Monday, 30. April 1945

Warsaw Street: Liberation of Zenobius Gorzkiewicz

"In April we withdrew to Berlin with our guards. Not far from the Warsaw train station we were detained in the courtyard of a large apartment building... We were ordered to hand over all documents, letters and photos, even the badges with the letter "P"... Then they threw everything in one pile and set it on fire. We were led to an air-raid shelter ... Some Germans asked us to give them civilian clothes.

On April 30th, we could see through a crack the Soviet soldiers marching in. There were some among us who spoke Russian. We immediately raised a white cloth. Then some Soviet soldiers ran towards us and ordered us to come out one by one with our hands up. Our interpreters said there were about 300 of us. One of the officers put together a special platoon and ordered in Russian that Poles and other prisoners should line up on the right side of the yard and Germans on the left. When everybody left the bunker, they shot the Germans in front of us..."

Zenobius Gorzkiewicz was born on February 1, 1929 in the village of Grodzisko,
Voivodship Łódź. During the German occupation, Gorzkiewicz's family was active in the underground, at the junction between the Generalgouvernement and the territories attached to the German Reich. As a 13-year-old, Gorzkiewicz was captured in a tram during a raid in June 1942 and taken to a Gestapo prison. Three days later the Gestapo deported him to the German Reich together with other prisoners. He is first taken to a transit camp in Frankfurt (Oder), then to Wildau. Here, Gorzkiewicz has to work in the Schwartzkopff company's tool depot for the production of armaments. Later he is employed as a turner. The company's camp is surrounded by barbed wire and watchtowers, armed guards guard the entrance. The rations and medical care are catastrophic. Gorzkiewicz must wear the "P" badge on his clothes. In early 1945 Gorzkiewicz is taken away by the Wehrmacht and forced to build trenches and anti-tank barriers. He is transferred to Seelow where, in April 1945, he is forced to supply the German soldiers in the trenches with food under constant fire at the front.

(Source: Letter from the former Polish forced labourer Zenobius Gorzkiewicz dated 05.02.1998 and interview dated 21.08.2001 © Nazi Forced Labour Documentation Centre, Berlin History Workshop Collection.