|There Is No Peace: 60 Years Since End of World War II|
The uprising took place between August 1 and October 2 of that year. With more than 35,000 troops, the Polish Home Army attacked the German forces August 1. Much of Warsaws population joined the fight, taking control of virtually the entire city by August 4. The Nazi regime, however, sent reinforcements and in the end crushed the revolt in blood, killing some 200,000 Poles.
During the 63 days of fighting, the Soviet Red Army, under the command of the bureaucratic regime headed by Joseph Stalin, sat across the Vistula River in the Warsaw suburb of Praga, where it was encamped within sight of the fighting. The Red Army did nothing to assist the rebels, even though Moscow had encouraged the Poles to launch the attack and had promised aid. In September, when a German victory seemed certain, the Russian forces allowed a small amount of ammunition to be dropped in for the Polish resistance.
When hostilities ceased, the remaining Polish resistance was annihilated, 85 percent of the city was razed, and the German occupiers deported most of the rest of the population. This allowed the Stalinist regime in Moscow to establish a subservient government in Poland after the German rulers were defeated by the Red Army and the Allied imperialist powers in 1945.
We publish the article below as the second installment of this column, which will appear regularly this yearthe 60th anniversary since the end of World War IIto tell the truth about the second worldwide interimperialist slaughter.
BY PAUL STEVENS
At the beginning of October the great Warsaw insurrection was crushed. After the insurgents had suffered 250,000 casualties, their leaders surrendered to the Nazi command. Thus one of the most heroic mass actions in history was brought to a tragic close. The dead are buried and the survivors are undoubtedly being subjected to the bestial tortures of the Hitlerite conqueror. But the action in which they fought and fell is more than an epic of heroism. It is an event of great historic significance, which must be understood, so that the lessons can be learned and transformed into weapons by which the workers of Warsaw can be avenged in the coming European revolution.
No adequate picture of the events leading up to the insurrection, or of the insurrection itself, is as yet available and probably will not be until free access to the survivors can be had. Even then the picture will not be complete until the archives of the various governments involved are opened to public view. But what we could only surmise in the first flush of the struggle itselfnamely, that an uprising involving the mass of the working-class population of Warsaw was being betrayed by the counter-revolutionary Stalinist bureaucracy in the Kremlinhas since found considerable substantiation in published facts.
Background Of The Insurrection
Before we proceed with an examination of the facts that have been established, it is necessary to recall the atmosphere in Moscow and in London at the time of the insurrection. The Stalinist bureaucracy in Moscow had set up a Polish National Council under its own auspices in opposition to the Polish Government-in-Exile residing in London and enjoying the recognition of Great Britain and the United States. The Moscow Council and the London Government espoused similar social programs: preservation of capitalism in Poland and promises of reforms. Their differences concerned foreign policy: whether Poland was to be in the British or the Russian sphere of influence. The differences emerged concretely on the question of the future borders of Poland.
The Red Armys guns were already within earshot of Warsaw. When the insurrection broke out, both parties to the dispute reacted at once: The Moscow Council negatively, claiming it was untimely and therefore to be opposed; the Warsaw government positively, claiming it was leading the insurrection and had prepared for it by agreement, etc. Let us examine these claims on the basis of established fact.
The first reaction of the Moscow Council and of all the Stalinist apologists the world over was that there was no insurrection at all; that the whole thing was just a canard broadcast by the Polish reactionaries in London. That continued to be the Stalinist line until it became manifest from military communiques that there was a full-scale battle going on for control of Warsaw. Meanwhile the Red Armys advance towards Warsaw was halted.
When they could no longer pretend to ignore what was happening, the Kremlin gang took the line that the insurrection was premature, that it was organized without the Red Army being informed and without any attempt to correlate military operations. Charging that the London government was using it as a political maneuver, the Kremlin branded the insurrection as a crime and refused to give any aid whatsoever to the hard-pressed insurgents. Only in the last week or two of the struggle, when the blood-letting had been heavy enough to preclude any possibility of victory for the insurgents, were feeble attempts made from Moscow to supply them. The line of the Stalinists has remained the same, however, to this day; the insurrection was a crime, it was premature, it was undertaken without prior agreement and even against the wishes of the Red Army high command.
