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The numbers beggar belief Of a prewar population of 1.3 million, 150,000 civilians and 18,000 underground soldier killed, and this is excluding 400,000 Jews who were sent to their deaths from 1939 43 The remainder were forced from their homes into concentration camps and forced labour camps as Warsaw was demolished brick by brick on Hitler s orders, leaving a few thousand hiding amongst the ruins awaiting the Soviets.Alexandra Ritchie weaves together the gripping and horrific story of one of t The numbers beggar belief Of a prewar population of 1.3 million, 150,000 civilians and 18,000 underground soldier killed, and this is excluding 400,000 Jews who were sent to their deaths from 1939 43 The remainder were forced from their homes into concentration camps and forced labour camps as Warsaw was demolished brick by brick on Hitler s orders, leaving a few thousand hiding amongst the ruins awaiting the Soviets.Alexandra Ritchie weaves together the gripping and horrific story of one of the greatest tragedies of World War 2 and the opening shots of the Cold War that resulted in the almost complete destruction of one of Europe s great cities The Warsaw Uprising was also the site of largest single battlefield massacre of World War 2 and the details of this massacre and the treatment of the civilian population are most harrowing.However, please do persevere with this book as it is an excellent record of the Uprising coming up to its 70th anniversary as well as the duplicity of Stalin and the politics of necessity This book is not about the Warsaw ghetto uprising of 1943, but the 1944 uprising led by Polish fighters against the SS The author openly states that the desperate courage of the Jews fighting in the ghetto with improvised weaponry was a matchless demonstration of heroism and the second uprising is not to be considered its equal Having said that, the courage of the Polish fighters is tremendous and the suffering of the Warsaw civilians is staggering to read about Hitler had an especially o This book is not about the Warsaw ghetto uprising of 1943, but the 1944 uprising led by Polish fighters against the SS The author openly states that the desperate courage of the Jews fighting in the ghetto with improvised weaponry was a matchless demonstration of heroism and the second uprising is not to be considered its equal Having said that, the courage of the Polish fighters is tremendous and the suffering of the Warsaw civilians is staggering to read about Hitler had an especially outsized contempt for the Polish people and their capital Warsaw was the only European city which Hitler wanted razed to the ground with not a brick remaining To achieve this, he turned Himmler and his SS loose on the city As if the original idea wasn t lunatic enough, he did so during the waning days of the Third Reich, when the manpower and material used to accomplish it were desperately needed by German troops fighting elsewhere The uprising that opposed them lasted for 60 odd days, but was ill timed and ill planned The leaders called for the city s citizens to stand with them, even though they knew the western Allies were not going to come to their aid, the Germans were not finished, and the treacherous Soviets could not be counted on to provide help Citizens were told none of this They fought on, regardless.Much of the book calls for a very strong stomach, as it details the fighting, death and atrocities as the SS and German army moved from point to point in the sprawling city, destroying everything in their wake The destruction of starving, sick, wounded people often gathered together in public to be executed on the spot occurs again and again Ultimately, some 10,455 buildings were destroyed, including 923 historic buildings, 25 churches and synagogues, 14 libraries including the oldest in Poland, dating to 1747 plus 145 schools, two universities and scores of monuments, palaces and homes But Himmler and Hitler had only months to live and Warsaw has risen from its ashes to be a great city again The book is worth reading to know of Warsaw s suffering but the ultimate fate of all involved is important to keep in mind as you learn this tragic history Warsaw 1944 has come to us from the archives inherited by the author, diaries that have brought to life the full tragedy of both the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, but the very fate of the city The amount of research to bring this text to fruition is overwhelming, and possible with the availability of both Russian and German archives many of which did not become available until the dissolution of the Soviet Union.It is mostly a forgotten story, a small footnote which all sides wanted forgotten and bu Warsaw 1944 has come to us from the archives inherited by the author, diaries that have brought to life the full tragedy of both the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, but the very fate of the city The amount of research to bring this text to fruition is overwhelming, and possible with the availability of both Russian and German archives many of which did not become available until the dissolution of the Soviet Union.It is mostly a forgotten story, a small footnote