Crimes at the Radium Institute Hospital
Record No. 45 / II
ten and eleven o’clock on the morning of August 5, 1944, numerous military
formations were seen approaching from the direction of the houses of Wawelska
Street. Soon afterwards about a hundred soldiers in German uniforms, belonging
to Vlassov’s detachment (ROA) [ RONA ], rushed into the building of the Radium
Institute, shouting and shooting at random.
gang of drunken soldiers, having first secured the exits, began searching
and plundering. There were at the time about 90 patients and 80 members of
the staff with their families in the building. They were robbed by the soldiers
of all their jewels, watches, and money and even of such trifles as fountain-pens,
automatic lighters, or pocket mirrors. The fact that the institution was
a hospital, which was explained to the soldiers and was in any case obvious
owing to the presence of the patients and the staff in their white coats,
left the soldiers indifferent.
having been robbed, the whole staff were driven by threat of machine-gun-fire
into the hospital garden, where the stage was set for an execution.
insulting and threatening shouts and shots fired in all directions, the victims
were lined up in rows of three and forbidden to look round; and then an order
was given to set up machine guns in their rear.
husband of one of the patients, who slightly transgressed against the above-mentioned
order, was killed on the spot by a revolver shot.
whole party were then led in this order from the hospital garden across the
Mokotow field and along streets in which lay dead bodies with skulls split
open, to a camp at 'Zieleniak'. There they were kept for four days and nights
in the open air, without food or water. Time and again women were assaulted,
dragged out and violated by the drunken soldiers. Some of the Staff of the
Institute were then transported via Pruszkow to Germany. Others succeeded
in escaping from the transport and stayed in the vicinity of Warsaw.
must here mention the fact that when the Hospital Staff were taken straight
from their work, dressed very lightly, mostly in their white coats, they
were not allowed to take anything with them, and if anybody happened to be
carrying a parcel oar a small suitcase, it was immediately taken from him.
90 patients confined to bed remained in the hospital, and 9 members of the
staff had hidden in the chimney flues, and thus avoided expulsion.
same day the plundering and demolishing of the buildings was begun. Doors
were broken down, stores, cupboards, safes and suitcases were broken open,
and glass was smashed. All the mattresses, pillows, blankets, and linen were
ripped up and thrown about in the corridors and wards of the hospital. The
ether and spirits were drunk and the store-rooms emptied.
valuable things (clothing, linen, dresses, or silver) were stolen or thrown
out of the windows and destroyed. Female patients were assaulted and violated.
the next day, August 6, 1944, the barbarity of the drunken soldiers reached
its climax. Some of the seriously sick and wounded, lying on the ground floor
(about 15 in number), were killed with revolver shots, after which their
mattresses were set on fire under their dead bodies. As not all the shots
hit their mark, and those that did were not always fatal, some women who
were too weak and ill to move were burnt alive. Only one of them, although
badly burned and very weak, dragged herself out of bed and crawling on all
fours escaped immediate death.
these atrocities were going on, petrol was poured on the floors and the Institute
was set on fire, all the exits having first been covered by machine-guns.
In spite of this three women (an X-ray assistant, a nurse and a patient)
managed to slip out of the building. Two of them were caught, and after having
been violated many times by the soldiers were brutally murdered. Their common
grave has been found in the hospital garden, where they were buried by those
who were forced to dig trenches.
remaining patients, on the upper floors, over 70 in number, and seven members
of the staff who had managed to hide themselves, remained in the burning
building, making desperate efforts to find some place where they could hold
out against the suffocating smoke and burning heat of the fire. That day
the unfortunate victims saved their lives for the moment, thanks to the fact
that the Institute was burning comparatively slowly, owing to the absence
of any great quantity of inflammable material and to the existence of fire-proof
parquet floors. But later all the patients and one nurse were killed.
less terrible were the scenes which took place in the science building of
the Institute. It is true that the inmates were taken to the 'Zieleniak'
camp, but the building was set on fire and the people from the adjacent building
(belonging to the Navy) were brought there. The women and children were separated
from the men, who were driven into the burning building under the threat
of machine-gun-fire. In this way eleven men perished in the presence of their
After committing these revolting
atrocities, the soldiers left the Institute for a while. The 70 patients
and the 7 members of the staff still remained in the building. The nurses
stealthily cooked hot food for the patients at night and looked after them.
Between August 6 and 9 Vlassov’s men returned from time to time to the hospital,
and took away girls of 13 or 14, whom they violated and then killed in the
garden. They repeatedly carried out executions in the grounds of the Institute,
after driving their victims to the spot from the city, and sometimes they
set fire to the building again.
the German soldiers also came with cans and carried away all the valuable
objects from the hospital, such as X-ray apparatus, laboratory outfits, or
When begged by members of
the staff still remaining in the building to transfer them to a safer place,
they answered that they could not do so.
August 19, Vlassov’s men came back again and the final destruction of the
Hospital began. The few members of the staff were ordered to leave the Institute
and to take out all the patients. Among the latter were three women very
seriously ill, who could not even walk. One of them was carried out into
the garden by a woman member of the staff, who however, did not succeed in
saving the other two, for a soldier rushed up and shot them, and then poured
petrol over their bodies, which he set on fire. One of them was the woman
mentioned above, who on August 8 had crawled from her burning bed and so
saved her life — but only for a fortnight.
everybody had left, the building was set on fire: 2 members of the staff
had not obeyed the order and were still hiding in a chimney.
the soldiers noticed in the procession a very sick woman, staggering and
helped along by the others (it was the one who had been carried out by a
member of the staff), they ordered her to be laid down near the wall of 19,
Wawelska Street, where one of them shot her, and then set fire to the body.
the 'Zieleniak' camp only 4 members of the Staff survived. The remainder,
about 70 patients and one nurse, were drawn up three deep, and marched into
the Health Centre Building, where an officer was waiting for them and shot
them through the head. Their dead bodies, — indeed probably some were still
alive — were piled up in the execution room, sprinkled with petrol, and set
on fire. In this way, all the patients at the Radium Institute were massacred.
the 9 members of the staff who remained in the building after August 5, 1944,
two nurses were murdered (one of them after having been violated many times),
one woman employee escaped from the burning building and was saved, four
were taken to the "Zieleniak', and two stayed hidden in the chimney flues
for a couple of months. They left as late as October 1944. In this report
of indescribable German atrocities, the following two points should be stressed:
1) that the inmates of the Radium Institute had not by their behaviour given
any cause whatever for reprisals, 2) that the terrible crimes perpetrated
by Vlassov’s men were carried out by order of the German authorities to whom
they were subordinated, and who knew of their barbarity.
the action was planned and premeditated by the German commanding is proved
also by the following circumstances: 1) that Vlassov’s men were purposely
given drink before marching on the city, 2) that one of the murderers stated
on August 5 in the Institute: "The building won’t be burnt to-day, for we
haven’t any orders yet", and 3) that the German Chief of Hospital and Ambulance
Services in the Warsaw sector, Captain Borman, declared to a doctor, who
begged him to intervene in the matter of the Radium Institute: "It is of
no importance if several old women with cancer perish — the most important
thing is to win the war."