August 13, 2011

Warsaw Uprising 1944: August 13 - German Tank Explodes Killing 350 Polish Insurgents

This is the German Tank Rigged to Explode
A powerful German attack was directed at the Old Town's northern and western defence lines. This afternoon soldiers of the Gustaw Battalion captured a German tank, which turned out to be a trap. German troops attacked a barricade in the Old Town Sector with three tanks. Two of their tanks withdrew under heavy fire from insurgents but the third one, though smaller in size, sped toward the barricade under cover of German fire. The crew then jumped out and escaped. The insurgents noticed that the tank was intact and seemed to be in good working order so they dismantled part of the barricade at Podwale Street and drove the tank into their compound on Kilinskiego Street. At first it caused quite a sensation and hundreds of insurgents and civilians gathered round to get a look at it. Forty five minutes later in front of house no. 1, the tank exploded with great force killing over 350 people. Among the dead are about 100 Polish soldiers from the "Rog" Regiment and units from "Gustaw","Wigry", and "Gosdawa" battalions, as well as many civilians. AK engineers later concluded that the Germans had rigged the tank with high explosives which was detonated by remote control.

Old Town came under the heaviest of German fire today. From Wybrzeze Gdanskie the Germans attacked attack Bolezć Street, from Gdanski Railway Station – Bonifraterska Street, and from the area of Dzika – Stawki and Pokorna Streets. From the ruins of the ghetto, they also struck Nalewki Street and the Krasinski Gardens, from Leszno – Dluga, Tlomackie and Bielanska Streets, and from Teatralny Square – the City Hall.

The battle ensued for several hours resulting in heavy casualties. Despite the overwhelming forey of the German attacks, Polish insurgents put up a tough defence. But in the end the Poles lost control of Stawki Street and had to retreat from Rymarska Street. With the final fall of Stawki Street, the Germans have completed their encirclement of the Old Town.

German Tanks Surround Warsaw District

Communications have been severed between Home Army headquarters and Col. Antoni Chrusciel "Monter" who is stationed in Srodmiescie.  Polish units under the group command of Col.Monter, Lt. Marian Krawczyk "Hamas", Cavalry Captain Henryk Roycewicz "Leliwa" and "Chrobry II" group have launched an attack in a desperate attempt to reestablish a connection between Srodmiescie and the Old Town. At around 1:00 a.m. the attack broke down in the area of the Hale Mirowskie Market.

Captain Waclaw Zagorski of Chrobry II battalion had discovered that 8 to 10 insurgents had murdered some Jews who had emerged from hiding. These insurgents belong to the unit under the command of Stykowski "Hall". Zagorski and Roman Bornstein, the medic of his battalion (who is Jewish)reported the crime the AK High Commander Antoni Chrusciel "Monter".

Monter was outraged and ordered an immediate investigation and court martial of those responsible. Investigation by the Home Army Security Services resulted in the arrest of one person, Robert Kaminski "Francuz". An arrest warrant is issued for Cpl. Mucha with the recommendation that they both be executed under Polish martial law.  Kaminski has not been found and his whereabouts as yet are unknown. However, Mucha has been killed during the fighting before he could be arrested. There is speculation whether Kaminski was responsible for the murders or was the patsy for Stykowski.

Further investigations were suspended when it was discovered that the remaining perpetrators had either been killed in fighting or by members of their own unit. In particular, Stykowski's own men shot a Corporal Unrug whom they blamed for the murders, supposedly because they had been disgusted by his actions. However, it is also possible that Unrug was killed in order to keep him from implicating Stykowski (who was never prosecuted) in the crime. The investigation also revealed that Stykowski's men had also killed members of the Chrobry II unit out of robbery motives.

After the war, in some accounts, the Chrobry II unit has been mistakenly blamed for the murders, because they controlled an area neighboring the one in which the murders were committed, whereas in fact, it was actually one of the senior officers of the unit who exposed the crime.  At its height, the battalion group Chrobry II had 3200 personnel, including 3000 soldiers. During the Uprising, about 400 of their soldiers were killed.

Witold Pilecki
One of the platoons of the battalion was led by Witold Pilecki. In September 1940 he deliberately went out during a lapanka (a round up Polish civilians in the streets).and allowed himself to get "caught" by the Germans. After being tortured he was sent to Auschwitz (his number is 4859). Inside Auschwitz Pilecki witnessed horrible atrocities. He organized the underground ZOW which distributed extra food and clothing to inmates, provided news from the outside, set up intelligence networks and trained detachments to take over the camp in the event of allied intervention. The ZOW provided the AK with invaluable information about the camp and was able to dispatch radio reports to Warsaw in October 1940.  On the night of April 26, 1943, he was able to escape only with the help of two of his comrades on the outside.

Other notable soldiers include Tadeusz Siemiatkowski and Miroslaw Biernacki. Siemiatkowski was the commander and organizer of the Combat Department of the headquarters of the QA, then the NSZ. He is now the deputy company commander of the "Warszawianka"Polish forces. He is renowned for his underground activity in rooting out informers and enemy agents from within Polish ranks. The unit has also been noted for having a high number of Jewish soldiers in its ranks, most of whom emerged from hiding upon the break out of the uprising.

