Warsaw Uprising. Exactly 77 years have passed since it erupted. On August 1, 1944, by order of the Commander-in-Chief of the Home Army, General Tadeusz Komorowski “Bor”, 40-50 thousand young men and women stood up to fight for freedom. On this day, as every year, Warsaw residents will commemorate their heroic struggle.
The Warsaw Uprising was the largest underground military operation in German-occupied Europe. It was planned for a few days, it lasted for 63 days. Its purpose was to liberate the capital from German occupation, under which it had been located since September 1939.
They predicted that the Warsaw Uprising would last only a few days
When deciding to start the uprising, the command of the Home Army anticipated that after a few days of fighting, Red Army soldiers would enter the left-bank Warsaw. Moreover, the insurgents counted on help from the Allies. The uprising was also of strategic importance. When the Soviet troops entered the capital, the authorities of the Polish Underground State wanted to act as host. At stake was the independence of Poland, free from German occupation.
The actions of Soviet propaganda were also important when deciding to start fighting in the capital. At the end of July, appeals began to appear on the streets of Warsaw informing about the escape of the Home Army Headquarters and the taking over of the command of the underground armed forces by the command of the People’s Army. On the other hand, the propaganda radio station Kościuszko, given by the Soviets to the Union of Polish Patriots, called on Varsovians to take up the fight immediately. In this situation, the Home Army feared that the communist subversion could lead to uncontrolled and spontaneous armed protests against the Germans, led by the communists.
The decision to start the Uprising was accelerated by the evacuation of German civilians ordered by the Nazis, as well as by the low morale in the occupant’s army due to the situation on the Western Front.
Only every fourth insurgent could count on fighting with a weapon in his hand
The order to start the Uprising was issued on July 31, 1944 by the Commander of the Home Army, General Tadeusz Komorowski “Bór”. The uprising was to begin the next day at 5:00 p.m.
In Żoliborz, the first shots of the uprising were fired before 5 pm. At around 1.30 pm on Krasińskiego Street, Home Army soldiers who were carrying their weapons to the concentration site of one of the units, encountered a German patrol. The Germans brought reinforcements from Śródmieście, and more insurgent troops joined the fighting. Before 4 p.m. the first fights also started in Wola and Śródmieście. In the “W” hour, tens of thousands of insurgents joined the fight in the capital. Only one in four could count on starting it with a gun in his hand.
On the first day, the insurgents seized, among others, food and uniform warehouses at Stawki, barracks at the school at Okopowa, the Military Geographical Institute in Aleje Jerozolimskie, the building of Miejskie Zakłady Komunikacyjne at the corner of Świętokrzyska and Marszałkowska streets, the tallest building in the city – Prudential at Plac Powstańców Warszawy (today Plac Powstańców Warszawy ) and the Railway Directorate building at the intersection of Targowa and Wileńska streets.
From the beginning of the uprising, the soldiers of the Home Army attempted to capture the building of the Polish Telephone Joint-Stock Company, manned by German snipers. Before the war, the building was the second tallest in Warsaw, after Prudential. In order to defeat the German crew, the insurgents set fire to the building with flamethrowers made of fire engine pumps. Eventually, the building was captured on the 20th day of fighting by the soldiers of the “Kiliński” battalion. 110 German soldiers were taken into Polish captivity. It was one of the greatest successes of the insurgents.
Slaughter of Will
Upon hearing about the uprising of the Reichsfuehrer SS, Heinrich Himmler issued an order to raze Warsaw to the ground, as “an intimidating example for the whole of Europe”. The fifth of August made a tragic record in history, when German soldiers began mass executions of the inhabitants of Wola. The slaughter of Wola is one of the largest one-off crimes against the Polish nation in history, and also one of the largest and cruelest mass murders of civilians during World War II
According to various estimates, from 40,000 to 60,000 inhabitants of the district died in mass executions. The population was shot and the bodies of the dead were burned. The large-scale extermination ended on August 7, but lasted to a lesser extent until August 12, when General Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski banned the murder of civilians.
About 120-160,000 civilians killed
For 63 days, the insurgents waged a heroic battle with the German army. In view of the lack of prospects for further fighting, on October 2, 1944, representatives of the Home Army Headquarters, Colonel Kazimierz Iranek-Osmecki “Jarecki” and Lt. Col. Zygmunt Dobrowolski “Zyndram” signed a treaty to end hostilities in Warsaw at the SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Erich von dem Bach headquarters in Ożarów. About 14-18 thousand insurgents died during the fighting, and 25 thousand were injured. Also approx. 3.5 thousand people died. soldiers from the Kosciuszko Division. Losses of the civilian population were enormous and amounted to even about 120-160 thousand. killed. The remaining inhabitants of Warsaw, about 500,000, were driven out of the city, which was almost completely demolished. Special German units, using dynamite and heavy equipment, methodically destroyed the remains of the surviving buildings for over three months.
Over 15,000 people went into captivity. insurgents, including 2,000 women. Among them, almost the entire command of the Home Army, including Gen. Komorowski, appointed by President W. Raczkiewicz on September 30, 1944, the Commander-in-Chief. The size of the losses suffered by the Polish side as a result of the Uprising causes that the decision to start it causes controversy to this day.
Celebrations of the 77th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising will last until October
The main celebrations related to the 77th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising began already on Thursday, laying the foundation stone for the construction of the Memorial Chamber at the Warsaw Insurgents Cemetery. However, on Friday the insurgents met with the President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda and the President of Warsaw Rafał Trzaskowski.
The culmination of the anniversary celebrations falls on the weekend. The Saturday program included, among others: celebration in the park Soldiers of “Żywiciel” at Popiełuszki street and Warsaw Council session in the Hall of the Town Hall of the Palace of Culture and Science.
On Sunday, August 1, the celebrations will begin at 9 a.m. at 68 Filtrowa St. by laying flowers at the plaque commemorating the signing by Col. Antoni Chruściel “Monter”, the order to start the Warsaw Uprising. At 10 o’clock, a ceremony is planned at the monument “Walczący Mokotów 1944” in the park. Gen. Gustaw Orlicz-Dreszer, where the national flag will be raised on the mast, the symbolic “fire of memory” will be lit and the monument will be illuminated for 63 days.
In addition, the Sunday program of celebrations included, among others: at. 11.30 laying flowers at the Obelisk in Memory of the Home Army Soldiers of the Mokotów Insurgents at Dworkowa St. and at 11.30-13.30 at the statue of General Zbigniew Scibor-Rylski “Butterfly” in the park. march. Edward Rydz-Śmigły.
At 5 pm “W” hour tribute will be paid to the insurgents at the Gloria Victis monument at the Powązki Military Cemetery. Then too Sirens will wail all over Warsawand the whole city would come to a halt. At 6.30 pm, the celebrations will move to the Warsaw Insurgents Cemetery in Wola, where flowers will be laid at the Monument to the Fallen Undefeated, which contains the ashes of over 50,000 inhabitants of the capital who died in the Uprising.
The official celebration of the 77th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising will end on October 2. At 12 o’clock, a monument to “Women of the Warsaw Uprising” will be unveiled on Krasiński Square. However, at 6 p.m., the state flag will be lowered, and the illumination of the monument in the park will be turned off. Gen. Gustaw Orlicz-Dreszer. Throughout August and September, anniversary events will also be organized by individual districts and insurgent circles.
Main photo source: | PAX, pp. 68 no ISBN Zdzisław Poniatowski, Ryszard Zelwiański “AL Batalion im. Czwartaków” / Wikipedia (PD)