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30.7.11

Powstanie Warszawskie 1944 - Warsaw Uprising



W poniedziałek przypada 67 rocznica Powstania Warszawskiego. PAMIĘTAJMY !!!

Powstanie Warszawskie, rozpoczęło się 1 sierpnia 1944 roku o godzinie 17:00. Chociaż według planów działania zbrojne miały rozpocząć się dopiero po 24 godzinach od ogłoszenia pogotowia, to już przed godziną W rozpoczęła się walka, pomiędzy koncentrującymi się oddziałami polskimi a patrolami czy mniejszymi oddziałami niemieckimi. Warszawa została podzielona na siedem obwodów: Śródmieście, Mokotów, Żoliborz, Wola, Ochota, Praga, i obwód "Obroża" - mający w swym zasięgu powiat warszawski, oraz samodzielny rejon "Okęcie". Do walki w samym mieście stanęło około 38 tysięcy żołnierzy, oraz około 11 tysięcy żołnierzy obwodu podmiejskiego. Ze względu na fatalne rozkazy wydane w przeddzień powstania, m.in. odesłanie do okręgów wschodnich dużych partii uzbrojenia wraz z amunicją (łącznie około 900 pistoletów maszynowych) uzbrojenie oddziałów AK, było fatalne. Według stanu z 29 lutego 1944 roku okręg Warszawa dysponował ogółem: 20 ciężkimi karabinami maszynowymi, 98 ręcznymi karabinami maszynowymi, 604 pistoletami maszynowymi, 1386 karabinami, 2665 pistoletami, 2 armatkami przeciwpancernymi, 2 piatami, 12 rusznicami przeciwpancernymi, 50 000 granatami i 5000 butelkami zapalającymi. Powyżej przedstawione liczby ukazuję nam dysproporcje pomiędzy żołnierzami AK a regularnymi oddziałami Wermachtu i SS.

Sama dysproporcja sił i środków, nie wpłynęła na klęskę powstania. Na końcową porażkę nałożyło się wiele czynników, natury zarówno politycznej jak i wojskowej. Najczęściej wskazuje się, na bierną postawę strony radzieckiej, choć niewiele osób wie iż dowództwo Armii Czerwonej, nie ustaliło ze stroną polską zasad jakiejkolwiek pomocy. Większą rolę odegrała tu strona Amerykańska i Brytyjska, które na prośby Naczelnego Wodza Władysława Sikorskiego, o przekazanie Polsce samolotów dalekiego zasięgu1, kolejno odsyłały go z kwitkiem. Wpłynęło to na niedostateczne zaopatrzenie AK w broń i amunicje. Innym czynnikiem, wskazywanym przez wielu historyków były błędy w strategii wypracowanej przez KG AK. Zakładała ona iż słabo uzbrojone oddziały opanują ponad 150 obiektów i następnie będą się w stanie bronić, aż do wejścia sił radzieckich do miasta. Wielkie znaczenie miała też łączność, która prawie w całości opierała się na pracy łączniczek.

W latach późniejszych wydano wiele prac, które odpowiadały na szereg pytań: "Czy powstanie można było uratować?", "Czy miało ono sens?", jednakże niewiele jest prac czysto teoretycznych, które prezentują teorie dotyczące sytuacji w Europie czy i nawet na świece, w momencie, kiedy powstanie nie zostaje rozpoczęte...

Jeżeli rozpatrzyć powstanie tylko jako czynnik polityczny to w momencie kiedy nie doszło by do skutku to i tak nie zmieniłoby to sytuacji.



