| A Polish Academic Information Center Exhibit |
|The 1994 Warsaw Uprising - An assertion of sovereignty and hope.|
Evacuation through the sewers
September 1. 1944
I am to lead the Wigry detachment; about 50 men. The wait under a wall for the order to descend into the sewer. On the other side of the wall, the battle rages. The sewer manhole is under heavy fire. Planes are bombing ceaselessly. Finally, the order is given. I lead and they jump in one after another. I have to wait quite a while, but finally they are all down. I tell them to take a count, but they swear and refuse.
"What for?" the men ask. "This is no parade, don't bother us. Let's go."
The are dead tired, many have flesh wounds, some are scared of the sewers.
"Precisely because this ain't a parade, you will take a count," I reply. "I do not intend to lose any of you in the sewer."
After a long moment, they decide to do as bid. I instruct them that they must not use any lights nor do any talking in the sewer, for voices carry far ahead. They must follow each other in single file, I tell them, and there will be no swapping of places.
We start. After a few minutes someone starts swearing. Flashlights are switched on. The din is getting louder by the minute. I stop and try to calm them down, but with a group of 50 guys who are in the sewers for the first time, that's no easy task.
"What the hell, what are you?" I shout, raising my voice above the din. "A bunch of civilians, or what? Don't you understand when one talks to you? Silence! Right now or I'll blow off the head of the first one that talks."
Wonder of wonders, it works. Did they become afraid? Or maybe they felt ashamed. All's quiet and we move ahead. In any event, my threat was quite ridiculously empty: I don't have a firearm, even one of the most puny kind.
We reach the exit manhole. I climb out. Helping hands assist those who follow me.
From the diary of Teresa Wilska
transl: Peter K. Gessner