world war 2: warsaw uprising 1944

Zygmunt Skarbek-Kruszewski. Bellum Vobiscum: WWII Memoirs.

Reprinted with permission from the Skarbek Consulting Pty Ltd.

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  Twisted Politics

August 3, 1944
The planes left. People gathered in the yard. Unfortunately all hopes concerning the tanks were crushed. There were eyewitnesses. They were German tanks.

Faces became solemn, there was little talk, depression hung heavily over us and we were still cut off from the rest of the world. They were very disappointed people who went home to prepare a meal. This task was not easy, as food supplies in homes were getting quite low. We particularly missed tomatoes and bread. We sat down to some thin soup, artificially flavoured. There was not much talk, the mood was gloomy. Three days of uprising, three sleepless nights. The German tanks did not promise a good future. In addition, Czeslaw's dilemma: Should he actively join the insurgents or shouldn't he? Should he just passively wait for future developments? For the last two days he could not make up his mind.

Czeslaw was rather an unusual Pole. He was a product of international conflicts. He came from Lithuania where there e many families having to solve the same kind of problem. It was the aftermath of Polish/Lithuanian Union in the XV century. From one and the same family nest, the offspring could be of different nationalities. This was the case in Czeslaw's family. Czeslaw considered himself a true Pole and belonged to Polish organisations in Lithuania. His brother was a Lithuanian who stayed home to fight for his Lithuanian country. Czeslaw came to Poland, his adopted, chosen country. He was given a Polish Christian name but had a Lithuanian surname. He matriculated at a Polish school but finished at a Lithuanian University. He worked for the Polish community whilst living in Lithuania and longing for Poland. One of his sisters felt the same way, another was indifferent, but he dearly loved all his family. Different national feelings between the members of one family was not unusual Lithuania.

Pushing away his empty plate, Czeslaw said

"I have to join the group of insurgents in our block I should have done it sooner - now I should be fighting instead sitting in this prison."

"Does fighting as such attract you or do you consider it your duty? Or maybe your chosen profession?" I asked, being in a pacifist mood.

"I consider that fighting makes sense and is justified if it is the only way to defend my ideals or to protect the public welfare."

"For which ideal would you be fighting now?"

"For the most important one - the independence of our country "

"How do you imagine this independence?"

"Quite simply – a free country where Poles are ruling."

"I don't think it is that simple,” I remarked.

"Why not?"

"You must realise that today we are unable to achieve our aim fighting alone."

"So what?"

"Fighting the Germans, we have to accept the help of the Soviets."


"But it is also certain that, having accepted their help, it will be their armies pushing the Germans out of our country and that, being allies, we will have to co-operate with them. We will have to agree to their political programme. Yes or no?"

"Not necessarily."

"Not necessarily? I don't even know if they will be asking anyone. All Poland will be under their military control. Of course it will be very tempting for them to bring into our country their political ideas and the same administration as they have in their Soviet Union. It is self-evident from the principles of the Communist doctrines. In Lublin (a large city in east Poland) a complete administration organised by the Russians and headed by our Polish Communists is already waiting to take power. I think that the Russian radio station 'Tadeusz Kosciuszko', broadcasting in Polish, fully explained the political programme and aim of the Association of Polish Patriots – this means Polish Communists living in the Soviet Union."

"Yes, but don't forget there is still England and America. They will not allow it to happen."

"What will they not allow to happen?"

"Poland to become a Communist country.”

"There you are, now you are getting to the core of the matter. We are all speaking about independence, about free Poland, but in reality we are thinking about a system of government which suits us best. For you, independence means Christian bourgeois democracy; for other radicals - ­it is the People's Republic. To reach the desired aim some will welcome the help of England, others the help of Russia. Therefore we have a Mr. Bierut – Polish Communist leader in Moscow, and Mr. Raczkiewicz leader of Polish liberals in London. Therefore we have General Sosnkowski – Commander-in-Chief of the Polish exile army in London, and General Berling – Commander-in-Chief of Polish Red troops in the Soviet Union. Therefore there is the AK – white underground armed forces and AL – red underground armed forces.

"Can we say with a clear conscience that we all aspire to the one goal? Do you think that General Bor-Komorowski, Chief Commander of AK has coordinated his military strategy with General Berling, Chief Commander of AL? And that Prime Minister Mikolajczyk his political ideas with Prime Minister Osobka-Morawski? Already for three days Warsaw has been fighting and bleeding and at this time they are bartering in Moscow about Poland's future government. “Our history" – I continued –"gave us many sad examples in the so-called 'aspiration of common aim'. Just as well that this time our emigrant leaders found some support with foreign allies, otherwise Poles would now be fighting each other. Is there is just the one common cause? Independence? Democracy? Those are just words, not the real issue. Why should we deceive ourselves? In Poland before 1939 did the words independence and democracy have the same meaning for a landless peasant as for the wealthy mine owner? For whose independence are we fighting?"

Czeslaw interrupted –"You and your politics. There are historical moments when one has to fight and not talk. If everyone was just criticising and trying to predict, it would not even have come to an uprising!"

"Who knows? Maybe that would have been better than an abortive attempt. Our history has many such examples. Warsaw is burning, her people are dying and somehow our allies don't seem to be in a hurry. In the meantime the Germans are swarming over the streets with their soldiers and tanks and shooting as they like and we have not even enough ordinary rifles. This is the result of action taken without previous political discussions. First a slogan is given and later politics are made. Who knows the outcome of the Moscow conference?"

"Now we have a common cause which unites us all – to fight the Germans. They are our enemies and therefore we all have to mount the barricades with guns in our hands."

"And after that? Which of our allies will have the deciding voice, sitting in the ruins of free Warsaw? To whom of the powerful protectors will the 'independent' land belong? Who amongst the people will be the hero and who the traitor?"

Czeslaw interrupted, “Defeatism, it is ...”

"What you are saying is sheer ...” he did not finish. On the staircase we suddenly heard loud noises of boots, yells, banging doors.

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