Warsaw Uprising: Polish authorities’ political amnesia


People light flares as they observe a minute of silence to mark the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising against the Nazi German occupiers during World War II on August 1, 2019, in the Polish capital Warsaw | Janek Skarzynski/AFP

Poland is suffering political amnesia. The condition gets acute any time one mentions the mass crimes committed against Polish nationals. There is a plethora of examples to prove the case. The Volyn massacre is the most illustrative one. Ukrainian nationalists brutally tortured and killed dozens of thousands of old men, women and children. For all that, the Polish government supports the successors of Stepan Bandera who have seized power in Ukraine.

There is another example – the pogroms in Wola that took place during the Warsaw uprising (Wola – a district of western Warsaw). German fascists killed around 60,000 Poles in two days (August 5-6, 1944) – the largest single massacre in WWII.

Today the Polish authorities do the best to get around the details that led to the tragedy. A lot has been said in Poland about the Warsaw uprising. By and large it all boils down to denigrating Soviet soldiers by suggesting they deliberately remained where they were to allow the Wehrmacht time to regroup and put the insurgence down. It is said that whatever Russians say about liberating Poland “Bolsheviks are even worse than Hitlerites,” no matter that it was the German fascists who killed Poles just because they were Slavic people. That’s exactly what they did in Wola.

The reason Germans were so cruel towards Poles is an open secret. In their statements top Nazi officials were candid enough in explaining their attitude. But Polish and Ukrainian propaganda outlets keep silent about it. The following examples are eloquent enough.

Just one week prior to launching the attack on Poland, Hitler made an address to his chief military commanders at Obersalzberg on August 22, 1939. He said,

“Our strength consists of our speed and our brutality. Genghis Khan led millions of women and children to slaughter – with premeditation and a happy heart. History sees in him solely as the founder of a state. It’s a matter of indifference to me what a weak western European civilization will say about me. I have issued the command – and I’ll have anybody who utters but one word of criticism executed by a firing squad – that our war aim does not consist in reaching certain lines, but in the physical destruction of the enemy. Accordingly, I have placed my Death’s Head Units [SS-Totenkopfverbände, responsible for administering the concentration camps – Ed. Note] in readiness – for the present only in the East – with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space (Lebensraum) which we need.”

Hans Frank was appointed Governor General of the Occupied Polish Territories by Hitler’s decree dated 12 October 1939. On January 1, 1940 the official told the conference of department heads that he was given an order to devastate the territory leaving no traces of economy, culture, social and political structures. He said Poland was wartime booty to be treated accordingly.

The Nazis really made no distinction between their words and deeds. The destruction of Warsaw and the Volyn massacre provide good evidence to go on. Neither the contemporary Polish Russophobe propaganda warriors, nor overseas story-tellers shed light on who was behind the tragic events. One has to get acquainted with the testimony provided right after the massacre by witnesses, those who saw what happened with their own eyes to testify right after the events.

The underground newspaper of the Polish Workers Party Trybuna Wolnosci (N.64, 1944) published an article signed by Lieutenant Zenon (real name Zenon Kliszko), deputy commander of Army Liudova (the People’s Army of Poland) at the time of the Warsaw Uprising. He said,

“The very thought of bloodshed in Warsaw, the city lying in ruins, never leaves the minds of those who fight for full liberation of the country from Hitler’s yoke. The stronger the pain, the more clearly we realize how hard our people suffered and how important it is to pinpoint the real culprits. All the details have to be clarified and come into the open. The problem of the uprising in Poland has been many times discussed on the pages of the party press. The leadership of the party noted that such an action cannot be improvised. It has to be thoroughly planned taking into consideration the experience gathered by the guerrilla movement. It has to coincide with an active phase of mass struggle. It is imperative to coordinate activities with the allied military, especially with the Red Army liberating Poland. …

“In those days the German Eastern Front was rolling back. There was an impression that the Red Army and Polish people were about to liberate Warsaw from Hitler’s occupiers. The great victories of the Red Army made leaders of the Armia Krajowa (the Home Army) panic. They decided to seize Warsaw and bring their reactionary clique to power.

“Contrary to good reason and logic and ignoring the opinion of others, the Armia Krajowa incited the uprising on August 1. The rebellion unleashed by Bor (meaning “the Forest” – the code-name of General Count Tadeusz Komorowski, the commander in chief) and his accomplices a day before the capitulation of the Warsaw uprising, was a criminal political venture.

“As soon as the uprising started the real intentions of its leaders became known. The staff of the Armia Krajowa failed to come up with an operational plan. The action was not well-prepared. True, the state of combat readiness had been declared a number of times for training purposes. There was no clarity about the start of combat action – the H-hour was changed repeatedly. Many Armia Krajowa units were not engaged in the operation at all. The real intent was not to organize an uprising against the Germans, but rather liberate the city without the participation of Soviet forces. That’s what the root of the problem was and that’s what doomed the action to failure. Two days before the insurgence the ‘convention of independent organizations’ distributed leaflets denigrating the Red Army. The leadership of Armia Krajowa was blinded by hatred. It forgot about the Germans in Warsaw. It said that the units of the Red Army deployed at the forward edge of the battle area were merely dozens of tank divisions ready to enter the city at any given moment. The Armia Krajowa commanders did not consider the Germans to be their enemies anymore.

“They considered the Soviet Union and entire camp of Polish democracy as the prime target. That’s what made the leadership of Armia Krajowa and the London-based Polish government-in-exile commit this grave crime in Warsaw.”

The testimony adduced here provides undisputed evidence which allows a strict definition of what really caused the tragic events in Wola.

Originally published under the title “Wola Massacre and Polish Authorities: Another Case of Political Amnesia,” Valéry Vrublevsky, Strategic Culture Foundation, June 1, 2015. Slightly edited for grammar.

September 5, 2015 – No. 32


Leave a comment

Filed under Europe, History

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s