Uprising in Poland - History

Uprising in Poland - History


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After Poland was partitioned for the second time, the Poles led by Thaddeus Kosciusko rose up against the Russians. The Polish achieved an initial victory at Raclawice, but soon the Russians gained the upper hand and captured Kracow. The Russians besieged Warsaw, and although the Poles defended Warsaw brilliantly. In October, Kosciusko was captured and this effectively ended the uprising.

Warsaw Ghetto uprising ends

In Poland, the Warsaw Ghetto uprising comes to an end as Nazi soldiers gain control of Warsaw’s Jewish ghetto, blowing up the last remaining synagogue and beginning the mass deportation of the ghetto’s remaining dwellers to the Treblinka extermination camp.

Shortly after the German occupation of Poland began, the Nazis forced the city’s Jewish citizens into a “ghetto” surrounded by barbed wire and armed SS guards. The Warsaw Ghetto had an area of only 840 acres but soon held almost 500,000 Jews in deplorable conditions. Disease and starvation killed thousands every month, and beginning in July 1942, 6,000 Jews a day were transferred to the Treblinka concentration camp. Although the Nazis assured the remaining Jews that their relatives and friends were being sent to work camps, word soon reached the ghetto that deportation to the camp meant extermination. An underground resistance group was established in the ghetto—the Jewish Combat Organization (ZOB)𠅊nd limited arms were acquired at great cost.

On January 18, 1943, when the Nazis entered the ghetto to prepare a group for transfer, a ZOB unit ambushed them. Fighting lasted for several days, and a number of German soldiers were killed before they withdrew. On April 19, Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler announced that the ghetto was to be cleared out in honor of Hitler’s birthday the following day, and more than 1,000 SS soldiers entered the confines with tanks and heavy artillery. Although many of the ghetto’s remaining 60,000 Jewish dwellers attempted to hide themselves in secret bunkers, more than 1,000 ZOB members met the Germans with gunfire and homemade bombs. Suffering moderate casualties, the Germans initially withdrew but soon returned, and on April 24 they launched an all-out attack against the Warsaw Jews. Thousands were slaughtered as the Germans systematically moved down the ghetto, blowing up buildings one by one. The ZOB took to the sewers to continue the fight, but on May 8 their command bunker fell to the Germans, and their resistance leaders committed suicide. By May 16, the ghetto was firmly under Nazi control, and mass deportation of the last Warsaw Jews to Treblinka began.


Remembering the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

In late 1940, more than a year after the German invasion of Poland, Nazi high command began the forced migration of the country’s 3 million Jews into a series of urban ghettoes. In Warsaw, the country’s capital, more than 400,000 were relocated to a 1.3-sqaure-mile corner of the city, where a newly installed 10-foot-high wall topped with barbed wire surrounded them. By the end of the year, 30 percent of Warsaw’s pre-war population was occupying less than three percent of the city’s territory. All communication with the outside world was cut off radios were confiscated, telephone lines were cut and mail was heavily censored. Jews were forbidden to leave the ghetto and anyone caught outside its confines was executed. Living conditions inside were horrific. Individuals received rations of less than 200 calories per day, leaving many on the verge of starvation. Denied access to their previous jobs, unemployment was rampant, with smuggling goods from non-ghetto parts of Warsaw one of the only means of employment. Sewage was rarely collected and overflowed into the streets, and with most medical care cut off it wasn’t long before a series of deadly epidemics, including typhus, broke out in the cramped, squalid streets. Within two years, nearly 100,000 had died, a quarter of the ghetto’s population.

Despite these hardships, the Jewish community attempted to maintain some semblance of normalcy, establishing new schools libraries social organizations that attempted to feed, clothe and care for the ill and even an underground symphony orchestra. As in other ghettoes𠅊nd later concentration camps—life in the ghetto was administered by a judenrat, or council of elders, installed by Nazi officials and often complicit in collaborating with their occupiers. In July 1942, the leaders of the Warsaw judenrat were informed of a new Nazi policy that would remove thousands of Jews from the ghetto for resettlement in the East. Unaware that the policy, officially known as Grossaktion Warsaw, would actually send these Jews to the newly completed Treblinka death camp, judenrat officials began compiling a list of names for the first transports. That summer, word began to seep back to the ghetto of the Nazi’s true intentions, Adam Czerniaków, the head of the judenrat, committed suicide. The Nazis chose July 23, a Jewish holiday commemorating the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, as the start of the mass deportations𠅊nd by September 21 (Yom Kippur) between 250,000 and 300,000 Jews had met their deaths in Treblinka or been sent to forced labor camps, leaving fewer than 60,000 Jews in the ghetto.

That summer, even before the true horrors of the Nazi’s plans were fully apparent, several underground resistance groups had formed, including the Jewish Military Unit (ZZW) and Jewish Combat Organization (ZOB). With a combined membership of fewer than 1,000 and a small cache of weapons (some acquired from Polish resistance groups outside Warsaw, but many homemade), they resolved to fight any future deportations. On January 18, 1943, a small squadron of resistance leaders was smuggled into a group of Jews awaiting the second round of deportations, and opened fire on their Nazi captors. The ZZW and ZOB lost several men and more than 5,000 Jews were deported, but German officers, surprised by the resistance, suspended operations early. This initial “victory” inspired hundreds of others to join the armed revolt—seemingly overnight a subterranean world that connected the city’s sewers and alleyways with hastily assembled bunkers and fighting posts was erected. Led by 24-year-old ZOB head Mordecai Anielewicz, the insurgents executed Nazi collaborators and prepared for what they were now certain would be a final German push to liquidate all Jews remaining in the ghetto.

