With the Soviet Army making tremendous gains on the ground to the East and the Allies mounting a considerable presence in France to the West, the time seemed right for the remaining Polish military powers within Warsaw to make a stand and eject their conquerors from the city once and for all. Additionally, the encroaching Soviet forces proved too close for comfort and was a certainly to would bring with them a Communistic brand of government by force to the sovereign Polish nation. The plan for the Poles was to take up arms and move the Germans out of the city while "greeting" the Soviet Army as a free liberated and democratic nation.
However, much stood in the way of this Polish resolve. Firstly, the remaining Polish guard was withered down to about 38,000 suitable soldier personnel to which 4,000 of these were women. There were only enough light weapons to arm approximately one quarter of this fighting force. Additionally, there would be no air support, armor support, artillery support and nary an armored vehicle to which mount an attack with. Ammunition was estimated to last about one week of consistent fighting and fighting would have to be bloody house-to-house affairs against a well-armed, well-trained and battle hardened German foe. The Polish spirit was no doubt strong during this time, but logistics said otherwise.
As such, the Polish Army and their government-in-exile - now based in Britain - looked to the Allies for help. Britain offered what it could considering its current wartime commitments, as did the United States. Soviet leader Josef Stalin would refuse to assist the Polish government in any way, sensing that the success of a "Warsaw Uprising" would hinder his prospects of conquering Poland for the Soviet sphere of influence.
By this time, Soviet forces were closing in and around Warsaw to the point that gunfire and artillery was heard along the outskirts of the Warsaw suburbs. From the Polish standpoint, this instilled some haste in exacting their next move and, it seemed, that their German invaders had retreated completely out of the Capital. In reality, however, they were only relocated to counter the swift Soviet gains. Once the German retreat was halted by Adolph Hitler himself and Colonel General Heinz Guderian placed in command of the situation, the Germans stabilized and remained a potent force.
During the perceived lull throughout the Capital, Polish resistance began building up hope and numbers through localized propaganda brought about by posters, word-of-mouth and loudspeaker presentations. Momentum to win back the city and control it before the invading Soviets could enter was in full swing and patriotic fervor was winning out over logic. Polish Army General Komorowski was in charge of the insurgency plan and greenlit the uprising to its fullest potential without realizing the true scope of the surrounding situation.
With small arms and inherent determination, the Polish uprising began on August 1st, attacking the unsuspecting German forces throughout the city. At first, the gains were deemed impressive for the Germans were unprepared and had yet to settle from the reorganization brought about from the halt to the retreat. Fighting turned evermore severe and German defenses at key locations soon proved insurmountable to the lightly-armed Polish insurgency. Despite this, the Polish fought bravely with the few arms and ammunition available to them. Street fighting proved commonplace and Warsaw turned into an official battle zone where no corner was safe from danger.
As the initial push by the Poles began to diminish, they held out hope in the advancing Red Army forces whose armor and artillery could be heard nearby. Additionally, Soviet Air Force planes could clearly be seen in the skies above. However, as the fighting within Warsaw persisted, the sights of the Soviet advanced seemingly disappeared. It seemed that, in true Stalin fashion, an order was given to halt the Red Army advance against Warsaw and let the Germans deal with the pestering Poles before the Soviets geared up to take the Capital themselves. Hitler, infuriated by the nerve of the Polish uprising, committed more men and equipment to the fighting (including bands of ex-criminals, police and ex-Soviet soliders-turned-Nazi) to squash the resistance once and for all - sending a clear message to anyone under his grip with the same insurgent-minded intentions.
The situation for the Poles turned hopelessly bleak. Word soon reached British PM Churchill and American President Roosevelt of Stalin's inaction - both reportedly appalled at the Soviet leader's lack of response. Both leaders appealed to Stalin's sense of morality - if there ever was one - to deliver assistance to the Poles in need. Stalin declined on the insistence that he was never consulted about the intended uprising by the Poles and thusly could not appropriately coordinate a response. Additionally, he stated that his forces were, at present, committed to other - more pressing matters - in the region. When a request came from the British and Americans to deliver their own supplies to the Poles via Soviet-held forward airfields, the request was denied.
It was clear that Stalin was intending to take Poland for his own at the expense of its people. In one deliberately futile act, Stalin ordered a meager airdrop of supplies over the city - these landing into German Army hands and made up of a few small arms and nothing more. As time wore on, the situation for the Poles grew ever grimmer - help from the Allies, it seems, would not come in time, if at all.
The influx of German troops completed the stamping out of the uprising. Remnants of the Polish insurgency were divided into three combat groups with little in the way of communication with one another. Ammunition was now gone. Prisoners were executed by the Germans on site while wounded Poles were reportedly doused with gasoline and set ablaze, left to burn alive. Professionals such as doctors were executed at Polish hospitals and patients systematically killed. Additionally, any remaining Polish civilians caught in the fighting were killed or taken prisoner - all this with the Soviet Army less than 15 miles away from Warsaw proper.
On October 2nd, the Polish Army officially surrendered to the Germans. Between 150,000 and 250,000 Poles were murdered and killed against the loss of 26,000 German troops. Polish survivors were taken away to await a fate worse than death while Warsaw was raped of its valuables and destroyed where it could be by land or air.
Polish Lieutenant-Colonel Zygmunt Berling, having been leading a contingent of the 1st Polish Army alongside the Soviet Army, attempted to come to the aid of his beleagured comrades, breaking rank and storming the Germans. His advance was quickly repelled and the units retreated back to Soviet-held ground. For his actions against Red Army orders, Berling was stripped of his command. ©www.SecondWorldWarHistory.com
There are a total of (29) entries in the Timeline of the Warsaw Uprising (August 1st - October 2nd, 1944). Entries are listed below by earliest date to latest date.