This Day In History: The Warsaw Rising Began (1944)

Aufstand in Warschau Deutsche Polizei im Kampf gegen die Aufständischen in Warschau. Es geht wieder weiter nach vorn, um den letzten Widerstand der polnischen Aufständischen zu brechen. Foto: SS-PK-Seidel; herausgegeben am 11.9.1944

On this day in history, the Warsaw Uprising began in 1944. It was an effort by the Poles to rid themselves of the Germans and to save their city and country from foreign domination. The revolt was focused on the city of Warsaw and it involved Polish guerrillas taking on the might of the Germans. The Warsaw Uprising was one of the most brutal examples of urban warfare in the history of WW II.

In the final days of World War II, the people of Poland   were trapped between Nazi Germany and the Soviets. They wanted to be free of all foreign domination and wanted to be an independent nation.

It has been occupied by Nazi Germany since 1939. Any Polish signs of Polish independence was brutally suppressed.  The prospects for Polish freedom looked very bleak indeed come 1944, even as the Germans seemed on the verge of defeat. Poland was faced with either Nazi rule or domination from Moscow. The Red Army was now rapidly approaching from the East. Many Poles hoped by expelling the Germans before the Soviet army came that they could set up a free Polish State. The Polish Home Army planned a rebellion, codenamed Operation Tempest, this was an effort by the underground resistance  across Poland,  to rise up against the Germans and secure Polish independence and it was the largest military operation by any resistance group in World War II.

A member of the Polish Home Army

The Home Army (Polish rebels)  timed their uprising with the approach of the Red Army through Eastern Poland, with the hope that they would get support. However, when the uprising began the Soviets did nothing- they did not even allow the allies to help the Poles. Stalin was happy to watch the Poles dies fighting the Nazis. He probably believed that it would make his take-over of the country that so much easier. Warsaw’s citizens saw Soviet planes suddenly cease their attacks in and around the city when the uprising began. The Poles soon realised that they were on their own.

The German’s reaction to the uprising was incredibly vicious. Hitler ordered the SS to kill civilians, young and old, women, and children. By the end of the uprising, as many as 180,000 civilians were killed in and around Warsaw. On one day, alone the Nazis murdered tens of thousands of civilians. After the defeat of the Polish Home Army. The Germans destroyed much of Warsaw in revenge. It is estimated that some 80% of the Polish capital was destroyed.

Warsaw was later occupied by the Soviets and they established a puppet Communist government in the city.