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began in earnest on April 19, the day before the start of Passover, when SS units arriving for the final deportations were greeted by an ambush. Insurgents set fire to German tanks, hurled handmade grenades and Molotov cocktails at advancing troops and managed to stall the SS advance before finally forcing them to retreat. In a symbolic display, two young Jewish fighters raised both the Polish national flag and a hastily created flag of one of the resistance groups from the top of an occupied building. Ordered to destroy the insurgency and level the ghetto for good, more than 2,000 forces swarmed into the ghetto, including Waffen-SS and Wehrmacht units, non-Jewish Polish soldiers and even a group of Jewish police. Armed with heavy artillery and armored vehicles, they spent the next several days systematically destroying parts of the ghetto, building by building, flushing out resistance fighters who were killed or captured. Chaos reigned in the ghetto’s underground warren, which was soon filled with fire, smoke and debris. More than 6,000 Jews would die there, while dozens of small clashes went on above. By early May, it was clear that end of the uprising was imminent. A number of resistance leaders managed to escape from the city, but others stood their ground, including ZOB leader Mordecai Anielewicz. On May 8, Anielewicz and several others died under murky circumstances—it remains unclear if they committed mass suicide to evade capture or were killed by German forces. Sporadic fighting continued on for another week, until the last of the insurgents were rounded up.

Of the more than 50,000 Jews captured during the uprising, 14,000 were either executed immediately or killed upon arrival at Treblinka. The remaining prisoners were sent to a number of concentration camps, where by the end of the war all but few thousand were dead, along with the 6 million other Jews and another 6 million non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Still, the doomed resistance of Warsaw’s Jews inspired similar uprisings in other ghettoes and concentration camps. In August 1943, 1,000 inmates at Treblinka, possibly including fighters recently arrived from Warsaw, staged an armed revolt that, while eventually crushed, allowed dozens of prisoners to escape. A year later, the Polish resistance Home Army led an even larger revolt in the non-Jewish quarters of the city, which despite little support held out for more than two months against German troops before finally collapsing.

The bravery of the men, women and children of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising has inspired a number of books, songs and films. The 2002 Academy-Award winning film, The Pianist, tells the true-life tale of musician Wladyslaw Szpilman’s escape from the ghetto and was directed by Roman Polanksi, who had lost his entire family in the Holocaust and himself had managed to escape from the Krakow ghetto. In 2010, a new documentary, A Film Unfinished, explored the history of an never-completed Nazi propaganda film of a highly fictionalized version of life in the ghetto in the weeks before the uprising, meant to convince the world of the Nazi’s “humane” treatment of the Jews. And today, Lohamei HaGeta’ot (“Ghetto Fighters”), a kibbutz in northern Israel, remains in operation more than 70 years after it was founded by a group of Warsaw Ghetto Uprising survivors.

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How the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Inspired Rebellion in a Nazi Death Camp

Rudolf Masaryk didn’t have long to live, but for now he was fighting with all of his life. As he stood on top of a roof in the burning Treblinka concentration camp, he yelled down toward the Nazi guards he was shooting at.

“This is for my wife and my child who never saw the world!,” he yelled.

Hours later, Masaryk was dead along with most of the other prisoners of the Treblinka death camp who rose up against their Nazi captors in August 1943. And if Masaryk’s story sounds like it could have come out of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising a few months earlier, that’s not by mistake. The uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto helped inspire Treblinka’s lesser-known revolt𠅊 brave final stand that, like the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, had deadly consequences for its fighters.

As news of the April 1943 Warsaw Ghetto revolt made its way across Europe, it inspired resistance in the Holocaust’s second deadliest camp, Treblinka. Though the two uprisings were not planned by the same group of conspirators, they were connected𠅊nd both represent the wave of hope and resistance that spread through occupied Poland during the height of the Holocaust.

Located just 50 miles northeast of Warsaw, Treblinka had been in operation since 1941, first as a forced labor camp and then as a death camp. In just three months in 1942,around 265,000 Jews living in the Warsaw ghetto were taken to Treblinka and killed in gas chambers there. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was planned in part as a response to this wave of transports and murders.

Jews that were captured during the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, about to be searched for weapons before being moved to Treblinka. 

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration, College Park

Treblinka was different than most other Nazi camps. Its purpose wasn’t to enslave Jews and others on behalf of the German war machine—its purpose was to kill. However, about 1,000 Jews were kept alive to run Treblinka’s terrible machinery of death.

By the time the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began on April 19, 1943, the Germans were on the run throughout Europe. A long string of defeats, most notably the loss of theBattle of Stalingrad, had weakened the Third Reich’s army and made it clear that the Nazis would soon be forced to flee Poland. The inmates of Treblinka worried that they𠆝 be caught up in a German retreat from Poland and murdered as the Nazis tried to cover up all traces of their crimes.

As news of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising𠅊nd prisoners swept up in the Nazis’ dragnet in Warsaw𠅊rrived at the camp, hope began to surge. A small group of prisoners that called themselves “The Organizing Committee” had been considering a rebellion for over a year, but they were thwarted when Julian Chorazycki, a Jewish doctor who helped run an infirmary for SS officers at Treblinka, was discovered with a large sum of money he planned to use to purchase weapons for a revolt inside the camp. Rather than give up the names of his co-conspirators, Chorazycki swallowed poison and died.

The conspirators’ cover had almost been blown, so they decided to lay low. Meanwhile, about 7,000 Jews who had been captured by the Nazis during the Warsaw Ghetto uprising were taken to Treblinka and murdered upon arrival. The conspirators, buoyed by news of the Warsaw Ghetto’s resistance to the Nazis, found a new leader: Berek Lajher, a Jewish doctor and retired Polish Army officer who was put in charge of the SS infirmary after Chorazycki’s death.

