Beachhead "between bridges", Warsaw, September 1944

          At the early afternoon hours of September 19th, 1944, the artillery fire from the east bank of Vistula grew stronger. Polish and Soviet artilleries were shelling the German positions situated alongside the river and some targets located further away. At the same time Soviet and Polish airplanes began bombing specific targets in the area of the Saxon Garden, the Warsaw Main Rail Station, the National Museum, the over-passes of the Poniatowski Bridge and the Cross-city Bridge, the 1st Light Cavalary barracks (in Szwolezerow street), the Sejm Building and Al. Szucha street.
          Around 15:30 chemical forces and Il-2 airplanes (by dropping smoke bombs) began laying smokescreens in a broad front. At 15:45 firestorm was created within the artillery support of landing. At the same hour the units of the 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment under the command of captain Wlodzimierz Baranowski from the 3rd ID of the General Zygmunt Berling's Polish First Army. The destination of the landing was the area occupied by the Germans between the Poniatowski Bridge and the Rail Cross-city Bridge. So it began, one of the most unclear and controversial operations carried out by the units of the Polish First Army in the Second World War.

Russians come at the gates of Warsaw

          In the last days of June 1944, in the face of the success of the summer offensive and breaking through a broad section of the German front, Soviet forces reached the Vistula River in its middle reaches. Simultaneously, frontal 2nd Armored Army breached German defenses in the Praga's bridgehead, capturing, among others, Otwock, Miedzeszyn, the area of Stara Milosna, Wolomin, and Radzymin.
          In the war diary of the German 9th Army, on July 30th, it was noted down (source: Rozwadowski Piotr "Warszawa 1944-1945", Warszawa 2006, str. 36, 37): "During the night the enemy managed to breach our defenses on the wings, located in the area of Minsk, captured Wolomin in the north and emerged about 15 km northeast from Warsaw. Now Praga District, where there is almost no defensive equipment left in the northeastern fringes, lies almost open before the enemy."
          In the area of Otwock the units of Soviet 125th Rifle Corp reached the Vistula River and succeeded in the reconnaissance attempts of crossing the river there. Such operational situation in the front induced the Home Army (AK) Command in Warsaw to make the decision of initiating an armed uprising. On August 1st, 1944, at 5 p.m., forces of the Polish underground army began open fight for Warsaw. Despite losing a tank battle in the foregrounds of Warsaw - near Radzymin, the forces of the 2nd Armored Army had still 344 tanks and self-propelled guns in working order at their disposal.
          As a consequence of receiving the information about the outbreak of fights of the Polish underground in Warsaw - the Home Army that was recognizing the supremacy of the Polish government in-exile - according to Stanislaw Jaczynski, most probably on August 5th Joseph Stalin stopped the Red Army operations in that direction and ordered the Marshal Rokossovsky to: "Stop the offensive on Warsaw and await further orders". The front in the foregrounds of the capital freezed up for over a month.
          It was not until September 10th that the operation of liberating the right side of the Polish capital, Praga District, started. In the morning hours of that day reconnaissance by fight took place. The real attack began at 1 p.m., after over an hour artillery and air preparation. The attacking units were the forces of the 47th Soviet Army, with the Polish 1st ID (under the command of general W. Bewziuk) and the 70th Soviet Army assigned to it by the commander of the 1st Belorussian Front (1BF). Until the end of the day 1st ID breached the first defense position, inflicting serious casualties on the German 70th Grenadier Regiment (of the 73rd ID) and reached the road Czaplowizna-Wawer.
          On the next day soldiers of the 1st ID captured Wygoda and the road Grochow-Kaweczyn. Around 4 p.m., the 1st Infantry Regiment (the 1st IR) breached the second German defense position and before 8 p.m. they reached the third line, the one protecting buildings in Praga District. On their right the 76th ID liberated Rembertow, while the left wing (the 143rd and 175th IDs) reached the road Rembertow-Grochow - the southern outskirts of Watolin.
          On September 12th the battle for the right side of Warsaw entered into the decisive phase. Reinforcements were introduced into fight: the 8th Armored Corp (Russians) and the 19th Armored Division (Germans). That day forces of the Soviet Armies made little progress, as they were gaining the territory the enemy resistance was growing stronger.
          The final assault was launched on the next day. The 1st ID and the 175th ID were attacking the central part of Praga District, the 76th ID its northern part, whereas the 143rd ID the southern part with the area of Saska Kepa neighborhood. Polish units were supported by tanks and armored assault guns. The 1st IR captured Warszawa Wilenska Station, and the 3rd IR captured the barracks in 11 Listopada street right before midnight. Soviet divisions seized the junction of Grochowska, Podskarbinska, and Grenadierow (175th ID) as well as the eastern borders of Targowek District and Zacisze neighborhood (76th ID).
          On September 14th units of the 47th Army appeared on the Vistula riverside: the 1st IR in the area of the Kierbedz Bridge, and on September 15th in the area of the bridge near the Warsaw Citadel In the morning of September 15th Soviet 76th ID took Pelcowizna neighborhood. Praga District was captured completely at 5.30 a.m.
          The casualties of the 47th and 70th Armies amounted to about 7000 dead. The 1st ID lost around 2 thousand soldiers (524 dead). According to some sources, German forces that were defending Praga District lost 8500 soldiers, 400 of which were taken prisoners. This data should be verified - the losses are estimated to constitute half of the abovementioned numbers.

