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They were counter-attacked by two German Panzer Corps: The Home Army forces of the Warsaw District numbered between 20, [3] [28] and 49, [4] soldiers. Other groups also contributed soldiers; estimates range from 2, in total [29] to about 3, from the far-right National Armed Forces and a few dozen from the communist People's Army.

The forces lacked equipment, [6] because the Home Army had sent weapons to the east of the country before it was decided to include Warsaw in Operation Tempest.

Initially he divided his forces into eight areas. On 20 September, they were changed to match the three areas of the city held by Polish forces.

During the fighting, the Poles obtained additional supplies through airdrops and by capture from the enemy including several armoured vehicles , two Panther tanks and two Sd. In late July the German units stationed in and around Warsaw were divided into three categories. The first was the garrison of Warsaw. As of 31 July, it had 11, troops under General Rainer Stahel.

These German forces had good weapons. They had prepared for the defence of the city for many months. Several hundred concrete bunkers and barbed wire protected the Germans. Apart from the garrison troops, German army units were on both banks of the Vistula and in the city. The second category was formed by police and SS under Col.

During the uprising, the German side received new troops every day. As of 20 August , the Germans fighting in Warsaw included 17, men arranged in two battle groups: Attacking during daylight meant that Poles were shot by German machine gun fire. Although many partisan groups were waiting throughout the city, the movement of thousands of young men and women was hard to hide.

The Germans had realized that the Poles might attack them. However, they did not realize the Poles could do such a large attack.

That evening the Poles captured a major German weapons building, the main post office and power station, Praga railway station and the tallest building in Warsaw, the Prudential building. However, Castle Square, the police district, and the airport were held by the Germans. However, several major German strongholds remained, and in some areas of Wola the Poles had to retreat.

In Praga , on the east bank of the Vistula, the Poles were sent back into hiding by a large number of German forces. The Polish groups had trouble getting in contact with other Polish fighting groups.

By 4 August most of the city was held by Polish forces. The uprising was intended to last a few days until Soviet forces arrived; [52] however, this never happened, and the Polish forces had to fight with little outside help.

The results of the first two days of fighting in different parts of the city were as follows:. The Directorate of Sabotage and Diversion or Kedyw was to guard the headquarters. On 4 August when the Home Army soldiers managed to establish front lines in the westernmost areas of Wola and Ochota.

The German army stopped its retreat westwards and began receiving new troops. German attacks aimed to join up with the remaining German groups of troops and then block the Uprising troops from the Vistula river.

Among the new units were forces under the command of Heinz Reinefarth. Their advance was halted, but the regiments began carrying out Heinrich Himmler 's orders to kill civilians. Special SS, police and Wehrmacht groups went from house to house, shooting the people and burning their bodies.

The killings of civilians were intended to stop the Poles from wanting to fight and end the uprising without having to do heavy city fighting. The Germans began to try to think of a political solution, because the thousands of men under the German commander were unable to win against the insurgents in an urban guerrilla setting.

They aimed to gain a significant victory to show the Home Army that further fighting had no use. They wanted the Home Army to surrender. This did not succeed. Until mid-September, the Germans shot all captured insurgents, but from the end of September, some of the captured Polish soldiers were treated as POWs.

It compares to the street battles of Stalingrad. Despite the loss of Wola, the Polish resistance got stronger. The area became one of the main communication links between the insurgents fighting in Wola and those defending the Old Town.

On 7 August German forces were strengthened by the arrival of tanks. The Germans put Polish civilians in front of the tanks to act as human shields. After two days of heavy fighting they managed to get through Wola and reach Bankowy Square.

However, by then the barricades, street fortifications, and tank obstacles were well-prepared. Both sides reached a stalemate a situation in which no side could win , with violent house-to-house fighting. The Germans and the Poles both made successful attacks. The Germans bombed the Poles with heavy artillery [65] and bombers. The Poles could not defend themselves against the bombers, as they lacked anti-aircraft artillery weapons.