It now looked as if it would be impossible to get arms from outside the camp. The prisoners were isolated, under careful watch by Nazi guards, and entirely cut off from the outside world. But the Organizing Committee had an ace up its sleeve: a clandestine imprint of a key to the camp arsenal.

They had another weapon—their determination. “[Their] task was to avenge at least to some extent the millions of innocent people executed,”testified Samuel Rajzman, one of the camp’s few survivors, after the war. “They dreamed of setting fire to the whole camp and exterminating at least the cruelest engines at the price of their own lives.”

Smoke from the Treblinka uprising, as seen from a railroad worker. 

On August 2, 1943𠅊 day without gas chamber operations—the rebellion began. The conspirators took advantage of construction work near the arsenal to sneak inside and steal 20 hand grenades, 20 rifles, and a few handguns. Then they awaited the signal: a single gunshot.

Their plan was almost ruined when a German guard discovered that two of the conspirators were carrying money they planned to use once they escaped the camp. He stripped off their clothing and began to beat them. Worried that the men would reveal the names of the conspirators, another prisonershot the guard with one of the stolen guns.

Thinking the signal had been fired, the conspirators sprang into action. They turned against the Nazi guards, lobbing grenades and shooting SS officers. A man usually assigned to spread disinfectant around the camp had used a hose to douse a large portion of the camp with gasoline. As chaos erupted throughout the camp, Treblinka burst into flames.

Up to 300 people are thought to have escaped Treblinka in the pandemonium that ensued. As fire engulfed the camp, blowing up the arsenal and consuming almost everything but the gas chambers, people swarmed over and through barbed wire fences and ran for their lives.

Most of the members of the Organizing Committee died that day, but not before killing about 40 guards. The prisoners who escaped were largely hunted down by the Nazis, who chased them in cars and on horses. Escapees hid in nearby forests and nursed their wounds.

Holocaust survivor Samuel Willenberg displays a map of Treblinka extermination camp during an interview in his home in Tel Aviv, Israel, 2010.

One of them was Samuel Willenberg, whoyelled “Hell has been burnt!” as he stood, shell shocked, in a nearby forest after escaping. Willenbergdied in 2016—the last living survivor of Treblinka.

Others weren’t that lucky. Only about 70 of the 300 or so people who escaped Treblinka survived the war. The others were punished along with those who did not try to run. The Nazis forced them to tear down the remainder of the camp, then murdered them all.

The Treblinka revolt wasn’t the only death camp uprising: a similar rebellion in nearby Sobibor𠅊lso inspired by the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising—led to that camp’s destruction and closure, too. These revolts weren’t just symbolic. The survivors were able to provide critical information about the camps, from their layout to who worked there to how they functioned, the Times of Israelnotes. The few who survived Treblinka spent the rest of their lives telling their stories𠅊nd reliving their trauma so that others might never go through a similar experience.


If you are interested in Polish history, there is a good chance that you have heard about the partitions. You may also have heard about the November Uprising, which began on 29 November 1830. And if you dig deeper into the subject, you will read that the uprising broke out in the Kingdom of Poland. But wait a second: there was no Poland at that time. Where does the Kingdom of Poland come from? And why did the Poles rise up if they had their own country? Unfortunately, as usual, Polish history is complicated – so let’s try to get to the bottom of it.

What were the partitions like in practice?

At the end of the 18th century, Poland was divided into three parts between the partitioners: Russia, Prussia and Austria. The period of partitions lasted 123 years. However, this was not a single, unified period – the political situation of individual areas depended on which partition it was in. In simple terms, the least repression was in the Austrian partition. For example, Poles could use their language in administration and education. In the Prussian partition, there was a policy of germanisation, and the cultivation of Polish traditions and language was blocked by the authorities. In the Russian partition, the situation was complex. At different times there was a different approach to the Polish issue, from the relatively liberal to the extremely restrictive aimed at rooting out Polishness.

Where did the Kingdom of Poland come from and was it really ‘Polish’?

During the partitions, in the area previously belonging to Poland, marionette countries were created, which for some Poles were a stage to full independence. During Napoleon's victories, the Duchy of Warsaw was established (1807-1815), which was formally independent, but in reality was subordinate to the French Empire. For many Poles it offered hope of liberation from foreign power. Therefore, many Polish soldiers fought alongside Napoleon, including the famous Polish Legions in Italy under the command of Henryk Dąbrowski. It is from his name that the Polish national anthem, the Mazurek Dąbrowskiego, comes.

After the defeat of Napoleon, the Congress of Vienna established the Kingdom of Poland, also called the Congress Kingdom. In practice, it was dependent on the Russian Empire, but many freedoms were guaranteed: its own constitution, parliament, army, currency and schools. It was during the Kingdom of Poland that the University of Warsaw was created. However, the Russian Emperor was always the king, and Russia controlled its foreign policy. It was therefore a period in which Polish culture and science could develop, but the state was not independent.

Why did the Poles start an uprising if the Kingdom of Poland guaranteed them many freedoms?

No freedoms could obscure the fact that the Russian tsar remained the king of Poland. Furthermore, the Kingdom of Poland was created as a result of an agreement between the partitioning powers and not the sovereign decision of the Polish nation. As always, opinions among Poles were divided. Some thought that they should cooperate with the Russians to use the liberties they had gained for the good of Poland and to wait until a more opportune moment in history. However, many Poles did not want to wait and decided that the time had already arrived. Why? First of all, the liberties guaranteed in the constitution of 1815 were often broken. The situation was aggravated by the brutal behaviour of the tsar's viceroy and, at the same time, the tsar's brother, the Grand Duke Constantine. In addition, a large number of secret societies and patriotic organisations were formed, which were repressed by the tsarist administration. Insurgent spirits were fuelled by information about successful uprisings in Greece and Belgium, and also about the July revolution in Paris. For this reason, the tsar was planning an armed intervention in Paris and Belgium with Polish troops. Of course, the Poles wanted to take no part in it.

