Wola massacre

Wola massacre

The Wola massacre ( _pl. Rzeź Woli, "Wola slaughter") (August 5-August 8, 1944 in Wola, Warsaw) was the scene of the largest single in the history of Poland. According to different sources, some 40,000 [http://www.bbc.co.uk/polish/domestic/story/2004/10/041002_uprising_warsaw_museum.shtml Muzeum Powstania otwarte] , BBC Polish edition, 2 October 2004, Last accessed on 13 April 2007] to 100,000pl icon [http://miasta.gazeta.pl/warszawa/1,54182,1601810.html O Powstaniu Warszawskim opowiada prof. Jerzy Kłoczowski] , Gazeta Wyborcza - local Warsaw edition, 1998-08-01. Last accessed on 13 April 2007] Polish civilians and POWs were killed by the German forces during their suppression of the Warsaw Uprising. The Nazis tried to suppress the uprising early with an attempt to terrorize the inhabitants of Warsaw, hoping to end without having to commit to heavy urban combat, before realizing it was only stiffening the opposition.

The massacre

German forces, notably subunits of the "Sicherheitspolizei" security police and notorious force of amnestied criminals "SS-Sturmbrigade Dirlewanger", rounded up and indiscriminately executed many of the people in the Wola district, including the elderly, women and children, as well as the insurgents taken prisoner. Mass executions in the district also included the mass murders of patients and personnel of the local hospitals, some of them burned alive. A critical aim of this German policy was to crush the will of the Poles to fight and bring the uprising to an end without having to commit to the heavy city fighting. [http://www.1944.pl/index.php?a=site_text&id=12449&se_id=12452 THE SLAUGHTER IN WOLA] at Warsaw Uprising Museum]

On August 5, the three groups started their advance westward along "Wolska" and "Górczewska" streets toward the main East-West communication line of Aleje Jerozolimskie. Their advance was halted, but the Heinz Reinefarth's and Oskar Dirlewanger's regiments started to carry out orders of Heinrich Himmler: behind the lines, special groups of SS and police forces went from house to house, rounding-up and shooting all inhabitants. Regular German soldiers of the "Wehrmacht" also took part in the killings.

Martin Gilbert, in his book "The Second World War: A Complete History", page 565, (see [http://books.google.com/books?ie=UTF-8&hl=en&id=Y_sfOn8BkOwC&pg=PA565&lpg=PA565&dq=wola+warsaw&prev=http://books.google.com/books%3Fq%3Dwola%2Bwarsaw%26lr%3D%26start%3D20&sig=0fzvAMxrwRolIgZBDRR69Lkpo9U Google Books page view] ) describes the event:

By August 5, more than fifteen thousand Polish civilians had been murdered by German troops in Warsaw. At 5:30 that evening, General von dem Bach Zelewski gave the order for the execution of women and children to stop. But the killing continued of all Polish men who were captured, without anyone bothering to find out whether they were insurgents or not. Nor did either the Cossacks or the criminals in the Kaminsky and Dirlewanger brigades pay any attention to von dem Bach Zelewski's order: by rape, murder, torture and fire, they made their way through the suburbs of Wola and Ochota, killing in three days of slaughter a further thirty thousand civilians, including hundreds of patients in each of the hospitals in their path.

At the same time, the insurgent "Zośka" and "Wacek" battalions managed to capture the ruins of the Warsaw Ghetto and the Warsaw concentration camp. The area became one of the main communication links between the insurgents fighting in Wola and those defending the Warsaw Old Town. On August 7, 1944, the Nazi forces were joined by tanks, with civilian women being used as a human shields. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/august/1/newsid_3932000/3932555.stm 1944: Uprising to free Warsaw begins] , BBC News, 1 August] After two days of heavy fighting, they managed to cut Wola in two and reach the Bankowy square.

The massacre was halted when Adolf Hitler ordered the captured civilians to be sent to concentration camps or directed to forced labor. The "Verbrennungskommando", which was composed of selected Polish men, collected most of the victims' bodies and then burnt them in several locations.


Up until mid September, the Nazis were shooting all captured insurgents on the spot. After "SS-Obergruppenführer" Erich von dem Bach arrived in Warsaw (August 7, 1944), it became clear that atrocities only stiffened the resistance and that some political solution should be found, considering the limited forces at the disposal of the German commander. The aim was to gain a significant victory to show the Armia Krajowa the futility of further fighting and make them surrender.

