This week we've added 2 new World War II related destinations in Warsaw, Poland. In 1939, the German Army invaded Poland. It started with aerial bombings on September 1st and was followed by a ground attack on September 8th. The battle lasted until September 28, when the Polish Army surrendered and about 140,000 troops were taken as prisoners of war. Germany would occupy Warsaw for about 5 years until they left the city, in January 1945, when the Soviet army closed in.
In 1940, the largest of the Nazi ghettos was established in the city. At its height, about 460,000 Jews were imprisoned. Many would be deported to Nazi concentration camps where they would be put to death. The conditions in the Warsaw Ghetto were harsh. Thousands of people were living in a small 1.3 sq mile area (3.4 square km). Food was scarce and disease spread easily. At least 300,000 were either shot or gassed and another 92,000 would die of starvation, disease, and other attacks. The ghetto was destroyed by the Germans in 1943 after the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
In the summer of 1944, Polish underground resistance rose up to push the German Army out of Warsaw as the Soviet Army advanced on the city. The fighting lasted until October 1944. Stalin commanded his army to stop their advance. He not only refused to help the Polish resistance but also worked to prevent other Allied nations from providing support. The uprising was crushed by the Germans after 63 days. After, they would destroy much of what remained of the city before leaving in January 1945. Today, a memorial stands in the city in honor of these brave Polish fighters.