What happened in the November Uprising? Did the Poles have any chance?

The November Uprising lasted almost a year – from November 1830 to October 1831. It covered the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania and parts of Ukraine and Belarus. During the uprising, dozens of battles took place. One of the most famous was the unresolved battle at Olszynka Grochowska (today in Warsaw). The uprising broke out in Warsaw on the night of November 29-30, today known as the November Night. From today's perspective, many historians believe that the uprising had a chance of success. Unfortunately, the insurgency was split into various factions: some wanted a settlement with the tsar, others wanted the whole nation to join in to include peasants, while others were against the abolition of serfdom, which discouraged the peasants from supporting the uprising. Seemingly experienced military commanders proved to be inept and did not believe in victory. Unfortunately, Western countries also had a negative attitude towards the uprising. Russia’s military advantage should also be borne in mind, as it was significant. All these reasons led to the failure of the uprising.

What were the consequences for the Poles?

Unfortunately, the repressions after the November Uprising were very severe. Those who took part were sentenced to death or sent to Siberia. The tsar abolished the previous freedoms. The Polish army was incorporated into the Russian army, where compulsory military service lasted 25 years. The Polish parliament and administration were liquidated, and later also the Polish system of money, weights and measures. Poland was also required to pay a high tribute. The Great Emigration began – many important artists and activists had to leave the country. It was during this emigration after the November Uprising that the most famous Polish poet, Adam Mickiewicz, wrote the national epic Pan Tadeusz.

As usual, opinions are divided. The Poles suffered huge consequences due to the uprising, which were felt indirectly right up to independence. In 1863, the January uprising broke out, which also failed. Nevertheless, the Poles did not lose their faith in the sense of fighting for independence. The memory of the uprisings was nurtured and helped future generations to strive to regain independence, which happened finally in 1918.


Treblinka

In July 1942, Heinrich Himmler, the head of the Nazi paramilitary corps known as the Shutzstaffel (SS), ordered that Jews be “resettled” to extermination camps. The Jews were told they were being transported to work camps however, word soon reached the ghetto that deportation to the camps meant death.

Two months later, some 265,000 Jews had been deported from the Warsaw ghetto to the Treblinka extermination camp, while more than 20,000 others were sent to a forced-labor camp or killed during the deportation process.

An estimated 55,000 to 60,000 Jews remained in the Warsaw ghetto, and small groups of these survivors formed underground self-defense units such as the Jewish Combat Organization, or ZOB, which managed to smuggle in a limited supply of weapons from anti-Nazi Poles.

On January 18, 1943, when the Nazis entered the ghetto to prepare a group for transfer to a camp, a ZOB unit ambushed them. Fighting lasted for several days before the Germans withdrew. Afterward, the Nazis suspended deportations from the Warsaw ghetto for the next few months.

Did you know? On August 2, 1943, some 1,000 Jewish prisoners at Treblinka seized weapons from the camp&aposs armory and staged a revolt. Several hundred inmates escaped however, many were recaptured and executed.


Polish History – Wielkopolska Uprising of 1918

Since 1795 – when it was carved up by Romanov Russia, Hohenzollern Prussia, and Habsburg Austria – Poland had been off the map and ceased to exist as an independent country. Poznań enjoyed brief freedom when Napoleon’s conquering troops liberated much of Poland during their march east in 1806 but Napoleon’s military disaster on the plains of Russia resulted in the 1815 Congress of Vienna, which saw Poznań delivered back into Prussian hands where it would remain for over a century.

In the end of 1918, with Europe reeling after the Great War, with the imperial Germany defeated, and with Russia plunging into revolutionary chaos the Polish patriotic fervor once more came up to the surface. The overwhelmingly Polish inhabitants of Poznań could sense that their independence was near but there remained one crucial point: to German intransigence to relinquish the Wielkopolska region. Woodrow Wilson’s plans for an independent Poland had failed to set her boundaries and although Warsaw was already in the hands of a Polish government, Poznań was still ruled from Berlin. Ever since the Kaiser’s abdication on November 9, 1918, Poznań’s Poles had been plotting an uprising. Positions in local government and industry were forcibly seized by Poles and the countdown was on for the outright war.

Following weeks of tension the fuse was finally lit on December 27th. The historical accounts differ on how the Uprising started some sources claim it was the shooting of Franciszek Ratajczak and Antoni Andrzejewski on the steps of the police headquarters that started the initial fighting, but most point to a stirring speech given by a famous pianist and a great patriot, Ignacy Jan Paderewski, on the balcony of the Bazar Hotel.

While Paderewski was addressing a dense Polish crowd assembled below the Bazar Hotel balcony a German counter-demonstration passed by and within moments the shots had been fired and the Wielkopolska Uprising had begun. Historians disagree which side started the hostilities but either way there was no turning back the clock. Within hours the Polish forces had captured the Poznań train station and the post office while other towns in the region joined them in rebellion.

Under the temporary charge of Stanisław Taczak, the Polish forces scored swift successes against German troops which exhausted by four years of world war. Soon the Poles liberated neighboring Kórnik and Mogilno but strong enemy counter-attacks suggested a stiffening German resolve. Fighting continued and by January the situation was out of hand. To save the Wielkopolska region from total anarchy the provisional government (Naczelna Rada Ludowa) took charge of all civil and military issues conscripting all Polish men born between 1897 and 1899 into military service. Taking their oaths of allegiance the Wielkopolska troops continued to march into increasingly fierce battles against their German counterparts.