Jakub Michlewicz
These included the diarist Calek Perechodnik, who actually served with a nationalist right wing NSZ platoon, and Jakub Michlewicz. Michlewicz' family was murdered by the Germans. He fled and hid in the countryside and eventually made his way to Warsaw.He joined the Polish Home Army on the spur of the moment just at the moment of the outbreak of fighting on August 1st. He was emerging from hiding at the time and was approached by an older boy who was on his way to join the AK and suggested that Jakub join him. That same day they were both accepted and were put to work building barricades. They also participated in a grenade attack on a German car patrol. He is also serving as a courier for the "Chrobry II" Battalion Group (1st Battalion, 3rd Company) carrying messages to the front line.  Michlewiz is only 15 years old and is the youngest member of the battalion

During the night troops of the “Baszta” regiment began their attack from Mokotow towards Srodmiescie. Again, the attack broke down under heavy enemy fire. They failed to seize both the SS barracks located in a school on the corner of Kazimierzowska and Narbutta Streets, and the "Wedel’s House" on the corner of Pulawska and Madalinskiego Streets.  Polish fighters suffered very heavy casualties.

The Soviet News Agency TASS issued a communique condemning the Uprising. At the same time a proclamation was announced over the radio by General Michal Roll Rymierski, the Commander-in-Chief of Polish forces under Soviet command. Rymierski stated, “The time for liberation of our capital has come...I order...soldiers of the First Polish storm Warsaw.”

In 1918 Rymierski joined the Polish Army and fought in the Polish-Soviet War, following which he was promoted  to commander of the prestigious Polish Legions 2nd Infantry Division. After the war he studied at a military academy in Paris and upon his return to Poland was promoted to General.

Rymierski had participated in the coup of 1926 and a year later was found guilty and court-martialled for charges of bribery and embezzlement and demoted to private first class, expelled from the army and sentenced to five years in prison.

He was released from prison in 1931 and was recruited by Soviet Intelligence. He became a secret member of the Communist Party of Poland until 1938 when Stalin decided to disband the Communist Party of Poland. After World War II broke out he returned to Poland and in 1943 was appointed deputy commander of the communist and Soviet-backed Gwardia Ludowa and since 1944 the commander of Armia Ludowa. He was then promoted by the communist-backed PKWN back to the rank of General and became the commander-in-chief of the Polish Army.His units fought alongside Soviet forces. (NB In January he became Minister of Defence in the Provisional Government of the Republic of Poland. And in May 1945 Stalin promoted Rymierski the rank of Marshal of Poland.

Armia Ludowa in a forest near Lublin, Poland

The Armia Ludowa was created on July 21, 1944 and integrated into the Polish Army of the Soviet Union, renamed People`s Army of Poland. (LWP). In 1944 the Red Army organized 1st Polish Army and recruited Poles to join. Most chose the latter. After the war many of its members joined the infamous Ministry of Public Security in the People's Republic of Poland.

A dozen Halifax aircraft have made drops above Warsaw. In the two weeks that Squadron 1586 has flown missions to Warsaw, they sustained numerous casualties as a result of German fire power. On August 1st the Squadron had 8 planes and 5 crews. Today only one of these original crews survived. In addition to Squadron 1586, other Polish squadrons are flying missions to Warsaw as well.

Handley Page Halifax Mk.V RCAF 434 Squadron circa 1943-44 (00:01:04m)


Lt. John Ward

Lt. John Ward, a British soldier, and member of the AK has dispatched several radio messages to London  today reporting on of the Uprising.  Here are the dispatches as follows: The German forces have brutally murdered wounded and sick people both men and women who were lying in St. Lazarus Hospital in Wolska Street, Nr. 18, and Karol and Maria Hospital in Przejazd Street, Nr. 5. In Jerozolimska Avenue when the Germans were bringing supplies by tank to one of their outposts they drove before them 500 women and children to prevent the troops of AK from taking action against them. Many of them were killed and wounded. The same kind of action has been reported from many other parts of the city. Despite lack of weapons the Polish forces continue to hold the initiative in the battle of Warsaw. In some places they have broken into German strongholds and captured much-needed arms and ammunition. On August the 12th were captured 11,600 rounds rifle ammunition, five machine guns, 8,500 small arm ammunition, 20 pistols, 30 anti-tank mines, three hand machines and motor-cars. The German forces are fighting desperately. In Jerozolimska Avenue when AK set fire to a building which the Germans were holding as a fortress, two German soldiers tried to escape to the Polish lines with a white flag. An SS officer saw them and shot them dead. During the night from 12th/13th AK at 1 o'clock in the morning received some weapons from Allied aircraft. Fighting for the electric power station began on August 1st at 5.10 p.m. Twenty-three soldiers of the Polish Home Army were stationed in the works before that hour because they were employed there in the normal course of things, expecting the outbreak of the uprising. The Germans had the day before raised the strength of the garrison to 150 militarized police stationed in concrete pillboxes and block houses, also in all the works' buildings. The signal for action was the explosion of a mine under one of the buildings. After 19 hours of fighting the electric power station was fully in Polish hands on August 2nd at 12 o'clock noon. The Polish losses were 17 killed and 27 wounded. The German losses were 20 killed and 22 wounded with 56 taken as prisoners of war. The detachment which captured the station consisted solely of manual and other workers employed there. In spite of the fact that the buildings of the station are daily bombarded with 75 mm. shells by the Germans the personnel has succeeded in maintaining the supply of current to the civil population without the slightest 

   (2/5) Timewatch Battle for Warsaw World War II (00:10:00m)


1 comment:

  1. alek.mankowski@gmail.comJuly 20, 2013 at 1:19 AM

    Niech Zyje pamiec o Armi Krajowej!
    Alek Mankowski, Peoria,Arizona, USA