Safety box from Warsaw Uprising found

A hidden safe box of a Warsaw Uprising fighter was found in a flat in Warsaw’s Praga district. The possible owner of the box is known as are some details about his life prior, during and after World War II.

Access to the safety box (by Marek Michalski)

In a flat of a deceased person, his family found a safety box possibly belonging to a former inhabitant of the house, a Warsaw Uprising soldier and also the flat owner’s grandfather, Bolesław Siwak. The house at the Środkowa street, in which the safety box was found, is dated to the 1930s. The space was hidden in the frame of the door leading to the kitchen and bathroom. The box was empty, but the relatives know for family stories that it was used to store conspiratorial documents and a small pistol by the grandfather during German occupation and Warsaw Uprising in World War II.

Inside of the safety box (by Marek Michalski)

The safety box is designed in a way that allows to access it only when the doors are removed from the hinges. The box opens when the bar covering it is pushed at one end. It is possible that safety box was created by a known designer of such devices during the occupation, Wacław Teofil Radwan, pseudonym “Profesor”, privately a graphic artist and painter. He was known for designing numerous ways of storing, transporting, and hiding documents for the Polish Home Army from the Germans. A hint about this origin was given by an oil painting signed by Radwan, which was spotted in the room by the experts.

Closed safety box (by Marek Michalski)

The original owner of the flat, Bolesław Siwak, born in 1898, was a soldier, participant of the Polish-Soviet war (1919-1921) and the Invasion of Poland in 1939. During the occupation he was fighting under the pseudonym “Lech”. After the Warsaw Uprising was subdued in the the Praga district he was sent for for forced labour into Third Reich. After the war he came back to Warsaw and settled at the Środkowa street. He died in 1979.

(after Marek Michalski, WawaLove & Muzeum Powstania Warszawskiego)

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