Thankfully, peace was just around the corner due in no small part to French intervention. The 14 th of February, 1919 saw the beginning of the international peace talks and within two days the French delegation had persuaded their German counterparts to sign an extension of the Allied-German armistice – this time including the Wielkopolska front. Sporadic fighting continued for the next few days, but to all intents and purposes, Poznań, and with it most of the Wielkopolska region, was liberated from the German rule.

In August of 1919 the Wielkopolska Province was incorporated into the Republic of Poland.

Powstanie Wielkopolskie – 1918

Źródło: Wojewódzka Biblioteka Publiczna i Centrum Animacji Kultury w Poznaniu

Po upadku Powstania Styczniowego w regionie działały dwie organizacje paramilitarne, których członkowie swoje zajęcia wykorzystywali do przygotowań zbrojnych: Towarzystwo Gimnastyczne „Sokół”, a później także skauting. Pod koniec XIX w. wyrosło już nowe pokolenie, wychowane patriotycznie, nie obciążone doświadczeniami klęski, gotowe do czynnej walki o wolność.

Coraz wyraźniejsza klęska Niemiec na froncie zachodnim I wojny światowej ożywiła konspiratorów wielkopolskich. Na podstawie skautingu powstała tajna Polska Organizacja Wojskowa Zaboru Pruskiego. Po wybuchu rewolucji w Niemczech w listopadzie 1918 r. cały region został pokryty siecią rad robotniczych i żołnierskich, przystąpiono też do tworzenia Straży Ludowej oraz Służby Straży i Bezpieczeństwa. W pierwszych dniach grudnia 1918 r. w Poznaniu obradował Sejm Dzielnicowy, który wyłonił Naczelną Radę Ludową.

Do wybuchu walk w Poznaniu doszło 27 XII 1918 r., w wyniku gwałtownego wzrostu nastrojów patriotycznych po przyjeździe w poprzednim dniu polskiego muzyka i patrioty, Ignacego Jana Paderewskiego. Spontaniczne, początkowo chaotyczne walki stopniowo ujmowano w ramy organizacyjne. Miasto zostało opanowane przez powstańców, podobne wydarzenia miały miejsce także w terenie. Dowódcą oddziałów powstańczych został mjr Stanisław Taczak. Determinacja i pomysłowość polskich żołnierzy oraz zaskoczenie strony niemieckiej sprawiły, że w ciągu pierwszych dwóch tygodni stycznia 1919 r. niemal cały region znalazł się w rękach powstańczych.

W połowie stycznia do Poznania przybył gen. Józef Dowbor-Muśnicki, który oddziały powstańcze przeformował w regularne wojsko. Wtedy jednak trzeba było walczyć o zachowanie zdobytych terenów. Ciężkie walki toczyły się zwłaszcza pod Szubinem, Rawiczem i Zbąszyniem. Łącznie poległo ok. 2000 uczestników powstania.

W dniu 16 II 1919 r. w Trewirze zawarto rozejm kończący walki powstańcze w Wielkopolsce. W wyniku postanowień traktatu pokojowego, zawartego w kilka miesięcy później w Wersalu, obszar zdobyty przez powstańców został przyłączony do odrodzonej Rzeczypospolitej. Zanim jednak do tego doszło, przez kilka kolejnych miesięcy region funkcjonował jak oddzielne, niezależne państwo, z własnym rządem, wojskiem i gospodarką.

Powodzenie powstania było wynikiem umiejętnego wykorzystania sprzyjających okoliczności, a także wychowania kilku pokoleń w duchu połączenia patriotyzmu z pracą organiczną.

Żołnierze z Wielkopolski w latach 1919-20 dzielnie uczestniczyli w odsieczy Lwowa, w walkach na froncie litewsko-białoruskim, a później w wojnie polsko-bolszewickiej.


Polish History – 186 years ago the November uprising

On the night of 29th of November, 1830 the November Uprising had started in Warsaw. It was a fight for Polish independence directed against the Russian occupiers. For ten months 140 thousand soldiers have fought the greatest military power in Europe with varied degree of success. Begun on a November night the uprising was the largest effort in the Polish armed liberation struggles of the nineteenth century.

The outbreak of the November Uprising was preceded by the creation in 1828 of a secret conspiracy headed by Lt. Piotr Wysocki at the School of Infantry in Warsaw. The creation of the organization was a consequence of the deteriorating political situation in the Polish Kingdom. The conspiracy, numbering about 200 members and having additional links to the local student community, began preparing for an armed uprising. The conspirators intended to take control of the capital and immediately transfer the power to the politicians trusted by inhabitants of the city. This was the reason why the Wysocki conspiracy did not create any clear socio-political program and made no plans to take power once the uprising has started.

The year 1830 brought in Warsaw large increases in food prices and higher unemployment causing an increased radicalization of Polish workers and craftsmen and leading to minor riots and even strikes in the capital. This situation affected the attitude of the conspirators. They started to count on the support of Warsaw civilians at the start of the fighting.

The events that took place in Europe also had an impact on the increase of tension in the Polish Kingdom and, consequently, on the outbreak of the uprising. In July a revolution broke out in France. In August the Belgians began fighting for their independence from the Netherlands. These insurrections, as contrary to the findings of the Congress of Vienna, led Tsar Nicholas I to start preparations for armed intervention against Belgium and possibly France.