which all sides wanted forgotten and buried along with the hundreds of thousands of corpses that met their demise in a slaughter of civilians un precidented in this war All of the allies, Britain, the United States and the Soviets can be held responsible for the abandonment of Poland, but the total destruction of Warsaw and the brutal slaughter of civilians, men women and children can only be laid at the feet of Hiltler s anti Jewish ant Slavic ideology based on a hatred so strong, that he diverted both manpower and material needed desperately for the defense of Germany to relentlessly kill every Warsawrian possible and to turn the city into a wasteland.Sadly the few survivors got no final justice, few of the actual perpetrators were held accountable in any meaningful way Few of those who survived the Nazi slaughter escaped the punishment of incarceration and killings made by Stalin s NKVD after the supposed liberation of Warsaw.It was not a fast read even though it was written in a way that made the battles and actions present The sheer weight of the horror of what occurred and the actions of the SS Dirlewanger Brigade and the Kiminsky brigade, made me set the book down many a night just to be able to absorb the sheer barbarity of the slaughter and destruction.I was amazed at the psychology of those who interfaced with the survivors of each section of the city as it fell to the destruction planned for all The people of Old Town refused to believe what the survivors of Wola told them, until they experienced it first hand and as the few escapees from both Wola and Old Town made it to the next section of Warsaw their stories were met with incredulityno one could believe that the Germans who they suffered under for five years could descend into such abject bestiality How hard it must be to conceive the inconceivablemy uncles in law turned back at the Pyrenees in their flight from the Nazis as they couldn t face what they believed were the barbarians of Spain and Portugal, as the Nazis shared their high culture and could not possibly be what they would prove themselves to be.This is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the full scope of the effect of this war and its impact on the countries that were occupied, and how war driven by sheer ideology isdevastating than wars of mere conquest of territory An unsparing, gut wrenching account of the Warsaw Uprising against the Germans not to be confused with the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943 , when the Polish Home Army launched a heroic but ultimately disastrous attack on their Nazi occupiers as Stalin s Red Army closed in on the city in the summer of 1944 Poland suffered terribly at the hands of both the Germans and the Russians during the war, and Richie describes the tragic events and the horrific atrocities of the Warsaw Uprising in unflinc An unsparing, gut wrenching account of the Warsaw Uprising against the Germans not to be confused with the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943 , when the Polish Home Army launched a heroic but ultimately disastrous attack on their Nazi occupiers as Stalin s Red Army closed in on the city in the summer of 1944 Poland suffered terribly at the hands of both the Germans and the Russians during the war, and Richie describes the tragic events and the horrific atrocities of the Warsaw Uprising in unflinching detail By the time the Poles capitulated at the end of September, over 150,000 civilians and 18,000 Polish combatants had lost their lives and Warsaw was reduced to 20 million cubic tons of ruble Sometimes large numbers such as these can have an almost numbing effect on us they appeal to our brain as opposed to our heart, and it can be at least for me hard to grasp the true magnitude of the destruction and the almost inconceivable barbarity of what actually happened beyond that of a comparative if somewhat dispassionate analysis While Richie places the Uprising in the context of larger war, explores the rationale of the Polish leadership in launching the uprising, and examines Stalin s cynical manipulations and the Western Allies calculated indifference, to her credit her primary focus is conveying the true horror of what happened on the ground over the course of those 63 terrible days and its aftermath from primary source accounts The result is an exceptionally grim and often stomach turning read, but highly recommended if you are interested in World War II or Polish history If interested in either of those topics, I would also highly recommend Katyn Stalin s Massacre and the Triumph of Truth by Allen Paul, which explores the Soviet Union s atrocities in Poland and how the Allies dealt with the Poland problem over the course of the war A compelling, graphic, and terrifying account of Warsaw at the peak of her destruction by the Nazis in 1944 An insane Hitler and his equally mad minions let loose on the innocent citizens of Warsaw where murder, rape, looting, and the total annihilation of the city was the rule of the day The insurgent underground Polish Army tries to fight this enemy, but with little help from the Allies, and none from the nearby Soviets, her days are tragically numbered This is a well researched text using A