Even clearly marked hospitals were dive-bombed by Stukas. Although the Battle of Stalingrad had already shown the danger of fighting in a city, the Warsaw Uprising showed that an under-equipped force supported by the civilian population could fight better-equipped professional soldiers. The Poles held the Old Town until a decision to withdraw was made at the end of August.

Until 2 September, the defenders of the Old Town withdrew through the sewers. Those that remained were either shot or transported to concentration camps such as Mauthausen and Sachsenhausen once the Germans regained control. The Soviet army under the command of Konstantin Rokossovsky captured Praga and arrived on the east bank of the Vistula in mid-September.

By 13 September, the Germans had destroyed the remaining bridges over the Vistula. The artillery and air bombing provided by the Soviets did not stop enemy machine-gun fire as the Poles crossed the river, and the landing troops had heavy losses. The landings by the 1st Polish Army were the only outside ground force which arrived to support the uprising.

The Germans attacked the Home Army positions near the river to prevent any further landings. However, they were not able to advance for several days while Polish forces held these positions in preparation for a Soviet landings.

Polish units from the eastern shore attempted several more landings, and from 15 to 23 September had heavy losses including the destruction of all their landing boats and most of their other river crossing equipment. Conditions that prevented the Germans from removing the insurgents also prevented the Poles from removing the Germans. Plans for a river crossing were stopped "for at least 4 months", since fighting against the 9th Army's five panzer divisions was a problem.

The commander of the 1st Polish Army, General Berling was removed from his job by his Soviet superiors. Home Army soldiers and the 1st Polish Army retreated from their positions on the bank of the river. From this point on, the Warsaw Uprising can be seen as a one-sided war of attrition or as a fight for good terms of surrender. The Poles were heavily attacked in three areas of the city: In Warsaw had 1,, people. Over a million were still living in the city at the start of the Uprising.

In Polish-controlled territory, during the first weeks of the Uprising, people tried to have a normal life. There were many cultural activities, including theatres and newspapers. Near the end of the Uprising, lack of food, medicine, overcrowding and German air and artillery bombing on the city made the civilian life very difficult.

As the Uprising was supposed to be helped by the Soviets in a few days, the Polish underground did not realize food shortages would be a problem. However, as the fighting continued, the inhabitants of the city had to deal with hunger and starvation. On 6 August, when Polish units recaptured the Haberbusch i Schiele brewery at Ceglana Street, the citizens of Warsaw lived on barley from the brewery's warehouses.

Every day several thousand people went to the brewery for bags of barley and then distributed them in the city centre. The barley was then ground in coffee grinders and boiled with water to form a soup Polish: Another serious problem for civilians and soldiers was a shortage of water.

In addition, the main water pumping station was held by the Germans. To prevent the spread of diseases and provide the people with water, the authorities ordered water wells to be dug in the backyards of every house. On 21 September the Germans blew up the remaining pumping stations at Koszykowa Street and after that the public wells were the only source of drinking water in the city.

Headed by Antoni Bohdziewicz , the group made three newsreels and over 30, meters of film about the Uprising. In addition to films, dozens of newspapers appeared. Several underground newspapers started to be distributed openly. There were also several dozen newspapers, magazines, bulletins and weeklies published by various organizations and military units. It broadcast three or four times a day, broadcasting news programmes and appeals for help in Polish, English, German and French.

It also broadcast reports from the government, patriotic poems and music. According to many historians, the uprising failed because of a lack of outside support and the late arrival of the support which did arrive. The Polish government in London tried to get support from the Western Allies before the start of battle.

The allies would not help without Soviet approval. The Polish government in London asked the British several times to send allied troops to Poland, [12] however, the British troops did not arrive until December The only support operation which was done all through the Uprising were night supply drops by long-range planes of the RAF, other British Commonwealth air forces, and units of the Polish Air Force.

They had to use airfields in Italy, reducing the amount of supplies they could carry. The RAF made flights and lost 34 aircraft. The effect of these airdrops was mostly that they gave the insurgents a feeling of hope. The airdrops delivered too few supplies for the needs of the insurgents, and many airdrops landed outside insurgent-controlled territory.

