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Sven Grafström

Transferred to Warsaw in 1936.

We arrived in Allenstein at six in the morning. There was coffee for those who had the strength to get up, and a chance to refuel from the railway wagon, free as it used to be before. I had some time to look at the co-eaters. There are a lot of frightened South Americans, unkempt Eastern Europeans and my best or worst friends from neutral European countries.

An endless line of private cars and buses left the embassies in the direction of Radzymin. Poles managed to provide buses for those who do not have cars! De Laval’s and Widéna’s cars failed to withstand the overload, they have already left. Fortunately, some Swedes received a seat in the buses - although it was not initially planned.

Something special happened today: I washed in warm water for the first time in 14 days, partly thanks to reports written until 1933, they served to heat the water.

At 3:15 pm German planes dropped leaflets over Warsaw, here is the content: We ask the city to surrender. If this does not happen, the civilian population will have 12 hours to leave the city and exit in the direction of Siedlce and Garwolin, after which the German military authorities will consider the city a fortress and act accordingly.

The German declaration that they will not spare civilians does not cause any special emotions, even the fact that it was announced in an open and cynical way. For it is a fact that since the outbreak of war Germans have ruthlessly bombarded open cities, refugees, women and children in the fields, etc. The reports that I received are so numerous and unambiguous that one cannot speak of individual mistakes.

In front of me there is a pile of grenade fragments that fell into the embassy grounds during the night. Fortunately, they did not do much damage or hit anyone. In Ujazdowskie Avenue, 600m from here, the edifice of the General Inspectorate of the Armed Forces is burning. There is a valuable Piłsudski archive in the building.

Newspapers published the news that enemy fire damaged the Belweder and Piłsudski's apartment. From the front of the embassy, nothing noticeable stands out, so Forsberg and I went to see the building from Łazienki Park. Here, unfortunately, we saw a lot of holes in the wall and cracked windows, clearly from machine gun fire. My theory is that the damage was caused by Polish projectile defenses that went too low. It cannot be the result of artillery fire. Maybe the building was shot from a plane, but because of the location, it seems highly unlikely.

No traffic at all. Few people. A crowd of civilians, some barefoot, building a barricade under a soldier’s directions, a small group of Red Cross nuns, frightened, housewives hunting for food ... Many open shops, there is no lack of canned food and fruit. It is harder to get potatoes, fats,  and milk. We will see what the "diplomatic shop" can provide. 

They erected a barricade all throughout the night and the morning at the other end of Bagatela Street, from Ujazdowskie Avenue. At the moment, at half past seven in the morning, pneumatic tools are drilling the asphalt. Access by car is impossible. Strong artillery fire without interruption.

We built a barricade at the gate to prevent refugees from entering the embassy.

From a reliable source about the situation this morning: Germany has moved from the north to a distance of 8 km from the capital, from the south 15 km and from the west 40 km. It is a matter of the shortest time before the city falls. Fires in many places.

I went to the roof, and despondently looked at the horizon closing in on all sides. I took pictures. The weather is still great.

Political reports until 1933 are now stored in the armoured cabinet where there used to be ciphers, blanks passports, stamps, seals and other notes. I do not want to burn the ciphers. Swedish flags are hung on two walls of the house, like oriental rugs.

Warsaw still hasn’t fallen. It is difficult to know where the Germans arrived. Information is not trustworthy. The Swedish radio mainly concerns itself with relations in China. English radio is extremely cautious. German radio broadcasts victory reports, clearly exaggerated; Polish news, despite being cautious, sound too optimistic. We do not know anything about what is happening on the western front.

The city looks calmer today, yesterday it looked close to panic.

Barring a miracle, it seems that it is only a matter of time before the Germans take the city. Civilians supervised by the army are digging trenches at various locations in the city centre; in Ujazdowskie Avenue, near the embassy, there are anti-tank guns. It appears that, without leadership, true Polish "legionnaires" will defend the city against the significantly more numerous enemy to the last drop of civilian blood.

In general, at least from a layman's point of view, the way the defense is led looks headless. It will be a subject for military historians one day.

Today I helped the military attaché send the following telegraph to the general headquarters: "Very serious situation, Germans are reaching Piotrków through Radomsko and Przasnysz through Ciechanów, decisive battles expected as of tomorrow, it could be the Battle of Cannae again, main headquarters probably departing from Warsaw tomorrow".

The situation is indeed serious. The government is evacuating to Lublin today. In the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I found the courtyard filled with packages, officials running from room to room, female officials crying. It wasn’t literally panic, but a state bordering on chaos.


People are celebrating on the streets: a terrifying, unconscious, cruel, changing crowd -- ready to kiss but also bite, identical in Warsaw, London, Paris, and Berlin. Everything seems mindless, meaningless. My poor wife. Perhaps her brothers are dead, both are on the front line, Heinz in the tank regiment, Klaus in the infantry. Yesterday I heard that the Poles neutralized about one hundred tanks. Will Sweden stay out of it this time? It would require deft maneuvering, great caution and a lot of luck.


Today, the air raid was not as intense as yesterday afternoon. The hoarse Polish “Fryderyk” kept the staff running to the basement shelter and back with its repeated, moaning “ooweeee”. In the evening, bridge with Widén of the Match Monopoly. It is difficult to drive a car through darkened streets with blue paper glued over the headlights, but it is possible. At Widén’s we listened to news from England and Sweden. I suppose tomorrow the governments in London and Paris will declare war. Their hesitation so far is probably caused by the last preparations, like the evacuation of London, and so forth.


War! The alarm woke me up at half past seven in the morning, but it seemed to be an exercise and I fell asleep again. At eight thirty the minister called to say that the local press office reported that the Germans had bombed Krakow and many other cities at dawn. A new alarm soon after. We understood that it was serious and all went to the shelter. Forsberg and I, in helmets and gas masks, went to the attic to extinguish any potential incendiary bombs. As I write, there were already four alarms. During the alarms we heard distant detonations. Bombs were not supposed to fall on the city.