The crimes committed by the Germans at the time of the Warsaw rising in August and September, 1944, occupy a special place among those committed in Poland during the recent war. These crimes, the victims of which were thousands of unarmed citizens, men, women and children, were committed by army troops in fulfillment of explicit orders given by the highest German army authorities; they were carried out by the germane Army and the German General Staff, institutions independent of the Gestapo.
The whole question is not essentially changed by the fact that the majority of these troops consisted of a police brigade in which criminals and Volksdeutsche served and of the Vlassov army* composed of Soviet prisoner-of-war (Warsaw population usually called them Ukrainians) for these were parts of the German army, under German Command. They were thrown into action and committed common crimes by order of the German High Command.
German soldiers and members of the Vlassov army in German uniform together committed atrocities on an unarmed civilian population. It is not material that certain of their criminal deeds, such, as the violation of women, were done principally by Vlassov’s men; these facts were known to the German officers who allowed them to happen. Vlassov’s troops were merely carrying out the crimes; they were pawns in a general criminal scheme. Everything that happened in the tragic days of the Warsaw Rising was know to and approved by the German Command.
Before we begin a detailed account of the German proceedings during the Rising, supported by the testimony of German generals and the texts of military orders, we shall first publish a series of reports of German crimes given by eyewitnesses. These consist of evidence taken from people who were present while the crimes were actually being committed; some of it from persons who were themselves victims of these crimes, but were lucky enough to remain alive.
These reports, which are undoubtedly truthful, cover only certain districts of the town and do not by any means account for all the crimes that were committed. They give, however, sufficient material to enable us to understand the methods employed and the kind of offences perpetrated on the civilian population of Warsaw. Military operations — in the proper meaning of the word — against the insurgents constituted only a small part of the German misdeeds; military operations directed against a tiny group of insurgents, which were justified from the military point of view, should not have brought about the death of tens of thousands of unarmed men, women and children, or the complete destruction and burning of the city. The crimes committed in Warsaw during the Rising were deliberately directed against the inhabitants, who had nothing to do with the activities of the insurgents; they were committed in districts where there were no insurgents, and where no action was dictated by military considerations. The following statements by witnesses and victims of German crimes in Warsaw constitute irrefragable evidence, which is at the same time an accusation against the German military authorities.
* See [ RONA ]