September 22, 2011

Warsaw Uprising 1944: September 22 Poles Refuse To Surrender

German envoys have proposed capitulation of the Czerniakow district. Poles refused to concede but have called for a cease-fire to allow civilians and the injured to evacuate the area. Soviet Command of the First Division have promised Polish defenders assistance for the evacuation to the right bank of the Vistula. Still, no rescue attempt has been forthcoming. Many insurgents had attempted to swim across the Vistula while others fought their way towards City Centre Sector Centre, but without success. Meanwhile Captain Ryszard Bialour "Jerzy" and Major Stanislaw Latyszonek had decided to break through to Srodmiescie South. German units under the command of General Heinz Rohr have launched an all-out general attack on the district of Mokotow.

Witold Pawel Szredzi
Major Witold Pawel Szredzi, code name "Sulima" was the Commander of the Grodek Jagiellonski Inspectorate in September 1943 and the leader of the "San" group during Operation Tempest,  In August 1944 Szredzi led the same group beyond the river San, but on August 16 was summoned to Warsaw by the Home Army Commander. As he led his troops back to the beleaguered city, Soviet units surrounded Szredzi and his men, but Szredzi managed to escape capture. Upon reporting to the "Warta" units he took command of Battalion "C" (Postcript: On June 1, 1946 he was arrested by the WSR (Pol. Wojskowy Sad Rejonowy - Regional Military Court) in Wcroclaw and sentenced to death, but it was then changed to 15 years imprisonment. He was released on May 1, 1956.

These military courts were established under the decree of the PKWN, the Soviet-backed Polish Committee of National Liberation. They are authorized to investigate so-called "crimes of state" and have arrested hundreds of officers of the Polish Home Army on trumped up charges. (By the end of the war, and into the early years of the Cold War, the WSR will have issued about 3,500 death sentences, with more than 1,300 executions carried out.)

Stefan Rowecki
Operation Tempest, or Operation Storm (Akcja Burza) was the plan of General Stefan Rowecki, Chief of the Home Army, to instigate an uprising against the Germans. It took place in three stages: first in the eastern frontier, with main attacks at Lviv and Vilnius the second stage between the Curzon Line and the Vistula River followed by the third stage over the rest of Poland. The plan entailed cooperation with the Red Army on a tactical level. Polish Home Army units planned to precede the advancing Red Army in liberating German occupied territories but the lack of Soviet assistance and the overwhelming military might of the German Wermacht put an end to Operation Storm. 

In 1941 Rowecki organized large-scale sabotage operations against the Germans in territories east of the Polish borders Wachlarz. On June 30, 1943 he was arrested by the Gestapo in Warsaw and sent to Berlin. There, he was interrogated by prominent Nazi officials such as Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Heinrich Himmler and Heinrich Muller. They offered him an "anti-bolshevik alliance" but Rowecki refused. He was executed sometime in August 1944 by the Nazi Sachsenhausen.

Ludwik Kalstein
Blanca Kaczerowska
Rowecki's arrest was due to the betrayal of Ludwik Kalstein "Hanka", Eugeniusz Swierczewski "Genes" and Blanca Kaczerowska "Sroka". They were both members of the Polish Armia Krajowa (Home Army) but secretly collaborated with the Gestapo. The Secret War Tribunal of the Polish Secret State sentenced them to death for high treason. The execution of Swierczewski was carried out by Polish troops under the command of Stefan Rys "Jozef"; Swierczewski was hanged in the basement of the house at 74 Krochmalna Street in Warsaw. Kalkstein could not be harmed as he was under the protection of the Gestapo. He fought in a unit during the Warsaw Uprising under the name of Konrad Stark. After the war he worked for the Polish Radio station in Szczecin and was later recruited as an agent by the Urząd Bezpieczeństwa. In 1982 he emigrated to France; he died in 1994. The death sentence against Blanka Kaczorowska was not carried out because she was pregnant at the time. After the war she also worked as a secret agent for the Urząd Bezpieczeństwa and later for the renamed Służba Bezpieczeństwa. She emigrated to France in 1971.

On January 2, 1944 Russian forces of the 2nd Belarusian Front crossed Poland's prewar border. During that time, Polish civilians were being massacred at Volhynia. The massacres were carried out by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) in Eastern Galicia and Volhynia in July and August of 1943. UPA Commander Dmytro Klyachkivsky ordered that all Polish males between the ages of 16 and 60 be liquidated but most of the victims were women and children. By the end of the bloodletting, between 40,000 to 60,000 Polish civilians were slaughtered in Eastern Galicia and between 2,000 to 3,000 in Volhynia. The Bandera faction of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists were responsible for the killings. Their objective was to purge all non-Ukrainians from a future Ukrainian State. A Ukrainian Orthodox Pope gave this blessing to his congregation in Volhynia in 1943: "Fellow Christians-Ukrainians! Butchering the Poles is your duty, and there will be independent Ukraine. ... and on that slaughter I bless you."

Polish Victims of the Volhynia Massacre July - August 1943
During the massacres, the 27th Polish Home Army Infantry Division was formed to help in local self-defense of Polish residents and to fight against the Ukrainian Insurgent Army and German Wermacht. Despite orders by the Polish government not to harm Ukrainian civilians, the Polish Home Army conducted retaliatory strikes against villagers, burning down Ukrainian houses and killing ethnic Ukrainians.

The Polish Division was the largest partisan unit in central Europe numbering about 7,300 soldiers, officers, and NCOs. Hence Operation Storm was put into action. Joint Polish-Soviet units succeeded in recapturing Kowel (on April 6) and Wlodzimierz. After reaching the front line, the Soviet proposed that the Polish Divison be combined with that of the Soviet Red Army. Polish Colonel Jan Kiwerski "Olivia" refused and his Division returned to partisan fighting. Over the span of two weeks, German troops virtually decimated the Polish army. Though the Soviet promised to provide help, none ever came. Polish casualties reached up to 50 %.

Polish troops had to retreat westward and were attacked by not only German forces but Soviet forces as well. Polish soldiers were taken prisoner by the Soviets and given the "choice" of joining the Red Army or being deported to Soviet gulags. Only a small number joined the Soviet army. Remnants of the Polish Division made it across the Bug River on June 7 and linked up with other Home Army units. Together they took part in the liberation of Kock, Lubartow and Firley on July 21, 1944.

27th Home Army Infantry Division Poland 1944

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