Jewish Battle for Warsaw 1944

By | August 5, 2020

[August 5, 2020]  Labeled as “one of the most significant occurrences in the history of the Jewish people,” the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in the Spring of 1943 was doomed to failure.  This was the largest single revolt by Jews during World War II and is a symbol of freedom that we closely review for the lessons that can be learned.  But it was on this date, August 5, 1944 that saw a successful liberation of a German forced-labor camp in Warsaw, Poland.

Often, I write about courage in the face of certain death.  That was the case in Warsaw during WWII.  Polish insurgents liberated a German labor camp, freeing 348 Jewish prisoners, who joined in a general uprising.

What made this smaller revolt against the German occupiers different and more successful?

  1. The Soviet Red Army was advancing on Warsaw by July of 1944. The uprising had begun days earlier in late July and relief by the Red Army was a realistic possibility.  British PM Churchill appealed to Joseph Stalin to aid the insurgents’ cause.  Stalin, however, balked and claimed the insurgency was too insignificant to waste time with supporting.  This would not be the last time the Soviets would let down an ally or friendly fighting force.
  2. Polish patriots were still loyal to their government-in-exile back in London and were ready this time compared to a year earlier. Arms and explosives had been stockpiled.  Materials to block select roads to inhibit German reinforcements were staged in strategic locations.  But they knew that they had to rely upon the Brits and Soviets if they were to succeed.
  3. There was a coalition of three strong guerrilla groups that had worked out a strategy and a method of working together. The Polish Home Army (underground), the People’s Army (a communist guerrilla movement), and armed civilians took back two-thirds of Warsaw.  On August 4th, the Germans counterattacked and killed more than 15,000 Poles.
  4. The British provided assistance that the Soviets failed to do. The British dropped ammunition and supplies into the southwest quarter of Warsaw to aid the insurgents.  This small relief was sufficient to at least keep the Germans at bay.  On August 5, the freed Jewish forced labors, who had joined the battle, formed a special platoon dedicated solely to repairing captured German tanks for use in the struggle.

The Poles would battle for weeks against German reinforcements and without Soviet help.  Joseph Stalin has his own plans for Poland after the war.  Because the Polish Home Army was loyal to the Polish Government, the Soviet Union saw it as an obstacle to Communism in Poland.  During the Soviet occupation of Poland thousands of the Home Army operatives were deported to Gulags and Soviet prisons, while others like their senior commanders were executed.

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

18 thoughts on “Jewish Battle for Warsaw 1944

  1. Stacey Borden

    Another historical, yet very useful article that brings up a number of important lessons.

  2. Willie Shrumburger

    The Uprising should never have been relegated to a mere footnote in the history of WWII as a result of misinformation or no information at all.

    1. Ronny Fisher

      Yes, what we should all note from that time is what happened after the Nazi army was defeated there and the atrocities committed by the Soviet armies. They were much WORSE than the Germans. That explains why Poland was happy to kick out the Soviet puppet Communist govts they had for so long.

  3. Valkerie

    General Satterfield, thank you for another well-designed and written article on lessons from World War II.

  4. Watson Bell

    Thanks to Gen. Satterfield, now I have a better appreciation of the history of Poland and why they have always desired freedom over tyranny.

  5. Max Foster

    Another well-written article of historical significance. Why? Bravery in the face of certain death, freedom, seeing evil and the willingness to sacrifice all to stop evil. Our young today could take an important lesson from this event in mid-20th century. It isn’t ancient history. Today, our young would rather be on drugs, offended by anyone who doesn’t agree with their infantile understanding of the world, and need a “safe space” to run to. Our youth plays the victim card at every turn. The Poles in this uprising makes today’s youth look worse than infantile.

    1. Mr. T.J. Asper

      Ha Ha, tell me what you think about our young people today!! I teach them in High School and will disagree a little. Most are all right but, yes, some are indeed infantile.

  6. Tom Bushmaster

    On August 1, 1944, the Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa, AK), a non-Communist underground resistance movement, initiated the Warsaw uprising to liberate the city from the German occupation and reclaim Polish independence. The impetus for the military action was the ongoing retreat of the German forces from Poland, followed by the appearance of the Soviet Red Army along the east bank of the Vistula River.

    1. KenFBrown

      The Monument of the Warsaw Uprising — the monument was officially unveiled on August 1, 1989. A group of veterans struggled for many years with officials and politicians, who hindered the decision to erect it. Once again, thanks JT for your insights and references.

  7. Linux Man

    I thought I knew a lot about WW2, but now I know more.

    1. Bill Sanders, Jr.

      Yes, that is why I and others keep coming back to read more and more of Gen. Satterfield’s blog.

  8. Dennis Mathes

    The 64 days in 1944 when the Polish Underground –primarily the Home Army — rose up against their Nazi oppressors with no help from their allies is a tale of heroism, courage, and conviction. After the war, their reward was vilification and imprisonment by the Soviets while the West pretty much looked the other way.

  9. The Kid 1945

    Fortunately, there are a number of books on this particular uprising and thus material for a dedicated leader to learn from. My favorite is Norman Davies’ book “Rising ’44: The Battle for Warsaw”. One of the most dramatic and shameful episodes in World War II was the doomed Warsaw uprising of 1944—an uprising that failed because the Allies betrayed it. Now that story comes to its full terrible life in this gripping account by the bestselling historian Norman Davies.

    1. Roger Yellowmule

      The Warsaw rising of 1944……a remarkable story that should be studied by everyone.

      1. Lynn Pitts

        Too many of us today just take WW2 for granted, see it as ancient history (and thus meaningless), and poo-poo any lessons from then. Sad for us.

  10. Eric Coda

    Excellent read, thx. Never heard of this uprising but had heard of the 1943 uprising in Warsaw. Thanks, Gen. Satterfield. As always, I appreciate the history lesson and why we should pay attention to it.

Comments are closed.