Przypomnijmy: powstanie warszawskie, było częścią planu "Burza", którego celem było zamanifestowanie polskiej obecności na wschodzie i występowanie wobec nadchodzących oddziałów radzieckich, w roli gospodarzy zarówno wojskowych jak i cywilnych. Jednak granice Polski powojennej zostały ustalone już na konferencji w Teheranie w dniach 28.11. - 1.12 1943, a ostatecznie po małych korektach w Jałcie. Widzimy więc, iż pomimo staranie ze strony KG AK, działania mające potwierdzić polskość, miast znajdujących się na wschodzie, pozbawione były sensu. Inną bardziej znaczącą konsekwencją, zaniechania powstania, było podważenie jednej z głównej, nazwijmy to idei, przyświecającej powstaniu Armii Krajowej. Brzmiała ona tak: "Konspiracja działa z ukrycia i stawia sobie jako cel główny przygotowanie narodu do powstania [...], przez co zaprawia naród do walki i podrywa ducha u wroga" 2. Widzimy więc, iż powstanie czy to ogólnonarodowe, czy te, które wybuchło w stolicy, było jednym z głównych założeń utworzenia ZWZ/AK. W sytuacji kiedy do takowego by nie doszło, zachwiana zostałaby wiarygodność, czy to samej Komendy Głównej AK, a przez to całej Armii Krajowej, czy polskiego Rządu na Uchodźstwie, którego AK była zbrojnym ramieniem w ramach AMGOTu (Allied Military Goverment of Occupier Territories)3. Nie wolno zapominać o samych żołnierzach Armii Krajowej, którzy przecież od początku świadomi byli celu swoich działań, jakim było powstanie, czy to ogólnokrajowe czy przeprowadzone tylko w określonych rejonach. Gdy do takowego by nie doszło, duch walki, oddanie, wszystko to znikło by, ponieważ zabrakło by celu, który je podtrzymywał.


Pod względem wojskowym Powstanie Warszawskie, jest bardziej złożonym problemem i ewentualny jego brak komplikował i zarazem upraszczał sytuacje po obu stronach frontu. Gdyby generał Bór-Komorowski nie wydał rozkazu do rozpoczęcia niemiecka sytuacja wyglądała by zapewne inaczej, gdyż nie mieliby oni w bezpośrednim sąsiedztwie frontu, punktu zapalnego, jakim niewątpliwie było powstanie. Świadczyć o tym może np. liczba generałów niemieckich, którzy w liczbie dwunastu, znaleźli się w bezpośrednim sąsiedztwie bitwy, aby czuwać nad rozwojem sytuacji. Innym niewątpliwie ważnym powodem dla którego Niemcy nie chcieliby, aby doszło do powstania, były straty jakie ponieśli w toku walk. Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler mówił 21 września 1944 r.: "Od pięciu tygodni prowadzimy walkę o Warszawę. [...] Walka ta jest najcięższa spośród tych, jakie prowadziliśmy od początku wojny. Można ją porównać z walką uliczną o Staligrad. Jest ona tak samo ciężka". Straty niemieckiej 9. Armii, która miała bronić się w oparciu o Wisłę na odcinku warszawskim, wynosiły około 26 tysięcy żołnierzy (17 tysięcy zabitych i 9 tysięcy rannych), wynosiły około 25% stanu osobowego. Jednak gdyby nie wybuchło powstanie w Warszawie, Stalin zapewne nie wydałby rozkazu zatrzymania armii radzieckich na linii Wisły i te po jej przekroczeniu, zaatakowały by niemieckie armie już na zachodnim brzegu. A tak przez 2 miesiące niemieckie oddziały były praktycznie nie niepokojone przez czerwonoarmistów, dając im czas na reorganizacje i uzupełnienia. Dla strony radzieckiej ewentualny brak powstania, zmusiłby ich do bardzo ciężkich walk ulicznych na terenie Warszawy.

Widzimy więc iż Powstanie Warszawskie było wydarzeniem, którego ewentualny brak, bardzo zmieniłaby historię. Było ono "zapisane" w historii już od 1939 roku, kiedy zaczęły powstawać pierwsze organizacje podziemne. Same powstanie wybuchło, przede wszystkim ze względów politycznych a nie jak to powinno być, wojskowych. Nie powinno się oceniać powstania w sposób szablonowy. Myślę iż dobrym zakończeniem wszystkich rozważań o tej jednej z najbardziej krwawych i najdłuższych bitew II wojny światowej, będą słowa Owidiusza: "Koniec wieńczy dzieło" - koniec, krwawy, pełen cierpienia i rozpaczy....jak i cała historia Armii Krajowej. (źródło: http://historia.pgi.pl)


On 1st August 2004 Poland commemorated the 67th Anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising. This moment was marked by the unveiling of the brand new Rising Museum in a solemn ceremony which was attended by Colin Powell and Chancellor Schroeder alongside other eminent statesmen. The unprecedented brutality of the Second World War may have long since been consigned to the history books by many countries, particularly those in the West, but in Poland the terrible wounds are far from healed. Poland lost seventeen percent of its population during the war, a staggering 6 million people (compared to 500,000 Americans, or 400,000 Brits), and its capital, Warsaw, was utterly destroyed.

