The Warsaw Uprisings 1943-1944

...another Images of War rom Pen & Sword

Title: The Warsaw Uprisings 1943-1944
Author: Ian Baxter
Publisher: Pen & Sword
ISBN: 978-1-52679-991-3

Another addition to the Images of War series from well known author Ian Baxter. A 127-page soft cover book, this is one which does cover what I always think of as a sensitive subject, one of the significant atrocities committed by the Nazi regime of Germany during WW2. Equally, for those of us interested in the history of WW2 we can't just close our eyes to some of the terrible events that happened.
The book is split into 4 chapters, each one with a few pages of text by way of introduction and explanation, then followed by a collection of archive images appropriate for each stage. So it starts with the Prelude, events in Poland after the German invasion in 1939 which led to Polish Jews being confined to particular ghettos, the largest of which was in Warsaw. Many were used as labour in factories that grew up around the ghetto, until the brutality of the Germans as they reacted to the Jewish Ghetto Uprising in 1943. Even after that, with the ghetto area destroyed, in 1944, with the advancing Russian armies getting ever closer, the Polish Home Army Uprising in 1944 ended with another brutal response from the SS, this time beyond the bounds of the old ghetto area, and with so many more Poles being sent to the death camps. One of the features of the book is the collection of archive photos, some of which I would describe as disturbing, and that many of them come from an album that was assembled for presentation to Himmler himself, to show how well they had carried out his orders. I can't help but feel amazed that they would assemble their own evidence of their criminal deeds. The final chapter covers the Aftermath. Completely ruined city and huge numbers of Poles murdered, men, women and children. The bravery of those Poles who fought, and many died, to hit back at the invader is one that does indeed warrant remembrance.
Today the city of Warsaw is rebuilt and indeed, re-populated, one of Europe's great cities. Hard to imagine perhaps what happened just 75 years ago. Questions remain, why did the Nazis do this, rather than treat them normally and so gain willing allies, and just why did the Russians decide to stop and let them destroy the heart of Poland at the time. A somewhat scary book in some ways, but a reminder of what humans can do to each other and surely ask ourselves why, so a tribute to the Polish people who died for their country and evidence from the misguided individuals who even recorded their own guilt.
Thanks to Pen & Sword for the review copy.