General Bor was the name used by the Polish underground movement commander who led the tragic Warsaw uprising during August-September 1944. He was born near Lwow in Poland and joined the Polish Republic’s army in 1918 when it was recreated following the end of World War I. He fought as a captain in the 9th Cavalry (Malopolski Lancers) in the 1919 Russo-Polish war, later in 1920 commanding the 12th Cavalry (Podolski Lancers). Between the wars he advanced slowly up the ranks being an unremarkable officer but a world-renowned horseman. He was commanding a training school in 1939 when the Germans overran it (World War II). He then contacted the Polish government in exile and was instructed to organise a resistance and sabotage movement.
He lead a double life so effectively that the Germans asked the respectable Komorowski to help lead an anti Bolshevik crusade while at the same time the mysterious General Bor had a £400,000 price on his head. He quickly rose in rank within the ‘Home Army’ and by 1943 was the liberation movement’s commander. On 1st August 1944 with the Russian Army only miles away he ordered the home Army to rise in open rebellion in response to Russian Radio broadcasts. His plan was to liberate the capital Warsaw by force of Polish arms therefore hoping to secure Poland a future free of communist control. The decision has been much criticised, some say he was stupid to expect the Russians to lift a finger to aid a future enemy and his attempt to defeat the Germans without Russian help was vain. It is certainly true the Red Army was probably exhausted and may have been unable to help but it is clear that the Russians deliberately blocked British and US attempts to re supply the Polish insurgents by air.
With the failed bomb plot against Hitler having just been foiled the Germans reacted with brutality and the uprising was put down, mainly by SS troops including the SS Sturmbrigade Dirlewanger and the Kaminski Brigade both units with brutal reputations. They totalled 10,000 men and the atrocities they committed during the two months of street fighting were almost beyond human belief and even offended some SS officers there. Finally High Army commander Guderian appealed to Hitler to withdraw the troops, which surprisingly he did. The Poles had fought well against a superior and better-equipped foe and in the process had nearly been wiped out. Komorowski and a few survivors passed into German Captivity and surprisingly survived to be handed over to the Americans at Innsbruck in May 1945. This was possibly due to the fact that an SS cavalry officer Hermann Fegelein was determined to protect Komorowski, as they had been friends before the war on the international horse riding circuits. After the war Komorowski lived in the UK in retirement where he died of a heart attack while rabbit hunting on 24th August 1966 near Woughton-on-the-Green Buckinghamshire.
Warsaw 1944: Poland's Bid for Freedom, Robert Forczyk. A fascinating Osprey covering a famous but neglected event in the Second World War. It is balanced, highlighting not only the bravery of the Polish resistance but also their shortcomings which were to hinder any chance of success. The main battle is divided nicely and this helps to make clear what a chaotic and confusing conflict was at times. A very good read and of interest to anyone wanting to learn more about urban resistance warfare. [see more]
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