Warsaw uprising 1944



In 1944, during World War II, the Polish Resistance Home Army staged an uprising against Nazi Germany's presence in Warsaw. The main goal was to drive the Germans from Warsaw, and help the Allied powers. Another goal was to liberate Warsaw from the Germans because of the thousands dying in camps. What was supposed to be a joint effort with the Soviet Union's Red Army ended up with the Polish resistance fighting for 63 days with little help. The uprising started on August 1st,1944. It was part of a planned Operation Tempest with the Soviet Army. But the Soviets never made it all the way to Warsaw, which left the Home Army on its own.
The Polish Resistance Home Army was about 40,000 soldiers, but only 2,500 had weapons. The Germans had 30,000 soldiers, but they were well trained and all had weapons. The Germans also had tanks, planes, and armored vehicles.
The uprising was only supposed to last a few days, until the Red Army arrived. When this didn’t happen, the Home Army had to fight for 63 days with no help. This led to many problems, like not enough weapons and not enough food and water. The Polish were able to take over a brewery and use it to provide limited food. The Germans still controlled the water pumping stations and many wells were created in the back yards of houses to provide both civilians and soldiers. The United States and Britain wanted to drop care packages from planes to help the Polish Army. However, the Soviet Union would not allow US planes to land or refuel in the Soviet Union, so they could not help. Eventually, the Soviet Union did allow the United States to use their air space. The US and Britain did drop care packages, but the drops were not accurate and the supplies actually went to both the Germans and Polish. Because of this the Soviets refused to allow US planes in again.
The uprising began August 1st, in the evening because the Polish wanted a surprise attack at night. Daylight attacks left them out in the open for German machine gun fire. There were eight main areas in the Warsaw district the home army wanted to control. They were Area 1 (Old Town), Area 2 (Marymont, Bielany), Area 3 (Wola), Area 4 (Ochota), Area 5 (Mokotow), Area 6 (Praga), Area 7 (Warsaw County), and Area 8 (Okecie). By August 4th, the Home Army controlled most of the city, but the Germans held a few key points. A big problem for the Poles was the fighters were isolated in their areas and did not have communication with the others to know what was going on in the other areas. On August 4th, the Germans began to receive reinforcements. Once they got the reinforcements, they tried to advance into the city. They went house to house killing people no matter what age or sex they were. They killed between 20,000 to 50,000 civilians. This was called Wola Massacre. The Germans hoped this would break the Home Army's will to fight and end the uprising. It did not work. Even though the Polish Home Army was very under-equipped, they were able to hold the Germans off for a while with the help of the civilians. Thousands of civilians died. Heavy fighting continued in all parts of the city with the Polish and the Germans trading victories and defeats. Eventually the Germans would use bombers and heavy artillery to bomb any insurgent strongholds. The home army could not defend against these and would eventually lose. The Uprising officially ended on Oct 2nd. The insurgents were disarmed and sent to POW camps. The entire civilian population was was sent to a transit camp. It is believed 350,000 to 550,000 people passed through the transition camp. Of those 90,000 were sent to labor camps in the Third Reich, 60,000 were sent to death and concentration camps, and the rest were transported to various locations.
By the end of the uprising Warsaw was almost completely destroyed. 85% of the buildings had been destroyed, including an estimated 10,455 buildings, 923 historical buildings, 25 churches, 14 libraries, 81 primary schools, 64 high schools, 2 universities, and most historical monuments. Almost a million inhabitants lost all their possessions. Between 150,000 and 200,000 civilians were killed in the uprising as well as 16,000 home army troops and 10,000 German troops.