Author(s): Alexandra Richie
As Antony Beevor cast new light on the Battle of Stalingrad, Alexandra Richie here unearths the traumatic story of one of the last major battles of World War II, in which the Poles fought off German troops, street by street, for sixty-three days. The Warsaw Uprising of August 1944 was a shocking event in a hideous war. This is the first account to recall the tragedy from both German and Polish perspectives and asks why, when the war was nearly lost and resources were so urgently needed in the Fatherland, Hitler and Himmler decided to return to Warsaw bent on murder, deportation, and destruction. This was the only time in history that a European capital has ever been emptied of its entire population and destroyed street by street, house by house, razed leaving acres of smouldering ruin. Hundreds were thrown from windows, burned alive, trampled to death. The murder of 40,000 innocents on 5th August was the largest battlefield massacre of the war. But the Poles did not give in. Organized and popular, the Uprising, which had been expected to last under a week, fought off German troops including Himmler's most notorious SS battalions street by street, for sixty-three days. Alexandra Richie is connected to this story through her father-in-law Wladyslaw Bartoszewski who participated in the Uprising and whose vast archive forms the basis of the book, The book charts Nazi crimes but also through the testimony of a Pole press-ganged into a 'cremation detail' who, by living amongst them witnessed the break-down of morale in the SS at the end of the war. Dr Richie puts the Uprising in context of the collapse of Army Group Centre and the now forgotten battles which raged around Warsaw in the summer of 1944. She looks at the implications of Stalin's refusal to help the beleaguered Poles and shows for the first time how the Nazi leadership, and Himmler in particular, hoped that the increasing divisions between the Allies over Warsaw would lead to a Third World War. She also shows how the Uprising affected negotiations over the fate of post- war Europe and is rightly called the first battle of the Cold War.But above all else 'Warsaw 1944' is the story of a city's unbreakable spirit, in the face of unspeakable barbarism.
Praise for 'Faust's Metropolis: A History of Berlin': 'A combination of scholarship, elegant writing and grasp of the subject that has few rivals' Alan Clark, Daily Telegraph 'This magnificent work should be required reading for anyone with any curiosity about where Europe has been and where it is going' Piers Paul Read, Sunday Telegraph 'Richie has done brilliant work...the material is fascinating and she is an excellent descriptive writer' Ian Baruma, New York Review of Books 'This is a wonderfully rich book. Anyone who has ever felt the attraction of Berlin will revel in it. Those who have not done will do so as a result of reading it' Alan Massie, Daily Telegraph
Alexandra Richie is the author of Faust's Metropolis: A History of Berlin. She has lectured on international politics and history across the world, from Warsaw University to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. She lives in Warsaw with her husband and two children.