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Destroy Warsaw!: Hitler's Punishment, Stalin's Revenge [Hardcover]

Andrew Borowiec

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Book Description

30 Sep 2001
Written by a survivor of the Warsaw Uprising, this book examines the background of the ill-fated 63-day uprising that pitted poorly armed Polish civilians and volunteers against Hitler's well-armed and veteran forces. Borowiec also examines Stalin's decision to stand by while Warsaw and its defenders were destroyed. Borowiec provides a day-by-day account of the combat and the efforts to resupply the partisans by Allied aircraft. In this, the first English-language history of the Uprising, Borowiec relies on his own experiences, those of other participants, and other materials not usually available to Western scholars and researchers interested in World War II. His firsthand account brings those 63 days to life.

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First Sentence
In an atmosphere of increasing tension, the headquarters of the Polish underground organization known as the Home Army (Armia Krajowa- AK) faced a crucial dilemma: Should it or shouldn't it order the 48,000 members of the conspiracy to attack the German garrison and liberate Warsaw before the arrival of the Soviets? Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Addition to the Literature on this Controversial Subject 17 Oct 2007
By R. A Forczyk - Published on Amazon.com
Andrew Borowiec, a journalist for the Washington Times, provides an excellent short history of the Warsaw Uprising in Destroy Warsaw! Hitler's Punishment, Stalin's Revenge. Not only does the author write well and provide a scholarly-level of detail, but his personal participation as a Polish Home Army fighter adds great credibility. This book can be used as either a primer for those readers needing a introduction to this chapter in Polish history or for researchers as a reference. Overall, this is one of the better books on the 1944 Warsaw Uprising and adds a number of details not present in Norman Davies' better known book (Rising '44).

Destroy Warsaw consists of 12 chapters; the first five cover Poland's history of foreign occupation, the formation of the Polish resistance, German occupation policies, the Home Army (AK) and the destruction of the Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw in 1943. Once the stage is set, the author shifts in the sixth chapter into the overt phase of AK operations against the Germans in 1944 and the first contacts with the advancing Red Army. The Warsaw Uprising itself is covered in chapters 7-12, about 100 pages worth of narrative. The only weak aspect of this book are the two appendices, one providing a chronology and the other an order of battle. Both of these appear to be an afterthought and incomplete; for example, the chronology lists no dates between 5-31 August 1944, missing the Wola massacre among other important events. The OB lists units in almost random fashion and misses both major German and Polish units. A single simple sketch map of the city is provided, which shows very little detail. The bibliography is adequate, but short.

The author does a good job throughout the book intermixing first-person accounts with official sources and he adds light on several obscure topics. Unfortunately, he provides only the barest detail on his own experiences in the Uprising, which could have made this a much better book. He also pulls no punches, squarely pointing the blame for the failure of the Uprising at Stalin's plan to install a puppet communist government in Poland after the war and the unwillingness of the Anglo-Americans to stick their necks out for their Polish allies. Overall, this is a fine addition to the literature on this controversial subject, although it could have had better supporting appendices and maps.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Includes Seldom-Mentioned Information on the Warsaw Uprising 30 Oct 2007
By Jan Peczkis - Published on Amazon.com
One especially valuable aspect of this book is its detailed introduction to the beginnings of the Polish Underground. Concrete strategy was planned even before the German guns of 1939 had fallen silent.

During the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, even Polish firemen tried to help the doomed Jews: "The flames leaped high above the twelve-foot wall covered with broken glass, and firemen in gleaming helmets were called to the scene. But when they aimed their hoses at the burning buildings across the wall, an SS officer waving a pistol shouted at them to stop wasting water. They were there not to extinguish the burning Jewish part of the city but to prevent the flames from spreading to the `Aryan' side of Warsaw. Nearby factories produced uniforms and spare parts for German army vehicles. The firemen stood there, useless and helpless, together with a crowd of silent Polish onlookers, numb with horror and fear. Several women wept. Then Lithuanian police in black uniforms arrived and told the crowd to move on." (p. 55). Borowiec's testimony, an eyewitness one (p. 66), adds refutation to the oft-repeated Polonophobic innuendo of Poles cheering the burning of the Jews.

Borowiec was 14 years old at the time of the Warsaw Uprising. He writes much about the first days of the Uprising and the premature shootouts that occurred prior to 5 PM, August 1. This made it virtually impossible to coordinate the first planned actions of the Uprising, and it ruined whatever chances the Poles had of taking the Germans by surprise at their strongly-defended positions (bridges, etc.). The Poles' arms had been depleted by the actions of "Operation Tempest" further east. German armored units played a major role in stifling the Uprising in certain parts of Warsaw in its first days (p. 94)

As if writing a rebuke to those who labeled the Uprising a folly, Borowiec quotes from an Underground newspaper: "There are no regrets and no fear. And we are determined to die in the Polish Thermopylae, in the ruins of our city, rather than abandon the independent life and the values gained in the general enthusiasm." (p. 181)

Some 40,000 Varsovians were taken to concentration camps (p. 177), in violation of the capitulation agreement. The Germans removed 33,000 railway wagons of loot before burning Warsaw's remaining buildings (p. 178). The AK continued to fight the Germans after the Uprising before being disbanded on January 19, 1945 (p. 181).
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