compelling, graphic, and terrifying account of Warsaw at the peak of her destruction by the Nazis in 1944 An insane Hitler and his equally mad minions let loose on the innocent citizens of Warsaw where murder, rape, looting, and the total annihilation of the city was the rule of the day The insurgent underground Polish Army tries to fight this enemy, but with little help from the Allies, and none from the nearby Soviets, her days are tragically numbered This is a well researched text using the words of many eyewitnesses to tell the story from both sides of the fight Probably best for hard core history buffs of this segment of the war The Poles had to come back to a Warsaw that was literally destroyed to dust and then suffer a further reoccupation of Stalin s oppression However, the author does allow a little light in by recognizing that today s Warsaw is recovering quite nicely and the Polish spirit lives on Alexandra Richie is a Warsawian via Oxford University She has taken on a tragic tale of a city s unnecessary destruction and its nation s unwilling demise Her love of Warsaw and of Poland shines through this disturbing history of the 1944 Uprising against the German occupation of Warsaw Poland has long been a hot potato between Germany and Russia Until its post WWI independence Poland had been sliced and diced by Russia, Austria Hungary, and other European countries, and immediately on its f Alexandra Richie is a Warsawian via Oxford University She has taken on a tragic tale of a city s unnecessary destruction and its nation s unwilling demise Her love of Warsaw and of Poland shines through this disturbing history of the 1944 Uprising against the German occupation of Warsaw Poland has long been a hot potato between Germany and Russia Until its post WWI independence Poland had been sliced and diced by Russia, Austria Hungary, and other European countries, and immediately on its freormation the Bolsheviks had invaded The 1939 Russo German Non Aggression Pact opened the way to Germany s September 1, 1939 invasion from the west and to Russia s invasion from the east, splitting the country along the Molotov Ribbentrop Line Germany s invasion of Russia in 1941 claimed all of Poland for Germany Poland was and long had been the continent s wrestling mat Hitler wanted Poland as a land grab to implement lebesraum the displacement of Polish farmers by Germans and the creation of blissful Teutonic hamlets He also anticipated a third world war with Germany and the West against Russia, for which Poland would be useful territory Stalin s interest in Poland wasgeopolitical it would provide a Soviet buffer state a barrier for Germany, it would return Poland to one of its many its rightful owners, it would redress Lenin s bitter failure to occupy Poland in 1920, and it would extend Bolshevism closer to Europe perhaps Stalin s ultimate goal.After Germany captured the Polish capital, it organized the Jewish population in the Ghetto Realizing that they could die fighting, or just die, a poorly organized and under resourced resistance initiated the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising It was as most expected a catastrophic failure for the Ghetto, ending with its viciously brutal destruction The Polish Home Army then rebuilt the Warsaw resistance and awaited a propitious time to throw the Germans out of Warsaw In May of 1944 Stalin began Operation Bagration, a major offensive through Byelorussia headed toward Berlin Germany was completely surprised, expecting the attack in the south through Ukraine the Russians had moved 1.7 million men with equipment, weapons, and materiel from the Ukraine with remarkable secrecy The Red Army rapidly reached the Vistula River near Warsaw, where a German counter offensive temporarily stopped it Hearing sounds of war, and believing that Russia was coming to liberate Warsaw, the Polish Home Army initiated the Warsaw Uprising on August 1, 1944 the revolt that lasted 63 days Ironically, the Uprising began as Germans were fleeing the city in droves Had it not started, Warsaw might have survived But the Uprising led Hitler, on Himmler s advice, to send new forces to Warsaw, brutally razing it and decimating its population after Hitler ordered that Warsaw was to be obliterated.In her prologue Richie states that the book s primary goal is to uncover the motives of the increasingly unstable Hitler and the increasingly powerful Himmler Why did Warsaw mean so much to them Why, when German forces and production capacity were so stretched, did they spend treasure, troops, and time destroying a city with no strategic value I had expectedemphasis on this Hitler s wish to eliminate all things Polish, and his plan for Warsaw as a German signature city, were cited, but I found no insight into what led to this madness Nor could I find much insight into Himmler s motives, other than to rubber stamp Hitler and increase his own power This book does not provide a psychology of madness.What it does do as do so many other books is detail the utter devastation that WWII brought to eastern Europe in general and to Poland in particular It does this in great detail by focusing on one of thehorrendous German actions This is very powerful material, but while there might be