A street in ruins, possibly in Warsaw, German soldiers with time off looking at the devastated city. The poster on the left says “Do broni – Zwarci i zjednoczeni zwycięƶymy wroga!” (“To arms – Strong and united we’ll vanquish the enemy!”) Unfortunately, as bad as the war had started, even worse was to come. The Jewish population was herded into a ghetto, where the unbearable conditions eventually resulted in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, triggered by the order to annihilate the ghetto as part of Hitler’s “Final Solution”. On 19 April 1943, Jewish fighters launched the uprising. Despite being heavily outgunned and outnumbered, the Ghetto held out for almost a month. When the fighting ended, almost all survivors were massacred, with only a few managing to escape or hide.
A year later, as the Red Army was deep into Polish territory and pursuing the Germans toward Warsaw. The underground Home Army (AK) tried to seize control of Warsaw before the Red Army arrived. On 1 August 1944, as the Red Army was nearing the city, the Warsaw Uprising began. The armed struggle went on for 63 days. Eventually the Home Army fighters were forced to capitulate. They were transported to PoW camps in Germany, while the entire civilian population was expelled. Hitler, ignoring the agreed terms of the capitulation, ordered the entire city to be razed to the ground. About 85% of the city was destroyed, including the historic Old Town and the Royal Castle.
The city was rebuilt after the war, the Old Town reconstructed, and today Warsaw stands as one of the great capitals of Europe.
Thanks to Artur Szulc for the translation of the poster.