reducing the city to runs: a german account
The following vivid account of the unequal struggle in Warsaw by an SS war corresponded has just been published in the German Press:
In these past days a punishment such as no metropolis had ever before experienced, was inflicted on the great city on the Vistula. Already from a distance we can see the enormous palls of smoke in the sky. Detonations and the thunder of guns reach our ears only as a distant rumble. Over our street a fighter formation flies in the direction of the wall of smoke.
After an hour we reached Praga, the industrial quarter of Warsaw. Burt-out housed dead factories, smouldering ruins – there were the first sight that met our eyes. German thanks were just driving up. Behind them came armoured cars manned by riflemen. Wherever they were, enemy fire died down and only single sharp-shooters from well-camouflaged positions went on firing, refusing to give up their senseless resistance. A shock-troop detachment and some tanks were brought into action against a nest of resistance. You could not be too careful, for the insurgents had heavy mortars and plenty of ‘petrol cocktails’ (Brandflaschen), with which they had also armed women and children.
Welcome of Fire
We reach a block of flats in which many insurgents were still defending themselves. Fire form hundreds of rifles welcomed us. There was no need for us to fly for cover, for the bullets bounced off our armour like peas. We picked a target. We gave it a burst of 100 shots of machine-gun fire. The weapon spat savagely into chosen window. The one among us who saw it first exclaimed “Knocked out!” We just saw a rifle falling on the pavement from the windows under our fire.
Suddenly the air shook. Like a crushing blow from a first bombs of our fighters wiped out a nest of resistance somewhere behind the Citadel. The other weapons were silent for a moment, as if they had to pause while the bombs did their work. But soon it was there again. It screamed and whistled – the unrelenting fire. Mortars joined in, their muzzles pointing at the target. They did not wait until the missile had described its steep curve, but shot followed shot in the quickest possible succession straight on to the target. Two men with white and red armlets tried to escape. The machine-gun barked at them. For them, all is now over.
The street was lifeless. Burnt-out windows looked down from the wall, blackened by fire. Very occasionally one saw an undamaged house. Bedding, furniture, and a pram lay on the ash-grey pavement.