The day the Soviets captured Warsaw

Hammer and SickleOn 17 January 1945, the Red Army captured Warsaw after pushing out the Germans. One occupying power replaced another throughout war-torn Poland.

The Soviets were not “liberators.” Only several months before entering Warsaw, they stood by on the other side of the Vistula River, watching as the German Nazis–their erstwhile allies in the partition of Poland in September 1939–crushed the Warsaw Uprising in August – October 1944. Quite simply, the Soviet dictator, Joseph Stalin, exploited the opportunity to slaughter much of the Polish patriotic underground, which was both anti-Nazi and anti-Communist, with German hands.

Thus, while the end of the German occupation spelled freedom in Western Europe, it was only a swap of totalitarian occupations in Central and Eastern Europe.

Pawel Styrna
Research Assistant, The Kosciuszko Chair of Polish Studies

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