05

The Warsaw Uprising is not to be confused with the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, which lasted from April to May 1943 as the German public often does it. The Warsaw Uprising was an insurrection of the Polish Underground army who tried to oust the German army and to seize control of the Polish capital before it was to be occupied by the advancing Red Army. On 1st August 1944 the Polish Home Army called on the inhabitants of Warsaw to resist the German occupying forces. Over several weeks the Polish waged a bitter struggle in the streets of Warsaw against the German occupants. At that moment the whole Jewish populace of Warsaw had already been deported to the extermination camps.

Because the Home Army received no support neither from the Western Allies nor from the Red Army, the Poles were forced into a defensive position by the German garrison and surrendered on 2nd October 1944. The British air force had repeatedly dropped weapons and ammunition with parachutes over Warsaw, but this was a completely insufficient measure. Often the parachutes came down in parts of Warsaw, which were controlled by the Germans.

The Red Army had reached the suburbs of Warsaw but did not support the Home Army. The USSR intended to make a "satellite State" of Poland so that they favoured the defeat of the Polish Underground army.

While the Red Army waited just outside the town, the German garrison razed the city to the ground; by Hitler's order buildings were systematically reduced to the nibble by fire and dynamite.

 

A Dreadful Outcome

The German troops were indeed "savages" who were known for their extreme brutality. Lieutenant General SS-Obergruppenführer Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski headed the SS and Police Regiment Oskar Dirlewanger, which consisted of SS men who, according to SS Standards, had committed a criminal offence. Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski was also in supreme command of the SS Storm Brigade RONA (a Russian unit of SS volunteers), a police regiment, two Azerbaijan battalions and parts of the SS Parachute Tank Division "Hermann Göring".

They killed an incredible number of people, both civilians and members of the Home Army. Many inhabitants of Warsaw, who escaped the shootings by the Germans, had already left Warsaw or tried to escape then, while many others were anested and deported. More than

350,000 people passed through the newly established transit camp Pruszkov from ls Aug. to 14thOct. 1944.

A total of 16,000 soldiers of the Home Army were killed and 6,000 wounded, whereas only 2,000 Germans were killed and 9,000 of them wounded. Already this discrepancy between dead and wounded soldiers shows that the SS units did not take prisoners whereas most Poles treated POWs according to the Geneva Convention.

About 116,000 civilians were killed during the Warsaw Uprising and 70,000 Poles were deported in mass transports to the German Reich where they had to do forced labour in forced labour camps and concentration camps. Some of them came via larger concentration camps to the subcamp at Mannheim-Sandhofen.

 

The Political Initial Position

In the summer of 1944 the Polish resistance movement was in a difficult position: they strived for a democratic State while the Red Army was already approaching. The Soviet Union, which had promised aid to „liberate" Poland quickly, had been over centuries, like Germany, a dangerous enemy and had posed ever since a threat to Poland's liberty. 'England, which was on friendly terms with Poland and which was similar in its political outlook, was far away from Poland and could not exercise its influence on the Soviet Union. The Americans went even further and ignored the Polish struggle for freedom because they did not wish to endanger their friendly relations with Moscow. The USSR, however, wanted to establish Stalinist "satellite State" and imposed on 21st July 1944 a Polish government in Cholm, although there had been since 1939 a government-in-exile in England.