This did not immediately succeed, but from the end of September on, some of the captured Polish fighters were treated as prisoners of war and civilians spared, and in the end the districts of Warsaw still held by insurgents capitulated on October 2, 1944.

The main perpetrators were Heinz Reinefarth and Oskar Dirlewanger, who presided over the most cruel atrocities. Dirlewanger was tortured to death by Polish military guards after the war, but Reinefarth was never prosecuted. A list of several former "Dirlewanger" members still alive and never prosecuted was made by the Warsaw Uprising Museum in May 2008. [ [http://www.rp.pl/artykul/135379.html Odkryta kartoteka zbrodniarzy] , "Rzeczpospolita", 17-05-2008]

ee also

*Military description of the Warsaw Uprising
*Nazi crimes against ethnic Poles
*Ochota massacre - August 1944 atrocities in Ochota district of Warsaw, committed mostly by Russian collaborators led by Bronislaw Kaminski


External links

* [http://stosstruppen39-45.tripod.com/id6.html Waffen-SS im Einsatz: The Rape of Warsaw]
* [http://www.warsawuprising.com/witness/atrocities3.htm Witness testimony on German massacre of Polish hospital patients]
* [http://www.warsawuprising.com/witness/atrocities4.htm Witness testimony on German massacre of Polish civilians in Wola]
*de icon [http://wissen.spiegel.de/wissen/dokument/dokument.html?id=45140332&top=SPIEGEL Nacht über Wola] , "Der Spiegel"

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Massacre de Wola — Le mémorial avec la liste des sites Le massacre de Wola désigne le meurtre de plusieurs milliers de Polonais du 5 au 8 août 1944, dans le district de Wola, à Varsovie, par la Wehrmacht, lors de l insurrection de Varsovie. Il est considéré comme… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Massacre in Ciepielów — on 8 September 1939 was one of the largest and best documented war crimes of the Wehrmacht during its Invasion of Poland. On September 8, 1939, after the Invasion of Poland, the village of Dąbrowa (near Ciepielów) was the site of a mass murder of …   Wikipedia

  • Massacre of Brzostowica Mała — occurred on September 18, 1939, during the Polish September Campaign, in the village of Brzostowica Mała, which is now located in Belarus. It was a mass murder of Polish inhabitants of the village who lived there, organized by pro communist… …   Wikipedia

  • Massacre of Wola Ostrowiecka — The mass grave discovered during the second exhumation in Wola Ostrowiecka (August 2011) Massacre of Wola Ostrowiecka was a mass murder of Polish inhabitants of a Volhynian village of Wola Ostrowiecka, located in the prewar gmina Huszcza, Luboml… …   Wikipedia

  • Massacre of Ostrówki — The second exhumation in Ostrówki (August 2011) Massacre of Ostrówki was a mass murder of Polish inhabitants of a Volhynian village of Ostrówki, located in the interbellum in the gmina of Huszcza, Luboml county, Volhynian Voivodeship of the… …   Wikipedia

  • Wola (Pologne) — 52°14′0″N 20°57′26″E / 52.23333, 20.95722 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Massacre of Lviv professors — Unveiling of a new monument at the place of execution at Wuleckie Hills on July 3, 2011 …   Wikipedia

  • Wola — Infobox Warsaw name=Wola no diacrite=Wola area=19,26 population=143 996 (2003) density=7476 mayor=Marek Andruk landmarks=Powązki Cemetery website=http://www.wola.waw.pl/ : For other meanings of the word, see WOLA. Wola is a district in western… …   Wikipedia

  • Ochota massacre — (in Polish: Rzeź Ochoty Ochota slaughter ) a wave of mass murders, robbery, looting, arson, and rape, which swept across the Warsaw district Ochota during August 4–25, 1944. The gravest crimes were committed in Ochota hospitals, in the Radium… …   Wikipedia

  • Katyn massacre — This article is about the 1940 massacre of Polish officers. For the 1943 massacre of Belarusian civilians, see Khatyn massacre. Katyn Kharkiv Mednoye memorial The Katyn massacre, also known as the Katyn Forest massacre (Polish …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.