20 Facts that Brutally Highlight the Warsaw Uprising of 1944

The Polish Home Army launched the uprising when the Soviet Army was just outside Warsaw’s suburban neighborhoods. Wikimedia

2. The Red Army’s approach triggered the Uprising, but Soviet betrayal doomed it to failure

The Soviet offensive disrupted and accelerated the launch date of the Polish uprising, moving it up from the projected date in September to late July or early August. By late July Soviet units, including armored divisions and mechanized infantry, were with a few miles of Warsaw’s eastern suburbs, though engaged in heavy fighting with German units. The Germans were conducting a fighting retreat, determined to hold Warsaw as long as possible, along with other defensive positions along the Vistula. Polish troops in eastern Poland began fighting alongside the Red Army as it moved westward, though the Soviets captured and shot most of their senior officers and forced the junior officers and enlisted men to joint their ranks.

Polish language radio stations operating in Moscow began broadcasting calls for the Polish Home Army to strike against the Germans, joining the Poles who were fighting alongside of the Red Army. The Polish Government in Exile, concerned about losing legitimacy if it did not initiate action, approved the operation, though local commanders in Warsaw were concerned that it was too early for the attack to begin. On July 31, 1944, with it clearly evident that it would be the Soviets rather than the Western Allies who drove the Germans out of Poland, the time of the attack in Warsaw was set for 5:00 PM on August 1. The German garrison in Warsaw of about 11,000 battle hardened troops were in strong defensive positions, and anticipated an uprising by the resistance.