Research Question, Rationale, Scope and Methodology
In this study, the research question is why the Russians failed to support the Polish undergrounds during their uprising against the Nazis in 1944. The rationale for doing this topic stems from the fact that there are two sides to this debate; on one hand, the Russians claimed that the Germans decimated their early advance on the Eastside of Poland thus reducing their tactics to defense only; on the other hand, western countries believe that Russia deliberately refused to assist the Polish insurgents for political reasons. Given that there are two sides to this debate, this paper examines the facts and presents a conclusion that would hopefully settle the debate about whether Russia supported the polish insurgents or not. In terms of events and the main players, the paper restricts itself to the events happening in 1944, and the stand taken by Russia and countries such as Britain and United States. The methodology used to analyze the themes in this paper is through studying secondary sources written on the subject.
- The Warsaw Uprising began on August and lasted until October, 1944.
- Before the uprising, the Polish Prime Minster Mikolajczyk visited Moscow in July 1944 where Joseph Stalin (the president of Russia) expressed concerns about the preparedness of the home army to take their own capital, but promised to offer assistance. The poles hoped that Russia, under the leadership of Joseph Stalin, would offer to drive the Nazis out of Poland, and the belief stemmed from the fact that both the Home Army and Russia had the same goal: the goal of ending the Nazi occupation in Poland.
- The Home Army, led by General Bor' Komorowski, initiated resistance against Germany occupation in Poland on 1 August 1944.
- The Red Army of Russia had begun their offensive march towards Warsaw earlier; they started their march on June 1994 at a place known as Byelorussia and, by the time the Home Army initiated the uprising, the expectation was that the Red Army would enter the city of Warsaw very soon.
- In the early course of the uprising (on August), the Polish Home Army had managed to control some important districts in Warsaw; they had managed to capture some districts on the eastern side of Vistula River.
- Although they did not manage to erect bridges across the river, the Polish undergrounds had managed to cut German supplies brought using the river; however, this initial assault was not sustained thus jeopardizing the early successes; the Home Army lacked basic supplies such as infantry guns, tanks and warplanes, and their men were outnumbered by the Germans by far.
- Despite these initial challenges, the Home Army decided to take on the Germans even though most of their men did not have guns.
- On mid- September (1994) Russia marched towards Warsaw through Praga with the aim of taking Warsaw and form a bridge on Vistula River the specific Russian troops involved in that mission included the 6th Infantry Division and the first army.
- However, the Russians were not aware that the Germans had beaten and pushed the Poles inland.. Consequently, the Germans had regrouped and recharged their supplies, something that the Russians were not aware; the Russians were met by a lethal Germany force that decimated the 6th Infantry Army.
- The temporary defeat of Russian forces proved to be decisive in the subsequent weeks; the Russians used the initial decimation of their forces as a reason for not engaging actively in the war.
- Western allies were now growing impatient and they requested the soviet government to participate in a plan that would see Britain and U.S. use Soviet airbases after dropping supplies. The only place that they could use was Italy, which was far and the weather was unfavorable; however, Stalin flatly refused the proposals as requested by the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
- On 18th September, Stalin relented on his earlier position and allowed American planes to use Russian air bases after dropping supplies; however, this help came a little too late because the insurgents had diminished control of vast areas of Warsaw and were already in the process of conceding defeat.
- Only 30 % of the equipment dropped by U.S. planes was successfully delivered; in addition, the winds were strong and the other equipment was dropped off in the hands of Nazis.
- Without material support, the Polish Undergrounds surrendered and signed a ceasefire agreement on 2 October 1944.
Evaluation of Sources
Korbonski, Stefan. The Polish Underground Sate: A Guide to the Underground. 1939-1945. New York, NY: Hippocrene Books, 1981.
In this book, Korbonski examines the genesis of the uprising and its unsuccessful end. The sequence of events preceding the uprising is given with careful emphasis of the main players. The controversial issue of Soviet Union’s involvement (or lack of involvement) in the uprising is also examined. This book is helpful in understanding the reasons as to why Russia refused to help the Polish undergrounds in their quest to dethrone the Nazis from Poland. The author is well-versed with the issues at hand, thus lending the book a certain level of credibility. The book is also balanced because it gives the version of events from the perspective of the Russians, the Poles, the Brits and the Americans. In addition, the fact that the book is dedicated to the uprising only makes it relevant to the research topic. However, the original book was written in Polish; the final translation into English could have misinterpreted some important information and gave the wrong impression. Again, the book limits itself to events happening within six years (1939-1945) that might have left some important details useful to understanding the uprising. Nonetheless, looking back, this book was helpful in writing this paper because it gave the facts needed to examine the research topic and arrive at a credible conclusion. It also changed my understanding of the topic.