Soldiers of the General Berling's Polish First Army go to the front

          Stalin made friendly gestures (probably thinking about the positive reception in the world, mainly in the USA and in Great Britain) towards the fighting Home Army, practically in the middle of September, when the Uprising was dying away. He permitted the allied airplanes loaded with help for Warsaw to land in USSR territory, and ordered to organize Soviet air drops for the insurgents. He also made the decision of landing in Warsaw, organizing of which was assigned to the command of the Polish First Army. The order was given to General Berling on September 15th by the Chief of Staff of the 1st BF, General Michail Malinin.

The Decision

          In the morning of September 16th, 1944, the first sub-units of the 3rd ID (commander: Brigadier General Stanislaw Galicki) crossed over to the area of Czerniakow Gorny, controlled by the insurgents of Lieutenant Colonel "Radoslaw" (Jan Mazurkiewicz) and Captain "Kryska" (Zygmunt Netzer). In the first landing and during next nights (September 16/17 and 17/18) Czerniakow was reached by: the 1st Battalion, 9th IR, under the command of Lieutenant Sergiusz Kononkow, 3rd Batallion, 9th IR, under the command of Captain Stanislaw Olechnowicz, part of 2nd Batallion, 9th IR, as well as heavy machine gun squads, anti-tank rifle squads, mortar squads, and 45-mm anti-tank gun squads.
          In the morning of September 18th, also 9th IR's Chief of Staff, Major Stanislaw Latyszonek appeared in the beachhead, taking the command over all of the forces of the 9th IR situated in Czerniakow. Despite the attempts of the forces of General Berling's 1st Army to cross the river and join the units of 3rd ID with the soldiers of the insurgents army, the strategic initiative remained in the hands of Germans.
          The enemy was also receiving reinforcements - the group of Dirlewanger, advancing from the north was supported by two battalions of the 34th Schutzpolizei Regiment in the strength of over 1000 soldiers. September 18th was the decisive day for the further battle of the 9th Regiment. Germans attacked over a dozen times, assailing and exhausting the garrison of the beachhead. It seems that practically on that day the result of the fight was decided to the enemy's advantage. The area of the controlled beachhead was shrinking, and in the night of September 18th to 19th there was no longer any real support from the other side of the river.
          On the other side of Vistula, on September 18th, most probably in the afternoon hours, an important decision was made by General Zygmunt Berling. The commander of the Polish First Army decided to continue crossing over not to Czerniakow, but a bit to the north in the area between the Poniatowski Bridge and the Cross-city Bridge. It was planned to send two battalions of the 8th IR (commander: Lieutenant Colonel Konstanty Karasiewicz), again of the 3rd ID, which were to be supported by two sub-machine gun companies, an anti-tank rifle company and a Soviet Fougasse flame thrower company.
          According to the official, postwar version, supported among others by a PhD in History Jozef Margules (former soldier of 2nd ID), after capturing the beachhead on the left bank, these troops were to advance to the south alongside the left bank of Vistula. The forces of 8th IR were to strike from behind the enemy attacking the beachhead in Czerniakow and join both beachheads into one. The operation of 8th IR was to begin on September 19th, 1944, at 4 p.m., with the support of the whole Polish First Army's artillery and the artillery assigned to this operation by the command of the 1st BF as well as the air force of the Polish First Army and 16th Soviet Air Army, laying also smokescreen in the landing area.
          Jozef Margules justified the General Berling's decision by writing (Margules Jozef "Przyczolki Warszawskie", Warszawa 1962, s. 157): "The army commander did not underestimate the danger facing the 9th IR. It is showed in the original and right decision made on September 18th. The point of that decision was basically to help the 9th Regiment by organizing actions carried out by the sub-units of the 8th Regiment which crossed over to the left bank in the northern area in order to launch an attack on the left wing of the enemy forces surrounding the beachhead, attack him from behind and join with 9th IR. The decision seems fully justified. It's a pity that it was to be carried out in the afternoon hours of September 19th and not in the night of the 18th to 19th or in the morning of September 19th. It was this time difference that worked to the advantage of the enemy."