novelty for historians in the details, its broad brush strokes are not new to any reader of the war in Europe The Nazi leadership WAS brutal and except for the Jewish solution indiscriminate murderers Poland WAS part of the bloodlands between Germany and Russia, with a long history of subjection to foreign powers Stalin WAS a ruthless political animal intent on postwar control of Poland Roosevelt WAS a fool where it concerned Stalin The micro events of the Warsaw episode are stirring but the macro events surrounding it are well traveled territory.Still, it is remarkable that after almost 75 years, the second Great War in Europe generates such well researched and finely written documents Richie s story of the city and people she loves is a very powerful and very painful read I say 4 stars with an extra star for style |Free Pdf ♋ Warsaw 1944: Hitler, Himmler, and the Warsaw Uprising ⚇ The full untold story of how one of history s bravest revolts ended in one of its greatest crimesIn , the Nazis liquidated Warsaw s Jewish ghetto A year later, they threatened to complete the city s destruction by deporting its remaining residents A sophisticated and cosmopolitan community a thousand years old was facing its final days and then opportunity struck As Soviet soldiers turned back the Nazi invasion of Russia and began pressing west, the underground Polish Home Army decided to act Taking advantage of German disarray and seeking to forestall the absorption of their country into the Soviet empire, they chose to liberate the city of Warsaw for themselvesWarsawtells the story of this brave, and errant, calculation For than sixty days, the Polish fighters took over large parts of the city and held off the SS s most brutal forces But in the end, their efforts were doomed Scorned by Stalin and unable to win significant support from the Western Allies, the Polish Home Army was left to face the full fury of Hitler, Himmler, and the SS The crackdown that followed was among the most brutal episodes of history s most brutal war, and the celebrated historian Alexandra Richie depicts this tragedy in riveting detail Using a rich trove of primary sources, Richie relates the terrible experiences of individuals who fought in the uprising and perished in it Her clear eyed narrative reveals the fraught choices and complex legacy of some of World War II s most unsung heroes An excellent description of Warsaw Uprising Apart from a thorough background on its occurrence, it provides a chronology of events, which helped me to understand how the focus of the German attacks moved from one suburb to the next The cynicism of Russian troops stationing just few kilometres away and their refusal to allow the Allied planes to land on the eastern site of Vistula makes them co responsible for the death of many innocent people The hostility of Russians to AK fighters, their ar An excellent description of Warsaw Uprising Apart from a thorough background on its occurrence, it provides a chronology of events, which helped me to understand how the focus of the German attacks moved from one suburb to the next The cynicism of Russian troops stationing just few kilometres away and their refusal to allow the Allied planes to land on the eastern site of Vistula makes them co responsible for the death of many innocent people The hostility of Russians to AK fighters, their arrest and treatment as enemy, combined with, especially from Roosevelt site, no objections from the Allies only underlines their guilt in subjecting untold millions of Poles to inhuman treatment by their communist rulers for another 44 years.Main Characters on the Polish SideGeneral Antoni Chrusciel Monter Commander of AK units in Warsaw.General Bor Komorowski in charge of AK after Rowecki s arrest.Stefan Korbonski AK s Chief of Civil Resistance in Warsaw.Jan Mazurkiewicz Radoslaw Leader of Kedyw group Survived the war and was persecuted by communist authorities till 1956 Died in 1988.Colonel Kazimierz Iranek Osmecki the Chief of Intelligence.Tadeusz Pelczynski AK Chief of StaffGeneral Stefan Rowecki Grot Tokarzewski s deputy Put in charge of AK after tokarzewski disappeared Arrested by Gestapo on 30 June 1943 Executed by order of Himmler on the first day of uprising.Jozef Rybicki in charge of KedywColonel Rzepecki the head of the Information and Propaganda Bureau.General Michal Tokarzewski on 27th of September 1939 set up SZP Polish Victory Service He went to the Soviet zone of occupation and was arrested by NKVD.Colonel Karol Ziemski Wachnowski In charge of the Northern Group of AK Old Town Monter s deputy Emigrated to England Died in1974.Main Characters on the German SideErich von dem Bach Zelewski On 2 August 1944 took command of all German troops fighting AK In exchange for his testimony against his former superiors at the Nuremberg Trials, Bach Zelewski never faced trial for any war crimes Died in 1972.Oskar Dirlewanger pathological sadist linked to some of the worst crimes of the war Captured after war and apparently beaten to death by the Polish guards while in captivity.Bronislav Kaminski Russian collaborationist and the commander of the S.S Sturmbrigade R.O.N.A Perhaps 10,000 residents of Warsaw were killed in the Ochota massacre, most murdered by