The announcement on the 19th of November of the increased combat readiness order for the Russian army and the Polish troops (under the Russian command) strongly influenced the leaders of the Wysocki conspiracy. They decided to take immediate action to start the uprising. This reaction was caused not only by the apprehension of the fight along the Russians against the French and the Belgians. According to historians, the conspirators guessed that the proposed war expedition was a smokescreen for introduction into the Polish Kingdom of troops from Russia to pacify the country, to abolish the constitution, and to liquidate the Polish Army. In addition, some members of the conspiracy knew that the police has detected some of their cells and they may soon be arrested.

The uprising was scheduled for November the 29th at 6pm. The start of the “November Night” was thus described by lieutenant Piotr Wysocki: “About six o’clock a mark for simultaneous commencement of hostilities was given by burning of the Solec brewery in the vicinity of the Russian cavalry barracks. The Polish troops moved from their barracks to the indicated positions. I hurried to the barracks of the cadets. In the hall a tactics lecture was taking place. Running into the hall I called out to the brave young people: “Poles! This is the hour of revenge! Today we will die or win! Let’s go! Let your breasts be the Thermopylae for your enemies!” Hearing this speech and my booming voice “To arms! To arms! ” the youth grabbed their rifles, loaded them and like lightning rushed after their commander. There were a hundred and sixty of us.”

On the night of 29th of November the conspirators failed to implement all their plans. A group of conspirators led by Ludwik Nabielak and Seweryn Goszczyński attacked the Belvedere, the residence of the Grand Duke Constantine, but failed to capture him. Some of the conspirators did not see the signal of the brewery burning signal and therefore did not take the action or did so belatedly. Instead the fire alerted the Russian troops. At that time there were 6.5 thousand Russian and 9.8 thousand Polish soldiers stationed in Warsaw.

The cadets from the Lazienki Barracks after a short battle with numerically superior Russian troops had to break through toward the Three Crosses Square. Walking along the Nowy Swiat and Krakowskie Przedmieście streets which were inhabited by the rich bourgeoisie and the aristocracy they allegedly shouted, “To arms, Poles!” But their response was merely closing of doors and shutters. The senior Polish officers encountered by the conspirators refused to participate in the “youthful brawl” and did not want to take control of the uprising. Some of them paid for their opposition with death. On that November night six Polish generals died at the hands of the conspirators : Maurycy Hauke, Stanislaw Trębicki, Stanislaw Potocki, Ignacy Blumer, Tomasz Siemiątkowski and Józef Nowicki along with several other senior Polish officers.

Lt. Wysocki was still counting on attracting to the uprising the Old City residents and therefore kept moving the insurgents towards the Arsenal. He also hoped that the junior officers belonging to the conspiracy manage to bring over most of the units of the Polish Army. Some of the regular Polish troops actually supported the uprising but many Polish units were confused and either took a neutral position or remained under the command of the Russian Grand Duke Constantine.
The turning point was taking over of Warsaw Arsenal by the people of Warsaw. This came about at 9pm with the participation of soldiers of the 4th Infantry Regiment. After midnight, the Polish Army units supporting the insurrection together with the armed civilians took over the area of the Old City, the Arsenal and the Powisle area, also controlling the Vistula bridges and the Praga suburb on the other side of the Vistula.

In turn, the Russian troops and the Polish units faithful to the Grand Duke Constantine were in the north around Broni Plaza and in the south around the Ujazdowskie Avenue where they were commanded by the Grand Duke himself. The neutral Polish units were standing on the squares: Bankowy, Saski, and Krasinski.

During the night the insurgents took over the Leszno quarter and the Bankowy and Saski squares. Next morning they had in their hands the entire city except the Broni Plaza and the Ujazdowskie Avenue. At that time Grand Duke Constantine decided against recapturing the capital and withdrew his faithful troops to Wierzbno.

On the 30th of November Warsaw was free but its inhabitants – divided. The most important question then was whether to take an open war with Russia or to seek a compromise with her.

The people of Warsaw argued for war. However, because of the lack of the government by the insurgents the Polish conservative politicians seized power. Their attempts to negotiate with the Grand Duke Constantine, undertaken by the Administrative Council which did not believe in the success of the uprising, have been torpedoed by the Patriotic Club composed of mainly of the intellectuals headed by Joachim Lelewel and Maurice Mochnacki.

As a result of pressure from the Club on December 3, 1830 the Provisional Government was proclaimed, headed by Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski and including Lelewel. Negotiations with Grand Duke Constantine were completed by the agreement the Polish units under his command would return to Warsaw while the duke himself together with the Russian troops will leave towards the border.

Thirty years after the end of the November Uprising an anniversary of its outbreak was an opportunity to organize a huge manifestation of the patriotic inhabitants of Warsaw. There they sang a song composed by Alojzy Feliński in honor of Tsar Alexander I, changing its words to “Our free homeland deign to return to us, Oh Lord.” The manifestation was associated with an increase of anti-Russian attitudes which resulted in the outbreak of yet another insurrection, the January Uprising of 1863.

186 lat temu wybuchło powstanie listopadowe

W nocy z 29 na 30 listopada 1830 r. w Warszawie rozpoczęło się powstanie listopadowe – zryw niepodległościowy skierowany przeciwko rosyjskiemu zaborcy. Przez 10 miesięcy 140 tys. ludzi prowadziło walkę z największą potęgą militarną Europy, odnosząc w niej poważne, lecz przejściowe sukcesy. Rozpoczęte w listopadową noc powstanie narodowe było największym wysiłkiem zbrojnym w polskich walkach wyzwoleńczych XIX wieku.

