September 12, 2011

Warsaw Uprising 1944: September 12 Lt. Ward Interview with Polish General Bor

German Panzer Reinforcements East of Warsaw 1944

General von dem Bach Zelewski has given the order to halt all combat operations in the remaining districts and instead deploy troops in an offensive thrust on Czerniakow. The area is under heavy attack from strong artillery fire and air raids. Fires have broken out and are raging out of control in numerous districts of Warsaw.

Continous battles are being fought for control of ther Czerniakowski Port, the huge ZUS building on Czerniakowska Street, the gasworks building on Ludna Street, and premises of the former St. Lazarus Hospital on Ksiazeca Street. German troops have seized the western part of Lazienkowska Street and a section of the escarpment from Frascati to Ksiazeca Street. The only position that remains in Polish hands is the YMCA building on Konopnickiej Street.

This evening the Germans have captured St. Lazarus Hospital on Ksiazeca Street thus effectively cutting off Czerniakow from City Centre. Czerniakow is a neighbourhood in the city of Warsaw, which is located within the borough of Mokotow, between the escarpment of the Vistula river and the river itself. The name Czerniakow dates back to the Middle Ages when it was then a small village in the south part of Warsaw's Old Town. In the 19th century with industrialization came a flood of migrant workers from other parts of Poland seeking work. The massive influx of the lower classes gave birth to a new Warsaw dialect. Today the area is the last Polish stronghold in the battle for Warsaw. 

During the night two female messengers of the People’s Army swam over to the right bank of the Vistula and were received by General MichaƂ Rola–Zymierski and Marshal Konstanty Rokossowski. Sources do not indicate the contents of the message.

Two women of Armia Krajowa DYSK - Underground Army Women's Diversion and Sabotage Unit

Polish Insurgents Warsaw Uprising 1944

Erich von dem Bach was born Erich Julius Eberhad Zelewski. His great-great grandfather was Michal Zelewski (c. 1700-1785), a Polish nobleman who owned villages of Milwino, Niepoczolowice and Zakrzewo in Pomerania. Eric legally added "von dem Bach" in 1933, and in 1941 officially removed "Zelewski" from his name because it sounded too Polish. On August 2nd, 1944 he was put in command of all troops fighting against the Polish insurgents in the Uprising. Under his command, German troops slaughtered 200,000 Polish civilians, more than 65,000 were mass executions, an an unknown number of POWs. Despite the destruction, it has been reported that he had personally saved Chopin's heart from destruction.

Lt. John Ward is a British soldier and member of the Armia Krajowa. Since the early days of the Uprising he has been sending secret messages to London authorities reporting on the daily events of the Uprising. He is also making regular broadcasts on secret Polish underground radio, at Blystawicka radio station.  In this special report, Ward has conducted an interview (via written question and response) to the General Bor.

Today I had an interview with the Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Home Army, General Bor. He is a middle-aged, quiet, tired-looking man, but he gives one the impression of being efficient and capable. I am sending a copy of the questions I asked and the answers given by General Bor.

Interview with General Bor, Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Home Army, Warsaw.

Question 1

How do you estimate the present military situation in Warsaw and the losses suffered by the city, the civil population and the Home Army forces?


The military situation in Warsaw is serious. The preponderance of the Germans, chiefly of their technical equipment, is overwhelming. We are holding out only thanks to the heroism of the front line soldiers and the inflexible will to resist shown by the whole population in spite of the great shortages encountered at every step. Effective and very urgent help from the Allies is essential for us. For some days past the approach of the Soviet front and air combats over the city have to some extent contributed to a weakening of German air raids on Warsaw. The losses suffered by the city are enormous. A large part of Warsaw with its historic buildings and monuments simply does not exist but lies in ruins. All the public utility institutions in the city have been destroyed by bombardments. The civil population has sustained enormous losses, which it is not yet possible to estimate in figures. The losses of the Home Army formations depend on the sector on which they fight; in one of the sectors where bitter fighting had lasted for many days the casualties come to 70 per cent. Where a life and death struggle is going on painful and very large losses are unavoidable.

Question 2

Some centres abroad have brought up the point that the Rising began prematurely and that it had not been co-ordinated with the High Command of the Red Army. May I know your views on this matter?


It is no time to discuss whether the Rising was premature or not. I state that if we had not taken up arms on or about August 1st it would have been impossible for us to have done so at all since all our manpower would have been swallowed up by the German system for digging trenches, or sent to factories far from Polish soil. Warsaw would have been a deserted city. We were unfortunately not able to co-ordinate our fighting with the Soviets. A number of attempts launched with this in view yielded negative results. When the Rising broke out we immediately informed the competent Soviet authorities by wireless via London.

Question 3

The wireless and press of the world has beer, repeating your name for the past six weeks in connection with the Rising in Warsaw. Could I secure some details regarding your person for the editors of The Times and the New York Times?


What can I tell you about myself? I am a soldier. Beginning with the first World War, I have been a front line officer. After the catastrophe of 1939 I began to work from November of that year on the organization of the Home Army in Poland. First in Cracow. and then from 1941 in Warsaw as Assistant Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Home Army. The Commander-in-Chief unfortunately was arrested by the Germans in the summer of 1943 and since then I have taken up command of the Polish Home Army.

Question 4

What kind of help is necessary now and will be necessary for Warsaw apart from the air deliveries of arms and ammunition?


Our Allies are well acquainted with the kind of help we need now and I have no doubt that they will give it to us in time overcoming the various difficulties. That would require the creation of a special expedition, formation of which could be commenced immediately so that its arrival here with its available means should not be delayed a single day. Independently of this the immediate arrival of an Allied mission here would be essential.

The enemy bombing of Warsaw is indiscriminate, mostly the bombs drop on residential houses that are actually playing no part in the fight for the city. The civil population is suffering horribly from these bombardments. What little food they had is buried in the ruins and they are turned out into bullet swept streets to seek some shelter, however meagre. Yesterday I spoke to the survivors of a family who had been buried in ruins three times. Three of them were wounded and none of them had had any food for three days. Two of the family had been killed. This is only one case of the thousands in Warsaw today. The one question on all people's lips is: "My God, when will it end?"

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