world war 2: warsaw uprising 1944

John Ward

Article reprinted from: The Times, September 4, 1944.

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  Warsaw Patriots’ Struggle: Old Town in Ruins

In spite of lack of ammunition and weapons the troops of the Polish Home Army continue to hold all their positions intact with the exception of the Old Town. Here the enemy attacks have been so fierce – air bombing, artillery – that it has been impossible for the Polish troops to hold on. In some places they have been forced to surrender some ruins to the enemy. There is now not a single undamaged house in the Old Town. Nothing remains but ruins and debris, among which here and there stand fragments of walls not yet leveled to the ground. Streets no longer exist.

The Old Town covered a small area and had narrow, winding streets. The population was very high – about 100,000 people – and it became bigger as thousands of refugees came from other districts. About half this population have been wounded or killed. Almost every soldier, if not killed, has received a would of some sort. The population which is still in the Old Town shelter in cellars under the ruins, which offer almost no protection against enemy attacks. Hence it is that these cellars often become collective graves for the hundreds who sought shelter there.

In the other parts of the city the Germans are continuing their periodical air, artillery, and mine-thrower attacks. There are two-kinds of mines in use. One is composed of half explosive and half incendiary material, and the other of pure explosive material. The list of casualties month daily. It is impossible to calculate yet just how high the losses of life are.

In the large concentration camp established by the Germans on the city’s outskirts there are tens of thousands of Polish people who are starving to death, the enemy troops supplying them with no food whatever. All Polish military prisoners who fall into German hands are murdered.

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