The landing and battles

          After having laid smokescreens in the area of the crossing, at around 15:45 strong artillery barrage began as a artillery support of landing in the area of two bridges. At the same hour the 1st Battalion of the 8th IR under the command of Captain Wlodzimierz Baranowski began crossing the Vistula River in 12 NLP pontoons (NLP pontoon - in russian NLP designates a light pontoon bridge park, made of plywood, which could pick up 25 soldiers, including 5-9 crewmen) and other means at hand.
          The 1st Battalion landed close to Poniatowski Bridge. Before 4:45 p.m. the army gained control over the riverside between the Poniatowski Bridge and the Cross-city Bridge, where Poles captured two enemy trench lines and took 8 prisoners. Then, at 5 p.m. further Polish units started to cross the river under heavy enemy fire: it was the 2nd Battalion of the 8th IR under the command of Kazimierz Pleizer, the Regiment's sub-machine gun company and an anti-tank rifle company. These units took heavy losses in men and crossing equipment.
          Apart from the above-mentioned forces two companies of 20th independent Soviet Flamethrower Battalion under the command of Second Lieutenant Zaslawski managed to reach the left riverbank. In this action 46 pontoon rides were made, during which 1056 soldiers (on the basis of the sappers' report of September 29th, 1944), 22 HMGs, 62 anti-tank rifles, 9 mortars and six 45mm guns were transported.
          Moreover, 9 Fougasse flamethrowers were transported (Soviet FOG Fougasse flamethrower was a static flamethrower of pyrotechnical-type, i.e. incendiary mixture was fired under the pressure of pyrotechnic gases. An advantage of such flamethrowers was their long range, e.g. in the case of the FOG it was over 100 meters. A disadvantage - the possibility of firing only one shot, which emptied its tank at once. Such flamethrowers were used mainly for defense purposes. Their were being set in the foreground of own defensive lines, aimed in the direction of the enemy, carefully camouflaged, e.g. dug in; and in case of enemy attack remotely ignited in the right moment.
          According to other data, 824 soldiers (Polish First Army's battle report of September 25th, 1944) or 873 (3rd ID battle report of September 21st, 1944). The number of over a thousand is somehow corroborated by German after-battle reports, counting up the losses of the Polish side.

