Early history - Combat use in 1939 - Description
|Armoured train "Śmierć" in its composition from 1930s, in new camouflage (circa 1937). A locomotive is Ti3-8 of the same class, from the train "Paderewski".|
By the end of October 1918, the Great War was rapidly coming to an end, while the Austro-Hungarian Empire and army were disintegrating. Newly constituted Polish authorities started to gather Polish territories back from century-lasting German and Austrian occupation(W), and gain arms from them to defend the independence. One of the most valuable acquisitions was a whole Austro-Hungarian armoured train, captured by the Polish underground military organization. It was next used by the Polish in wars against Western Ukraine, the Soviet Russia and in World War II.
Note: W marks external links to relevant Wikipedia articles.
|P.P.2 "Śmiały" in 1920 – this artillery wagon (here with 8 cm M.5/8 gun) and infantry wagon will be later found in the "Śmierć". It is interesting to compare the wagons with later ones. |
The Austro-Hungarian army employed at least twelve regular armoured trains during World War I. Most of them – eight, consisted of standard type armoured stock, but their detailed composition differed. Except for two strongest trains with two artillery wagons and one infantry wagon, hauled by two locomotives, most trains had only one artillery wagon, or sole infantry wagons, although their composition was changing with time. By the end of the war, the rolling stock of the 3rd Armoured Train Detachment (3 k.u.k. Panzerzug Abteilung) was seized at Kraków-Prokocim station in Kraków(W) by the underground Polish Military Organization(W) (POW) on 1 November 1918[3,12]. The captured train was a mix of k.u.k. Panzerzug (PZ) III and VIII armoured trains in their late composition – with one infantry wagon originally coming from the PZ.I and another from the PZ.IV. Older publications claimed, that it was Panzerzug V or "type V" train, which was not correct. It consisted of two armoured locomotives series 377, two standard type artillery wagons and two (or three) standard infantry wagons[note 1]. On 3 November 1918 the train was manned by the Polish crew, and soon divided into two trains: P.P. 1 "Piłsudczyk" and P.P. 2 "Śmiały", which became first regular armoured trains of the Polish Army (even preceding officially acknowledged date of Polish independence, 11 November 1918). Each train was given one locomotive, one artillery wagon and one infantry wagon, and then was completed with further Polish-built improvised armoured wagons. Both trains were at once moved to Przemyśl(W) and Lwów (Lviv)(W), in order to defend these cities against Ukrainians [note 2].
Both "Śmiały" and "Piłsudczyk" fought in Polish-Ukrainian war 1918-1919(W) and Polish-Soviet war 1919-1920(W). In 1921 both trains were equipped with modern twin-turret artillery wagons of Polish design (type III). Old Austro-Hungarian artillery wagons of "Śmiały" and "Piłsudczyk" and the infantry wagon of "Śmiały" were given to armoured train "Zagończyk" (P.P. 12). After disbanding of "Zagończyk" in 1929, its three ex-Austro-Hungarian wagons were assigned to the armoured train "Śmierć", being a subject of this page. The other infantry wagon served in "Stefan Czarniecki" armoured train (P.P. 8), also disbanded in 1929, and finally in "Pierwszy Marszałek". A final composition of Polish armoured trains, with minor changes, was established in 1930.
|A badge on train's wagon in 1920-21.|
Original armoured train "Śmierć" was created in August 1920 at Zieleniewski Factory in Kraków, and was assigned a number 23 (P.P. 23 - Pociąg pancerny – armoured train nr 23). At that time, the Red Army had repelled allied Polish and Ukrainian forces from eastern Ukraine and was advancing towards Lviv and Warsaw. In July 1920, the Polish headquarters ordered a haste construction of several new armoured trains, to compensate for units lost during withdrawal [note 3]. The Armoured Trains' Construction Management (KBPP) in Cracov raised two trains: the "Śmierć" and the "Bartosz Głowacki". The first train was being constructed under a name "Śmierć komunie" (Death to the communism), in a spirit of Soviet trains' names, like "Smiert' Direktorii" (Death to the DirectorateW) or "Smiert' parazitam" (Death to parasites), but the Polish headquarters accepted only the name "Śmierć" (Death). A commander, Lt. Henryk Amrogowicz and most of the crew came from a destroyed wide-gauge train P.P.5 "Piłsudczyk-szeroki".
