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Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 14, Issue 5/6, 2004

Warsaw Uprising 1944: Part One

Wieńczysław J. Wagner
Pages 153-166

A Bad Dream or Cruel Reality? Some Thoughts on the Origin, Developments and Aftermath of the Warsaw Uprising of 1944

The traditional German policy was to “push to the East”. After signing a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union, Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, and the Red Army entered the Polish territory on September 17. The German occupation was marked by terror and executions. A resistance movement was developed, and along a secret government and underground army came into being. It was organized by officers who were not taken prisoners of war and by main political parties. The German retaliation—arrests, tortures, concentration camps—did not deter the Poles from joining the patriotic conspiracy. For about five years, the nation waited for a proper moment to fight the occupants. For the city of Warsaw, it seemed that the good time was the middle of the summer of 1944. The Germans were retreating on all fronts, and the Red Army was on the suburbs of Warsaw, on the right bank of the Vistula. It was expected that it would help the insurgents. The Uprising was intended to last a few days. It ended after more than two months, when the Home Army had no more bullets, and the population—no more food. An honorable surrender was signed with the Germans, by virtue of which the insurgents were treated as allied soldiers rather than bandits to be executed, as was the case at the beginning of the Uprising.

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