Crossing the river

          As a result of heavy enemy fire, at around 8:30 p.m. the attempts of crossing the river by 8th IR were ceased. According to the 8th IR commander's relation, about 250 soldiers were killed during the crossing, 10 men on fell the right bank, and around 60 were wounded. Commander of the 2nd Battalion, Captain Pleizer, his deputy for political matters, and the deputy for operational matters got seriously wounded. As one can see, the 2nd Battalion was practically deprived of the command.
          What is worse, there was only one functional radio set on the beachhead - in the 1st Battalion had. All the radio sets of the 2nd Battalion, 8th IR, had drowned during the crossing. Commander of the 8th Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Konstanty Karasiewicz and the Regiment's staff had not crossed over and stayed on the right bank. Nor artillery battery was transported, as NLP pontoons could not be used for this purpose (light plywood pontoons), and heavy N2P (in Russian N2P pontoon designates a heavy pontoon bridge park, heavy pontoons suitable for transportation of higher numbers of soldiers, and even light tanks, e.g. T-70) ran aground. The losses in river crossing equipment amounter to about 20 pontoons and boats. After the landing on the left riverbank the units started to expand the territory of the bridgehead.
          The 1st Battalion captured a part of Nadbrzezna street nearby the Al. 3 Maja street. 2nd battalion was fighting at the end of the Cross-city Bridge. The sub-machine gun company, whose manpower shrank to that of a platoon, remained at the river, securing the area of landing line. The assault launched by two battalions succeeded in the beginning and reached Solec street. Here, instead of turning south to try joining with Czerniakow forces (according to theoretical assumptions, in accordance with the thesis stated by J. Margules), soldiers of the 8th IR engaged into fight with enemy and crossed Solec street heading west, with front groups advancing to the foot-slope near the National Museum.
          However, before the units of the 1st and 2nd battalions manageded to get to Al. 3 Maja street and fortify in captured houses and in the area of the spiral ramp near Poniatowski Bridge, Germans attack the wings with their reserves: "Hermann Göring" Panzergrenadier Battalion and a police task force of von dem Bach group. German units were supported by self-propelled guns, artillery and mortar shelling, as well as machine gun fire from overpasses of both bridges. According to the reports of the 3rd ID, German armored vehicles were described as "Ferdinands" (later "Elephant") - i.e. heavy assault guns, Panzerjäger Tiger (P) (Sd.Kfz. 184) tank destroyers. Nevertheless, most probably they were other assault guns: StuG 40 or StuG III. This case lingers on in memoirs and relations from the World War II period - all German tank used to be described as "Tigers", while all assault guns were named "Ferdinands".

Landing and first phase of fights in the beachhead between bridges in Warsaw, September 19th, 1944, Fig. by Piotr Wawrzkiewicz;

          Commander of the HMG platoon, 1st Company, 1 Battalion, 8th IR - Adam Czyzowski recalled the landing: (source: Danko Boleslaw "Nie zdazyli do Andersa. Berlingowcy", Londyn 1992, s. 204):
          "It was well after 3 p.m. when I saw sappers hauling pontoons from bushes towards the Vistula River. I thought: We are going to cross the river... There was no battle operation order. As soon as the pontoons were in the water, I heard the voice of company commander: - Get in! So I sat in one of the pontoons with my platoon and HMGs. There were also four sappers at the paddles. A moment later, the paddles moved and we boated, seeing nothing in front of us, as the river was smoky. The pontoon was running aground a few times, and then we jumped into water to haul it. All this under heavy enemy machine gun fire and artillery and mortar shelling. Seeing a smoky area, Germans were sure that something was happening there so they laid it under heavy fire. As a result of that firing, there were losses already in the moment of getting into the pontoon. The company commander was killed (...). In this hell of bursting bullets and shells I don't even know what time it was when our pontoon reached the other bank. Out of the battalion remained about 100 of us on that bank. After landing several soldiers were killed (...). My platoon also that time received no losses. When we pulled ourselves together, we ran to the buildings in front of us, at 17 Wybrzeze Kosciuszkowskie street."

