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Warsaw 1944

The full untold story of how one of history’s bravest revolts ended in one of its greatest crimesIn 1943 the Nazis liuidated Warsaw’s Jewish ghetto A year later they threatened to complete the city’s destruction by deporting its remaining residents A sophisticated and cosmopolitan community a thousand years old was facing its final days and then opportunity struck As Soviet soldiers turned back the Nazi invasion of Russia and began pressing west the underground Polish Home Army decided to act. The Warsaw Uprising was a perfect storm The Home Army misjudged events and chose exactly the wrong time to rise up Soviet advances left the Germans short of regular troops so the task of putting down the uprising fell to Himmler and the SS including special ie sadistic bandit hunters And Stalin wanting Poland for himself stood by and watched as the Home Army broke itself against the SS The result especially for innocent civilians was horrific The book however is very good It s well researched and very well written full of details and eyewitness accounts a handful of maps and has just enough info about the wider war to put things into context although I preferred the descriptions of the action within Warsaw to events outside of it It s also uite graphic in places and doesn t pull any punches and conseuently can be uite a disturbingemotional readI wonder though if the author s evident love of Warsaw has led to some bias surely unnecessary when describing atrocities as horrifying as these For example in her descriptions of a harmonious multicultural Warsaw she seems to have overlooked or forgotten the attitude of many Poles to the earlier Jewish Warsaw Ghetto uprising which at best could be described as indifferenceStill a very good book though

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Army was left to face the full fury of Hitler Himmler and the SS The crackdown that followed was among the most brutal episodes of history’s most brutal war and the celebrated historian Alexandra Richie depicts this tragedy in riveting detail Using a rich trove of primary sources Richie relates the terrible experiences of individuals who fought in the uprising and perished in it Her clear eyed narrative reveals the fraught choices and complex legacy of some of World War II’s most unsung heroes. This is a story of one of the great but unknown tragedies of WW2 I visited Warsaw around 2005 and was told that this interesting city had been completely rebuilt after the war I could not understand the significance of this explanation at that time but I do now how Hitler in his hatred for the Polish people was determined to completely destroy the city in August 1944 This order was handed over to Himmler and psychopathic and criminal units of his SS and this is well described in detail by the author using a great number of Polish and German sources with particular emphasis on showing the suffering of Warsaw s inhabitants Alexandra Richie is a Canadian historian who both graduated and taught at Oxford then married a Polish national and afterwards moved to Poland As a noted historian she writes with a style that is easy to read but authoritative covering covers all aspects of the story the Uprising the battle the final destruction and the fate of the surviving citizens In doing so she commemorates the complete story of the Uprising which was incorrectly understood at the time and afterwards uickly forgotten by the rest of the world

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Taking advantage of German disarray and seeking to forestall the absorption of their country into the Soviet empire they chose to liberate the city of Warsaw for themselves      Warsaw 1944 tells the story of this brave and errant calculation For than sixty days the Polish fighters took over large parts of the city and held off the SS’s most brutal forces But in the end their efforts were doomed Scorned by Stalin and unable to win significant support from the Western Allies the Polish Home. Alexandra Richie is a Warsawian via Oxford University She has taken on a tragic tale of a city s unnecessary destruction and its nation s unwilling demise Her love of Warsaw and of Poland shines through this disturbing history of the 1944 Uprising against the German occupation of Warsaw Poland has long been a hot potato between Germany and Russia Until its post WWI independence Poland had been sliced and diced by Russia Austria Hungary and other European countries and immediately on its freormation the Bolsheviks had invaded The 1939 Russo German Non Aggression Pact opened the way to Germany s September 1 1939 invasion from the west and to Russia s invasion from the east splitting the country along the Molotov Ribbentrop Line Germany s invasion of Russia in 1941 claimed all of Poland for Germany Poland was and long had been the continent s wrestling mat Hitler wanted Poland as a land grab to implement lebesraum the displacement of Polish farmers by Germans and the creation of blissful Teutonic hamlets He also anticipated a third world war with Germany and the West against Russia for which Poland would be useful territory Stalin s interest in Poland was geopolitical it would provide a Soviet buffer state a barrier for Germany it would return Poland to one of its many its rightful owners it would redress Lenin s bitter failure to occupy Poland in 1920 and it would extend Bolshevism closer to Europe perhaps Stalin s ultimate goalAfter Germany captured the Polish capital it organized the Jewish population in the Ghetto Realizing that they could die fighting or just die a poorly organized and under resourced resistance initiated the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising It was as most expected a catastrophic failure for the Ghetto ending with its viciously brutal destruction The Polish Home Army then rebuilt the Warsaw resistance and awaited a propitious time to throw the Germans out of Warsaw In May of 1944 Stalin began Operation Bagration a major offensive through Byelorussia headed toward Berlin Germany was completely surprised expecting the attack in the south through Ukraine the Russians had moved 17 million men with euipment weapons and materiel from the Ukraine with remarkable secrecy The Red Army rapidly reached the Vistula River near Warsaw where a German counter offensive temporarily stopped it Hearing sounds of war and believing that Russia was coming to liberate Warsaw the Polish Home Army initiated the Warsaw Uprising on August 1 1944 the revolt that lasted 63 days Ironically the Uprising began as Germans were fleeing the city in droves Had it not started Warsaw might have survived But the Uprising led Hitler on Himmler s advice to send new forces to Warsaw brutally razing it and decimating its population after Hitler ordered that Warsaw was to be obliteratedIn her prologue Richie states that the book s primary goal is to uncover the motives of the increasingly unstable Hitler and the increasingly powerful Himmler Why did Warsaw mean so much to them Why when German forces and production capacity were so stretched did they spend treasure troops and time destroying a city with no strategic value I had expected emphasis on this Hitler s wish to eliminate all things Polish and his plan for Warsaw as a German signature city were cited but I found no insight into what led to this madness Nor could I find much insight into Himmler s motives other than to rubber stamp Hitler and increase his own power This book does not provide a psychology of madnessWhat it does do as do so many other books is detail the utter devastation that WWII brought to eastern Europe in general and to Poland in particular It does this in great detail by focusing on one of the horrendous German actions This is very powerful material but while there might be novelty for historians in the details its broad brush strokes are not new to any reader of the war in Europe The Nazi leadership WAS brutal and except for the Jewish solution indiscriminate murderers Poland WAS part of the bloodlands between Germany and Russia with a long history of subjection to foreign powers Stalin WAS a ruthless political animal intent on postwar control of Poland Roosevelt WAS a fool where it concerned Stalin The micro events of the Warsaw episode are stirring but the macro events surrounding it are well traveled territoryStill it is remarkable that after almost 75 years the second Great War in Europe generates such well researched and finely written documents Richie s story of the city and people she loves is a very powerful and very painful read I say 4 stars with an extra star for style


