The two largest allies, Britain and the United States played a devious game of bait and switch, promising to provide Poland with much needed military assistance and war materiel, and ultimately abandoning her to fight the Nazi Germans all alone. At the crux of this conspiracy was Russia, whose alliance with the West was hinged on the condition that Churchill and Roosevelt would sacrifice Poland, and other eastern European nations into Stalins' hands.
The Polish Army, the Polish Underground, and civilian men, women and even children, took up arms, and used makeshift weapons to fight against the overpowering Nazi German onslaught. Though the Americans air dropped much needed supplies over Warsaw, it was too little too late. The city was engulfed in flames. The Germany army re-captured many of the districts taken by the Polish insurgents, so that the air drops meant for the Poles, drifted into German held areas. The Polish insurgents, in a desperate attempt to escape annihilation, fled underground, through the city sewer systems.
The Polish Underground was the largest of its kind in Nazi-occupied Europe. But despite the courage of the Polish people, the Uprising ended tragically. After 63 hellish days, Warsaw capitulated. Over 16,000 Polish Resistance fighters were killed, 6,000 WIA, and up to 200,000 Polish civilians died horrible deaths. The remaining Polish insurgents were rounded up and marched into captivity. Then, the Nazi Germans razed Warsaw to the ground, bombing and burning it into a mass of rubble and ashes.
This special blog post commemorates the Polish men, women, and children who fought with such courage and strength to free their beloved homeland Poland. They will never, never, never be forgotten!!
GO PASSERBY! AND TELL THE WORLD!
August 5, 1944 Battalion Zośka soldiers in Gęsiówka. (R) Tadeusz Milewski aka Ćwik" – killed on the same day. (L) Wojciech Omyła aka "Wojtek" killed several days later.
(C) Only Juliusz Deczkowski survived.
|Polish Flag on Barricade - Warsaw Uprising|
A Home Army division and the workers from the power station attacked the German crew on August 1 at 5:00 p m (known as the ‘W’ hour). The main building was captured very quickly, and the whole power station was overtaken by insurgents the next afternoon, supplying electricity to Warsaw for as long as Powisle was in Polish hands. I could finally see the situation in Srodmiescie. Successful combatants had started in Napoleon Square, where a company of the ‘Kilinski’ battalion had captured the Prudential high-rise building. The next aim of the attackers was the Main Post Office building. During the night of August 1, the bunker in the post office building was destroyed. The next morning, one German tank coming as reinforcements was destroyed by Molotov cocktails, and a second one withdrew. The struggle lasted the entire day. The offensive was successful, and on August 2, about 5:00 pm, a red-and-white flag was mounted on the captured main post office building. It remained there until the end of the Uprising. W Hour
|Polish Soldiers Preparing For Action August 1, 1944|
Jerzy Tyczyński aka "Jur" from Koszta company - Warsaw Uprising 1944
The first days of the Uprising were successful, and we were given hope.
Free Warsaw! We are free! We will defend freedom to the end.
Sylvester Braun Kris
On August 1, 1944, at about 5:00 pm, I heard machine guns and grenades exploding. From my balcony at 28 Kopernika Street, I saw the attack on the [Warsaw] University. The boys positioned themselves along the street; the girls were delivering weapons and ammunition. They started shooting at German positions. The Germans responded with a barrage of heavy machine gun fire along Kopernika Street to Tamka Street. The street was blocked with fire from the university. The surprise attack failed; we sustained losses. Night came—a night of anxiety and uncertainty. The cannonade could be heard throughout the night. German tanks were driving along Nowy Swiat Street, but did not enter the side streets.
W Hour (written by Sylvester Braun "Kris" prolific photographer-writer)
Home Army 26th Infantry Regiment on their way to Kielce-Radom
to join Warsaw Uprising 1944
Maria Sielenska, aka "Mery" positioned behind barricade
on Bracka Street-Warsaw Uprising 1944
|Nazi German Killing Squad " The Dirlewanger Gang"|
|Massacre of Polish Civilians by Nazi Germans|
On August 5, 1944, at Warsaw at about 4 or 5 p.m., the houses Nos. 105,107, 109, Wolska Street immediately behind the railway bridge, the so-called Hankiewicz houses, were suddenly surrounded from all sides by Germans, who threw hand-grenades and set them on fire by means of some white powder, which they carried in bags. There were many inhabitants there and lots of people had come here from town. No order to leave the houses was given. After the Germans had surrounded them no one left them: everyone was burnt alive or else killed by hand-grenades. No one could escape. Only those were saved who had left the houses at some earlier hour. It was said that the Germans burnt all the houses in which insurgents had stayed. In the Hankiewicz houses some 2,000 people or perhaps even more found their death. Record no. 59 How Wola citizens were murdered.
|Massacre of Polish Civilians by Nazi Germans|
|Polish Insurgents facing execution by Nazi Germans firing squad|
|Nazi Germans Bomb Warsaw|
They (Nazis Germans) launched both explosive and incendiary missiles. Shortly, there was a thunderous explosion as the rocket struck the building in which our company quarters were located. I watched the building fall apart. Then another one hit the upper floors of the skyscraper, igniting a conflagration. I turned around seeking my buddy, who approached me slowly, pale from fright and unable to speak. Trying to hide my own terror, I smiled nonchalantly at him asking “What's with you, control yourself and give me a candy." Which he did. Zdzislaw Jarkiewicz "Longin" Gustaw-Hamas Battalion. Soldiers Day in Grazyna Company, Collected and edited by Stanley L. Karp Jr.