German photograph which most probably shows the unit of "Herman Göring" Paratroop Panzer Division during the fights in Wola District (Warsaw) in the first days of August 1944.

          Main forces of the 8th IR, which got to the beachhead between bridges, got cut off from the river already on September 19th and then got divided into single encircled groups of defending soldiers. Already before midnight Germans captured the edge of their front trenches by the river and seized the riverbank completely. Around midnight communication with the right bank was cut off, as the only working radio set (1st Battalion) had been destroyed.
          The resistance of the soldiers of 8th IR was being broken gradually in each house, in each basement, where only small groups were defending themselves, often fighting without the command nor communications with each other. Joining with the sub-units of 9th IR and the insurgents who were fighting in Czerniakow resulted impossible. The same happened with breaking through to the insurgents in Srodmiescie District alongside Al. 3 Maja street. Although it needs to be mentioned that the attempts of joining were being undertaken by the forces of Czerniakow.
          The group of soldiers of the 9th IR together with the guide of a platoon (Armored Battalion "Zoska") - platoon commander, officer cadet, "Aleksander (A. Groinin) set off to meet with the landing group. The group managed to reach the river port of Warsaw Rowing Association (WTW) garrisoned then by the insurgents of "Czata" Battalion. Further advance of the group from Czerniakow was thwarted by German fire from an overpass of the Poniatowski Bridge. 9th IR soldiers and those landing between bridges and hidden in the area of the Poniatowski Bridge's spiral ramp could even see each other. Unfortunately, dense enemy fire and losses made direct joining of sub-units impossible.

German MG-42 machine gun position in Warsaw;

          The forces of the 8th IR were gradually giving in to the advance of a superior enemy force, fighting on the beachhead "between bridges", at the distance of around 1200 m from the insurgent units in Srodmiescie District and at around 600 m from soldiers of the 9th IR and the insurgents in Czerniakow. German positions on the overpasses of Poniatowski and Cross-city bridges, were towering over the area of the landing of two 8th IR's battalions. Apart from that, strongly manned positions in the National Museum and in the building of Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego (National Economy Bank) were successfully cutting the area of the beachhead from the insurgent Srodmiescie District.


          It seems that the evening of September 19th and the night of September 19th to 20th were decisive for the further fight. It was then when hope for the successful operation of the 8th IR disappeared. Instead of attacking alongside the riverbank towards the bridgehead in Czerniakow (in compliance with the theoretically planned operation), the sub-units of this regiment were advancing only to the west - towards Srodmiescie District. When the regiment transported its main forces on the west riverbank, there was no one of the command there. All the officers of the 2nd Battalion's command got wounded, while radio sets drowned in the Vistula River. The forces that landed were practically left without the command nor radio communication with the east bank. Apart from the evacuation of the wounded, which took place ad hoc during the landing, several soldiers made the attempt of swimming back across the river already in the night of September 19th to 20th.

Second phase of fights and liquidation of the beachhead, September 19/20 and 20, 1944. Fig. by Piotr Wawrzykiewicz.

