The Liberation of Warsaw: 79 Years Ago Today

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    On January 17, 1945, nearly obliterated Warsaw witnessed the entry of soldiers from the 1st Polish Army. The swift operation lasted only hours, as German forces, fearing encirclement, withdrew from the capital. The Warsaw Offensive, part of the Vistula-Oder operation, saw the 1st Polish Army, along with the 47th and 61st Armies of the 1st Belarusian Front, liberate the city.


    Facing minimal resistance, the Polish forces, led by Gen. Stanisław Popławski, swiftly secured the city. Intense but brief battles occurred, notably around Bielański Forest, Central Station, and the intersection of Aleje Jerozolimskie and Nowy Świat.

    January 17 marked the beginning of a challenging period, as Soviet and Polish troops, including NKVD units, entered the city. The ruins were cleared, and on January 19, a parade commemorated the event. Yet, for many, true freedom did not arrive, as the specter of Soviet influence loomed.

    Despite administrative challenges and harsh conditions, Warsaw’s resilient population returned, defying expectations. By month-end, the city’s population, amidst ruins, lack of resources, and bitter cold, had increased by 12,000.

    The anniversary raises reflection on the complex role played by the Red Army and the challenging aftermath of the city’s liberation, where ruins told stories of both resilience and loss.

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