It was visible from kilometers away. The city was in flames but with so many huge fires burning, it was almost impossible to pick up [see] the target marker flares. From 4 August the Western Allies began supporting the Uprising with airdrops of ammunition and other supplies.

Later on, after the Polish government-in-exile asked for more help [ source? The total weight of allied drops varies according to source tons, [89] tons [88] or tons [12] , over flights were made. The Soviet Union did not allow the Western Allies to use its airports for the airdrops, [7] so the planes had to use bases in the United Kingdom and Italy. This reduced the weight they could carry and number of flights. The Allies' request for the use of landing strips made on 20 August was denied by Stalin on 22 August.

By not giving landing rights to Allied aircraft on Soviet-controlled territory the Soviets made it hard for the Allies to help the Uprising.

The Soviets fired at Allied airplanes which carried supplies from Italy and went into Soviet-controlled airspace. American support was also limited. Roosevelt on 25 August and said they should send planes. Roosevelt did not want to upset Stalin before the Yalta Conference.

Roosevelt said he would not send planes. The planes dropped tons of supplies but only 20 tons were picked up by the insurgents due to the wide area over which they were spread. The planes landed at the Operation Frantic airbases in the Soviet Union.

The Soviets refused permission for any further American flights until 30 September. By this time the weather was too poor to fly, and the insurgency was nearly over. Between 13 and 30 September Soviet planes dropped arms, medicines and food supplies. Initially these supplies were dropped without parachutes [] which led to damage and loss of the contents [] — also, a large number of canisters fell into German areas.

They delivered a total of mm mortars, anti-tank rifles, sub-machine guns, rifles, carbines, 41 hand grenades, 37 mortar shells, over 3 mln. Most of the drops were made during night at — feet altitude. The role of the Red Army during the Warsaw Uprising is controversial and historians still disagree about its role. The Poles in Warsaw were expecting the Soviets to capture the city in a few days.

This approach of starting an insurgent uprising against the Germans a few days before the arrival of Allied forces was done successfully in a number of European capitals, such as Paris [] and Prague. However, despite the easy capture of the area south-east of Warsaw, the Soviets did not help the insurgents. Instead, the Soviets waited as the Germans killed the soldiers from the anti-communist Polish Home Army.

At that time, the city edges were defended by the weak German 73rd Infantry Division. This allowed the German forces to send more troops to fight against uprising in the city itself. The Red Army was fighting battles to the south of Warsaw, to capture bridges over the Vistula river. The Red Army was fighting battles to the north of the city, to capture bridges over the river Narew. The best German armoured divisions were fighting in those sectors.

The Soviet 47th Army did not move into Praga Warsaw's suburbs on the right bank of the Vistula, until 11 September when the uprising was over. In three days the Soviets quickly captured the suburb. The weak German 73rd Division was quickly defeated. The Poles were hoping Soviet forces would help them. Though Berling's communist 1st Polish Army did cross the river, they did not get much support from the Soviets and the main Soviet force did not follow them.

One of the reasons given for the failure of the uprising was that the Soviet Red Army did not help the Resistance. On August 1, the day of Uprising, the Soviet advance stopped. Soviets knew of the planned Uprising from their agents in Warsaw. Also the destruction of the main Polish resistance forces by the Germans helped the Soviet Union, since it significantly weakened any potential Polish opposition to the Soviet occupation.

Stopping the advance and then capturing Warsaw in January enabled the Soviets to say they "freed" Warsaw. He said an attack by four Panzer divisions had stopped them from getting to the city. Germans thought that the Soviets were trying to help the insurgents. The Germans thought it was their defence of Warsaw that prevented the Soviet advance. The Germans did not think that the Soviets did not want to advance. The Germans published propaganda which said that both the British and Soviets did not help the Poles.