|The "Śmierć" during a ceremony on 18 August 1920 at Grzegórzki station in Kraków – visible are: a part of wooden wagon, a steel-protected wagon no. 425627 (with truncated corners at one end) and the 73 class fully armoured locomotive. The steel wagon was later found, after modifications, in 1939 "Danuta" train. [family archive of M. Żurawska]|
Because of military situation, not entirely completed train was handed to the Army on 18 August 1920 r. in Cracov and moved to front to Łowicz – Nieszawa area, assigned to the 5th Army. A great battle of Warsaw(W) had just ended with the Polish victory by that time, so the train was moved to Lublin, assigned to the 3rd Army of the Central Front. It distinguished itself in fighting against Budionny's Konarmia (1st Cavalry Army)(W) near Zamość(W). In late September it was moved to Brest-Litovsk area and guarded a bridge on the Muchawiec (Mukhaviets). Then it was moved to Vilnius region. It took part in operation of occupying Vilnius, under a pretext of Gen. Żeligowski's "mutiny"(W). As a result, a puppet country, Central Lithuania(W) was created. Apparently in connection with it, the train was renamed "Pogoń" (The Chase, a coat of arm of Lithuania(W)) – but soon renamed back (on 7 December 1920?).
Initially the train was composed mainly of improvised armoured rolling stock, made of covered wooden freight box wagons, protected with concrete and other materials. It had also at least one steel-protected infantry wagon (no. 425627), with distinctive truncated corners at one end, covering a brakesman's cab. It probably was fitted with a field searchlight in a turret on a roof (presumably Austrian 60 cm). According to K. Margasiński, the train was composed of one artillery wagon with 8 cm (76.5 mm) fortress gun two infantry wagons with machine guns, one searchlight wagon, two ammunition wagons and two flatcars. The Austrian 8 cm gun was probably fitted in ahead-firing casemate mounting. Other armament were 10 Russian Maxim 7.62 mm MGs, 2 Colt 7.62 mm M1895 MGs and 130 rifles. Only in October 1920, after a ceasefire, the train received second, unknown artillery wagon. The photograph shows, that initially the train temporarily had kkStB class 73 locomotive with less common full armour, without commander's turret (probably it was 73.157, built in early August 1920 in Kraków for incomplete "Orzeł Biały" train, then used temporarily in the "Pierwszy Marszałek"). By 1 September 1920 the train received G51-4018 locomotive (no information on its original railway direction), fully-armoured according to KBPP Warsaw design.
This part created thanks to research by Krzysztof Margasiński.
|The "Śmierć" in early 1920s, with G51-4018 locomotive, armoured in Warsaw (according to an inscription), in an interesting camouflage. [collection of M. Sosenko]|
After the war, the P.P. 23 "Śmierć" was among only twelve trains assigned in June 1921 for further service, while the other twelve were disbanded. The train's half-improvised rolling stock was changed to more valuable one, but details are not known. By 1923 it was given new number 8, which it carried for a short time; its commander at that point was Lt. Czesław Kowalski. It should be noted, that Polish armoured trains underwent several organisation changes in 1920s and 1930s, combined with swapping, reconstruction and renumbering of their stock, and only lately it became possible to research these changes, but not to the full extent and with limited certainity.
In winter of 1923/24, all Polish armoured trains got demobilised and were stored – among them was also "Śmierć". It was given new number 4 (P.P. 4), and in case of a mobilization it was to create the 2nd Armoured Train Unit with the train "Paderewski". According to newest research by A. Jońca, it consisted at that time of:
In 1927, the "Śmierć" got its final administration assignment to the 1st Armoured Train Unit (1. Dywizjon Pociągów Pancernych) in Legionowo(W) near Warsaw (sometimes described as basing in nearby JabłonnaW). During last major reorganization of Polish trains in December 1929, their number was reduced to ten, and the "Śmierć" received its classic composition, of three ex-Austro-Hungarian wagons from the "Zagończyk": two artillery wagons (141 164 and 141 455) and the assault wagon (390243). In late 1920s or early 1930s, the train's stock underwent several modernizations, like other Polish trains. It received radio and signal equipment and Westinghouse pneumatic brakes.
|Poor quality, but unique early photograph of modernized 114 164 wagon, dated 1929 year.|
|Howitzer wagon 248193 in original form in 1920-21.|
By 1930 the Austro-Hungarian artillery wagons were rebuilt, their armament was standardized (75 mm wz. 02/26 guns and 7.92 mm wz. 08 machine guns) and they received anti-aircraft machine gun turrets instead of obsolete superstructures. In early 1930s the armoured locomotive was changed to Ti3-5 of new standard Ti3 (G53) class. In late 1930s the train was painted in a standard three-color camouflage. It had not been brought back from reserve to active service before a mobilization in 1939. However, on contrary to the majority of Polish trains, a composition in which the "Śmierć" went to another war, differed from its previously established one.
