The city of Warsaw is burning (Essay, part 1)

Jest nam bardzo miło poinformować naszych czytelników, że właśnie rozpoczęliśmy współpracę ze Szkołą Językową “Direct” z Ząbkowic Śląskich. Dzięki temu, każdego tygodnia będą mieli Państwo możliwość czytania różnych tekstów w językach obcych. Już teraz zapraszamy na pierwszą część eseju o przyczynach Powstania Warszawskiego roku 1944.

On 23th of August 1944 British government in London received a coded radio message from the city of Warsaw. The message was dispatched by the Royal Air Force Lieutenant John Ward, who as the only British soldier taking part in the event of the Warsaw Rising also acted as the Times corresponded. Ward stated: ’Today in Warsaw a battle is going on that I think is very difficult for the British nation to understand. It is a battle that is being carried on as much by the civil population; by AK, the troops of the Polish Home Army. It is total Warfare. Every street in the city has been a battlefield for the last twenty for days (…) The fight against the common enemy that has been waged in Poland during the past five years has been hard and bitter. The population of the Capitol was called upon to make one final effort. The call was answered gallantly. Hardship are many, losses very high, but despite all of this the determination of the people is firm to hold out and rid their city and country of the enemy.’1 Ward was certainly right by saying that the situation in Warsaw was difficult to understand for the British public, interestingly enough however, the complexity of the problem was overwhelming not only for the British but possibly for everyone who was not particularly familiar with the Polish affairs at the time. Perhaps, even the knowledge of the current situation would not have been enough. One must realise, however, that Poland has a long history of national insurrections. In 1772 Poland lost its sovereignty due to the First Partition of Poland and as early as in 1794 Polish patriots under the command of Tadeusz Kościuszko rose against occupying forces of Russia, Prussia and Austria. Since then Poland fought for its independence by staging numerous revolts such as Powstanie Listopadowe, Powstanie Styczniowe, etc. The independence was eventually achieved after the First World War and lost again at the beginning of 1939. The Warsaw Uprising, consequently, was bound to happen as it was a natural way of things for Polish people to revolt against any occupant. For that reason the intention of the Warsaw Uprising was often misunderstood and in some cycles was even denounced.

The scale of the criticism, however, intensified after the failure of the Uprising and after the power in the post-war Poland was taken by the communist government depended on the Soviet Union. It was a time when the communist propaganda totally condemned Uprising by calling it ‘foolish, premature and even unpatriotic’. Nonetheless, the perception of the Revolt was gradually improving with a simultaneous looseness of the communism in Poland. Thus, already in 1956 during the de-Stalinization of Poland works praising heroism of the insurgents had been produced, such as Kamienie Rzucone na Szaniec by Aleksander Kamiński devoted to the Polish youth participating in the Rising or Andrzej Wajda’s movie Kanał (The Channel) which deals with patriotic, nevertheless, hopeless fight of the Polish patriots. At the present time the subject of the Warsaw Rising in Poland is further glorified and commemorated. Yet, the debate among historians about the rightness of the Uprising is still not over. Meaning, one speculates that the decision to stage an Uprising in Warsaw was right, whilst the other argues that it was a mistake.

It is beyond the scope of this dissertation, however, to investigate whether the Warsaw Uprising was a mistake or whether it was not. The present study in opposition to the aforementioned discussion endeavours to examine factors which had influenced the decision to begin fights in Warsaw. Extending its analysis further this work will define the reasons that led to the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. It is crucial to analyse each facet of this historical issue if the reasonable explanation is to be achieved.

An examination of the Nazi occupation of Poland constitutes, therefore, a necessary point of departure. For it will permit us to ascertain historical background to the events discussed in the passages to come. More importantly, it will go some way towards explaining how the German reign of terror, as it was often called by the Polish people, hastened the Warsaw revolt. All of this is certainly true. Yet, one is force to ask if in fact the five years of the occupation could have had such an impact on the Rising? Joanna Hanson argued, for once, that it was indeed one of the main triggers of the Warsaw Rising, since the Varsovians were at the edge of psychological exhaustion. Going some way further, however, this point will also yield some information about the formation of the Polish Underground, thereby, showing that as soon as the German occupation began there was a plan to stage an uprising at the suitable time in the future.

Second concern of this study will focus on the political side. Thus, intention of re-conquering Warsaw from the Germans before the Soviet arrival, preventing communist from establishing a government with the Soviet help, establishing a friendly non-communist government, these are the issues to be considered in this point. Second point will show that successful insurrection was supposed to help Polish prime minister in negotiations with Stalin. Rebellion, moreover, meant to secure diplomatic support of Great Britain and United States. Ideologically leaders of the uprising continued policy of two enemies (Russia and Germany), which was established after the First World War. That policy clearly stated to continue fight against Germany and at the same time strengthen anti-communist support. At this point it is necessary to stress that Warsaw rebellion should be viewed from a more broad perspective, because diplomatic as well as ideological activities aimed to secure independence of the whole country, not only of Warsaw.

A great deal has been written about the motives of the Warsaw Uprising and it seems that historians undervalued psychological aspect of the Warsaw Revolt focusing to much on politics, ideology and military issue. Although this study considers all the aforesaid issues as important ones, I would like to argue that psychology of the people as well as the leaders played an important part too.

The End of part 1

Autor: Sławomir Usiatycki

Absolwent University of Aberdeen (Szkocja) oraz Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego. Stypendysta berlińskiego uniwersytetu Frei Universitat Berlin, gdzie podczas swojego rocznego pobytu szlifował swoją wiedzę z zakresu handlu międzynarodowego oraz teorii biznesu. Jest beneficjentem wsparcia finansowego udzielonego przez University of Aberdeen na badania dotyczące przyczyn Powstania Warszawskiego. Dzięki otrzymanym pieniądzom pojechał do Londynu, gdzie spotkał się z uczestniczką Powstania Warszawskiego oraz prowadził badania w Instytucie Polskim i Muzeum im. Generała Sikorskiego oraz w archiwum Studium Polski Podziemnej w Londynie. Ponadto, Sławomir Usiatycki jest certyfikowanym egzaminatorem British Council, ETS Global oraz Międzynarodowych Certyfikatów Językowych TGLS. W swojej bogatej karierze zawodowej pracował również jako wykładowca akademicki dla Uniwersytetu Ekonomicznego w Łodzi. Obecnie pracuje jako lektor języka angielskiego w Direct Language School w Ząbkowicach Śląskich. Prywatnie pasjonat języków obcych oraz sportów górskich: wspinaczki skałkowej i jazdy na rowerze górskim.

Autor: Salwador Pietruszka