Polish Insurgents captured this Nazi German tank. It was a Sd.Kfz. 251 of the 5th SS Panzer Division. The Polish Regiment, 8-th "Krybar" captured it on August 14, 1944 and used it for the attack on Warsaw University. The soldier with the MP40 was Commander Adam Dewicz, aka Gray Wolf. In fact they named the tank "Gray Wolf"
|Polish Insurgents use Nazi German Tank as a Barricade|
Soldiers of the Old Town—the bravest groups of insurgents—together with groups of civilian citizens got through the sewers to City Centre. The manhole to the underground labyrinth was on Dluga Street in Krasinskich square. They were relieved to find the exit at the junction of Nowy Swiat and Warecka Streets. The distance was about 2 kilometers [1.24 mi]. The people seemed to walk for an eternity. The fate of those who were cut off from the exit was tragic. Only a small group of the insurgents from the ‘Zoska’ battalion succeeded in getting through the enemy lines.
|Young Polish fighter armed with famous Polish Blyskawica|
I was 16 at the time and had been in the conspiracy, so to say, for some time. The Germans having closed all the high schools, I participated in classes that met secretly in private homes in groups numbering less than 12. One knew one's fellow students only by their cryptonyms and one did not ask them where they lived. Being part of the secret Polish underground organization could be exciting. Thus, at night, it was my task and that of youngsters like me, to paint the Home Army's symbol – an anchor made of the letters P and W, which stood for Polska Walcząca, or 'Poland in Arms' [Fighting Poland] – on highly visible structures. It used to drive the Germans crazy. They would post sentries at monuments and such to prevent the appearance of these symbols, and yet in spite of this, we would manage to post them there under their very noses.
In the Underground Witold Gorski
|Armed Polish Insurgents|
|Polish Insurgents with anti-aircraft artillery|
|Polish Scouts deliver newspapers in the cross-fire|
For five years the AK fought the Germans from under cover at every turn: by blowing up their facilities, smuggling intelligence to the Allies, rescuing Jews, printing newspapers, maintaining an underground government, conducting schools for our children – taking every opportunity to resist the occupation at great cost of Polish life and limb. On the first of August 1944 our underground forces, amassed in Warsaw, though vastly outnumbered rose up against the German Army in open conflict. We had high hopes that with promised Allied support we would rid our capitol and our country of the hated Nazis oppressors.
Zdzislaw Jarkiewicz "Longin" Gustaw-Hamas Battalion.
Soldiers Day in Grazyna Company, Collected and edited by Stanley L. Karp Jr.
The Germans most likely got lost. They were spotted by wounded in the insurgents hospital on Konopczynski Street as well as by people in apartments whose windows overlooked Na Skarpie Boulevard. They sounded the alarm. Whoever could rushed to the windows and started shooting. The falling rounds were mostly from pistols. The Germans, in a panic, rushed to escape, leaving their armored car behind. Capture of Armored Car
|Polish Insurgents Capture Yet Another Nazi German Tank|
I'm sure that not one of us even for a moment imagined this Battle of Warsaw would last 63 days – more than two months of heroism, agony and death. Flt. Lt. J. Glebocki, Polish Air Force Reprinted from Destiny Can Wait. William Heinemann Ltd., 1949.