          On the next day, i.e. on September 20th, on the beachhead between bridges the fate of the 8th Regiment was fulfilled. At the end of the day, only small teams were defending themselves while scattered in buildings and basements. Reportedly, some soldiers managed to penetrate into the city and join the insurgents. This information is not fully verified, however we find it in battle reports of the 3rd ID. Other soldiers of the defeated 8th Regiment retreated to the riverbank in the area at the ends of both bridges, where many wounded gathered earlier, including the commander of the 1st Battalion. There were around 60 men under the bridges.
          During the following night 29 soldiers of the 8th IR (including the wounded Captain Baranowski) crossed the river. Next night the sappers evacuated 12 soldiers from under the Cross-city Bridge. In the night of September 23rd to 24th, among others, last 3 soldiers were evacuated to the east bank. The losses of the fights in the beachhead were unusually high. The total of the dead, wounded and missing amounted to 740 soldiers, 485 of which were killed (on the basis of: Kazimierz Kaczmarek "osmy Bydgoski", Warszawa 1962, str. 121, i J. Margules "Przyczolki...", str. 223). One hundred sixty-four soldiers, 80 of which were wounded, were evacuated from the left bank.
          According to German reports, the losses of the Polish 8th IR amounted to: 500 killed during the crossing, around 280 after the landing, and about 300 Polish soldiers were taken into captivity.
          In the face of the failure of the operation on the left bank of the Vistula River, the command of the Polish First Army made the decision, most probably in the evening of September 20th, of desisting from crossing over the Vistula River towards Warsaw. According to this decision, the fighting areas of the 8th IR were to be secured by artillery and air support in order to protect the soldiers from the complete annihilation and to make limited reconnaissance and evacuation missions. Until that time the forces and means of the 3rd ID that could be used to cross over to the left bank had depleted. The 3rd ID had still at its disposal the following units: a part of the 9th IR, the 3rd battalion of the 8th IR and the 3rd battalion of the 7th IR (which was defending the eastern bank of the Vistula River).
          On September 20th, the commander of German forces in Warsaw, SS General von dem Bach noted down in his diary (source: Kwiatkowski M.J. "Tu mowi...", str. 504): "Yesterday's afternoon and last night in Warsaw were restless. I was about to have an afternoon nap when the horrible news (Tatarennachricht) came, which said that the Russian is laying smoke screens over the riverbank again. Shortly after, he attacked on the broad front. When one of my battle groups reported that 27 boats had been covered by artillery fire and sunk, others report me that the enemy landed on the central shore. These were the critical hours before the reserves began the counterattack. The counterattack in the night was already a complete success. Since this morning the riverbank is completely in our hands (...)."

German StuG III assault gun in the streets of Warsaw during the Uprising;

          On the basis of the abovementioned, it can be seen how big surprise it was for the Germans that the 8th IR crossed over to the beachhead between the bridges. At the time of laying the smoke screen on the whole river in the afternoon of September 19th, Germans assumed that it was then that the decisive landing of Polish and Soviet forces was to take place. Previous crossings to Czerniakow (the 9th IR, 3rd ID) and Zoliborz (mainly the 6th IR, 2nd ID) were treated by the enemy as the attempts of reconnaissance by fighting. Polish First Army should have prepared the operation better: provide more crossing means and put more forces into action (not just 2 battalions).
          After the crossing of large forces (2, 3 regiments), supported by the artillery, and even tanks, these forces should have been trying to join with Czerniakow and Srodmiescie at all costs on that very day. Then, for sure, the actions on the right bank would have been more effective...


