Sunday, August 16, 2009

An awesome FDC from Poland!

Many thanks to Andrzej Bek for sending me this awesome FDC on the 65th Anniversary of the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising.

The Warsaw Uprising was a heroic but doomed battle to liberate Warsaw from Nazi German occupation during World War II. The Uprising began on 1 August 1944, as part of a nationwide rebellion, Operation Tempest. It was intended to last for only a few days until the Soviet Army reached the city. The Soviet advance stopped short, leading to allegations that the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had wanted the insurrection to fail so that the Soviet occupation of Poland would be uncontested.

Unable to compete with the reinforced German troops, the insurgents were forced into hiding, often into the sewers, from where they continued to orchestrate and co-ordinate attacks. The Germans were in control of water and power supplies whereas the Home Army were desperately lacking supplies of any kind - including food and ammunition (every animal in the city had been eaten - even the vermin - and shooting at the German planes was banned in order to conserve precious bullets). As the battle for the city raged on, with Varsovians dying at a rate of 2,000 a day, it became only a matter of time before the rebels were forced to capitulate. They finally did so on October 2nd, 63 days after the Uprising began.

In the two month struggle 18,000 Home Army soldiers died and 12,000 were wounded with the survivors either sent to German POW camps or managing to go into hiding. A staggering 250,000 civilians were killed during the Uprising. Meanwhile the German suffered 10,000 fatalities with nearly as many again wounded.

After the revolt collapsed, the Germans were the first to punish Warsaw and its people for daring to defend its freedom. Hitler ordered the city to be all but wiped off the face of the earth and special units were brought in to systematically detonate any building of the remotest importance to Polish culture. The city was effectively destroyed block by block, and when the Russians finally crossed the Vistula to liberate the city, they inherited only ruins. Once dubbed the "Paris of the East", there was hardly a wall left standing in the city!

Although the odds were heavily against the Poles, who were poorly armed and outnumbered, the battle was seen as an heroic struggle for an independent Poland against impossible odds.

A Polish flag with an "anchor" device was used as an emblem by the Polish resistance Insurgent poster: "One bullet—one German"

Warsaw Uprising surrender, 5 October 1944

Warsaw, 1945, destroyed by German forces

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