The capitulation of Warsaw after the Warsaw Uprising

The capitulation of Warsaw after the Warsaw Uprising

The Warsaw Uprising of 1944 was ended through a capitulation agreement which guaranteed not only the rights of the insurgents to be treated as Prisoners of War but also was designed to guarantee the fair treatment of the civilians living in Warsaw. This agreement, between General Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski and General Erich von dem Bach, which had taken a long period of on and off negotiations to achieve.

igning of the Capitulation Treaty

On October 2 General Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski signed the capitulation of the remaining Polish forces ("Warszawski Korpus Armii Krajowej" or Home Army Warsaw Corps) in the German headquarters in the presence of general von dem Bach. According to the capitulation treaty, the Home Army soldiers were to be treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention and the civilian population was to be treated humanely.

The next day the Germans began to disarm the Home Army soldiers. Most of them were later sent to POW camps in various parts of Germany. At the same time the civilian population (approximately 700,000) was resettled to concentration camps west of Warsaw. Many soldiers, fearing German atrocities in captivity, chose to blend into the civilian population, escape Warsaw among them and continue the fight later.

Reasons for Failure

There are several factors responsible for the failure, although there is no consensus about all of them nor their relative importance.

One of the main reasons for the failure of the uprising was the lack of expected support from the Soviet Red Army. Soviet assistance to the Home Army on the eastern territories was limited to small collaboration on a tactical level at best, with common incidents of shooting or imprisoning of Home Army soldiers after the area was seized by Soviets. During the Warsaw Uprising the Red Army stood on the other bank of the Vistula River and only elements from the Polish 1 Armia Wojska Polskiego attempted to make a crossing and received artillery support. The Soviet High Command did not allow pilots from the RAF and the Polish Air-forces to use Soviet landing strips. After the initial radio and leaflet propaganda campaign, the Moscow-backed Wanda radio station remained silent until the very end of fighting. It has been argued that the Soviets deliberately allowed the Germans to defeat the Home Army in order to eliminate a force in Poland which would oppose the communist puppet government the Soviets planned to install in Poland. This is consistent with later Soviet treatment of many Home Army soldiers, who were usually imprisoned, tortured and executed.

::"See Operation Tempest for aftermath of other actions of that operation"

The decision to begin the Uprising can be viewed more as a political one (a demonstration to show the Soviets and the Western Allies that the Polish government-in-exile had control over the country) than a military one (since the military situation was worsening, as German troops in Warsaw were being strengthened and reinforced). The decision to start the Uprising was rushed several times: first on 20 July, when plans for Operation Tempest were changed to include Warsaw (after the series of reports on aggressive actions by Soviets toward Home Army units in the eastern territories), then on 31 July when exaggerated reports of approaching Russian forces convinced some decision makers that if they did not start the Uprising soon it would be too late to aid the Russians and 'make a stand'. Due to this rushed change of plans, personnel and ammunition available at the time of "W-hour" in Warsaw were not optimal.

Destiny of the Warsaw civilians

Most civilians were not killed and many were released into the country west of Warsaw, but some were sent to concentration camps or subjected to slave labour.

Destiny of the Fighters

Most fighters were sent to POW camps in various parts of Germany. Depending on where they were sent, they were later liberated by U.S., British or Soviet forces. This would have a big effect on their later lives.


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