August 15, 2011

Warsaw Uprising 1944: August 15 - WARSAW BLACK MARKET FOR WATER

Polish Soldiers from "Anna" Company
It has been two weeks since the outbreak of the Uprising and the insurgents continue to fight aggressively. Initially Polish Command expected that the Uprising would last only three or four days, a week at the most pending allied intervention. Ammunition is quickly running out and the AK is desperate for help. Despite the shortage, the Polish Underground has been mass producing thousands of home-made grenades and incindiaries in secret workshops. Since the Uprising began AK forces have been able to capture large quantities of weapons and ammunition from enemy forces as well as several German tanks.

German forces have succeeded in forcing Poles out of the main arteries of Warsaw. In just one day over 300 German tanks crossed Warsaw from east to west, and 95 tanks moved from the west towards Praga. This barrage coincides with the arrival today of “Karl”, a top-heavy German mortar with 600 mm caliber. It is the largest self-propelled weapon in service weighing over 124 tons. The heaviest munition is a 60 cm (24" diameter), 2,170 kg (4,800 lb) shell. Its lightest shell has a range of just over 10 km (6.2 miles). Each heavy gun is accompanied by a crane, a heavy transport trailer and several modified tanks to carry shells.

600 mm Karl-Gerat "Ziu" firing on Warsaw 1944
Polish Major “Zagonczyk” has achieved astounding success in the capture of much needed weapons, causing severe German casualties. German troops lost nine tanks, an armoured car, a cannon and 150 soldiers were killed. Irregardless, the Germans continue to hit the City Centre with relentless fire from its heavy launchers which the Varsovians call “cows”
Polish hand made grenades

Fighting goes on in City Centre as the Germans and Polish insurgents battle over control of streets and even individual buildings, the likes of which have changed hands several times between the two sides.  Skirmishes are taking place throughout the Old Town from Krasinski Gardens to Teatralny Square. German troops succeeded in capturing Mostowski Palace but a Polish unit from the "Wigry" Battalion managed to recapture it during the night.  Meanwhile Germans had attacked the barricades in front of Bank Polski on Bielanska Street and the Canonesses Convent in Teatralny Square.  Polish insurgents are fighting back aggressively.

Polish Insurgents after skirmish in Old Town Warsaw

Mostowski Palace  - Warsaw

In an unprecedented attack, German units struck hard on northern Srodmiescie from the north along Zelazna, Walicow, Ciepla, Rynkowa and Graniczna Streets: and from the west along Srebrna, Sienna, Panska, Prosta, Lucka, Grzybowska Streets. At the same time German shells were fired on insurgent positions including the Postal Railway Station and Dom Kolejowy building.  Despite the overwhelming enemy barrage, Polish troops under the command of Captain Waclaw Stykowski "Hal" and units from the "Chrobry II" group succeeded in pushing the enemy back to their initial positions.

Sentry at Post Train Station at Aleja Jerozolimskie Street.

3rd Company Chrobry II Battalion at Post Office Rail Station
L-R: Lt. Zbigniew Brym "Zdunin", Lt. "Piotr", and chaplain Cpt. Antoni Czajkowski "Badur"

Prudential Building in Warsaw
Napoleon Square was bombed by the enemy from its position at Saski Gardens, and Warsaw's tallest building, the Prudential was hit by enemy fire and burst into flames. Fires are also raging on Moniuszki, Sienkiewicza and Mazowiecka Streets.

In Mokotow, two Hungarian officers were arrested.  Lt. Col. Stanislaw Kaminski "Daniel" used them as liaisons to establish contact with the command of Hungarian troops stationed in Zalesie near Warsaw.  The "Jelen" unit under the command of Cavalry Captain Lech Gluchowski "Jezycki" has taken up position in the Legiony Dabrowskiego Fort.

Over 700 troops from Kampinos Forest under the command of Lt. Col. Wiktor Ludwik Konarski 'Victor" have mobilized were on the way towards Old Town.  However, in the area of Powazki, the troops were dispersed by enemy fire and retreated to Zoliborz. The remaining soldiers have returned to the forest.

In the meantime British authorities have assigned two air units of more than 30 Liberator type four engine heavy bombers to assist Warsaw, one flown by British pilots and the other by South Africans.  German fire shot down three of these planes.

The First Assistant to the Peoples Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union, Andrey Y. Vyshinsky, issued a reply to Harrimans recent request. On behalf of Molotov he stated that the Soviet government “could not go along” with his proposal and that the Uprising instigated by the Warsaw population was a “purely adventuristic affair” which the Soviets would not support.

Stalin and Vyshinsky
Ambassador Harriman and British Ambassador Clark Kerr have since jointly appealed to Molotov for a change in the Soviet position. In a radio address, Harriman summarised his discussions with Vyshinsky and pointed out that the Soviet decision would have serious repercussions in Washington and London. Harriman made particular issue of the fact that Stalin had promised Polish Prime Minister Mikolayczyk that assistance would be forthcoming to the resistance movement in Warsaw. Vyshinsky dispatched his response criticizing that the outbreak of the resistance movement was ill-advised and that the whole matter was not serious enough to merit consideration as it bears no influence on course of the war.

Harrimans request was focused not on Soviet participation in the Warsaw, but was rather an inquiry as to the reason the Soviet government objected to British and American efforts in assisting the Poles. Vyshinsky maintains that the landing of American planes on Soviet bases can be construed as “participation” and the Soviet Union strongly objects that the “adventurous actions” of the Varsavians might later be unleashed against the Soviet Union.

Soviet WW2  Poster: Anti-Polish Propaganda

A radio message was sent in reply to the President and Acting Secretary of State at 8 pm, in which Vyshinski maintained that the landing of American planes at the Soviet bases constituted participation and the Soviet Govt did not wish to encourage “adventuristic actions” which might later be turned against the Soviet Union. Three hours later, a strongly worded message was sent by Harriman accusing the Soviet government of feigning operational difficulties in the guise of ruthless political manipulation.

Insurgents in the Old Town Sector are starving. There is no bread, vegetables or meat for distribution.  In desperation they have resorted to eating the remains of horses, dogs, cats.  But thankfully the city can rely on a storehouse of grains that can be processed into gruel. Centre City sector has stockpiles of grain stored in several places as well as at the city`s largest brewery.

Warsaw citizens eat horse meat to avoid starvation.
Shortage of water has reached a critical stage as Germans have gained control of the filter stations and pumps. Areas that are still under the control of the insurgents are experiencing a gradual loss of water as Germans are shutting off water supplies. Water mains have also been shattered as a result of air bombardment. The Polish quartermasters assigned to each borough have organized emergency committees to examine the number and location of wells registered in each area and to determine how many of them are still operational. It is estimated that each well can yield approximately one to two litres of water per day for each person. But there is not enough water to fight the fires which are raging everywhere in Warsaw. However in the southern district of Warsaw, currently held by the insurgents, there are about 14 wells plus two artesian wells supplying enough water for 300,000 people.  In the meantime, water is being carefully rationed for military and civilians alike. Attempts have been made to repair the main water stations however with limited success.  The electrical current to the pumping stations in Warsaw was temporarily cut off which resulted in a drastic drop in water pressure.

There has been black market activity in some sections of the city for the precious water supply. In Old Town Sector civilians are paying 600 zlyotch for one glass of water.  One black marketer charged $20 payable in gold for a bucket of water which was only partially filled. The AK has warned the public against such activity and has made numerous arrests. Several black marketers were being held under AK custody pending a military tribunal.  All Polish military prosecutions have been conducted according to legal and proper proceedings. Several men were found guilty by Polish military court and within six hours they were shot by the commander of the region.

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