Moreover, unlike its Allies, Poland's sufferings didn't stop in 1945 at the end of the War. For nearly half a century more, the Poles were denied their freedom and forced to endure the brutal and totalitarian regime of Soviet Russia. During these fifty years of Communist rule all mention of the heroic Warsaw Uprising was forbidden - unless it was to slander those who had taken part in it. Following the absorption of Poland into the Soviet sphere of influence, Stalin declared the Uprising illegal and set about hunting down any surviving freedom fighters, with a view to killing or imprisoning them. It was a cynical attempt to suppress Polish nationalism and spirit.



Sixty years on and the enforced silence of the Communists has been broken: the brave resistance of the Armia Krajowa (also known as the Home Army) is finally gaining the recognition it deserves as one of the most heroic - and ultimately tragic - episodes of the Second World War.

The Struggle

In the Summer of 1944 the tides of war were turning against the Germans. The Americans and British had landed in Normandy and the Red Army had bulldozed through the Eastern front, and was marching on Warsaw. Ever since the beginning of the Nazi occupation the Poles had been preparing for a full-scale underground offensive, and on 1st August 1944 the order was finally given by General 'Bor' Komorowski for the forces of the Armia Krajowa (AK) to rise up and claim Warsaw back from the Nazis, who had held the city for over four years.

So it was that a force of 50,000 soldiers, some trained and equipped - others volunteers (including women and children , took up arms and began an assault on key strategical positions throughout the city. The Home Army won several bloody skirmishes in those first few days, and during this time the bold red and white of the Polish national flag flew over the Old Town. The mood was triumphant and, in those areas secured by the insurgents, the Varsovians held concerts, poetry readings and other entertainments as they celebrated their newly earned freedom. Unbeknown to them it was to be the city's last taste of freedom for forty-four years.

Although the Polish attack was planned to displace the German troops stationed in the city, it was only ever planned to hold the town for several days until the Russians arrived with support. Upon hearing the news of the Uprising, Himmler was so furious that he decreed that the whole city and its population should be destroyed as an example to the rest of Europe. Meanwhile, far from coming to the rescue of the doomed Poles, Stalin halted the Russian advance, claiming that the resistance was illegal and the AK were 'fascists'. The mighty Red Army did little more than watch the struggle from across the Vistula as the Germans regained control of the city. What's more, kindly 'Uncle Joe' deliberately obstructed the rest of the Allies from dispatching aid to the insurgents - refusing even to allow the Americans and the Brits to use precious airbases that were now under Soviet control.



What was the reason for this inaction? Simply put, Stalin hated the Poles, considering them his arch-enemy. He was still harbouring resentment over the Soviet-Polish War in which the Bolsheviks were humiliated and the Poles were able to claim all disputed territories from the Russians, including Lwow (now Lviv, in the Ukraine) and Wilno (now Vilnius, in Lithuania) - the same struggle in which he was almost court-martialled for his inadequacies a military commander. Now that the Germans were doing such a good job of destroying his bitter enemies, Stalin certainly didn't want to stop them. Moreover, with the last of Poland's home-based soldiers and leaders destroyed, he would be free to work his will over the ruined country.

And so, what was supposed to be a two or three day coup turned into a brutal and bloody two month struggle for the Home Army. The heavily reinforced Germans struck back at the insurgents with the full force of their firepower: tanks, rocket launchers, and air raids were just some of the hazards the ill-equipped Poles had to contend with. The city became a giant warzone and civilians were not spared. Just a few days after the Uprising began the Germans sent a chilling message to the insurgents, executing at least 30,000 citizens in what is now referred to as the Wola massacre. They rounded up people from the houses in the districts which they still controlled and shot them - women, children and the elderly were not spared. This inhumane genocide was intended to crush the Poles spirit for the fight. It didn't work. However, another diabolical tactic - using female civilians as human shields for German tanks - proved effective, stacking the odds further against the beleaguered Home Army.

