Thursday, August 5, 2021

Fifth day of Warsaw Uprising, Wola Massacre


 The Wola massacre was the systematic killing of between 70,000 and 90,000 Polish civilians in the Wola suburb of Poland's capital city, Warsaw, by German Wehrmacht and its collaborators like the Azerbaijani Legion, and mostly-Russian RONA forces. The massacre was ordered by Hitler, who directed to kill "anything that moves" to stop the Warsaw Uprising soon after it began.

The murder of the defenseless Poles was a deliberate, previously agreed action, and the order came from the very top - Hitler issued it, probably only verbally. However, in his notes, Himmler registered Fürer’s will: “Every inhabitant must be killed, no prisoners may be taken. Warsaw is to be razed to the ground and in such a way so serves as an intimidating example for the whole of Europe”. 

Himmler later told his commanders: “Kill whomever you choose, as you please.”

The killing of the civilian population by the Germans started almost from the first hours of the Uprising. The terror intensified with each passing day. It quickly reached the apogee - on August 5 in the so-called “Black Saturday,” when up to 30,000 people died.

On August 4, new units that were to suppress the Uprising arrived in Warsaw - the battalion of the SS regiment “Dirlewanger”, companies of the SS and Wehrmacht that were sent from Poznań, and the 608th infantry regiment of Colonel Schmidt and a battalion of students of the officer school in Poznań. Additionally, several companies of German police from various cities were sent in. They were commanded by Major General Heinz Reinefarth.

Maciej Żuczkowski from the Historical Research Bureau of the Institute of National Remembrance writes:

- Initially, civilians were murdered in apartments, cellars, in the courtyards of tenement houses, and in the streets. Many times the Germans set fire to blocks of flats and shot the escaping people with machine guns. In this way died, the residents of the so-called Hankiewicz’s houses on Wolska Street (about 2,000 victims). Later, the Germans changed their tactics. Civilians from nearby houses were herded to a few selected places, and only there were they murdered. On “Black Saturday” August 5, the largest mass executions took place: near the railway workshop halls, in the Orthodox cemetery, in Sowiński Park, in paper products factory (between 4 and 6 thousand victims), and in the “Ursus” factory (between 6 and 8 thousand victims).

It is impossible to establish the exact number of all murdered people. Germans destroyed all evidence. They murdered entire multi-generational families or all the inhabitants of a given tenement house, so there was no one left who could later pass on how many family members or how many neighbors he had lost. Although thousands of people have been identified - by discovering mass graves or thanks to oral testimonies of a few survivors, many thousands of victims of German occupiers still remain unnamed.


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