September 28, 2011

Warsaw Uprising 1944: September 28 Negotiations Begin Fighting Continues

After the capitulation of Mokotow, German forces have launched a ferocious general attack on the district of Zoliborz. Since the early morning hours there has been very strong artillery fire from the direction of the Warsaw-Gdansk station. Especially hard hit was the area of Krasinski Street and Wilsona Square. Within a couple of hours the German had seized Prince Poniatowski school. German troops have been methodically destroying each building in the district. In addition to tanks they have dispatched the notorious Goliaths, remote controlled demolition vehicles. Each miniature "tank", what the Allies would call beetle tanks, can carry from 75 to 100 kilograms (170-220 lbs) of high explosives - detonating enough power to demolish entire buildings, bridges, and even other tanks.

Huge craters mark the places where streets and buildings used to be.  Vast areas have been reduced to rubble. It is a horrifying scene - corpses scattered amid the craters, hanging from balconies, many of them women and children. Meanwhile German troops are conducting pacification on numerous villages in the forest. They have burned down and virtually eradicated the villages of Pociecha, Wiersze, Janowek, Brzozowka, Krogulec, among others. The situation is desperate. Insurgents in City Centre Sector are completely isolated, and the remaining pockets of resistance have been surrendering one after the other.

Zygmunt Dobrowolski
Negotiations began at 8:00 this morning at the Ozarow headquarters of General von dem Bach, attended by a Polish delegation sent by General Tadeusz Komorowski "Bor". Polish emissaries Lt. Col. Zygmunt Dobrowolski “Zyndram”, Captain Alfred Korczynski “Sas” - his legal advisor and interpreter, and Colonel Iranek-Osmecki were present on behalf of Home Army Command. General von dem Bach negotiated on behalf of German Command, and was accompanied by an interpreter and two police officers. Von dem Bach had proposed the terms of capitulation but by evening Home Army Headquarters had come to the decision that negotiations should continue. The Polish delegation have demonstrateed to be highly skilled negotiators. The German general later remarked that "they were extremely tough negotiators - haggling over every word. They wanted to surrender as honorably as possible and obtain all guarantees to ensure their complete recognition as regulars."  

For the past two weeks Soviet have been flying supply missions over Warsaw though they refused to allow British or American to do likewise.  The Soviets have made many drops from very low altitudes. They are flying biplanes, which are slow but have enabled pilots to pinpoint target zones with greater accuracy and they managed to hit their targets exactly. Reports indicate that the Soviets dropped canisters containing these among other items:

One artillery piece (45mm)

1,378 machine pistols

159 mortars (50mm)
505 anti-armour rifles
170 carbines
522 short carbines
350 German carbines
300 of 45mm shells
37,260 mortar shells (50mm)
57,640 rounds of ammunition for anti-armour rifles,
1,312,600 piece of ammunition for carbines,
1,360,984 rounds of ammunition (type not given)
75,000 rounds of ammunition (7.5 and 7.7 mm)
260,600 rounds of ammunition for Mausers
312,760 piece of parabellum ammunition
18,428 hand-grenades
18,270 German hand-grenades
515 kilograms of medical equipment
10 field telephones
9,600 metres of telephone cables
One field telephone station
10 batteries for field telephone
22 batteries (BAS-AT)
126,681 kil. Of foodstuffs (278,696 lbs)

Soviet supply drops were temporarily interrupted between the 18th and 21st of September. Tragically, by the time supply missions were resumed, the areas originally held by the insurgents had diminished greatly. Polish strongholds still remain but are concentrated in smaller sectors, and are encircled by the Germans who now control most of the city. Every supply mission is extremely dangerous as allied planes are exposed to very strong and relentless German anti-aircraft fire. It is an act of sheer heroism on the part of Polish and Soviet pilots to descend just above the rooftops of the burning city, looking for recognition signals.

Sources indicate that many of the supplies were dropped without benefit of parachutes. The weapons that are so desperately needed, have been smashed to pieces upon hitting the ground.  All the supplies have been rendered useless by the time they were picked up by the insurgents.  To avoid damage, some supplies were packed with bags made of sailcloth, as well as packed with straw, sawdust or wood chips. Some insurgents claim that it is a two-faced plan of the Soviets: to demonstrate that they are helping the insurgents, all the while sabotaging the mission.  

German Anti-Aircraft Artillery - Warsaw Uprising 1944

Warsaw  Burning

Some argue that to have dropped supplies by parachute would have been just as unsuccessful. Wind conditions have caused most containers to drift right into German-held territories. Furthermore, most of the ammunition dropped is Soviet-made and incompatible with the Germans weapons used by the insurgents. Frustration is running very high among the Polish fighters and they are desperate for any help, however slight.  To date a total of 55 tons have been dropped, though much of it has been damaged or lost to the Germans.  Today was the last day of Soviet aid missions to Warsaw.

Lt. John Ward
Lt. John Ward is a British soldier, and the only British member of the Armia Krajowa.  He has been dispatching secret messages to London since the start of the Uprising. His reports have provided the allies with invaluable information yet have incurred little response when it was so desperately needed.

Polish Staff reports growing activity of Ukrainian insurrectionary army in Lvov District against Soviet occupation authorities. Ukrainians there evade conscription to Red Army and join Ukrainian forces in ever greater numbers. They receive arms and ammunition from the Germans by air.

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