Destruction of Warsaw

The destruction of Warsaw was Nazi Germany's razing of the city in late 1944, after the 1944 Warsaw Uprising of the Polish resistance. The uprising infuriated German leaders, who decided to destroy the city in retaliation.

The razing of the city had long been planned. Warsaw had been selected for destruction and major reconstruction as part of the Nazis' planned Germanization of Central Europe, under the Nazi Generalplan Ost. However, by late 1944, with the war clearly lost, the Germans had abandoned their plans of colonizing the East. Thus, the destruction of Warsaw did not serve any military or colonial purpose; it was carried out solely as an act of reprisal.

German forces dedicated an unprecedented effort to razing the city, destroying 80–90% of Warsaw's buildings, including the vast majority of museums, art galleries, theaters, churches, parks, and historical buildings such as castles and palaces. They deliberately demolished, burned, or stole an immense part of Warsaw's cultural heritage. After the war, extensive work was put into rebuilding the city according to pre-war plans and historical documents.

The destruction of Warsaw was practically unparalleled in the Second World War, with it being noted that "Perhaps no city suffered more than Warsaw during World War II", with historian Alexandra Richie stating that "The destruction of Warsaw was unique even in the terrible history of the Second World War".[1]

Command hierarchy of Germany forces realizing Warsaw's destruction (drawing by Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski during 1945–46 Nuremberg Trials).[2]

The city must completely disappear from the surface of the earth and serve only as a transport station for the Wehrmacht. No stone can remain standing. Every building must be razed to its foundation.

SS chief Heinrich Himmler, SS officers' conference, 17 October 1944[3]

  1. ^ "Liberation of Warsaw". The National WWII Museum | New Orleans. 2020-01-17. Retrieved 2024-02-21.
  2. ^ Source: (Polish) Adolf Ciborowski, Warszawa – o zniszczeniu i odbudowie miasta, Warsaw, Interpress Publishers, 1969, p. 57.
  3. ^ Krystyna Wituska, Irene Tomaszewski, Inside a Gestapo Prison: The Letters of Krystyna Wituska, 1942–1944, Wayne State University Press, 2006, ISBN 0-8143-3294-3, Google Print, p.xxii

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