“Boys hold on, death”
It was a little after three when he noticed the train lights. Jan Aścik did not wait for him to slip past him. He did what he had to do right away – he sent a dispatch to the manager of the railway station in Łapy that the train had just passed his duty room. It took a moment for him to realize he had made a mistake. The two pillars of light he noticed didn’t come any closer. But it was too late.
It was August 7, 1931. The prosecutor appeared less than two hours after the incident. It was already dawn. The rising sun revealed a macabre sight. The locomotive that ran over the last carriages of the standing train was lying on its side on the left side of the embankment. Two completely smashed carriages stood beside it. Curved railroad rails are woven into the bent sheets. The next six carriages of both trains were less damaged. Luggage and mail were scattered around. “Under the wreckage of the wrecked carriages, we could hear the moans of the dying, seriously and slightly wounded, and cries for help” – described the landscape of destruction by a journalist from Kurjer Wileński.
90 years ago in Baciuty near Białystok one of the biggest railway disasters in Poland in the interwar period took place. Based on press reports, we reconstruct how it happened.
Baciuty, around 2.50
The train from Warsaw was slowly approaching the end station – Białystok. The shells were overheating in the locomotive that pulled him. The driver stopped from time to time and oiled them, then continued on, trying to make up for the resulting delay.
It was nearly three when the train was approaching the Baciuty station, which is only 15 kilometers away from Białystok. There, Jan Aścik, on duty at the technical station, was waiting for him.
Read without limits
Access this article and other special content. For free