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     The project ?Ousted from Warsaw - fates of children" is devoted to historical research on deportations of population, wich took place in Warsaw since August to October 1944, with particular considering experiences of the youngest inhabitants of Warsaw (up to 15 years). During the Second World War there wasn't any european cities, that suffered so much, as Warsaw and its occupants. A culmination of these events was the Warsaw Uprising of 1944.
     On September 1 1939 Germans undertook aggression against Poland, without declaring war,  what meant the beganing of the Second World War. Polish army came up to the defence of independence of the country, although it should have fought against stronger enemy in complete isolation. On September 3 allies of Poland - Great Britain and France declared war on Germany, but didn't undertook any offensive activities.
     On September 17 the Soviet Army, breaking valid pact of non-agression, overstepped eastern borders of Poland. German-Soviet Pact Ribbentrop-Molotov, concluded before the war, forsaw in a secret, added protocol partition of Poland. Conflict with two powerful neighbours meant no chances for Poland. Last fights of September Campaign lasted until October 5.
     Thus began the occupation lasting five years. By decree of Hitler of October 8 1939 western and northern Polish territories were included into the Reich. On central territories of Poland the Germans created the General Government. Eastern territories of the Polish Republic (over a half of a surface of a country) were incorporated into the Soviet Union. After beganing a war against USSR in July 1941, the Germans occupied the whole territory of Poland.
     One of the first decisions of new German authorities was a ban on rebuilding Warsaw, as "a  punishment" for a long defence (until September 27). A capital of Poland, totalling before the war over 1 300 000 inhibitants, was to fall down to a function of a small, provicial town.
     Polish administration, a majority of social organisations and cultural-educational institutions were liquidated. High schools were closed, and middle education were limited to proffesional schools.
     Occupational authorities introduced terror based on commmon responsibility principle.
     Symbol of  omnipotence of German police was headquaters of the security police and the secret state police (Gestapo) in Szucha Avenue, where prisoners were tortured.
     Nightmare of inhabitants of Warszawa was street round-ups - so called "łapanki",      in wich accidental people were caught. Caught people were deported to concentration camps, or to labor camps in the Reich.
     Discrimination on the part of the occupant afflicted especially Warsaw Jews (making up 30 % of the whole population of the city), who were closed in the ghetto. In July 1942 the Germans began extermination of the Jewish population. During a few months they carried away to the extermination camp in Treblinka 300 thousand people.
     The Jews, who were still alive, began fighting. In April 19 1943 the uprising in the ghetto broke out, wich was a fight for a dignified death. During a month the Germans liquidated finally the ghetto, razing to the ground one of the districts of Warsaw.
     After extermination of Jewish population the Germans intensified repressions against the Poles. Mass executions not only didn't weaken, but even strengthened a resistance of Polish society, wich lasted since the beganing of the occupation. In 1943 military conspirational organisation - the Home Army numbered 380 thousand soldiers on the whole territory of Poland. During whole period of the occupation Polish Underground State functioned - there existed parliament, juditacure, and education institutions with widly developed action of secret courses. In Warsaw were located central authorities of all more important conspirational organisations, both political and military. The capital was central base for guerilla in the whole country. There are evaluations, that 25% of adult population of the city was active in a conspiration.
     Warsaw was initially to be excluded from an action "The Storm" (?Burza"), consisted of increased diversion activities on the rear of German troops, just before entering of the Red Army. However, after fatal experiences of contacts between the Home Army and the Russians on eastern territories of Polish Republic (arrests of members of the Home Army and deportations to Sibiria) another decision was taken. Liberation of the capital of Poland by the Home Army and presenting itself as a host vis-á-vis the Red Army was the last chance to bring world's attention to drive of Polish nation to full independence.
     On August 1 1944 at 5 p.m. weakly armed detachments of the Home Army in a force of about 25 thousand men engaged in a fight against the German garrison, in a force of nearly 20 thousand soldiers. The Warsaw Uprising began.
     International situation caused, that the Poles were isolated in that fight. Stalin purposely stopped ofensive of the Red Army, wich occupied positions on the right bank of Vistula river, enabling Germans to pacify the city. Passive attitude of Western allies, accepting beforehand division of spheres of influances established on the conference of Tehran at the end of 1943, conduced in consequence to the ruin of the capital of Poland.
     After first successes of the insurgents, the Germans mobilized fastly added forces to suppress the uprising. In accordance with an order of Adolf Hitler, and chief of SS and the police Heinrich Himmler, every inhabitant was to be killed. Brigade of criminals of Oskar Dirlewanger, directed to pacify the city, made a massacre on Wola district, without saving women and children. In executions in that district over 40 thousand persons lost their lives. Bestial murders on population of Ochota district was committed by collaborating deteachments of RONA (Russkaja Osvoboditielnaia Narodnaia Armia - Russian Liberation National Army).
     People, who saved their lives, were driven by the Germans out of the homes, after capturing consecutive districts, and were directed to a transition camp in Pruszków near Warsaw.
     In the meantime, in spite of extremal conditions, structures of a free Poland were created in liberated districts. Underground civilian authorities were disclosed, a post worked, a free press was published (over 150 titles). Insurgent radiostation "Błyskawica" (?the Lightning") and Polish Radio broadcasted, a care over children, refugees, and persons made homeless by fire was organized. On the wave of enthusiasm volunteeres rushed to take part in the fightings.
     The Germans bombed the city without any obstacles, changing tenement houses into ruins. Under rubbles of these buildings many thousand people found death. After 63 days of fighting against the enemy, equipped with the most modern technical facilities, the insurgents were forced to capitulate.
     During fightings about 18 thousand insurgents were killed; losses of civilian population totalled 150 thousand killed. German losses totalled 17 thousand killed and lost.
     The insurgents, who stayed alive, according to capitulation agreement of October 2 1944 were located in prisoner-of-war camps. Among them were also juvenile soldiers - under 15 years old.
     Civilian population, wich stayed in the centre of the city until the end of the fightings, was ousted and doomed to wandering.
     Since August 6 until October 10 over 550 thousand persons from Warsaw and 100 thousand persons from localities around Warsaw passed through a camp in Pruszków. 150 thousand persons from that camp were carried away to Germany for work and 50 thousand - to concentration camps. Wounded, or unable to work were directed to different localities on the territory of the General Government.
     In deserted Warsaw the Germans began systematic destroying and burning of still saved buildings, in order that capital of Poland, accordnig to the order of Hitler, was destroyed completely.
     There are accounts, that during the Second World War Warsaw was destroyed in 85%.


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Copyright © Muzeum Warszawy :: 2007

  The project is implemented by the Museum of Warsaw in cooperation with the State Archives of City of Warsaw, and the Niedersachsische Gedenkstatten Foundation