The Soviet units which reached the edges of Warsaw in the final days of July had advanced from the 1st Belorussian Front in Western Ukraine. The Soviets defeated many German troops. The Germans were trying to send new troops to hold the line of the Vistula. This was the last major river barrier between the Red Army and Germany. Other explanations for the Soviet lack of help to the Poles are possible.

A lot of Soviet troops and equipment was sent in that direction, while the attacks in Poland were stopped. Stalin decided to occupy Eastern Europe, rather than moving toward Germany. They had already captured bridges to the south of Warsaw, and were defending them against German attacks.

It's estimated that over six million Polish citizens, [1] [2] [3] [4] divided nearly equally between ethnic Poles and Polish Jews , perished during World War II. Most were civilians killed by the actions of Nazi Germany , the Soviet Union and their respective allies. At the Nuremberg Tribunal , three categories of wartime criminality were established: These three core crimes of international law were set apart from other crimes, and for the first time since the end of the war categorised as violations of fundamental human values and norms.

They were committed in occupied Poland on a tremendous scale. In the invading forces totalled 1. In the summer and autumn of the lands annexed by the Soviets were overrun by Nazi Germany in the course of the initially successful Operation Barbarossa against the Soviet Union. War crimes included deportations in cattle cars aimed at complete transformation of the ethnic character of these regions, mass executions and pacification actions, forced labor camps and extermination of the Jews and Poles, death marches, decimation of prisoner populations through hunger and disease as well as leveling of entire city districts and mobile killing campaigns.

From 1 September , the war against Poland was intended as a fulfilment of the plan described by Adolf Hitler in his book Mein Kampf. The main goal of the plan was to make all of Eastern Europe into the Lebensraum living space of Greater Germany.

From the very beginning of war against Poland, German forces carried out massacres and executions of civilians. Therefore, the crimes committed by the Heer the regular German army were often wrongly attributed to SS operational groups in Polish historiography. Records show that during the German advance across Poland five hundred thirty-one towns and villages were burned. Along with civilians, captured Polish Army soldiers were also massacred.

Historian Tadeusz Piotrowski estimated over 1, POWs executed by the Heer on the first day, while Timothy Snyder , an American historian wrote that over 3, POWs were killed in 63 separate shooting actions in which they were often forced to take their uniforms off.

The invading German force was equipped with modern war planes, which were deployed on 1 September at dawn in Operation Wasserkante , thus opening the September Campaign against Poland; there was no declaration of war. The Luftwaffe took part in the mass killing by strafing refugees on the road. Following 1 September invasion of Poland from the west by Germany, their Soviet ally attacked from the east on 17 September in accordance with the terms of the Molotov—Ribbentrop Pact , a secret non-aggression agreement signed in August.

Germany annexed 91, square kilometres with 10 million citizens and controlled the newly created General Government , which consisted of a further 95, kilometres with 12 million citizens. In total, Germany's zone of occupation consisted of , square kilometres with 22 million citizens. The Soviet Union occupied , square kilometres with over 13 million citizens. Both invaders executed Polish civilians and prisoners of war in parallel campaigns of ethnic cleansing.

Amongst the first to suffer mass repressions at the hands of the Soviets were the Border Defence Corps. Many officers were murdered by the NKVD secret police immediately after capture. On the Ukrainian front officers including ten generals , non-commissioned officers and , soldiers were taken into captivity. The Russian leadership broke the agreement entirely. All the Polish servicemen were arrested and sent to the Soviet POW camps, including 2, army officers.

Operation Barbarossa some , Poles dubbed "enemies of the people" were imprisoned without crime. Following the invasion, in April and May the NKVD secret police perpetrated the single most notorious wartime atrocity against any prisoners of war held by the Soviet Union. In the Katyn massacre nearly twenty-two thousand Polish nationals were killed in mass executions simultaneously. They included army officers, political leaders, civil servants, government officials, intellectuals, policemen, landowners, and scores of ordinary soldiers.