Unable to compete with the reinforced German troops, the insurgents were forced into hiding, often into the sewers, from where they continued to orchestrate and co-ordinate attacks. The Germans were in control of water and power supplies whereas the Home Army were desperately lacking supplies of any kind - including food and ammunition (every animal in the city had been eaten - even the vermin - and shooting at the German planes was banned in order to conserve precious bullets). As the battle for the city raged on, with Varsovians dying at a rate of 2,000 a day, it became only a matter of time before the rebels were forced to capitulate. They finally did so on October 2nd, 63 days after the Uprising began.

In the two month struggle 18,000 Home Army soldiers died and 12,000 were wounded with the survivors either sent to German POW camps or managing to go into hiding. A staggering 250,000 civilians were killed during the Uprising. Meanwhile the German suffered 10,000 fatalities with nearly as many again wounded.

The Aftermath

The tragedy of the Warsaw Uprising lies not only in the bloody 63 day struggle but also in the immediate and long term aftermath. The Germans were the first to punish Warsaw and its people for daring to defend its freedom. Hitler ordered the city to be all but wiped off the face of the earth and special units were brought in to systematically detonate any building of the remotest importance to Polish culture. The city was effectively destroyed block by block, and when the Russians finally crossed the Vistula to liberate the city, they inherited only ruins.

Later, in the years directly following the War, as the Poles tried to rebuild their shattered country under Communist leadership, it was forbidden to talk of the brave soldiers of the Uprising. The movement was denounced as illegal and every effort was made to slander those involved. Keen to behead Polish society of its heroes and intelligentsia Stalin sent many of the surviving members of the AK to Siberia for lengthy spells of hard labour, whilst he executed those whom he perceived as particularly dangerous. The fact that nobody was able to honour these brave soldiers for fifty odd years is partly why there is so much renewed interest in the Uprising today.



What Were They Fighting For?

One of the biggest question marks that hangs over the Warsaw Uprising is whether it should have happened at all. Even at the time there was much debate about whether to launch an attack on the Germans or to wait for the course of the War to run itself out. The Germans were already retreating across much of Europe with the Red Army liberating many former Nazi strongholds. Surely it was only a matter of time before they freed Warsaw?

Despite this the Uprising took place, not least because the Poles didn't trust Soviet intentions. This is hardly surprising when you bear in mind that, at the very time Hitler had invaded them from the West, Stalin had entered their territory from the East. In fact the Soviet-Nazi agreement to share Poland between them only ended when Hitler attacked Soviet forces, driving the Red Army out of Poland and making Russia a surprise ally to the British and Americans. In addition to remembering the aggressive behaviour of the Russians in 1939, there were also the recent revelations at Katyn - the cold blooded massacre of 15,000 Polish officers - which was being pinned (rightly it turned out) on the Russians. The Poles knew that if Russian, rather than Polish, troops were to liberate Warsaw, then it was highly probable that Poland's future would be no better than it was under Nazi rule. A fact that was tragically borne out by history.

Other Poles and advocates of the Uprising state that the reason for the insurgency had little bearing on what the Russians were or weren't doing - it was that they simply had to make some gesture of defiance to the Nazis and to fight for their freedom. If it was a 'gesture' then it was an expensive one. A quarter of a million civilians were killed and 85% of the city destroyed in the struggle which the Home Army brought upon themselves.

Regardless of whether the decision to rise up turned out to be a correct one, it's important for us today to recognise that the decision was made for the right reasons. There are few black and white issues in history but the struggle of Poles fighting for their freedom against the tyranny of German and imminent Russian oppression is as close as good vs. evil as you can get. Whether those deaths were in vain or not is entirely separate from the question of whether we should honour those that fought, suffered and died - the answer to which is unequivocally 'yes'.

If you want to pay tribute to the soldiers of the Warsaw Uprising we suggest you visit the superb Warsaw Rising Museum, dedicated to the struggle and its victims.


Western Betrayal

There are those who blame the Western Allies for the failure of the Warsaw Uprising, and the subsequent pawning of Poland to Stalin and the Soviet Regime. They are not without reason. A few (mainly inaccurate) airdrops, made from long-range bases, were the only aid the members of the Uprising received from the Allies, who admittedly were being obstructed by the Russians at nearly every turn. In a telegram to Roosevelt, Churchill suggested launching aid missions in defiance of Stalin, but the American president sent the following response:

'I do not consider it advantageous to the long-range general war prospect for me to join you in the proposed message to Uncle Joe.'