In August-September 1939, during a mobilization, the 1st Armoured Train Unit formed five trains, among them armoured train Nr. 15 of former stock of the "Śmierć" (the names were not used anymore officially). According to a plan, it was to be ready on the third day of the mobilization. For many years it was believed in publications, that the train Nr. 15 was composed of two Austro-Hungarian wagons armed with single 75 mm cannons, and one assault wagon of the same origin, like on the official title photograph. Such version was also initially present on our page. Only recently it has been researched and confirmed with photos, that during the mobilization, one of the original artillery wagons was replaced with an other artillery wagon armed with a 100 mm howitzer to strengthen its firepower (no. 430047, formerly 248193).
It might be noted, that a presence of the howitzer wagon was first mentioned in little-known article by J. Magnuski in 1989, but he claimed, that it was given in addition to two original artillery wagons, and its look was not known. The photographs of the howitzer wagon were published for the first time for wider public on our page in 2004, shortly after they had appeared on auction portals and Internet forums. Further research revealed, that the howitzer wagon replaced one of original artillery wagons (153 650, ex 141 455), and the train retained a typical composition of Polish armoured trains, with only two artillery wagons. In addition, there are no photographs of the captured train that would show its both original wagons. A fate of the second artillery wagon is not known – it might have been included into the evacuation train of the 1st Armoured Train Unit in September 1939, which had one unidentified two-axle artillery wagon, but without an ammunition. The train itself was abandoned near Siedlce on 12 September.
"Śmierć" means "Death" in Polish. It is pronounced in English like: [ shmy-air-tch ], but softer.
|The train Nr.15 at Modlin station, captured by the Germans. Visible is the new howitzer wagon, the locomotive and the cannon wagon, with a flatcar behind.|
The armoured train Nr. 15 was commanded by Cpt. (kapitan) Kazimierz Kubaszewski. The train was initially at Polish C-in-C disposal. It completed its mobilization in Legionowo only on 4 September 1939, then was assigned to the Army "Modlin" (deployment map). During the next day, the train operated on a line Nasielsk(W) – Ciechanów(W), and along with the train Nr.13, appeared very useful, fulfilling reconnaissance duties and providing the Army staff with situation reports. One of its armoured draisines Tatra was destroyed that day by AT-guns during a patrol near Nasielsk town.
From 8 September the train was subordinated to Modlin fortress(W) Defence HQ. On the next day, due to a damaged bridge on the Bugo-Narew(W), the armoured train lost contact with its auxiliary section, and had to operate without it (the auxiliary section went to Legionowo, then to Warsaw). When German siege of Modlin started, from about 15 September, the train was used as a mobile artillery in the fortress area, manoeuvring on a several kilometer track between Modlin and Pomiechówek(W) stations. It was assigned to support 1st battalion of the 32nd Regiment of the 28th Infantry Division, holding Pomiechówek area. The train appeared quite efficient in supporting Polish defenders, firing at pointed targets and helping to repel enemy attacks. On 19 September it was even fighting an artillery duel with its German adversary – armoured train Panzerzug 7, acting on a track Nasielsk – Pomiechówek. On 22 September it supported Polish II/36 battalion in a successful night counter-attack near Pomiechówek, which repelled the enemy from a right bank of the Wkra river.
During the next days, the train was not used that much due to enemy artillery superiority and ammunition shortages in the fortress. The train was mainly staying in a railway track excavation near "Ostrołęka" fort at that time. On 25 September the assault wagon was hit by enemy artillery and got burnt. Also the locomotive was damaged and reportedly replaced with a regular one (photos taken by the Germans after the siege show the train with the armoured locomotive, although fire-damaged, so it might have been moved by external locomotive). Finally, on 29 September, the lonely fortress surrendered as one of last points of resistance in Poland. The crew destroyed the train's armament then. The train Nr.15 was the last Polish fighting armoured train. It was not used by the Germans after its capture, although they had impressed into service seized Czechoslovak trains with the same Austro-Hungarian wagons.