To date, the Stalinists and their apologists have offered no substantiation in fact for their line. But there is already ample proof at hand to contradict it.
1. Between June 2 and July 31 (the day before the uprising) there were constant appeals over the Moscow Radio for the Polish masses to take up arms against the Nazis.
2. During this time, the Stalinist Radio charged that the masses were ready to rise, but that the military leaders of the London government were restraining them. Thus, on June 5 Moscow broadcast the following: It is generally believed that it is time to act. There is great discontent with the orders of Sosnokowski and Bor.
3. We have no reason to doubt the assertion that the masses were in an insurrectionary mood as a result of the Red Army victories, and that there was discontent with the policy of restraint pursued by the London Polish government. The latter was a declared policy, based undoubtedly upon a desire to utilize the Polish masses against the Soviet Army rather than against the Nazis retreating before it. The pertinent fact is, however, that the Moscow authorities dwelt on the discontent of the masses, and utilizing it against the London leaders, became more and more specific in the broadcasts.
Thus, on July 29 the Stalinist-controlled Union of Polish Patriots in Moscow issued a direct call to the Warsaw masses: Appeal to Warsaw. Fight the Germans. No doubt Warsaw already hears the guns of the battle which is soon to bring her liberation It (the Red Army) will be joined tomorrow by the sons of Warsaw For Warsaw, which did not yield but fought on, the hour of action has already arrived.
Obviously, if Stalin and his Polish lackeys thought an insurrection premature, it is clear that on the eve of that insurrection they not only did not say so, but said the exact opposite.
London Government Gives Approval
4. Hearing these appeals and hearing the guns of the Red Army in the distance, the insurrectionary mood of the masses undoubtedly ran to fever pitch. The military leaders from the London government probably could not have prevented the insurrection even had they tried. In any case, they decided to identify themselves with it and give it their formal approval.
5. On July 31, the day before the uprising began, Premier Mikolajczyk of the London government was in Moscow. The British periodical "War Commentary" (Mid-October 1944) informs us: It is stated by Polish socialists in London that when the Polish Premier saw Stalin in Moscow on July 31 and told him the rising would take place the following day, Stalin signified his approval and stated that the Red Army would have occupied Warsaw by August 6.
Moscow, on the other hand, denies that it was informed. But it is not necessary for us to take anyones word for it, in order to ascertain that the insurgent mass conceived of its action as one coordinated with the advance of the Red Army. We have not only the fact that the Red Armys guns were already being heard in the city. We have evidence that in Moscow this conception was known. Far from the insurrection being discouraged as premature, Moscow called for the insurrection as a direct supporting action to aid the Red Army advance on Warsaw. On July 30, the Moscow radio beamed the following instructions to Warsaw:
The whole population should gather round the National Council and the underground army. Attack the Germans. Stop the Germans destroying public buildings. Assist the Red Army in crossing the Vistula. Give it information and show it the best fords. The more than a million inhabitants ought to become an army of a million men fighting for liberation and destroying the German invader.
Stalinist Perfidy Is Apparent
What Moscows position on the insurrection was before it actually broke out is thus irrefutably established. It is clear that the sponsors of the quoted broadcasts knew of the insurrectionary mood of the Warsaw masses, that they fostered it, and directly appealed for the rising immediately before it began.
Most of the broadcasts were under the auspices of the Polish National Council and not the Soviet government, to be sure. However, no one in his right mind can believe that these broadcasts could be made from Moscow without the knowledge and approval of the Kremlin. At any rate, the broadcasts were never repudiated and have been passed over in complete silence by the Stalinist press despite their repeated quotation in the world press.
6. There is further evidence, however, that once the insurrection began, contact was established between its military leaders in Warsaw and the Red Army of General Rokossovsky which stood almost at the gates of the city. According to the Government-in-Exile, on the third day of the uprising a Captain Kalugin, sent by Rokossovsky, contacted General Bor, the military leader of the insurgents and made an appeal by radio to Stalin, via London, for arms and supplies. A request was made for five tons of supplies to be dropped by plane. Moscow has never denied this story. The silence of the Stalinists would indicate that there is at least an element of truth in it.
