October 6, 2011

Warsaw Uprising 1944: October 6 The Aftermath

After the Poles had evacuated Warsaw the Germans in defiance of the terms of the capitulation agreement, began a wholesale destruction of the city. German Command dispatched special teams of German engineers dispersed throughout Warsaw, setting fires, and systematically destroyed buildings. Demolition squads of flamethrowers and explosive experts set about their task to obliterate the very existence of Warsaw, building by building, block by block. Nothing was overlooked - historical monuments, the Polish national archives, libraries and museums and their priceless manuscripts and collections, palaces - the very cultural heritage of a people was blasted into oblivion, gone forever. Nothing was left to show that there used to be a great cosmopolitan city here - but just a pile of rubble and ashes. According to the Germans, the area was slated to become a military transit station.

Warsaw 1944: A Necropolis (00:04:15m)

Meanwhile, Stalin's Red Army remained poised across the banks of the Vistula River observing the macabre destruction being carried out. In the rest of Poland, Soviet NKVD agents were hunting down Polish insurgents and executing them; many other Poles were deported to Russian gulags.

At the end of German operation, Warsaw's public losses were estimated as follows:

10,455 Buildings
923 Historical Buildings (94% of Warsaw)
25 Churches
14 Libraries
The National Library
81 elementary schools 
64 high schools
Warsaw University 

Over 516,000 individual pieces of art were looted by German armies including 2,800 paintings by European painters,11,000 paintings by Polish painters, 1,400 sculptures, 75,000 manuscripts, 25,000 maps, 90,000 books of which 20,000 were printed before the year 1800, and hundreds of thousands of other invaluable artistic and historical artifacts. Among the many priceless paintings destroyed was the painting of "Virgin and Child with Saint John the Baptist and St. Stanislaw" painted by Palma il Giovane.  The painting was once looted by Napoleon but returned to Warsaw in the 1820s.  

The exact amount of losses to private and public property, including cultural and scientific artifacts was quite considerable. It was not until the late 1940s that efforts were made to estimate the total value of damages - it came to US$30 billion. (In 2004, the President of Warsaw and subsequently President of Poland, appointed an historical commission to review the evaluation and estimated losses to have been at least US$31.5 billion, however these estimates were increased in to $45 billion in 2004 and to $54.6 billion in 2005.)

The Warsaw Uprising was the most tragic battle of World War II. Over 18,000 Polish insurgents were killed or missing in action, over 5,000 wounded, 15,000 sent to POW camps. (However other sources mention that 60,000 AK soldiers were killed during the Uprising.)
Over 200,000 Polish civilians died in the 63 days of battle, and about 700,000 were expelled from Warsaw, and 55,000 sent to concentration camps, including 13,000 to Auschwitz.  About 3,400 insurgents chose to go underground and continue to fight. Berling's Polish Army suffered 5,660 casualties KIA, MIA, or WIA. 

German casualties were about 10,000 KIA, 7,000 MIA, and 9,000 WIA.  Up to 2,000 Germans were captured and taken prisoners by the Polish insurgents. German material losses were: three airplanes (two outside Warsaw in Kampinos forest ), 310 tanks, self-propelled artillery, armored cars, 4 rocket launchers, 22 artillery pieces (caliber 75mm), and 340 trucks and cars.

By January 1945 about 85% of the buildings had been destroyed: 10% damages were sustained as a result of the September 1939 campaign and other combat; 15% during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (which had taken place in April 1943); 25% during the Uprising, and 35% due to systematic German actions after the Uprising.  

General Dwight Eisenhower, Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe, visited Warsaw in 1945 and was so moved by the scene of utter destruction that he stated, “I have seen many towns destroyed, but nowhere have I been faced with such destruction.”

Poland had lost a staggering 38 per cent of its national assets whereas France and Britain lost only 1.5 % and 0.8% respectively.  Moreover,  Poland lost vast regions of their country including two great cultural centers of Wilno and Lwow. 

Despite the so-called "liberation" of Poland by Soviet troops on January 17, 1945, Poland, the 4th largest Ally, had really lost the war, betrayed by Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union.

ROYAL CASTLE DESTROYED (above photo & aerial view)

Warsaw 1944:  A Death Sentence

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