          Why, after having landed on the left side of the Vistula River, the units of 8th IR did not head to the south, towards the bridgehead in Czerniakow - which, according to the theory of J. Margules, was the main and only aim of the landing, and headed to the west, to join with Srodmiescie District? Was it expcetionally unresponsible wilfulness of ordinary soldiers or the officers who were giving them orders. Or was it that the most important objective of the landing was the cooperation with the insurgent Srodmiescie District, and not with Czerniakow?
          This theory is corroborated by the factual actions of the 8th IR's battalions on the left riverbank, who were advancing only towards west, and not to the south. It is also confirmed by the recollections of soldiers, e.g. this fragment (source: Kaczmarek Kazimierz "Osmy Bydgoski", Warszawa 1962, s.113): "We expected to see insurgents in windows, basements and on the roofts, but we only found sharpshooters there".
          Jozef Margules presented his thesis (based on the orders) in the books published in 1962 ("Przyczolki Warszawskie" [eng. "Warsaw Bridgeheads"]) and in 1967 ("Boje 1 Armii WP w obszarze Warszawy sierpien - wrzesien 1944" [eng. "Battles of Polish First Army in Warsaw, August-September 1944"). Other perspective is revealed by Zygmunt Berling in a fragment of his memoirs, which were published in 1981 ("Rzeczywistosc" nr 10, July 26, 1981 ["Reality"]). On the basis of the above, General Berling was to have known about the attack of the insurgents of Srodmiescie District alongs Al. 3 Maja street towards the Vistula River.
          The Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Army was probably counting on the cooperation of the Polish People's Army (PAL), because he stated in his memoirs that the failure of the operation of the Polish First Army on the Warsaw bridgeheads ocurred due to the fact that he had "Germans, the front commander and the commmander of the Warsaw Uprising" against himself. From the abovementioned fragment it results that Berling was thinking about the commander of the PAL, Colonel "Zaborski" Julian Skokowski when writing "the commander of the Warsaw Uprising". The PAL forces that were fighting in the uprising amounted to about 500 poorly armed soldiers, dispersed in different parts of isolated districts of Warsaw. They could not in any possible way launch offensive actions the commander of the Polish First Army was seemingly counting on.

General Zygmunt Berling;

          Final doubts are cleared by Zygmunt Berling in his memoirs published in 1992, stating (Berling Zygmunt, "Wspomnienia. Tom 3. Wolnosc na przetarg", Warszawa 1991, s. 370, 371): "On September 17, I considered the situation critical. (...) In such a situation I unexpectedely received the message that the communication had been established with a BCh group [Bataliony Chlopskie - Peasants' Battalions;a Polish resistance movement and partisan organisation] (naturally he meant Polish People's Army - note by Szymon Nowak) in the area of Foksal street, commanded by my old friend, one-armed Colonel Skokowski. It was a nice surprise. It was done by priceless Ensign Minuczyc from the reconnaissance of the 1st ID. He reached Skokowski and left him his radio set with telegraphist. This fact gave me the basis to a new decision.
          I decided to lay smokescreen on the Vistula riverbed on the whole length of Warsaw and order the 8th IR, 3rd ID, to cross the river under this smokescreen below Poniatowski Bridge and to strike on the wing and the rear of the enemy attacking the bridgehead in Czerniakow and return that place to its previous state. The external wing of that strike was to be secured by the Colonel Skokowski's group...
          I personally dictated the order for Colonel Skokowski and I know that he received it on time... the surprise in this place was a total success. With a heavy artillery support, the regiment broke German defense quite fast and reached the overpass of Poniatowski Bridge and Czerwonego Krzyza street. In that moment Colonel Skokowski was supposed to strike along Al. 3 Maja street. Unfortunately, the rocket signals were left without an answer. Colonel Skokowski did not move from a place..."

          Prof. Tadeusz Rawski, PhD, (former soldier of the 6th ID) defined the actions of the 8th IR and the hope placeb by General Berling in "meeting Polish People's Army under the command of Colonel Skokowski halfway" in just one word: "provocation".

Military parade in the city ruins - It was not until January 17th, 1945, that Polish forces liberated the destroyed and demolished Warsaw;

          It seems almost certain that General Berling had been entrapped into the landing operation of the forces under his command on the beachhead between the Poniatowski Bridge and the Cross-city Bridge. On September 30th, 1944, Stalin personally undersigned the order of Berling's dismissal, on October 4th he was removed from the position of the commander of Polish First Army. Theoretically for "wilful and wrong carrying out the landing operation of the 3rd ID of the Polish Army across the Vistula River" (words of General Michal Rola-Zymierski, on the basis of Jaczynski S. "Zygmunt Berling...", page 312).
          Most probably, General Berling was dismissed from his post as a result of political and personnel power games which were taking place in the PKWN [Polish Committee of Nation Liberation] and in the Polish Army. Two misprepared and misconducted landing operations (in Deblin and in Pulawy in July and August 1944, and, above all, in Warsaw 1944) were just a pretext for the abovementioned. General Berling was succeeded by General Wladyslaw Korczyc.
          After September 23th the front at the Vistula River practically freezed for the time of five months. In the meantime, on October 2nd, 1944, the insurgents signed the capitulation. It was not until January 1945 that the offensive of Soviet forces began. Polish First Army liberated the Polish capital on January 17. Polish soldiers liberated desolate ruins and rubbles of Warsaw... and mass graves of the Insurgents and civilians.