Borodziej, Wlodzimierz. The Warsaw Uprising of 1944. Madison, WI: Univ of Wisconsin Press, 2006.
In this book, the author examines the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 and its impact on the citizenry, Russia and Western allies. The author tells of a desperate attempt to resist Nazi rule with the hope that Russia would join the fight. However, military and diplomatic interests saw the Home Army lose the uprising, but at catastrophic effects. More than 200,000 people were killed with the number of those surviving the attack being double. One value of the topic is that the author gives an even account of the darkest moment in Polish history. The book also gives a good chronology of events thus maintaining its credibility. However, the book is largely limited to the three months of the uprising and crucial information that might be useful in gaining an in-depth understanding of the topic may not be presented. Again, the book is recently published and relies on information from third parties. Nonetheless, historical information does not change; only the narrator changes but the story remains the same.
The expectation was that the Prime Mister would manage to convince Stalin to commit more resources. However, Stalin remained unconvinced that the insurgents would have the capacity to drive the Nazis out of Warsaw. Although he promised the Prime Minster to help, Stalin kept on implying that the Home Army was disintegrating and on the verge of collapse.
In addition, the temporary defeat at Praga became a propaganda tool for the Russians. The Russians used the loss of their forces as a reason for their inactivity. However, the reality is that the Russians were only buying time and this was a propaganda tool meant to explain inactivity on the part of the Russians. The Red Army had the resources and the capacity to help the Home Army overthrow the Germans. For example, the Red Army had more than 1.25 million soldiers in Poland and heavy artillery; they had 4,000 tanks and 5,300 war planes as well as 28,000 artillery guns. In addition, Russia occupied a strategic military advantage considering that it was less than 95 miles from Warsaw, and this could be exploited to take Warsaw.
The hypocrisy of the Russian authorities was further exposed when western allies requested the soviet government to allow planes dropping arms and supplies to land behind the Soviet lines. Stalin flatly refused the proposals advanced to him. By the time American planes allowed to use to use Russian air bases, the insurgents were no longer in control of many areas in Warsaw. The help was time-barred and this left the insurgents with no choice, but to surrender.
In conclusion, Russia failed to assist the Polish undergrounds during the uprising of 1944 mainly because of political reasons. Stalin, for example, wanted a communist leadership in Warsaw that he could trust. Moreover, Stalin knew that the poles would not like to be under the control of the Russians immediately after the Nazis. Therefore, supporting the polish undergrounds would have gone against the original idea because the undergrounds were not under the direct control of Kremlin. The temporary defeat that the Russians met at Praga provided them with an excuse to explain their inactivity, although they had the weapons and men to overcome the Nazis. In addition, Stalin’s refusal to allow planes from western countries to use Russian airbases after dropping supplies to the undergrounds further exposed the attitude of the Russians towards the uprising. By the time Stalin allowed American planes to use Russian air bases, it was a little too late and the undergrounds were planning to surrender. Without the support of the Russians, the undergrounds signed a ceasefire agreement on 2 October 1944.
Blejwas, Stanley. A Heroic Uprising in Poland. 2004. Web.7 April 2014 <http://www.polamjournal.com/Library/APHistory/Warsaw_Uprising/warsaw_uprising.h tml>.
Borodziej, Włodzimierz. The Warsaw Uprising of 1944. Madison, WI : Univ of Wisconsin Press, 2006. Print.
Galasiriski, Dariusz. "The Making of History: Some Politicians Presentation of Historical Events." International Pragmatics Association (1998): 7 (1), 55-58. Retrieved from http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=17&ved=0CE4Q FjAGOAo&url=http%3A%2F%2Felanguage.net%2Fjournals%2Fpragmatics%2Farticle %2FviewFile%2F238%2F172&ei=hBlEU5CTOcneOfK5gPgO&usg=AFQjCNE2ReACl y9TAyzGfWgpGmwFsEMDeA&sig2=WgpfGoHb5faVpO08fpPP8Q&bvm=bv.6436717 8,d.ZWU
Korboński, Stefan. The Polish Underground State: A Guide to the Underground, 1939-1945. New York, NY : Hippocrene Books, 1981. Print.
Szczygiel, Jordan. "Warsaw Uprising of 1944: A Touchstone in United." Honors Scholar Theses (2013): 314. Retrived from http://digitalcommons.uconn.edu/srhonors_theses/314.