Main source: 
|Left: a turret of the original artillery wagon, with 75 mm wz. 02/26 cannon - well visible lengthened gun mask. |
Right: the train in Modlin, probably soon after its capture – apparently the coal is burning (possibly set on fire by the defenders). There is no assault wagon. The flatcar seems to be not a standard Pdks class. Note stripped off lower tender's armour, with inspection hatches.
|Left: a view from pedestrian bridge on the howitzer wagon. Visible is also AAMG turret and the locomotive.|
Right: later photo with dismounted howitzer. The tender had been partially stripped down of armour. The photo is from late autumn (compare trees). In a background are ordinary locomotives (the closest probably of Ty23 class). These locomotives were not attached to the train on earlier photos.
The armoured train Nr. 15 consisted of:
|Drawing from late 1930s  - in 1939, the train had a howitzer wagon instead of one of artillery wagons.|
|flatcar||artillery wagon||assault wagon||armoured locomotive||artillery wagon||flatcar|
A length of a whole armoured part (including flatcars), with two original artillery wagons, was 69 m (226 ft), weight: 215 t. "Śmierć" was a light armoured train, so the armoured section's crew was presumably only about 80 men. The whole armoured train's crew was probably up to 155. From around 1936, the train was painted in standard three-color camouflage of Polish vehicles, consisting of brown-green and dark brown irregular patches, airbrushed upon a greyish sand basic color. The patches were oblong, mainly horizontal. Earlier – from early 1930s, there was used a scheme of three unknown colours (probably dark yellow, olive green and light blue gray, like in armoured vehicles), separated with black lines. However, there are not known photographs in this camouflage. There is not known a camouflage in 1920s – at first the trains were camouflaged with unknown patterns, later they were in an uniform colour (gray or green).
|The locomotive Ti3-5 in Modlin in winter.|
[collection of A. Przeczek]
The armoured train, as a military unit, consisted of: an armoured section, a platoon of armoured draisines and an unarmoured auxiliary section. The armoured section and armoured draisines were the combat section of the armoured train, while the auxiliary section was supporting the operation of the combat section in respect of logistics and accommodation, and did not take part in combat.
The standard locomotive of Polish armoured trains in 1939 was the armoured steam locomotive PKP Ti3 class - former Prussian G5³ class, produced between 1903 and 1906 and fitted with a typical full armour in Poland. From early 1930s, until 1939, the "Śmierć" used locomotive Ti3-5 (former G53-4025 Danzig), manufactured in 1904 by Hanomag, factory number 4118. It was coupled with a typical three-axle tender 12C1 class (unknown number).
Upon the tender, there was a commander's turret. It was equipped with a short-range radio RKB/C to contact the draisines, and an intercom to contact the wagons. It also had optical and sonic means of internal communication (color lights, bells and horns). A maximum speed of a locomotive with armoured wagons was about 45 km/h (28 mph). The armoured part was equipped with Westinghouse brakes by 1930s.
|Modified artillery wagon 153 650 in late 1930s. [1,4,9]|
|Turret of the wagon captured by the Germans in Modlin|
In the 1930s, armoured train "Śmierć" had two two-axle artillery wagons of the standard Austro-Hungarian type, built by MAV railway workshops and MAVAG factory in Budapest. Only five such wagons were built in 1915–1916, though. Their original numbers were 141 164 and 141 455 (the later was next changed in Polish service to 153650). Both were initially used in Austro-Hungarian train Panzerzug VIII, and the wagon 141 164 later in Panzerzug III. In Poland they were used in armoured trains "Piłsudczyk" (141 455) and "Śmiały" (141 164), then both in "Zagończyk". In late 1920s they were modernized.
Each wagon was armed with one cannon in a turret at one end. The turret was wedge-shaped, built around a naval pedestal gun mounting. Horizontal angle of fire was about 240°. There was a central hatch in rear rounded wall. At the beginning of the service, the wagons were armed with 7 cm (66 mm) SFK L/30 naval guns, replaced in 1920 with Austro-Hungarian 8 cm (76.5 mm) M.5/8 L/30 field guns(W). By 1925 they were replaced with Russian 3 inch (76.2 mm) M.1902 L/30 Putilov field guns. Eventually in late 1920s or early 1930s they were changed to Polish 75 mm wz. 02/26 L/30 guns (modified Putilov guns), using typical French ammunition. Soon after fitting of Putilov guns, masks of the guns were lengthened (not at the same time).