Contemporary view on the area between bridges from the east end of Poniatowski Bridge (September 4th,2004, by Sz. Nowak); ;

The plaque in Al. 3 Maja street (near the Museum of the Polish Army) commemorating the farthest limit of advance of the soldiers of the 8th IR, 3rd ID in September, 1944. Inscription says: "To the soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division "Romuald Traugutt" of the Polish First Army, heroes of the battles for the Vistula River and the bridgeheads in the fighting capital who advanced to this place in September, 1944. September 17th, 1981, Warsaw (taken on September 4th, 2004, by Sz. Nowak);

The Landing Plate commemorates the soldiers of the 3rd IR who died in fights for bridgeheads (taken on September 4th , 2004, by Sz. Nowak)

The cross at 1 Wilanowska street in Czerniakow in the place of the insurgents redoubt - the inscriptions engraved on three boulders commemorate those who fell in Czerniakow: Fr. Jozef Stanko "Rudy", Captain Andrzej Romocki "Morro", soldiers of "Siekiera-Kryska", "Radoslaw" Groups, and the 3rd Infantry Division "Romuald Traugutt" (taken on September 4th , 2004, by Sz. Nowak)

Szymon Nowak


          1. Berling Zygmunt, Wspomnienia. Tom 3. Wolność na przetarg, Warszawa 1991;
          2. Borkiewicz Adam, Powstanie Warszawskie. 1944. Zarys działań natury wojskowej, Warszawa 1964;
          3. Dańko Bolesław, Nie zdążyli do Andersa. Berlingowcy, Londyn 1992;
          4. Encyklopedia II wojny światowej, Warszawa 1975;
          5. Jaczyński Stanisław, Zygmunt Berling, Między sławą a potępieniem, Warszawa 1993;
          6. Kaczmarek Kazimierz, Ósmy Bydgoski, Warszawa 1962;
          7. Kempa Wojciech, Na przedpolu Warszawy, Siemianowice Śląskie 2007;
          8. Kwiatkowski Maciej Józef, Tu mówi powstańcza Warszawa... Dni Powstania w audycjach Polskiego Radia i dokumentach niemieckich, Warszawa 1994;
          9. Margules Józef, Boje 1 Armii WP w obszarze Warszawy (sierpień - wrzesień 1944), Warszawa 1967;
          10. Margules Józef, Przyczółki Warszawskie, Warszawa 1962;
          11. Rozwadowski Piotr, Warszawa 1944-1945, Warszawa 2006;
          12. Sawicki Tadeusz, Czy Armia Czerwona mogła uratować Powstanie Warszawskie, Wojskowy Przegląd Historyczny nr 2/1989;
          13. Sawicki Tadeusz, Rozkaz: zdławić powstanie. Siły zbrojne III Rzeszy w walce z Powstaniem Warszawskim 1944, Warszawa 2001;
          14. Wczoraj i dziś Trauguttowców. Wydanie okolicznościowe. 45 rocznica powstania 3 Pomorskiej Dywizji Piechoty im. Romualda Traugutta 1943-1988, Warszawa 1988;
          15. Wyganowska-Eriksson Anna, Pluton pancerny Batalionu Zośka w Powstaniu Warszawskim, Gdańsk 2010.

          Attention! The complete text can be found in the special issue 6(39)/2010 of the "Militaria XX w." magazine.

translation: Paweł Boruciak

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