Kaminski s men Himmler used the misconduct of the Warsaw group as a pretext for having Kaminski and his leadership executed after trial by court martial They were tried for stealing the property of the Reich, as the stolen property was to have been delivered to Himmler, but Kaminski and his men had attempted to keep it for themselves.General Heinz Reinefarth Responsible for Wola massacre Acted as witness in Nuremburg trials Never faced any justice and died in 1978.Chronology1 4 August The uprising started at 5PM on 1st of August By 5th of August AK had 16,000 people under its command, outnumbered the German garrison three to one and controlled over 125 km2 5 8 August Massacre in Wola.Following on Hitler s order to destroy Warsaw and Himmler s to consider all as combatants and have them killed, SS troops under General Heinz Reinefarth massed on the edge of Wola and started killing Poles Initially, they were going from house to house, ejected all living there, lined them up and shot and set fire to the building Anyone trying to escape was shot As they found they made too little progress, they started collecting people and moving them to a number of collection sites before shooting them there The cruellest were troops led by Dirlewanger and his Russian and Azari members.Between 5th and 6th of August they killed about 40,000 civilians in Wola Fight in Wola continued till 11th of August Soon after SS set up set up special brigades made of Polish prisoners to burn all the dead bodies Once the job was completed they killed the prisoners to cover their tracks Miraculously, some escaped to bear the witness.5 11 August Massacre of OchotaAbout 1,700 Russians under command of Kaminski moved into Ochota They committed numerous crimes, killing, raping and stealing from the local population They plundered the Radium Institute, where a hospital was placed Survivors were moved to Zieleniak where Russians set up a concentration camp Numerous barbarities were committed there.Von dem Bach arrived in Warsaw on 5th of August and issued an order to stop killing any non combatants He set up a German commission to look into behaviour of Kaminski men Kaminski was sent to Lodz and faced a military tribunal Was condemned to death and executed soon after.On 6th of August Bach opened the Pruszkow transit camp Refugees were sent from there to concentration camps or as labourers to Germany.11 18 August Attack on Old Town.On 11th of August SS moved into Old Town They encountered heavy resistance Next day they attacked again with a combined force of 3,000 Again without success Hitler decided to change the tactics and started bombing the Old Town both with airplanes and heavy artillery Lack of Russian involvement meant total command of sky for Germans The Old Town continued its defence.19 August 3 September Second attack on Old TownGermans assembled a force of 13,400 men and attacked again on 19th of August Situation became unbearable On 25th of August Bor Komorowski was evacuated through sewers By 2nd of September AK fighters left the Old Town through sewers, leaving injured and civilian population behind Mass executions, rapes and pillage started soon after.10 September 15 September Battle for PragaThe Russian 47th Army, with the Polish 1st Infantry Division under General W Bewziuk and the 70th Army attacked the German 70th Grenadiers Regiment on 10th of September and reached the central part of Praga on 13th of September By 15th of September all of Praga was in Soviet hands Russians lost around 7,000 men, the Polish 1st Infantry Division lost 353 dead and 109 missing The Germans lost around 8,500 men On 13th of September all the huge bridges on the Vistula were destroyed.11 September 23 September The Fall of CzerniakowOn 11 September a massive barrage rained down the AK soldiers and the hapless civilians The Germans with 507 men of Azeri battalions and 575 men of the Eastern Muslim Regiment had about 2,500 men On 14th of September the Soviet planes appeared in the sky and dropped supplies without using parachutes Most was destroyed On 16th of September 300 soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division crossed the Vistula Another 900 troops crossed during the day and 1,200the next night.On 19th of September Berling s Army began o retreat back across the river The AK moved to Mokotow Those left in Czerniakow faced living hell The fight continued till 23rd of September The 1st Polish Army lost 4,939 men in crossing of the Vistula, with only 1,500 actually reaching the western bank.24 September 27 September Fall of MokotowOn 24th of September Germans attacked Mokotow This time Germans allowed the civil population to leave during 2 hours of ceasefire Over 9,000 people were sent to Pruszkow camp Of the 3,000 AK soldiers who fought in Mokotow only 600 managed to escape to safety The rest was shot when captured Mokotow fell on 27th of September.28 September 30 September ZoliborzIn mid September the Germans began to bomb Zoliborz It was defended by Lieutenant Colonel Mieczyslaw Niedzielski Zywiciel and his 1,500 troops By 29 September 19th Panzer Division under General Kallner moved into position They changed their tactics using tanks to destroy methodically all the houses on their way Niedzielski