Other armament consisted of two 7.92 mm wz. 08 (Maxim) machine guns in drum mountings in side doors. With partially open doors, the machine guns could flank-fire towards train's ends (a photo). It was Polish improvement of original wagons – first they had simple casemates for Russian Maxim or Schwarzlose machine guns in the sides, and a door was in rear end wall only. Also in late 1920s there was added one 7.92 mm wz. 08 anti-aircraft machine gun in a small turret on the roof, replacing an original high angular superstructure with one MG fixed towards the wagon's front and an observation cupola above. Maximum elevation of the AAMG was 90°. The ammunition carried in the wagon was presumably 3750 rounds per each MG (in 250-round belts) and 120 artillery rounds per gun, like in other Polish trains.
|Howitzer wagon 248193 in original form in "Piłsudczyk" train in 1920-21.|
|The howitzer wagon of the train Nr. 15 at Modlin station, captured by the Germans. [collection Arthur Przeczek]|
The wagons had no armour plating in fact, but were protected with 12 mm regular steel plates. Since Austro-Hungarian Army found the design too vulnerable to machine gun bullets, the protection was strengthened from the inside with 40 mm oak wood layer and the second layer of 9 mm sheet steel, which proved quite enough against machine gun bullets and splinters.
The wagon's length with buffers, according to original plans, was 753.6 cm (publications quoted 755 cm or 790 cm); axle span was 360 cm; weight was about 21 tons. The crew was about 12-15 men.
During the mobilization in 1939, the train Nr. 15 was equipped with a howitzer-armed artillery wagon, replacing the wagon no. 153650. It had number 430047 (initially 248193). It was two-axle, built in summer 1920 in Lwów (Lviv), according to Polish design by KBPP Lwów armoured train construction management. It was used in the train P.P. 1 "Piłsudczyk" in 1920-21, then completely rebuilt, retaining its configuration with a single turret at the end, but changing its look (its superstructure was made lower and fitted with a rounded roof instead of angular one). Until late 1930s it remained without assignment. Probably it was built upon German open freight wagon Omku (or Ommku) class, with 450 cm axle span and 860 cm frame length.
The wagon was armed with one 100 mm wz. 14/19A howitzer in a turret, rotating at 360°. Initially it had Russian 122 mm M.09 howitzer. Other armament in final configuration consisted of two 7.92 mm wz. 08 Maxim machine guns in cylindrical mountings in wagon's sides and the third anti-aircraft wz.08 MG in a typical turret on a roof. There is no information about its armour – it was similar to other Polish armoured trains, probably made of thick boiler steel.
|Assault wagon with Polish modifications and camouflage in late 1930s. [1,4]|
The assault wagon (Polish nomenclature) was intended for a transportation of an assault platoon. The two-axle assault wagon of the "Śmierć" was an original Austro-Hungarian infantry wagon, rebuilt in Poland in the 1930s. Its original number was S150 060, later changed in Polish service to 390243. There were three types of such infantry wagons, this one (Type 2 according to W. Sawodny) initially had a water tank for a locomotive in its middle and coal box under chassis. It also had an observation cupola, placed asymmetrically closer to one end. During the modernization, four hollow casemates for machine guns in sides were replaced with flat armour plates with Polish drum MG mountings, and a two-leaf door was cut in each side, near one end. Earlier the wagon had doors in its end walls only (one single-leaf and the other two-leaf). On contrary to the other such wagon in Polish service (in Nr.51 "Pierwszy Marszałek" train), it was not fitted with opening side sponsons, and lost its observation cupola. It was first used in Austro-Hungarian armoured train Panzerzug I, then Panzerzug VIII, then in 1918–1921 in the train "Śmiały", and then until 1929 in "Zagończyk".
