August 6, 2011

Warsaw Uprising 1944: August 6 - Warsaw Postal Service Continues Amid Bloodshed

Hans Frank, governor of the German-occupied central Poland, the General Gouvernement stated, "Almost all Warsaw is a sea of flames. To set houses afire is the surest way to deprive the insurgents of their hiding places. When we crush the uprising, Warsaw will get what it deserves - complete annihilation." Since his appointment as governor in 1939 he has ordered the execution of Polish civilian life and the destruction of every aspect of Polish culture.Throughout the Nazi occupation of Poland, the Polish language, culture, music and arts have been strictly forbidden on pain of death. Over 30,000 Polish civilians had been arrested, many of them intelligentsia. Frank has segregated Jews into ghettos and has stated that he intends to eliminate them as well as the Poles, reserving only a small segment of the Polish population as slave labour for the Nazi German Reich. In his speech to his Cabinet he declared, “Gentlemen, I must ask you to rid yourself of pity. We must annihilate the Jews.”

The General Government is the location of six Nazi German extermination camps. While Jews comprise the largest segment of prisoners there are also thousands of Polish Christians and other nationalities imprisoned there.  Besides the Nazi death camps there are virtually thousands of concentration camps established throughout Poland. Throughout the Nazi occupation, Poles have been systematically arrested and executed -either shot or hung from public makeshift gallows. The recent outbreak of the Uprising has intensified the Nazi crackdown on Polish resistance fighters as well as Polish civilians and prison inmates.

Polish Civilians Hanged by Germans at Radom (date unknown)
Germans Hanged Polish inmates of Pawiak prison February 11, 1944

governor of Occupied Poland Hans Frank
The Polish Secret State in January 29 to 30, 1944 had planned to assassinate Frank just one night before the 11th anniversary of the appointment of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany. The train upon which Frank was travelling en route to Lwow was derailed after a massive explosive device went off. Frank escaped unharmed. After Poland was invaded in Septemer 1939, the Polish Secret State was established by the Polish Underground in an effort to maintain and continue Poland's pre-war legal and governmental institutions and prepare for the eventual liberation of Poland. The Secret State is officially recognized by the Polish-government-exile in London as representing Occupied Poland and had been granted status as the Government Delegation for Poland. The AK is just one part of the military branch of the Polish Secret State.

Polish Home Army Command has consolidated the three parts of Warsaw: the North Group encompasses the area of the cemeteries, the Old Town, ┼╗oliborz and Kampinos; Srodmiescie is linked with Powisle and Czerniakow; and the South Group includes Mokotow together with Sadyba as well as the Kabacki and Chojnowski forests.

After very heavy fighting Polish units under the command of Captain Waclaw Stykowski "Hal" retreated from Wola to Srodmiescie but they were successful in the taking contro of several positions including the recapture of Haberbusch i Schiele brewery at Ceglana Street. Thousands of civilians have organized themselves into teams to gather bags of barley and distribute them to the city center.  The barley is made into a type of soup called pluj-zupa (spit-soup). After having grounded the barley with coffee grinders, it is boiled with water. The availability of huge quantities of barley stock is a great relief for the Varsovians who are quickly running out of food.

Polish Insurgents carrying bags of Barley around Zelazna Street and Aleje Jerozolimskie

General Bor sent another radio wire to officials of the Polish government in exile in London today. In this sixth day of the Uprising, supplies are running out very quickly.  He stressed the urgency for military assistance and supplies. He stated, “We do not ask for material assistance, we demand that it be sent to us immediately!”

Meanwhile, in Pruszkow, the Germans have set up a transit camp on the site of the Train Repair Shops (Zaklady Naprawcze Taboru Kolejowego) and have interned about 60,000 Varsavians who have evacuated the city.(By the end the Uprising there will have been about 650,000 imprisoned from Warsaw and outlaying areas. Approximately 55,000 were transported to concentration camps, and 13,000 to Auschwitz.) They come from a broad cross-section of Polish society and represent many occupations: government officials, scholars, professors, artists, physicians, merchants, blue-collar workers. Many are suffering injuries or illness. Among them are invalids, pregnant women, as well as young infants and the elderly aged 86 or more. Many Jews who had been "living on Aryan papers" have been caught and arrested.

Polish civilians and insurgents at Pruszkow Camp Warsaw Uprising 1944

Since dawn there has been heavy fighting in the Wola district. Polish insurgents are fighting aggressively though they are outgunned and outnumbered by the German war machine. Although the German units have sustained considerable losses in this battle, the Poles have still not been able to to break through German lines in the direction of City Centre. Meanwhile, German troops have stormed the Karola i Mari Hospital and have massacred over 100 patients. At 2:00 pm yesterday, the Germans broke into Wola Hospital on Plocka Street, robbing the staff and wounded of their personal valuables, money and watches. An hour later shots were fired and they had killed Dr. Marian Piasecki, Professor Zeyland, and the Chaplin of the hospital, Reverend Father Kazimierz Ciecierski. The Germans then ordered the evacuation of the hospital. Whoever was able to walk even with assistance were taken out of the hospital and were assembled with several hundred Poles who had been rounded up  and then German soldiers systematically executed them.

During the night Mokotow finally reestablished communications with Srodmiescie. The commanding officer of the report depot in Aleje Jerozolimskie Street, Elzbieta Ostrowska “Ela” was able to force her way from Srodmiescie to Mokotow through the sewers. Amid this beleaguered city Polish civilians have volunteered to serve in any way they can, including the postal service. Makeshift boxes have been set up in territories held by the insurgents and are usually found near the vicinity of barricades and hospitals. Collection points are identifiable by labels of “Field Postal Service” or the designation of a lily, which is the symbol of Polish scouting. Delivering the mail are Girl and Boy Scouts, some no older than thirteen years of age. These courageous youngsters empty the boxes twice a day, unless tragically they are killed by stray bullets. Like the AK they also wear the red and white armbands. There are also countless number of men and women serving as underground couriers delivering messages between Polish insurgent units. Their courage and sacrifice is indeed awesome and they are as highly respected as any soldier of the Armia Krajowa.   
Young Polish Boy Scout Warsaw Uprising

Mailbox with symbol of Polish Eagle - Warsaw Uprising

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