Warsaw – Wola

When the Warsaw uprising broke out on 1 August 1944, the Germans were determined to crush the ’rising, one method was to carry out extensive massacres of civilian poles and captured soldiers from the Polish home army. Between 5 and 12 August 1944, several massacres were carried out in a district in Warsaw called Wola. The largest massacre was carried out at a building on Gorczewska next to a railway where about 10,000 people were murdered on August 5, 1944 whose bodies were later burned. The massacres were carried out partly by German antipartisan units such as the infamous SS-Dirlewanger unit under the leadership of the former Political Scientist, Oskar Dirlewanger, and the Russian voluntary unit RONA (Russian national liberation army) under the leadership of Bronislav Kaminski. The purpose of the massacres was to deter further resistance, but it had rather the opposite effect and the resistance and hatred against the German occupying power was strengthened by such massacres. Between 40,000 – 50,000 people were murdered in Wola.

Current status: Monument (2015).

Address: Aleja Solidarnosci 100, 02-222 Warszawa.

Get there: Tram or Bus.

My comment:

Oskar Dirlewanger and his SS-Sturmbrigade Dirlewanger are probably the most notorious anti-partisan unit. Their brutality against civilians, especially in Belarus, were extreme and the unit was also notorious within the SS, but without any consecquenses, rather the opposite, they were encouraging. Dirlewanger was imprisoned in June 1945 in the French occupation zone. He died a few days later from what is suspected to be a result of the guards’ mistreatment, but his cause of death has never been established. In the case of Kaminski, the Germans considered him and his units too undisciplined and uncontrollable. He was killed at the end of August 1944, but how it happened can certainly not be determined. One rumour says he was killed when his car was attacked by partisans, other rumours say he was put before a German military tribunal and shot while a third rumour says the Gestapo murdered him.

Follow up in books: Davies, Norman: Rising ’44: The Battle for Warsaw (2004).