High and Dry

Around the D-Day Anniversary earlier this month, I caught a superb CNN Presents documentary on the Warsaw Uprising, called Warsaw Rising. I had heard of the underground resistance movement in Poland, but knew very little about it. Those were extremely courageous people and very few survived. The CNN special was riveting, sad, and made me angry. Those brave people were seemingly deserted by the western Allies. It seems that more could have been done, but complicated political dealings among the Allies left the resistance high and dry. At the end of 63 days of fighting, 200,000 Poles died and the city was in ruins. Nazi Heinrich Himmler had given instructions “that every inhabitant should be killed” and that Warsaw should “be razed to the ground” as an example to the rest of Europe under German occupation. Stalin’s Red Army stood by and watched, just across the river Vistula, while the Germans destroyed what was left of the resistance.

Why didn’t anyone help? Especially considering the fact that help was within sight and, literally, meters away?

The communists insisted that “a strong German assault east of Warsaw forced them to limit their operations to defensive”, but that is highly disputed by the facts. Additionally, there were Polish Home Army forces outside of Warsaw and when they attempted to enter Warsaw to assist the resistance, these units were intercepted by the Soviets on their way there, disarmed and interned. The Soviets also would not allow western allies to land behind their lines after completing drops of arms and aid to the Warsaw fighters. Instead, the few aid planes that were sent had to fly over 1200 miles of enemy territory and suffered heavy losses.

I guess it’s all about whether you believe a mass-murdering communist leader or not. One that was promised half of Poland after the war. Stalin continued to refuse Churchill’s and Roosevelt’s overtures. Some think they could have played a bigger stick with Stalin, but you have to remember that the Soviets had hundreds of thousands killed during the Nazis’ failed advance and the US and Britain needed their continued help to bring the War to an end.

So to summarize, not only did Stalin refuse all Soviet aid, when it could still have made all the difference in the outcome, but he also did not admit aid from other quarters. The Soviets did end up advancing on and capturing Warsaw after it was already in ruins. There were no forces left to oppose Soviet political domination in Poland and they wound up eradicating eastern Poland of all Polish culture.

The Nazis would’ve been proud.

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