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The Warsaw Uprising

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The Warsaw Uprising

The Warsaw Uprising was a struggle by the Polish Home Army  to liberate Warsaw from Nazi German occupation during World War II. The Uprising began on 1 August 1944, as part of a nationwide rebellion, Operation Tempest. It was intended to last for only a few days until the anti-Nazi Soviet Army reached the city. The Soviet advance stopped short, however, while Polish resistance against the German forces continued for 63 days until the Polish surrendered on 2 October.

The Uprising began as the Soviet Army approached Warsaw. The Poles' chief objectives were to drive the German occupiers from the city and help with the larger fight against Germany and the Axis powers. Secondary political objectives were to liberate Warsaw before the arrival of the Soviet Army, to underscore Polish sovereignty and to undo the division of Central Europe into spheres of influence by the Allied powers. The insurgents' aimed to reinstate Polish authorities before the Soviet Polish Committee of National Liberation could assume control.

Initially, the Poles seized substantial areas of the city, but the Soviets did not advance beyond the city's borders until mid-September. Inside the city, bitter fighting between the Germans and Poles continued. By 16 September, Soviet forces had reached a point a few hundred meters from the Polish positions, across the Vistula River, but they made no further headway during the Uprising, leading to allegations that the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had wanted the insurrection to fail so that the Soviet occupation of Poland would be uncontested.

Although the exact number of casualties remains unknown, it is estimated that about 16,000 Polish insurgents were killed and about 6,000 badly wounded. In addition, between 150,000 and 200,000 civilians died, mostly from mass murders conducted by troops fighting on the German side. German casualties totaled over 16,000 soldiers killed and 9,000 wounded. During the urban combat approximately 25% of Warsaw's buildings were destroyed. Following the surrender of Polish forces, German troops systematically leveled 35% of the city block by block. Together with earlier damage suffered in the invasion of Poland (1939) and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (1943), over 85% of the city was destroyed by January 1945, when the Soviets finally entered the city.

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