managed to escape from us across the square to the Post Office.

Now we were pinned down by machine gun fire from the bunkers across the square. One of the fleeing Germans dropped a box with ammunition in the street close to the curb. I decided to try to retrieve it. I crawled out of the doorway and edged along the sidewalk to the shelter of a large concrete box, which had once held flowers. Lying prone on the sidewalk, I reached out with a broom to try to snag the box. Suddenly, the machine gun in the bunker opened fire. One of the bullets hit my left hand. It was a little after 6 o'clock and I had been in action less than two hours. I felt a tremendous searing pain and then nothing............

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

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