The Warsaw uprising against German occupation broke out on August 1, 1944. It was started by 23 thousand poorly armed soldiers of the Home Army of the Warsaw district under the command of General Antoni Chrusciel, code named "Monter." Other underground units and Warsaw citizens joined the insurgents. Asserting control, civilian and military structures under the command of the Polish government in London began functioning openly, organizing administration, medical, services and rescue squads. A massive inflow of volunteers swelled insurgent ranks to 50 thousand troops. What began as an enthusuastic and spontaneous outbreak of fighting became a 63-day heroic struggle for liberation of the city by the home army's own forces before the Red Army, whose units had already reached the suburb of the Praga district, entered the capital.
The Warsaw Uprising
To quell the insurrection, German troop reinforcements soon increased the 16 thousand-man local garrison to 50 thousand army, SS and police units, including units notorious for their cruelty and atrocities. The supremacy of the German military equipment was overwhelming. Air Force, Panzers and artillery were used against the insurgents' rifles, pistols, grenades and petrol bombs. High military technology and brutality battled hope and unswerving will to fight the enemy.
Fighting bravely, the insurgents captured the centre of the city with the Old Town and the Vistula embankment, as well as several other districts of Warsaw, including Powisle, Zoliborz, parts of Wola, Ochota, Mokotow and a few sites in Praga, but they failed to seize the bridges and the Okecie Airport. They succeeded in capturing some German arms and ammunition and some groups of insurgents went to the woods near Warsaw to continue their battle from there. But contrary to all expectations, the Red Army remained in their positions on the outskirts of Warsaw and did not assist the insurgents.
After 3 days of fighting, German forces seized initiative. Launching massive attacks by tanks and from the air, they started destroying insurgents' strongholds. They also began a program of mass extermination aimed at Warsaw's civilian population. Soon, the city was burning and the strength of the insurgent-held areas was weaker and weaker.
On September 14, the 1st Polish army, which formed part of the Red Army, entered the Praga distirict of Eastern Warsaw, its two battalions joined the insurgents and fought by their side in the Czerniakow area, but attempts to seize bridgeheads in the Powisle and Zoliborz districts failed.
Lacking food and ammunition and weakening by the Red Army's failure to cooperate, the Commander-in-Chief of the Home Army, General "Bor" Tadeusz Komorowski, surrendered on October 2, 1944. The insurgents became prisoners of war and the population of Warsaw was deported, some to labor and concentration camps. The deserted city was looted, destroyed and burned, and the Old Town, with its beautiful architecture was razed.
More than 40 thousand Polish insurgents and about 180 thousand civilians were killed or wounded. A large number of allied pilots flying air-drop missions were also killed. On the German side, an estimated 25 thousand troops were killed, wounded or missing in action.
The Warsaw uprising monument was unveiled on Krasinski Square, a site of fierce fighting, on August 1, 1989. It was designed by Professor Wincenty Kucma and architect Jacek Budyn and erected with donated funds. It consists of two groups of sculptures, a commemorative wall and an insurgent center. One group of sculptures depicts an attack by an insurgent unit and the other an "Exodus," and withdrawl by canals. The original entrance to the canal is marked by a commemorative plaque.
Source: A commerative plaque adjacent to the Warsaw Uprising monument maintained by the Association of Warsaw Insurgents.
| Nazi Party | Nazification | Ghettos | Camps | Resistance | Liberation | Aftermath |
A Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust
Produced by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology,
College of Education, University of South Florida © 2005.