Wybuch powstania listopadowego poprzedziło utworzenie w 1828 roku tajnego sprzysiężenia w Szkole Podchorążych Piechoty w Warszawie, na czele którego stanął ppor. Piotr Wysocki. Powstanie organizacji było konsekwencją pogarszającej się sytuacji politycznej w Królestwie Polskim. Sprzysiężenie, liczące ok. 200 członków i mające kontakty ze środowiskiem studenckim, rozpoczęło przygotowywania do wystąpienia zbrojnego. Spiskowcy zamierzali opanować stolicę i oddać władzę w ręce polityków cieszących się zaufaniem społecznym. Dlatego też sprzysiężenie Wysockiego nie stworzyło wyraźnego programu społeczno-politycznego, ani nie przygotowało władz przyszłego powstania.

W nocy z 29 na 30 listopada spiskowcom nie udało się zrealizować wszystkich zamierzeń. Grupie spiskowców atakującej Belweder z Ludwikiem Nabielakiem i Sewerynem Goszczyńskim na czele nie powiodła się próba pojmania wielkiego księcia Konstantego

Rok 1830 przyniósł w Królestwie Polskim radykalizację nastrojów wśród robotników i rzemieślników, wynikającą m.in. ze wzrostu cen żywności i pojawiającego się bezrobocia. W stolicy dochodziło do drobnych rozruchów, a nawet strajków. Ta sytuacja wpłynęła na postawę spiskowców. Zaczęli oni liczyć na wsparcie warszawiaków w chwili rozpoczęcia walk.

Na wzrost napięcia w Królestwie Polskim, a w rezultacie również na wybuch powstania, duży wpływ miały także wydarzenia rozgrywające się w Europie. W lipcu wybuchła rewolucja we Francji, a w sierpniu Belgowie rozpoczęli walkę o niepodległość, której celem było oderwanie się od Holandii. Te wystąpienia, jako sprzeczne z ustaleniami Kongresu Wiedeńskiego, skłoniły cara Mikołaja I do rozpoczęcia przygotowań do zbrojnej interwencji przeciwko Belgii i ewentualnie Francji.

Ogłoszenie 19 i 20 listopada 1830 roku rozkazu stawiającego w stan pogotowia armię rosyjską i Wojsko Polskie zasadniczo wpłynęło na decyzję przywódców tajnej organizacji Wysockiego o podjęciu natychmiastowych działań w celu rozpoczęcia powstania. Reakcja ta wywołana była nie tylko obawą przed wspólną walką z żołnierzami rosyjskimi przeciwko Francuzom i Belgom. Zdaniem historyków spiskowcy domyślali się, że projektowana wyprawa wojenna stanowiła zasłonę dymną przed wprowadzeniem do Królestwa oddziałów rosyjskich celem pacyfikacji kraju, zniesieniu konstytucji i likwidacji Wojska Polskiego. Ponadto część członków sprzysiężenia zdawała sobie sprawę, że policja wykryła niektóre jego ogniwa i wkrótce nastąpić mogą aresztowania.

Wybuch powstania wyznaczono na 29 listopada na godz. 18. Początek nocy listopadowej tak opisywał ppor. Piotr Wysocki: “O godzinie szóstej dano znak jednoczesnego rozpoczęcia wszystkich działań wojennych przez zapalenie browaru na Solcu w bliskości koszar jazdy rosyjskiej. Wojska polskie ruszyły z koszar do wskazanych stanowisk. Ja pośpieszyłem do koszar podchorążych. W salonie podchorążych odbywała się wtenczas lekcja taktyki. Wbiegłszy do sali, zawołałem na dzielną młodzież: +Polacy! Wybiła godzina zemsty. Dziś umrzeć lub zwyciężyć potrzeba! Idźmy, a piersi wasze niech będą Termopilami dla wrogów!+. Na tę mowę i z dala grzmiący głos: +Do broni! Do broni!+, młodzież porwała karabiny, nabiła je i pędem błyskawicy skoczyła za dowódcą. Było nas stu sześćdziesięciu kilku!”.

W nocy z 29 na 30 listopada spiskowcom nie udało się zrealizować wszystkich zamierzeń. Grupie spiskowców atakującej Belweder z Ludwikiem Nabielakiem i Sewerynem Goszczyńskim na czele nie powiodła się próba pojmania wielkiego księcia Konstantego. Część konspiratorów nie widząc umówionego sygnału do rozpoczęcia walki, jakim było podpalenie browaru na Solcu, nie przystąpiła do działania lub uczyniła to z opóźnieniem. Pożar natomiast zaalarmował oddziały rosyjskie. W tym czasie w Warszawie stacjonowało 6,5 tys. żołnierzy rosyjskich i 9,8 tys. polskich.

Podchorążowie z Łazienek po krótkich walkach z przeważającymi liczebnie oddziałami rosyjskimi musieli przebijać się w stronę pl. Trzech Krzyży. Idąc przez Nowy Świat i Krakowskie Przedmieście zamieszkane przez bogate mieszczaństwo i arystokrację wznosili okrzyki “Do broni, Polacy!”, jednak reakcją na ich wezwania było jedynie zamykanie bram i okiennic. Napotykani przez spiskowców wyżsi oficerowie polscy odmawiali udziału w “młodzieńczej awanturze” i nie chcieli stanąć na czele powstania. Część z nich za swój sprzeciw zapłaciła śmiercią. W Noc Listopadową zginęło z rąk spiskowców sześciu polskich generałów: Maurycy Hauke, Stanisław Trębicki, Stanisław Potocki, Ignacy Blumer, Tomasz Siemiątkowski i Józef Nowicki oraz kilku innych polskich oficerów.

