September 17, 2011

Warsaw Uprising 1944: September 17 Russia: Treacherous Alliance

The anniversary of September 17 must have crossed the minds of every Polish officer and soldier today, in particular General Tadeusz Komorowski "Bor".  Five years ago today massive hordes of the Red Army invaded Poland from the east. Their objective, in tandem with that of Nazi Germany (which invaded Poland on September 1st, 1939) was not only to occupy Poland but to eradicate the Polish people through ethnic cleansing.  Polish Christians and Polish Jews suffered five years of brutal repression, forced labor camps, arrests, torture, executions and imprisonment in concentration camps, and death camps.  In a series of four mass deportations totaling approximately 1,680,000 Polish people (not including political prisoners) were deported to gulags in the furthest reaches of the Soviet Union.

The most heinous of all crimes against the Polish people was the systematic massacre of over 16,000 Polish military officers at Katyn in April and May of 1940. German troops had discovered the mass graves last year and have since been accused of having committed the crime. The real culprits of these atrocities is in fact the Soviet Union however Russian officials flatly deny any culpability and blame the Germans for the crimes. Apparently the allies have accepted the Soviet explanation. In the first few days of the Uprising from 40,000 to 100,000 Poles were massacred at Wola and Ochota by German SS troops. It had all the earmarks of "a second Katyn", only this time the crime was perpetrated by the Germans.

KATYN MASSACRE execution of Polish officers (00:04:37m)

General Bor
Whether by co-incidence or by design, General Bor chose today to dispatch a radiogram to Marshal Rokossovky through the Polish Headquarters in London. Bor offered the Russian general the opportunity to establish direct telephone contact between them.  It would have been very easy to accomplish this feat since engineers of the Armia Krajowa (Polish Home Army) had recently discovered a telephone cable under the Vistula by which both parties could be connected. General Bor described the precise location of the cable and the manner in which the connection would be made. No response has been made by Soviet officials.

Polish Prime Minister Mikolajczyk immediately dispatched his aide, Mr. Zaranski, to deliver an urgent radio message to Soviet Ambassador Viktor Z. Lebiediev at the Soviet Embassy in London. (Editors note: The aide’s report on the mission is currently held in the private archives of Prime Miinster Mikolajczyk. It was signed by Zaranski. Source of this fact is from the author J.K. Zawodny, in his book 'Nothing But Honour - The Story of the Warsaw Uprising 1944) Zaranski telephoned the Soviet Embassy at midnight on the day that General Bor's radio message reached London, and informed the man on duty that he wished to deliver an urgent telegram concerning the liaison between General Bor and Marshal Rokossovsky.  Zaranski was told that there was no one in the Embassy because it was Sunday and he was asked to phone the next day.  He did so at 11:00 am and was given the same excuse. But Zaranski insisted on seeing someone to whom the telegram could be delivered immediately and was finally permitted to meet with the Secretary of the Embassy. 

L-R:  Prime Minister Mikolajczyk and Vice Premier Jan Kwapinski August 13, 1944 

Just as Zaranski was about to ready Bor's message, the Secretary of the Embassy abruptly interrupted him and said, “ Dear sir, I am to communicate to you on the order of Ambassador Lebiediev that Ambassador Lebiediev will not accept any further telegrams or letters from the Polish Prime Minister or from Warsaw. It would have been quite different at the beginning of this affair, where the problem of liaison was concerned. The Polish Government should be aware of the fact that there are no diplomatic relations between my Government and the Polish Government.”   Despite Zaranskis' efforts to convince him otherwise, the Secretary stated that the matter was definitely closed. 

Julian Skokowski
Two representatives of “The Combined Military Forces”(CMF) Colonel Julian Skokowski(Communist) and Major Sek, went to see General Monter. While General Monter demonstrated optimism for the benefit of the troops, in front of the Commanders of the CMF he was honest.

In his observation, “The Soviets are not trying to help us; that is why we are going to be compelled to capitulate.”  The two Commanders implored Monter to take over the command of the AK and not to disregard the directives of the Polish-Government in Exile.  (Though the CMF wanted to save Warsaw, it was to their interest to drive a wedge between the AK, and the Polish government in exile in London.)