fighters surrounded on 30th of September They were treated as POWs and taken to Pruszkow camp.September October The City CentreOver 250,000 people were crowded into the city centre The AK fighters managed to win the so called Pasta building Polska Akcyjna Spolka Telefonow the central telephone exchange, and took 115 prisoners Von dem Bach arranged a ceasefire on 7th and 8th of September to allow 60,000 civilians to be taken to Pruszkow camp Bor named Lieutenant Colonel Zygmunt Dobrowolski Zyndram as his official representative and sent him to meet von dem Bach on 28th of September The second meeting took place on 29th of September The first agreement signed on 30th of September called for a ceasefire between 5 am and 7 pm on 1st and 2nd October On 4th of October Bor surrounded Between 3rd and 7th October over 150,000 civilians walked to collection points By 15th of October the Germans took all they could from Warsaw and loaded 23,300 train cars with booty, including 1,600 wagons of grain.18 October Himmler s AnnouncementOn 25th of September Hitler created the Volkssturm under Himmler It covered all German men capable of bearing arms between the ages of 16 and 60 On 18th of October Himmler granted the Warsaw fighters the status of POW according to the Geneva Convention He has done it to get similar treatment for his Volkssturm.October 1944 January 1945.By January 1945 around 85% of all the buildings of Warsaw had been destroyed By noon 17th of January the Soviets had taken Warsaw I really need to start readingcheerful books After reading so much other WWII and Holocaust fare, I m not quite sure how I made it through this further tome of hideous crimes of the Third Reich Perhaps it was due to the author s clear, precise prose Some war histories can be dense works, tending to academic audiences, but this was refreshingly vibrant with the first person accounts of Hitler s utter destruction of a European capital as the war was drawing towards its end and the Home Ar I really need to start readingcheerful books After reading so much other WWII and Holocaust fare, I m not quite sure how I made it through this further tome of hideous crimes of the Third Reich Perhaps it was due to the author s clear, precise prose Some war histories can be dense works, tending to academic audiences, but this was refreshingly vibrant with the first person accounts of Hitler s utter destruction of a European capital as the war was drawing towards its end and the Home Army and many citizens of Warsaw took up arms against their occupiers with tragic bad timing Richie s book is well researched and thought out, although the sheer number of names along with the sad, horrifying descriptions of the events against non combatants made it challenging at times I have never been very knowledgeable on the Soviet campaign to push the Axis forces back out of Russia and Poland, but I feel this has made at least a slight dent in my ignorance The names of Dirlewanger, Van dem Bach, and Rheinefarth will haunt my mind for awhile.Another sad thing to mention here, is the tragic way the Allies abandoned Poland to her fate Perhaps Churchill tried to support the country for which they actually entered into the war from time to time, but Roosevelt made several errors in judgement of Soviet intentions, leaving Poland in the lurch Richie makes it hard to excuse the privilege of our modern hindsight I look forward to reading her book on the history of Berlin Faust s Metropolis Richie describes in painful detail the horrors perpetrated by the SS against Warsawian rebels and civilians alike indiscriminate massacres, torture, rape and pillage on a massive scale Though in mainstream media and memory the Warsaw Uprising is pretty much a footnote when it comes to the vast narrative of the Second World War, this account of the events of August September 1944 recounts the tragedy in full, with its cast villains Dirlewanger, von dem Bach, Himmler and heroes General B r, A Richie describes in painful detail the horrors perpetrated by the SS against Warsawian rebels and civilians alike indiscriminate massacres, torture, rape and pillage on a massive scale Though in mainstream media and memory the Warsaw Uprising is pretty much a footnote when it comes to the vast narrative of the Second World War, this account of the events of August September 1944 recounts the tragedy in full, with its cast villains Dirlewanger, von dem Bach, Himmler and heroes General B r, Agaton, various men and women of the AK.I travelled around Poland with my girlfriend a couple of weeks ago, and for two wonderful nights we stayed in Warsaw s Old Town It is almost inconceivable that most of the city was systematically destroyed a little over 70 years ago modern Warsaw, particularly the beautifully reconstructed Old Town, stands as a living memorial and testament to the grit and fortitude of the Polish people We visited the Uprising Museum, and although it would have made for a sobering and absorbing experience even without any background knowledge, I was very glad of the context provided by Richie s book Warsaw 1944 is essential reading not only for anyone planning to visit the city, but also for anyone wishing to understand modern Poland and the Polish people