|Polish Sniper- Warsaw Uprising 1944|
|Polish Snipers - Warsaw Uprising 1944|
|Polish Insurgents Captured another Nazi German tank|
|Armed Polish Insurgent|
|Young Scout helping Polish insurgents|
|Polish Women faced constant danger working as couriers|
|Polish Home Army Captured 150 Nazi German Soldiers|
|Some of the 150 Nazi Germans captured by Polish Home Army|
|Polish soldier captures the Mother-Lode of German weaponry|
|Polish Sniper - Warsaw Uprising 1944|
|Polish Soldiers from Kampino Regiment inspect captured German weapons|
|Polish Insurgent poses in front of captured Nazi German tank|
|Young Polish Scouts serve as mail couriers|
(Far right:Tadeusz Rajszczak aka "Maszynka" with two other young soldiers
from Batalion Miotła, September 2, 1944 Warsaw
Soldiers from of Kedyw on Stawki Street in Wola district
Our spirits were not very high; the expected help from the West never arrived, although a properly trained Polish Parachute Brigade existed in England. The Soviet army’s advance westwards was stalled on the right bank of the Vistula. Then on September 18, belated help arrived in form of a huge air drop. Over one hundred American Flying Fortresses B-17s dropped 1,280 containers, but only 390 landed in the districts of Warsaw still in the insurgents’ hands. By mid-September, via Polish Red Cross, negotiations began with Germans to end the Uprising. The final agreement recognizing Polish soldiers as combatants was signed on October 2. Knowing of the surrender, we started getting rid of German uniforms, helmets, and machine guns. ( Zdzisław Szeliski ‘Zdziś’, soldier of the Home Army (AK) fought with battalion Gustaw, company Anna, in Wola, Old Town and City Centre districts. As POW, imprisoned in stalag XI-B Fallingbostel. After WWII emigrated to Canada) http://www.warsawuprising.com/witness/szeliski.htm
|Warsaw Streets everywhere were lined with graves - and flowers|
The priest spoke of suffering, sacrifice and of the dead, and told us we must make our, peace with God, for none of us know what is in store. The men listened attentively. Then the priest said a prayer for the dead, the men knelt and repeated the words after him. He gave them his blessing and gave general absolution. The men rose. There were no tears. Each man stared in front of him, his face set and hard. The priest intoned the words of a hymn: “Land of our fathers …” Four hundred voices caught up the words and continued. The singing was like a challenge. Defeated men could not have sung like this. Waclaw Zagorski 'Lech', Chrobry II Battalion. Seventy Days. courtesy of Frederick Muller Ltd. London 1957. http://www.warsawuprising.com/witness/zagorski3.htm
Polish Soldiers of the Miotla Battalion Radoslaw Warsaw Uprising 1944
Death is all around me, our closest ones are departing for ever, and I am still alive........ It is a very strenuous journey. Half-way through we pass a dam in the sewer with some disgusting liquid flowing down in streams. I am all soaked with a sticky, stinky greasy substance. With great effort, the healthier ones drag the wounded forward. They are loosing strength, some of them shout that they want to stay in the sewer. We cannot leave them. But we leave anything else we have, backpacks first, then blankets, camouflage jackets and spare shoes. Lidia Markiewicz Ziental "Lidka" was a paramedic Lidia Markiewicz-Ziental 'Lidka' a paramedic with 'Giewont' company of 'Zoska' battalion. She fought in the Wola, Old Town, Czerniakow and Mokotow districts. Translation: Seweryn Makosa. http://www.warsawuprising.com/witness/markiewicz.htm
|Nazi German tank in Stare Miasto, Warsaw on the attack, Warsaw Uprising|
|Polish citizens of Warsaw collect precious water - Warsaw Uprising 1944|
|Polish children orphans - Warsaw Uprising|
From Chlodna Street onwards we were awe-struck by the incredible destruction. To the right every house had been burnt; to, the left they were burning like gigantic torches. It sometimes seemed as though it was one great wall of fire. Our personal experiences, driven as we were like cattle, haunted by fear, facing endless danger from the continuous shooting among the ruins, and the huge fires — took on terrible unearthly dimensions.
Record no. 1 evacuation of inhabitants
I went out to look. There, straight ahead to the north and very high up, I saw aircraft coming over. They looked like silver birds in a blue sky lightly scattered with little clouds. I counted twelve of them, then more and more, until I lost count. The roar of their engines grew, for they were coming straight towards us. Someone was counting them aloud, “ 102, 103, 104…” looked through my binoculars. They weren't German or Soviet. Then someone shouted: “They're Liberators! And they're ours!” Everyone ran out into the street, and scrambled up on the rubble to try to get a better look. I didn't know where they'd all sprung from. It was as though the dead had arisen from their graves. Allied Airdrop Waclaw Zagorski 'Lech', Chrobry II Battalion. Seventy Days. Courtesy of Frederick Muller Ltd. London 1957. http://www.warsawuprising.com/witness/zagorski2.htm
|Polish Insurgent is captured by Nazi Germans as soon as he emerged from sewers|
At first we had to proceed on all fours, but then we were able to stand erect. It was the latter part of September and the waste water flowing through the sewers was cold. In some places the Germans had managed to dam the flow of the water with ready-made barriers which we had to breach and allow the water to ebb before being able to proceed. At such times the water reached to our chins. We had to observe strict silence and could hear Germans shouting through manholes suggesting we come up and surrender, but, I learned later that those who did were promptly shot Karol Tomaszewski "Mir" Baszta Battalion http://www.warsawuprising.com/witness/tomaszewski.htm
|General Tadeusz "Bor" Komorowski (2nd from left)|
|Poland signs capitulation|
|Poland Surrenders October 5, 1944 Combattants are evacuated from Warsaw|
Before the uprising, the communist controlled radio was urging people of Warsaw to rise and defeat the occupier together with the advancing Soviet Army. By middle of September, the Russian Army was in full control of the right bank of the Vistula River. However, on Stalin’s orders right from the start of the uprising, no help was to be given to our units. Only toward the end of September when it was known that the end of the uprising was near, and in order to prolong our resistance, the Soviets finally started dropping (without parachutes) some foodstuff and small-caliber weapons. Because of our hopeless military situation and utterly deplorable conditions of the civilian population, and after we were granted
combatant rights, on October 2nd, we surrendered.
Kazimierz Wojcik 'Krzysztof', Baszta and Golski Battalions.Warsaw Uprising Reminiscence http://www.warsawuprising.com/witness/wojcik.htm
|Destruction of Warsaw (photographed January 1945)|