7. The line of Moscow after the outbreak of the insurrection becomes no less clear under examination and proves to be in direct contradiction to the Stalinist line which preceded it. Insofar as action is concerned, we have these undisputed facts: Immediately after the outbreak of the struggle in Warsaw, the Red Army advance on the city, steady up to then, is abruptly halted, not to be resumed until nearly six weeks later, towards the end of September.
Whether the halt of the Red Army before Warsaw was an act deliberately calculated by the Kremlin in order to isolate the Polish insurgents and insure the crushing of the insurrection by the Nazis; or whether the halt was dictated by considerations of a purely military-strategic character, is known only to Moscow. The important thing is that once the insurrection was under way, the Stalin gang refused the insurgents any material aid whatever, although such aid was manifestly possible.
A Canard Becomes A Fact
Insofar as propaganda in concerned, the development is less abrupt. At first, Moscow denies that there is an insurrection and dubs the reports a canard. Then, when evidence of the struggle and its mass character makes denial impossible, a hue and cry is raised that it is first, premature; secondly, organized without coordination between Moscow and London; thirdly, a criminal political adventure undertaken by the reactionaries in the Government-in-Exile. Finally, all these charges are crowned with propaganda opposing insurrections in principle. On August 19, United Press cables from Moscow:
Pravda, official Communist Party newspaper, said today in a front-page dispatch that the Warsaw insurrection was doomed to failure from the beginning and that the men who died fighting German mechanized troops in the Polish capital were foully deceived by a group of adventurers and political speculators of the London emigre government.
Not one city has been freed by the combined blows of Soviet troops and citizen insurrections, Pravda said, although hundreds of cities have been liberated by troops alone in Russia, Lithuania, White Russia, and Poland.
The reason is that only stupid adventurers think success is possible by the insurrection of inadequately armed civilians in cities filled with German Panzer troops, planes and guns, Pravda added.
The Red Army is opposed to such insurrections, the dispatch asserted, since complex technical materials are necessary to wage successful modern warfare, and people equipped only with ardent emotions and cold arms cannot expect to win. (N. Y. Times, Aug. 20, 1944).
It is now apparent that what the Kremlin opposes is not the prematureness" of the insurrection, its lack of coordination with the action of the Red Army, or even its leadership by the military representatives of the London "governmentbut the very idea of the insurrection itself. And not only in Warsaw, but anywhere. That is what becomes crystal clear if this Pravda dispatch is stripped of its casuistry.
Obviously, the Warsaw insurgents, or any other insurgents for that matter, would not propose to carry through such an action inadequately armed or only with their ardent emotions and cold arms. It was just because they expected adequate arms from the Red Army at the gates of their city that the Warsaw masses undertook their insurrection. It was just because of its approach that their emotions became ardent.
By condemning insurrections in general (do they dare repeat it still after the events in Paris and Athens?), the Kremlin oligarchy merely sought to cover up its counter-revolutionary betrayal of the Warsaw masses. Actually, the Kremlin disclosed its real motivationfear of the revolutionary masses in armsand its own criminal conduct. If they thought all along that insurrections are doomed to failure then how can their repeated broadcast appeals to Warsaw for an uprising be characterized otherwise than as criminal provocation?
8. From a juxtaposition of the two linesbefore and after the insurrection begananother important fact emerges: The appeals over the radio were intended only to take advantage of the Polish mass discontent with the policy of the nationalist and social-democratic leaders. The invasion of Poland by joint agreement with Hitler in 1939 and the subsequent bureaucratic suppression of workers rights in the Soviet-occupied territory had undoubtedly driven the Warsaw workers further over to the side of the nationalist demagogues and their social-democratic henchmen. Under the impetus of the Red Army victories against the Wehrmacht, however, the revolutionary aspirations of the masses probably rose and clashed with their allegiance to leaders who were kowtowing to the Allied imperialists. The Kremlin sought to utilize this situation for its own counter-revolutionary purposes.