Piotr Wysocki wciąż jednak liczył na pozyskanie mieszkańców Starego Miasta, dlatego kierował się w stronę Arsenału. Miał także nadzieję, że oficerowie należący do sprzysiężenia zdołają przeciągnąć na stronę powstania większość oddziałów Wojska Polskiego. Część regularnych oddziałów polskich rzeczywiście opowiedziała się za powstaniem, jednak wiele polskich jednostek było zdezorientowanych i albo zajęło stanowisko neutralne albo pozostało pod komendą ks. Konstantego.
Momentem zwrotnym Nocy Listopadowej stało się zdobycie przez warszawski lud Arsenału. Nastąpiło to ok. godz. 21 przy współudziale żołnierzy 4. pułku piechoty. Po północy jednostki Wojska Polskiego popierające insurekcję razem z uzbrojonym ludem opanowały rejon Starego Miasta, Arsenału i Powiśla, kontrolując także mosty oraz Pragę.

Momentem zwrotnym Nocy Listopadowej stało się zdobycie przez warszawski lud Arsenału. Nastąpiło to ok. godz. 21 przy współudziale żołnierzy 4. pułku piechoty. Po północy jednostki Wojska Polskiego popierające insurekcję razem z uzbrojonym ludem opanowały rejon Starego Miasta, Arsenału i Powiśla, kontrolując także mosty oraz Pragę.

Z kolei oddziały rosyjskie i jednostki polskie wierne wielkiemu księciu Konstantemu znajdowały się na północy w okolicach pl. Broni oraz na południu w al. Ujazdowskich, gdzie dowodził sam ks. Konstanty. Neutralne jednostki polskie stały na placach: Bankowym, Saskim i Krasińskich.

W ciągu nocy powstańcy opanowywali kolejno: Leszno oraz place Bankowy i Saski. Ok. godz. 8 rano w ich rękach znajdowało się już całe miasto z wyjątkiem pl. Broni i al. Ujazdowskich. Wielki książę Konstanty nie zdecydował się na szturmowanie stolicy i wycofał wierne sobie oddziały do Wierzbna.

30 listopada Warszawa była wolna, ale jej społeczeństwo – podzielone. Najważniejszym wówczas pytaniem było, czy podejmować otwartą walkę z Rosją, czy też szukać z nią kompromisu.
Warszawski lud opowiadał się za walką. Jednak wobec braku rządu powstańczego władzę przejęli konserwatyści. Próby negocjacji z ks. Konstantym, podjęte przez Radę Administracyjną, która nie wierzyła w powodzenie powstania i liczyła na porozumienie z księciem, zostały storpedowane przez klub patriotyczny złożony głównie z inteligencji, na czele którego stanął Joachim Lelewel, a jednym z najaktywniejszych członków był Maurycy Mochnacki.

Na skutek nacisków klubu 3 grudnia 1830 roku powołano Rząd Tymczasowy, na czele którego stanął ks. Adam Jerzy Czartoryski, a w jego skład wszedł m.in. Lelewel. Rokowania z ks. Konstantym zakończono ustaleniem, iż znajdujące się przy nim jednostki polskie wrócą do Warszawy, natomiast sam książę razem z wojskami rosyjskimi odejdzie w stronę granicy.

30 lat po zakończeniu powstania rocznica jego wybuchu stała się okazją do organizacji wielkiej manifestacji patriotycznej mieszkańców Warszawy. Odśpiewano wówczas pieśń skomponowaną przez Alojzego Felińskiego na cześć cara Aleksandra I, zmieniając jej refren na: “Ojczyznę wolną racz nam wrócić Panie”. Manifestacja była jednym z wielu wystąpień, związanych ze wzrostem postaw antyrosyjskich, których wynikiem był wybuch w 1863 roku Powstania Styczniowego. (PAP)


The Holocaust: The Systematic Persecution Of Jews

The Holocaust, 1939-1945, was the “systematic persecution” of 6 million Jews. “By 1945, 2 out of every 3 european Jews were killed.” (“Introduction to the Holocaust”) Jews had always been hated and were blamed for many terrible things like the “Black Death” that killed thousands. Jews were scapegoats but they were also lied about. Propaganda spread about the Jewish. In 1900, people believed Jews would dominate the world “using their money and intelligence” to manipulate trusting civilians.&hellip


The 1956 Uprising

The Poznań Riots, or the '1956 Uprising' (because PL loves its Uprisings), was the first recognised strike and street demonstration in Communist Poland. Although brutally suppressed, this show of the people’s strength remains an intense source of pride for the local community, and though it would be another 33 years until the people of Poland would enjoy complete freedom from the Kremlin, the uprising led to a significant liberalisation of Soviet policy in Poland, and would act as a prelude to the 1980 Lenin Shipyard Strikes in Gdańsk that saw the birth of the Solidarity movement.

The death of comrade Stalin in 1953 provoked a certain degree of optimism among Poles, promising an end to the social and political terror associated with the Soviet Union’s hegemony of Central and Eastern Europe. Hopes were short-lived, however, as Nikita Khruschev’s address to the 20th Convention of the USSR’s Communist Party in 1956 spoke of strengthening socialism’s grip on the East, and of the dangers of individualism. Simmering with discontent the Polish media helped stir local discord and on June 28th strikes broke out in Poznań’s factories – first in the Stalin brick factory (later the ‘Hipolita Cegielskiego Factory’), before spreading to the city’s other major industrial plants. An estimated 100,000 workers descended on the Municipal National Council (now the Zamek building), chanting slogans like ‘Bread and Freedom’ and ‘Out with Bolshevism,’ while demanding lower prices, higher wages and a reduction in work quotas.

Tanks on the then 'Stalin Square', now named 'Plac Micikiewicza'. Photo: NAC. The 1956 Uprising Monument in Pl. Mickiewicza (then Stalin Square).