The third wave, in June—July , totalled ,—, victims. On top of deporting Polish citizens en masse, the Soviets forcibly drafted Polish men into the Red Army. The invading Soviets set out to remove Polish cultural influences from the land under concocted premises of class struggle and dismantle the former Polish system of administration. The Polish territories were split between the Ukrainian and Belorussian SSRs with Ukrainian and Belarusian declared as the official languages in local usage, respectively.

Schools were forced to serve as tools of communist indoctrination. Even the ringing of church bells was banned. Belarusians welcomed the Soviet invasion in the hope of gaining political concessions. Taxes were raised and religious institutions were forced to close. Businesses were mandated to stay open and sell at pre-war prices, hence allowing Soviet soldiers to buy goods with rubles.

Entire hospitals, schools and factories were moved to the USSR. During the German invasion of Poland , [49] the Einsatzgruppen special action squads of SS and police [41] [85] were deployed in the rear and arrested or killed civilians who were caught offering resistance against the Germans or who were considered to be capable of doing so, as determined by their position and social status.

One of the best-known examples was the deportation to concentration camps in November of professors from the university of Cracow. The Roman Catholic Church was suppressed more harshly than elsewhere in Wartheland , a province created by Nazi Germany after the invasion. Between and , an estimated members of the Polish clergy were murdered in all of Poland ; [92] of these, died in concentration camps of them at Dachau.

The large-scale pacification operations, sometimes called anti-partisan actions, constituted the core policy of the Nazi regime against Poland and resulted in the death of approximately 20, townspeople in less than two years following the invasion. They were mainly conducted in the areas of General Government, Pomorze , in the vicinity of Wielkopolska , [95] and in the newly created Bezirk Bialystok districts. On 10 September the policy of collective punishment was introduced, resulting in destruction of villages and towns in the path of Polish defence lines.

Terror killings committed by uniformed troops across Poland continued and between 2 October — 7 November , over 8, Poles were killed 53 of them Jews. In July , a Nazi secret program called T-4 Euthanasia Program was developed in Germany with the intention of exterminating physically or mentally handicapped people.

Initially, it was implemented according to the following plan: Each truck was accompanied by soldiers from special SS detachments who returned without the patients after a few hours. The patients were said to be transferred to another hospital, but evidence showed otherwise.

By December, some patients from Kocborowo had been murdered and buried in the Szpegawski forest. In total, victims were buried there. This was the first successful test of mass murder using gas van poisoning and this technique was later used and perfected on many other psychiatric patients in occupied Poland and Germany. Starting in , gas vans were used on inmates of the extermination camps. The total number of psychiatric patients murdered by the Nazis in occupied Poland between and is estimated to be more than 16,, with an additional 10, patients dying of malnutrition and hunger.

Additionally, approximately out of members of the Polish Psychiatric Association met the same fate as their patients. While ethnic Poles were usually subject to selective persecution in an effort to discourage them from resisting the Germans, all ethnic Jews were targeted from the outset. Inside occupied Poland, the Germans created hundreds of ghettos in which they forced Jews to live.

The combination of excess numbers of inmates, unsanitary conditions and lack of food resulted in a high death rate among them. The Germans tried to divide the Poles from the Jews using several laws. One law was that Poles were forbidden from buying from Jewish shops; if they did so, they were subject to execution. The Germans used the incident to kill Jews being held as hostages. At the start of the war Poles were killed for sheltering Jews.

Between and , starvation, disease and mass deportations to concentration camps and extermination camps such as during the Gross-aktion Warschau , reduced the population of the ghetto from an estimated , [] [] to approximately 71, From to , it is estimated that starvation and disease caused the death of 43, Jews imprisoned in the Holocaust ghettos. Towards the end of , the mass extermination of Polish Jews had started with deportations from urban centres to death camps including Jews from outside Poland.

As part of the concerted effort to destroy Polish cultural heritage , the Germans closed universities, schools, museums, public libraries, and dismantled scientific laboratories. To prevent the emergence of a next generation of educated Poles, German officials decreed that the schooling of Polish youth would end at the elementary level. A basic issue in the solution of all these problems is the question of schooling and thus the question of sifting and selecting the young.