Roosevelt didn't want to anger Stalin prior to the Yalta conference, in which amongst other things he planned to persuade Stalin to join the fight against Japan. It was at Yalta that the Western leaders made further concessions to Stalin, effectively allowing him to install a Communist government in Warsaw which was faithful to Moscow. They had previously agreed to Stalin's territorial acquisitions of Eastern Poland in the 1943 Teheran conference in Iran. The irony of sacrificing Poland to Stalin was of course that Britain had entered the War to save its Central European ally from Hitler. Freed from one tyrannical regime, she was being passed to an equally vicious one in the form of Stalin's Russia.

As early as 1943, at the Teheran conference held in Iran, Churchill and Roosevelt had agreed to Stalin's territorial acquisitions of Eastern Poland; meanwhile at Yalta the question of Poland was complicated by the fact that the Red Army already occupied Warsaw. The two Western Leaders agreed to allow Stalin's installed government to hold sway, effectively preventing the exiled Polish government (which had moved to London during the war) from returning to power and allowing Poland to become a Soviet satellite. Other Central European countries suffered similar fates whilst Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia were completely absorbed into the USSR.

Was this betrayal by the West? Or did Stalin simply hold all the trump cards? His army already occupied most of Europe and it was Russian forces that effectively won the War (despite what is portrayed by Hollywood and Western culture and education). It was Russian troops that had engaged 80% of the Nazi forces - and had lost a staggering 23 million men doing so - and this gave Stalin a very powerful hand at the negotiating table. Churchill in particular was suspicious of his Russian 'ally', but to fail to appease him could mean another war - a war that no one wanted and which Britain, America and the other Allies were unlikely to win. What's more America was more interested in securing Russian support against the Japanese in the East, which was a more important issue to them than the wranglings of post-war Europe.

Poland, and others, were certainly betrayed, but the real question is did the West have any other choice?

President Bush, during a speech in Latvia, recently described the negotiations of Yalta as an "attempt to sacrifice freedom for the sake of stability", and that "when powerful governments negotiated, the freedom of small nations was somehow expendable."

Well, that's cleared that up...

First Hand Accounts of the Warsaw Uprising

"I wasn't afraid because, frankly, one had little to lose. The occupation was awful. Anyway, we expected the Bolsheviks to help and the British to drop supplies, and we thought the Rising would end quickly." Wanda Gutowska.

"It was the heaviest fighting. Machine guns on all sides and terrible losses. But what I remember most was Tadeusz Araki, a brave boy, a good shot who sang beautifully and had a sense of humour. He was wounded in the stomach. We got to him with a stretcher, but a mortar hit, wounding the stretcher bearers and Araki a second time ... The hospital was so full of wounded men there was not space on the floor for him, but they did try to operate. I was called in. He was dying. Before he did, though, he asked me to say goodbye to the boys. I only cried twice during the Uprising and that was once." Dr. Halina Jedrzejewska recalls the day the Home Army took a school on the tactically crucial corridor of Stawki Street.

"Imagine what it felt like to live in areas held by the resistance. Never underestimate the everyday fear of occupation by the Nazis - and what it was like to be suddenly in a place that was free." Waclaw Gluth-Nowowieski.

"What went on was monstrous. The SS seized the director of a printing firm and his pregnant wife. They raped her in front of her husband, ripped out the unborn child with a bayonet, held it up for the father to see and finally killed him." Wanda Gutowska (re: Wola massacre).

"Imagine the scene: executions here, houses ablaze there - and then they burnt the bodies. You don't forget a smell like that." Edmund Baranowski (re: Wola massacre).

"Women were running with their babies and children, screaming and swearing at the Germans, and at us too, for making this happen." Zofia Dabrowska

"We were close to the Germans and they loved that tune, and when it finished, they'd shout: Friends, friends, play it again." Edmund Baranowski talking about 'Si Bonne' by Hanka Breczinska, which the Poles would play on their gramophone.

