September 26, 2011

Warsaw Uprising 1944: September 26 Warsaw Beleaguered and Bleeding to Death

Polish Insurgent Surrenders - Mokotow 1944
Mokotow remains the target of incessant, mass enemy attacks. After a ferocious, bloody all-day battle, the Germans have pushed the Mokotow defenders into a small area hemmed in by Rozana, Kazimierzowska, Ursynowska and Pulawska Streets.

On the fifty-sixth day of the Uprising, the Commanders of the Mokotow Sector are "beleaguered and bleeding to death"  but General Monter has forbidden the insurgents to retreat and commanded that fighting continue. In a radio message to Colonel Karol he ordered "You are forbidden to withdraw!!"  

But the orders did not arrive in time. At 4:00 a.m. Lt. Col. Josez Rokicki “Karol” and the men and women of the 10th infantry regiment began their retreat to Srodmiescie through the sewers. Ten feet below the surface in pitch darkness, evacuees have had to navigate through tunnels no wider than five feet, with barely enough oxygen to breathe. Sources indicate that the evacuation has suddenly been suspended until a new route could be found. The Germans have been throwing sandbags down the manholes to dam sections of the sewer system in an effort to block insurgents' routes, and to raise the level of the water in the tunnels.  In some cases, groups of insurgents have been able to clear obstacles rather quickly. 

Polish Insurgents after travelling through sewers - Warsaw Uprising
Warsaw's sewer system has played a vital part in the Uprising.  It is the focal point of
underground transportation of men and materiel through enemy lines and has helped maintain communication links between isolated and besieged parts of the city.  But more than that - the sewers have been a battleground from which insurgents could easily attack German positions. It has given the insurgents a degree of invincibility since the Germans are wary of venturing into this dark uncharted network of tunnels. General von dem Bach has not been able to convince his soldiers to carry on the battle in the sewers.  Instead they have resorted to tossing grenades down the manholes. as well as carbide producing deadly poisonous gasses - and even lighted kerosene. Hundreds of insurgents have perished in this hellish underground trap, their bodies filling the narrow canal route, trapping countless more behind them.

In some areas the carbide gas was so intense, it's effects could be felt in other districts. Many of the insurgents navigating the sewers carried candles to check the relative purity of the air. In many cases, the candle would not burn for several hours.

German command has proposed surrender to the AK commander of Centre City Sector. Polish Command has not given any reply. Insurgents there too continue battling the Germans.  However a meeting with German representatives is underway in Srodmiescie, on Lucka Street.

Many of Warsaw's Jews escaped the German occupation by descending into the sewers. They know the tunnels very well. Two of them, Heniek, and Gutek were instrumental in assisting the Polish insurgents of the Zoska Battalion.They cleared the path and returned to announce that the way was free. Polish patrols were able to travel more easily through the tunnels transporting ammunition to battle zones.

Lt. John Ward
Lt. John Ward is a British soldier, and member of Armia Krajowa. Since the start of the Uprising, Ward has been dispatching secret coded messages to London. Despite many promises, the help provided by the Allies has been negligible to nothing. 

Referring to my yesterday's dispatch news has now been received that the tens of thousands of prisoners of many nationalities in Oswiecim and Buchenwald concentration camps have smuggled out messages that they are being threatened by their guards daily that they will be massacred. They appeal for help.

The Polish Underground had been dispatching reports to London about Nazi German concentration camps and death camps since 1940. Witold Pilecki, a Polish officer, allowed himself to be arrested during one of the infamous street lapanka (roundups) on September 19, 1940 and was sent to Auschwitz.  From inside the notorious camp he witnessed first-hand the beastial treatment of the Jews, and reported it to London. Many dispatches were sent through members of the Polish Resistance waiting on the outside.  Witold Pilecki escaped on April 26, 1943, taking with him secret documents stolen from the Germans. Despite all the reports, and evidence, the Allies refused to provide air support to help the Polish Home Army rescue the inmates.

For the past week the allies conducted one of the largest military airborne operation called Operation Market Garden. Their objective was to secure a series of bridges crossing the main rivers of German-occupied Holland and thus allowing an armoured advance into northern Germany. The plan went horribly wrong.  British troops were met with much stronger enemy resistance than expected.  A small force was able to hold control of one end of the Arnhem road bridge, but were overrun on September 21st when ground forces failed to relieve them.

On September 18th, the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade landed in Holland, initially by glider and subsequently on September 21st with scheduled jumps over Driel. In the days that followed Polish casualties were extremely high.

(Suggested Link: Remembrance: Battle of Arnhem)

The 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade, created under the command of Major General Stanislaw Sosabowski in September 1941 had as its objective the mission to drop into occupied Poland to help liberate their country.  However, the British government placed considerable pressure on the Poles to allow the Brigade to be used in the Western theater, as support to the British 1st Airborne Division in Operation Market Garden.   The news comes as a bitter blow to Poles who are still fighting in Warsaw and waiting for allied help.  They had hoped that at least their own army would be able to come to their rescue.

No comments:

Post a Comment