August 18, 2011

Warsaw Uprising 1944: August 18 - Germans Demand Polish Surrender

Ruins of Bank Polski
Since morning German planes have conducted continuous raids on the Old Town district especially over the neighborhood of Market Square, and Bank Polski on Bielanska Street.  A barrage of artillery and mortar fire continues in the area of the State Securities Plant on Sanguszki Street, Jan Bozy Hospital in Bonifraterska, and Muranow. Fierce battles are being fought for the area of the streetcar depot on Sierakowska Street but Polish troops of Lt. Col. Jan Szypowski “Lesnik”  have suffered very heavy casualties.  The commander himself is badly injured.  Also under heavy fire is the area of Zamkowy Square, as well as  Podwale, Piwna and Świetojerska Streets.. Fighting has continued the entire day near the cathedral and on Miodowa, Piwna and Podwale Streets.


However in Srodmiescie, there was a momentary halt in battle giving the Polish troops the much needed advantage. Captain Waclaw Stykowski "Hal" launched a successful attack on the Germans and was able to push them back from the line of Grzybowska towards Krochmalna Street. The insurgents were able to recapture the Police Barracks on Ciepla Street and the “Pluton” Company’s warehouses on Grzybowska. Meanwhile in the southern part of Srodmiescie a fierce struggle is taking place for the vast premises of the Institute of Technology. The battle for this plot of land is in its fourth day.

Polish Insurgents firing upon and hurling hand made grenades at the enemy
During the night of Polish troops Company B-3 of the Baszta regiment, the PAL platoon and troops under the command of Cavalry Captain Andrezj Czajkowski "Garda" have taken positions in Sielce (a part of Czerniakow and Sadyba). Throughout the day the Germans launched fierce counterattacks forcing the Poles to vacate a factory on Belwederska Street and section of Czerniakowska Street. Sadyba is till under Polish control.
Lt. John Ward
Lt. John Ward, a British soldier, and member of the AK has dispatched another secret coded message to London reporting on the days events in Warsaw. The message reads as follows: In the centre of the city the shortage of weapons and ammunition is desperate. I have been asked by the Polish Chief of Staff to make this communication. I can confirm this from my own observations. The main situation in Warsaw has not changed. In the centre of the city fighting continues to be very heavy. The enemy continues with the ruthless destruction of the city by air bombardment, with tanks, 75 mm. artillery and with half explosive and half incendiary mines, propelled by mine-throwers. About 40 per cent. of the City Centre is already completely destroyed and another 20 per cent. badly damaged. Reports from the suburbs also tell of the terrific destruction. The Germans are carrying out their attempt to destroy Warsaw. Loss of life among civilian population and the Home Army is very high.
Col. Antoni Chruściel “Monter” has appointed Lt. Col. Józef Rokicki "Karol" commander of the Mokotow District. The Polish Department of Internal Affairs has issued an order of compulsory labor for all men and women between the ages of 17 and 60. Apparently the order is not even required as there are virtual floods of volunteers ready and eager to join and support the Armia Krajowa (AK), Home Army units. Sources report that a 14 year old Polish girl singlehandedly attacked and burned two German tanks while another girl of 18 years of age blew up the door of a German police stronghold enabling her unit to get inside the building. Such raw courage is astonishing to see especially in the young members of the Polish resistance.
Polish Civilians Take Oath - Warsaw Uprising
Throughout the war, the Polish Underground has never ceased its operations and has been fighting desperately against German occupation.  The AK has been a continual source of Intelligence for Allied forces since the outbreak of war on September 1, 1939. Over 43% of reports received by the British Secret Service has come from Polish sources.  It was the Polish Resistance movement that informed  the Allies about Nazi German concentration camps, the V-1 and V-2 rockets, as well as vital information concerning the Enigma (by a team of Polish mathematicians who broke the code).
Heavy bombing continues in the Old Town while fierce clashes continue in the area of St. John’s Cathedral. Sources report battles include hand-to-hand fighting. Sometime during the afternoon, German forces sent an envoy carrying a white flag to Polish positions nears Saski Garden. The German delivered a letter from Gen. Erich von dem Bach Zelewski for General Bor which contained a proposal for the capitulation of the AK and specify that unless the Poles capitulate, the Germany army will destroy the city and its remaining population. Zelewski also guaranteed that the insurgents would be afforded the rights of combatants according to the Geneva Convention. It is noteworthy that while Germany is willing to grant combatant rights to Poles, Britain and the United States are unwilling to do so. In any event, General Bor has not given any response.
Churchill sent a copy of a message he received from Stalin to US President Roosevelt. In it Stalin assured Churchill that he had given orders to the Red Army Command to commence intensive air drops over the Warsaw sector, but added that Soviet Command could not accept direct or indirect responsibility for any outcome, as Soviet Command had not been informed in advance of the Uprising.
Polish Insurgents

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