The photo above captures the scene of a female refugee returning to Warsaw 1945—a city reduced to graves and rubble. This woman could easily have been Halina Gorcewicz arriving back in Warsaw.
Halina Gorcewicz’s escape from captivity, her trek and arrival back in Warsaw was not the end of her terrible ordeal. This time it was not the Germans but the “liberators” of the Red Army that were to be feared. She writes:
“...Terrible things were happening in the period immediately following my return to Warsaw. Large numbers of Warsaw people were settling in among the ruins wherever and however they could. Russian soldiers were prowling round the houses and knocking on doors, garlanded with sausage rings, with bottles of vodka in their pockets, looking for "dziewoczki" (girls). They were often persistent, blocking partly-opened doors with a foot, forcing their way in like wild animals and raping women. In this manner two of my former friends, the Zdunczyk girls, were murdered in front of their parents, who were terribly beaten up because when they answered the door they maintained that there were no girls in the house."
Above: Varsovians settling in the ruins of the city, 1945.
Above: Warsaw occupied by the Red Army after liberation 17 January 1945.
"....Rape, robbery, attacks and great lawlessness reigned. God forbid if the Russians learnt that someone had taken part in the Uprising. They were judged by a kangaroo court and executed on the spot. Later there were arrests and transportation to "the white bears" - or Siberia - where they were finished off. Many people of my acquaintance were killed in this way. They included the former tenants of the house in which we lived, a couple called Borkowski. They never found their son, but he had taken part in the Uprising. A week after my return they were dragged out from their apartment and shot in the yard. I was horrified."
Above: Red Army soldiers in Warsaw 1945.