About the Author: Alexandra Richie

Alexandra Richie is an historian specializing in Germany as well as Central and Eastern Europe and defense and security issues She is the author of Faust’s Metropolis A History of Berlin which was named one of top ten books of the year by American Publisher’s Weekly and Warsaw 1944 which won the Newsweek Teresa Torańska Prize for best non fiction book of 2014 and the Kazimierz Moczarski Prize f



10 thoughts on “Warsaw 1944

  1. says:

    The Warsaw Uprising was a perfect storm The Home Army misjudged events and chose exactly the wrong time to rise up Soviet advances left the G

  2. says:

    The numbers beggar belief Of a prewar population of 13 million 150000 civilians and 18000 underground soldier killed and this is excluding 400000 Jews who were sent to their deaths from 1939 43 The remainder were forced from their homes into

  3. says:

    Warsaw 1944 has come to us from the archives inherited by the author diaries that have brought to life the full tragedy of both the Warsaw Uprising in 1944 but the very fate of the city The amount of research to bring this text to fruition is overwhelming and possible with the availability of both Russian and German archives many of which did not become available until the dissolution of the Soviet UnionIt is mostly a forgotten

  4. says:

    An unsparing gut wrenching account of the Warsaw Uprising against the Germans not to be confused with the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943 when t

  5. says:

    This book is not about the Warsaw ghetto uprising of 1943 but the 1944 uprising led by Polish fighters against the SS The author openly states that the desperate courage of the Jews fighting in the ghetto – with improvised weaponry – was a matchless demonstration of heroism and the second uprising is not to be considered its eual Having said that the courage of the Polish fighters is tremendous and the suffering o

  6. says:

    Alexandra Richie is a Warsawian via Oxford University She has taken on a tragic tale of a city’s unnecessary destruction and its nation’s unwilling demise Her love of Warsaw and of Poland shines through this disturbing history of the 1944 Uprising against the German occupation of Warsaw Poland has long been a hot potato between Germany and Russia Until its post WWI independence Poland had been sliced and diced by R

  7. says:

    This is a story of one of the great but unknown tragedies of WW2 I visited Warsaw around 2005 and was told that this interesting city had been completely rebuilt after the war I could not understand the significance of this explanation at that time but I do now how Hitler in his hatred for the Polish people was determined to comp

  8. says:

    A compelling graphic and terrifying account of Warsaw at the peak of her destruction by the Nazis in 1944 An insane Hitler and his eually mad minions let loose on the innocent citizens of Warsaw where murder rap

  9. says:

    An excellent description of Warsaw Uprising Apart from a thorough background on its occurrence it provides a chronology of events which helped me to understand how the focus of the German attacks moved from one suburb to the next The cynicism of Russian troops stationing just few kilometres away and their refusal to allow

  10. says:

    I really need to start reading cheerful books After reading so much other WWII and Holocaust fare I'm not uite sure how I made it through this further tome of hideous crimes of the Third Reich Perhaps it was due to the author's clear

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