"We'd hold on as long as we could. Then, when we were about to lose our position, the survivors would fight a retreat or go into the sewers, to fight again." Edmund Baranowski.

"The canals, in my view, embody the worst of the Uprising. Imagine a narrow tunnel the shape of an egg, and having to run bow-legged with one foot on each inner shell of that egg, over sediment of toxic chemicals and decomposing bodies of the many who died down there, from suffocation or carbide gases the Germans used. Once, I was moving along and I got my foot caught in something. I tried to pull it away, but it was stuck in a decomposing body; when I got it free it was covered in rotten flesh." Stefan Baluk.

"We got completely lost - we should have gone north, but ended up east. I was half-blind and my wounds kept weeping. People began losing their nerve. The first sewer was small and round, some 80 cm by 70 cm, so the able-bodied crawled on hands and knees in the filth, with the person in front pulling the stretcher and the one behind pushing it. The worst thing was the panic. We were terrified the SS would put gas or grenades or electricity into the sewers. The manhole covers were open and we could hear German voices outside." Anna Olszewska Przylipiak.

"We did not only grow up quickly during those days, we grew old. At first it was a big adventure. But we hadn't thought what it would be like to see your comrades lying on the ground, their entrails lying beside them, begging their friends to kill them, to put them out of their pain." Zofia Dabrowska

"There was rubble everywhere,nowhere to hide - just imagine us, children, dragging this box of ammunition in the warm morning sun. Then we saw a medical orderly being carried by two other soldiers, both his legs torn off and dangling from his waist, blood covering the two men who were helping." Wanda Olkoska-Wolkonowski

"They always told us you don't feel pain, but they are wrong. Jadwiga was hit in the head and stomach and I from the waist down. I lay there until a boy scout came by. I told him: 'Take the order to command, and send help.' It was the worst night of my life - shooting-flashes-darkness; shooting-flashes-darkness, and the pain. At last they took me to hospital, but there was no room - I had to go to the cellar, where I was the only person not to die from blood poisoning. They gave me medicine as a special treatment, maybe because I was a young girl. I got gangrene, though, and on 17 September they amputated my leg. By now, I was alone. All my friends had been killed. That is how it was. You would talk to someone one day, and the next day they would be dead." Wanda Olkoska-Wolkonowski.

"The attitude of the civilians changed. In the last places to hold out, people knew what had happened in Wola, in the Old Town, and they were terrified of the Nazis. Those who supported everything we did at the start were now tired - tired of having no food, water or light, tired of the killing." Dr. Halina Jedrzejewska.

"By the end of September, the civilians were exhausted. They had had enough of the Uprising. They were concerned for their lives and the lives of their families. They couldn't take it any more. So on 30 September, Warsaw fell silent. The Germans came out of their bunkers. We came out from our barricades. We stared at each other in amazement. We shared cigarettes. We asked, 'What is going on? What happens next?'" Edmund Baranowski.

"I managed to escape from prison camp, but when I got back to Warsaw, I couldn't believe the destruction. There was nothing left of my city. Everyone I knew had vanished. I was walking alone, by the Vistula, and a single figure came towards me, as lost as me. I recognised him. It was a clerk who had organised a loan for me. We saw each other and embraced, amazed to see a familiar face in such a place as Warsaw was then." Pan Bartelski.

Many of the above quotes were taken from the excellent articles of Ed Vulliamy, writing for the Observer and Bernadeta Tendyra writing for the Daily Telegraph. (www.warsaw-life.com)

Warsaw under the occupation 1939-1944 (photos)

2 komentarze:

Anonimowy pisze...

Czy mógłbym prosić NIEŚMIAŁO o korektę interpunkcji w polskiej wersji tego tekstu? Przecież tam jest tyle błędów (głównie nawtykanych bez sensu przecinków), że wstyd to czytać...

Ankh pisze...

Zapewne masz rację. Informacja jest zaczerpnięta z innego serwisu (w nawiasie podane jest źródło). Szczerze mówiąc nie chcę ingerować w interpunkcję, bo nie jestem w tym aż tak biegły, ale jeśli masz ochotę zredagować ten tekst pod tym właśnie kątem to zapraszam. A tak na prawdę to chyba w całym tym poście nie chodzi - moim zdaniem - o interpunkcję - tylko o pamięć i fakty.