General Bor sent another radio message today, this time to the Supreme Commander in Chief in London, and the Polish Government in Exile asking what strategy the AK should use if the Soviet Army, after seizing Warsaw, begins to persecute the insurgents. Bor has reason to be concerned. Polish-Russian relations have endured a long and bloody history. Poland has been partitioned four times in its history by its neighbours including Russia. The third time was in 1795 when Poland was virtually erased from the map and the Polish nation ceased to exist for 123 years. At the root of Polish fears is the ruthless Soviet state-sanctioned terrorism.

Since the start of the Uprising, Soviet agents of NKVD, SMERSH, as well as Polish Communist Secret Service have joined forces to conduct nation-wide hunt for Polish fighters who are loyal to the Polish government in exile in London. Members of the Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa) have been the main targets as the Russians try to destroy Polish resistance. About 25,000 underground Polish soldiers including 300 AK Officers have been arrested, disarmed and interned.  By mid-October tens of thousands of Poles will be deported to Siberia. Typical of Soviet tactics, many Polish prisoners have been given the "choice" of a lengthy imprisonment, or enlistment in Soviet Red Army.

Slawomir Rawicz
Few people have been able to escape the Russian gulag. But a handle of Polish soldiers including Slawomir Rawicz managed to do just that.  Rawicz was arrested by Soviet forces after the joint German-Soviet Invasion of Poland in 1939. 

Rawicz returned to Pinsk where he was arrested on November 19, 1939 by the NKVD and sent to Moscow. He was sent to Kharkov for interrogation, and then after a mock trial imprisoned at the notorious Lubyanka prison in Moscow. NKVD agents tortured him in an attempt to force a "confession" but Rawicz refused to relent. He was convicted of being a spy and sentenced to 25 years of hard labor and was deported, along with thousands of others to Irkutsk, a remote Siberian prison camp. From there he had to walk to Camp 303 located 650 km south of the Arctic Circle and once there, build a camp from the ground up.

Rawicz and six other prisoners managed to escape on April 8, 1941, in the middle of a blizzard. Along the way they encountered an another fugitive on the run, a Polish woman by the name of Krystyna, and nine days later they crossed the Lena River. Crossing the Gobi desert, two members of the group perished, and by October they had reached Tibet. Another member of the group died as they were crossing the Himalyas, another died in his sleep from the cold, and one fell into a crevasse and disappeared. Rawicz and the remaining survivors made it to India around March 1942.

A very odd editorial appeared in the official publication of Armia Krajowa, which is Warsaw's largest underground newspaper, the Biuletyn Informacyjny. For the first time ever, AK leaders actually played down the importance of the Warsaw Uprising, referring to it as only one of the “leaves” of military history, “not the first and not the last” and “just as a fragment of this war”. However speculation abounds whether the report is genuine or a propaganda ploy by communist infiltrators.

First Polish Army takes oath

During the past several weeks of the Uprising, Polish insurgents have maintained fierce resistance to enemy attacks though with very heavy casualties. Last night another group of soldiers of the 9th infantry regiment of the 3rd Division of the First Polish Army crossed the Vistula and was able to reach the Czerniakow Beachhead. In two days a total of about 1,200 soldiers are expected to arrive in Czerniakow. There they plan to link up with units of Armia Krajowa and launch counterattacks against enemy lines. There has been fierce fighting between Polish insurgents and German troops to keep the beachhead. In Marymont a platoon of anti-tank guns and communications specialists has crossed the Vistula, including one company of the 6th infantry regiment of the 2nd Infantry Division.  Heavy German artillery fire has pounded Zoliborz, Mokotow and Srodmiescie throughout the day and shows no sign of abating.

Lt. John Ward
Lt. John Ward, a British soldier, and member of the Armia Krajowa has been reporting on the daily events of the Uprising from its very inception.  His secret radio messages have provided the allies with vital first hand information, yet they have continued to ignore Warsaw's pleas for military assistance and materiel.

Wards' reports have become steadily less frequent as battles have greatly intensified throughout the Warsaw districts. Lt. John Ward has informed Colonel P. that he was wounded in the leg although no other information has been provided as to the circumstances.

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