For the non-German population of the East there must be no higher school than the four-grade elementary school. The sole goal of this school is to be-- Simply arithmetic up to at the most; writing of one's name; the doctrine that it is a divine law to obey the Germans and to be honest, industrious, and good.

I don't think that reading is necessary. Historians estimate that between 50, and up to , Polish children were taken from their families during the war. They were sent to farms and families in the Reich never to return. At the end of October , the Germans introduced the death penalty for active disobedience to the German occupation.

Himmler thought of moving all Poles to Siberia. Most of them were intended to die during the cultivation of the swamps. The Germans planned to change ownership of all property in the land incorporated into the Third Reich. In a speech to German colonists , Arthur Greiser said: In the Wartheland , the Nazi goal was complete Germanization. The formerly Polish territories were to become politically, culturally, socially, and economically German. Tens of thousands of Polish enterprises from large industrial firms to small shops, were seized without payment to the owners.

In the severe winter of —40 families were made to leave behind almost everything without any recompense. Jews were treated slightly differently as they were gathered together into ghettos in the cities. In winter —40, about , Jews were deported. All Polish males were required to perform forced labour. Although Germany also used forced labourers from Western Europe , Poles, along with other Eastern Europeans viewed as inferior, [88] were subject to especially harsh discriminatory measures.

They were forced to wear identifying purple Ps sewn to their clothing, subjected to a curfew , and banned from public transport. While the treatment of factory workers or farm hands often varied depending on the individual employer, Polish labourers as a rule were compelled to work longer hours for lower wages than Western Europeans, [] and in many cities, they were forced to live in segregated barracks behind barbed wire.

Social relations with Germans outside work were forbidden and sexual relations with them were considered " racial defilement ", punishable by death.

Citizens of Poland, but especially ethnic Poles and Polish Jews, were imprisoned in nearly every camp of the extensive concentration camp system in German-occupied Poland and in the Reich.

Tens of thousands of prisoners died there. An estimated 20, Poles died at Sachsenhausen outside Poland, 20, at Gross-Rosen , 30, at Mauthausen , 17, at Neuengamme , 10, at Dachau, and 17, at Ravensbrück. The Auschwitz concentration camp went into operation on 14 June Within a week another arrived. There were major transports in August and in September. This Polish phase of Auschwitz lasted until the middle of The most notorious concentration camps in occupied Poland as well as along Nazi German borders included: The camp system where Poles were detained, imprisoned and forced to labour, was one of fundamental structures of the Nazi regime, and with the invasion of Poland became the backbone of German war economy and the state organized terror.

It is estimated that some five million Polish citizens went through them. The incomplete list of camp locations with at least one hundred slave labourers, included in alphabetical order: Stalin ordered the execution of those believed to have spied on the Soviet Union, which meant practically everyone for the secret police operatives. The Soviets left thousands of corpses piled up in prison yards, corridors, cells, basements, and NKVD torture chambers, as discovered by the advancing Germans in June—July The following is a partial list of prisons and other secret execution places, where mass murder took place; compiled by historian Tadeusz Piotrowski , and others.

In eight pre-war Polish voivodeships , the number of dead was between 32,—34, The locations in alphabetical order included: The new killing method originated from the earlier practise of gassing thousands of unsuspecting hospital patients at Hadamar , Sonnenstein and other euthanasia centres in the Third Reich, known as Action T4.

Following the Wannsee Conference of , as part of highly secretive Operation Reinhard in occupied Poland, the German government built three regular killing centres with stationary gas chambers. It was the most deadly phase of the Final Solution , based on implementing semi-industrial means of killing and incinerating people. Parallel killing facilities were built at Auschwitz-Birkenau within the already existing Auschwitz I in March , at Majdanek later that year and finally, at the Warsaw concentration camp Konzentrationslager Warschau.

In the course of the Kielce cemetery massacre 45 Jewish children were shot by the Germans on a cemetery. The first Polish political prisoners began to arrive at Auschwitz I in May By March , 10, were imprisoned there.

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