The wagon's armament was four 7.92 mm wz.08 MG's in the sides. The ammunition was probably 3,750 per MG (in 250-round belts). The wagon had also numerous loopholes for rifles in sides. In Type 2 wagons there were nine loopholes in rounded roof edges on each side, with two middle ones placed higher – above the water tank. There were also two loopholes in walls outside of MG casemates (one was removed, when door was made). The armour was similar to artillery wagons. The assault platoon consisted of 32 men (1 officer, 7 NCOs, 24 soldiers, with 2 LMGs). A total wagon's crew was about 40 (with signalmen and stretcher-bearers).
In late 1920s or early 1930s, the assault wagon was equipped with Polish long-range radio RKD/P, placed in a separate radio cab in the middle of the wagon. The radio had maximum range 50–80 km with telegraphy (probably well below 20 km with voice transmission). The wagon was also fitted with a power generator, batteries, and a large clothesline aerial on the roof with two rows of five masts (differing from the wagon in "Pierwszy Marszałek" train, which had three rows of masts).
The wagon's length with buffers was 785 cm according to plans (or 753.6 cm according to less detailed plan), axle span - 360 cm, height up to the roof - 321.1 cm.
|Left: Locomotive Ti3-5 with a fire-damaged driver's cab.|
Right: Burned out assault wagon, with a damaged axle, and both artillery wagons, in Modlin, winter 1939/40.
On both ends of the armoured train there were two two-axle flatcars. Their primary function was to carry engineering materials for track repairing (tools, rails and sleepers, logs, explosives etc.). In order to carry 12-metre rails, long flatcars Pdks series were adapted as a standard. Their second purpose was to protect the train against mines or a derailment. There could also be carried eg. bicycles or scout motorcycles (part of the equipment was carried on the auxiliary train's flatcars). During march, there could be an observer upon the flatcar, operating braking valve.
The standard flatcar was Pdkz series, type C VIII, of Polish manufacture (otherwise designated as Pdks series on railways). Its weight was 10 tons, load capacity – 17.5 tons, frame length – 13 m, length with buffers - 14.4 m, wheelbase – 8 m. Special flatcars for armoured trains were modified by fitting three full-width boxes for tools underneath a chassis and 22 lockers for small parts in the chassis. Such modified flatcars had 12 stub stanchions and only one short end wall. There were not enough of military flatcars available, and Nr.15 train had only one modified flatcar and the second standard one, delivered by the Polish State Railways (PKP) during the mobilization. It should be noted however, that the photographs of the captured train don't show the modified flatcar, and the flatcar coupled to the cannon wagon seems shorter, than Pdks series.
|Tatra draisine of the train Nr.15 destroyed on 5 September 1939 near Nasielsk.|
Each armoured train, considered as a military unit, also included an unarmoured auxiliary section. The auxiliary section accompanied the combat section in operational movements and provided it with an accommodation and logistics support. It was manned by a platoon consisting of 1 officer, 21 NCO's and 26 soldiers. The length of the auxiliary section of the train was about 250 m (820 ft).
The auxiliary train consisted of: a locomotive, coaches for officers (2), wagons for NCOs (2) and soldiers (8), bureau wagon, ammunition wagons (2), fuel store wagon, technical store wagon, ambulance wagon, kitchen wagon, workshop wagon, open coal wagon, water tanker and flatcars (5) - some 27 carriages in all. According to other sources there were only 3 flatcars, but also non-regulation food store wagon and sometimes guard wagon. The coaches were three-axle Dy series, the wagons were by default two-axle adapted boxcars Kd series.
The auxiliary train also should have two wz.34 half-tracked trucks, one truck and four heavy motorcycles with sidecars CWS M-111 – carried upon three flatcars, although actual composition differed and might have contained other cars, like Polski FIAT 508/III field cars and pick-ups. Typical Polish truck was 2.5t Polski FIAT 621L (4x2). Wz.34 half-tracks were in the repair patrol, and they could be equipped with a rail-riding device, although they seem rather rare and it is doubtful, if the train Nr. 15, mobilized in last group, had any.
All corrections and additional information or better pictures are welcome!
Our Thanks to Jarkko Vihavainen, Jerzy S. Prajzner, Arthur Przeczek and Krzysztof Margasiński.
You can mail me with question or comments - corrections or photographs are welcome.
All photos and pictures remain the property of their owners, unless they are public domain. They are published in non-commercial educational and research purpose. Uncredited photos (and some of credited ones) were mostly taken by unknown German soldiers. Text copyright to Michal Derela © 1999-2020