Lwów Uprising

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Lwów Uprising
Part of Operation Tempest, World War II
Polish soldiers fighting in the University of Technology area
Polish soldiers fighting in the University of Technology area
Date July 23 to July 27, 1944
Location Lwów
Result Polish victory
Belligerents
Armia Krajowa  Nazi Germany
Commanders and leaders
Władysław Filipkowski

The Lwów Uprising (Polish: powstanie lwowskie) was the armed struggle started by the Polish resistance movement organization Polish Home Army (Polish: Armia Krajowa) against the Nazi occupiers in the city of Lwów during World War II. It began on July 23, 1944 as a part of a plan of all-national uprising codenamed Operation Tempest. The uprising lasted until July 27 and resulted in liberation of the city. However, shortly afterwards the Polish soldiers were arrested by the invading Soviets and were forced to join the Red Army or sent to the Gulags. The city itself was occupied by the Soviet Union.

In late December 1943, the Red Army initiated yet another offensive. Already on January 4, 1944, the first Soviet units crossed the pre-war Polish border in Volhynia. By the end of March most of Tarnopol Voivodeship lay in their hands, with the Germans preparing to retreat behind the Bug River. Under such circumstances the Home Army devised a plan of a gradual uprising that was to break out before the advancing Soviets, defeat the withdrawing Germans and allow the underground Polish authorities to appear in newly liberated areas as their legitimate governors. The plan, code-named Operation Tempest, was put into action and by early July 1944 the local Lwów Home Army branch prepared specific orders for all Polish partisan units in the area.

According to the order of July 5, 1944, the forces of the Home Army within the city were divided onto five districts, each with its own centre of mobilization and different tasks. On July 18, the German civilian authorities and pro-Nazi Ukrainian militias withdrew from the city. The following day, the forces of the Wehrmacht left Lwów, leaving only a token force. This left large parts of the town practically in Polish hands. However, at the same time, several new divisions of the Wehrmacht appeared at the city's outskirts, causing the Polish headquarters postpone the uprising. It was not until the afternoon of July 21 that the first reconnaissance units of the Red Army arrived to the area. The following day the Soviet 29th Tank Brigade of the 4th Tank Army reached the city's limits. At that moment, the Polish Home Army decided to commence the battle against German fortified outposts.

The German forces withdrew from the city's outskirts and fortified themselves in the city centre. In the early hours of the following day, what started as a series of skirmishes resulted in an outbreak of heavy city fights. The first to join the fight was the 14th Home Army Uhlans' Regiment, clearing the suburb of Łyczaków and pushing towards the old town along Zielona and Łyczakowska streets. In the western area, the Polish forces outnumbered the Germans and were able to capture the Main Train Station terminal. The southern area was almost abandoned by the Germans and the Polish forces were able to capture the 19th century citadel with large military supplies depots.[1] This success allowed the supply of the Polish troops with badly needed arms.

On July 23 the heaviest fighting ensued in the city centre and the northern district, where the Poles were able to capture only the Gas Works, preventing their demolition by the German troops. In the city centre, the partisans were aided by the entire Soviet 10th Tank Corps that was gradually joining the fights. The Soviets advanced in three wedges. One of them aimed at the southern area, already cleared from any German resistance by the Polish units. The two others reinforced the Polish units attacking along the Zielona and Łyczakowska streets. By the end of the day, the last column reached the Old Town Square and the Poles captured the Old Town Market.

(...) Afterwards, the civil and military authorities were summoned for a meeting with Red Army commanders and captured by the NKVD with guarantees of safety for all attendees provided. Despite these guarantees, the Soviets arrested some 5000 Polish soldiers who were sent to "Miedniki" gulag. The remaining forces of col. Władysław Filipkowski were forcibly conscripted to the Red Army, sent to Gulag or escaped to rejoin the underground.

References[edit]

  1. Bolesław Tomaszewski; Jerzy Węgierski (1987). Zarys historii lwowskiego obszaru ZWZ-AK. Warsaw: Pokolenie. p. 38. 
  1. ^ Jerzy Węgierski "W lwowskiej Armii Krajowej" PAX, Warszawa 1989 ISBN 83-211-1044-4