The History Girls: Women of the Warsaw Uprising, by Clare Mulley

Gravestone of a female resistance fighter,
Powąnski Cemetery, Warsaw.
(Copyright Clare Mulley)

This month marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the Warsaw Uprising. By the summer of 1944 the tide of the Second World War had turned. The Soviets, now Allies, had reversed the German advance, and France was fighting towards liberation. Sensing change, the Polish government-in-exile authorized their highly organised resistance ‘Home Army’ to rise up against the extremely brutal Nazi forces occupying their capital.

On the 1st August thousands of Polish men, women and children launched a coordinated attack. The Poles had faced invasion on two fronts at the start of the war, and were well aware of the dual threat to their independence. Their aim now was to liberate Warsaw from the Nazis so that they could welcome the advancing Soviet Army as free, or at least fighting, citizens. Moscow radio had appealed to the Poles to take action, but the Red Army then deliberately waited within hearing distance for the ensuing conflict to decimate the Polish resistance before making their own entry. The Warsaw Uprising is remembered as one of the most courageous resistance actions of the Second World War, but also…

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