Warsaw Got Only Token Aid
9. The Anglo-American imperialists, were naturally not averse to utilizing the insurrection for their own reactionary purposes, that is, to win the Polish masses over to the idea of a Poland within their sphere of influence. To this end, they rushed token aid to Warsaw, in the form of meager suppliesbut not until three weeks of unaided struggle had passed. To this same end they made the gesture of requesting the Kremlin for bases in Soviet territory for alleged use to supply the insurgents. When 2,000 Polish paratroopers in England volunteered to go to Warsaw, their request was denied. Token aid, on the other hand, was sent by Moscow also, late in September, when the insurrection had already virtually bled to death. Only when it became obvious that the insurrection was crushed did the Red Army resume its advance on Warsaw, which to this day is still in Nazi hands. This fact requires further scrutiny when we recall that, on the day the insurrection broke out, even the Stalinist press was reporting that the Nazis were evacuating Warsaw.
10. Regarding what happened inside the Polish underground, inside Warsaw, information is still very sparse. But two isolated items are worth our attention. The first is taken from the London Tribune, and reads as follows:
The Polish official daily accuses the Lublin Patriots (Stalinist National Council) of having disarmed and interned whole detachments of the Polish Home Army that were rushing from the provinces to Warsaw to assist the insurgents. The names of the detachments, their numbers, the places where they were disarmed have been published. What will the Lublin commander-in-chiefGeneral Rola Zymierskireply to this?
Kremlin Maintains Guilty Silence
Of course, no reply has been made to the charge. Silence here too indicates that there is some truth in it. If that is so, it points to the fact that the Warsaw insurrection must have aroused a tremendous response in the rural sectors of Poland, in particular in territory already occupied by the Red Army. The action of the Kremlin, if this is verified, was then not only confined to passive betrayal but amounted to active assistance in suppressing the insurrection.
Finally, in the British anarchist periodical, War Commentary (October), we find the following item: a decree issued by the Polish civil authorities during the first days (of the insurrection) proclaimed control of the factories by workers councils. This was a clear indication that the workers had already taken over.
The periodical does not give its source for this information, so it is difficult to check. But should it prove to be true, it would point to the very heart of the whole policy of the counter-revolutionary Kremlin gang in the Warsaw tragedy. Even so, an examination of the known facts permits us already to draw our conclusions:
1. Although the conflict over spheres of influence between the Allied imperialists and the Stalinist bureaucracy played a role in determining the policy toward the Warsaw insurrection, it was not the decisive factor. This conflict had effect only insofar as each side attempted to exploit the revolutionary aspirations of the Polish masses to undermine the prestige of the other.
2. The decisive factor making for the policy of betraying the insurrection was fear of the European revolution, of the independent action of the masses. Both sides share this fear equally and no doubt have had basic agreement on policy since the Teheran conference. Basic agreement, however, does not preclude jockeying for position among them. In the case of the Warsaw insurrection, the threat of revolutionary action was of more immediate concern to the Kremlin. The Allies, while doing nothing seriously to interfere with the betrayal of the Warsaw uprising, naturally took advantage to strengthen their diplomatic position as against that of the Kremlin.
3. Stalins policy was clearly aimed at the attrition of the uprising.
4. The betrayal of the insurrection, followed by the stalemate at Warsaw up to the present, appears to have been a direct blow to the Red Army even in a strictly military sense. It certainly was a blow against the defense of the Soviet Union in the broader political sense. In deserting the Warsaw insurrection and permitting it to be crushed by the Nazis, Stalin was applying a strategy directed at nipping in the bud every manifestation of the ferment which is developing into the European revolution.
5. Defense of the Soviet Union today, means in the first place defense of the European revolution against the imperialists and the counter-revolutionary Stalinist bureaucracy.
6. The successful development of the European revolution, with the coming defeat of Nazi Germany, can be assured only by the independent revolutionary action of the masses. The first task in that direction is the building of strong Trotskyist parties in every country under the banner of Socialist Revolution.
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