Wola massacre

As Wola massacre the conditions imposed by the German occupying forces mass murder of Polish civilians of Warsaw is part of the town he called Wola during the Second World War.

Shortly after the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising s was essentially composed of SS units and departments of the Order Police “Battle Group Reinefarth” command to Heinrich Himmler ordered to storm the area occupied by the Polish Home Army Wola in August 1944. During the fighting stopped – especially between the 5th and 7 August – next brutal attacks often lead to mass executions in the population. The number of murdered Polish civilians in these three days is estimated to be about 30,000. To 12 August 1944 loss estimates even up to 50,000 inhabitants Wolas their lives. The specific action of Adolf Hitler should break the fighting spirit of the Polish troops, deprive them of the support of the population and so save the German units expected losses in urban warfare. This goal was not achieved. The Wola massacre was measured by the number of victims, the largest singular war crimes during World War II.

Warsaw Uprising

On 1 August 1944 the Warsaw Uprising broke out in occupied Warsaw. Hitler appointed contrary to the proposal of the General Staff Heinz Guderian, not the Wehrmacht, but the SS with the suppression of this rebellion, the and Himmler first appeared to him as a convenient excuse to destroy the city of Warsaw and a terrible example to other occupied territories to create.

Participated German units and personnel management

On 3 August appointed Reichsführer of the SS Himmler in Posen initially the Higher SS and Police Leader of the Reichsgau Warta Country, Heinz Reinefarth, the person responsible for the crackdown. His chief of staff, Colonel Kurt Fischer. SS-Hauptsturmführer and superintendent Alfred Spilker also belonged to Reinefarths subordinates, he should as head of the Einsatzgruppen of the Security Police and the Security Service (this included the task force of the Security Police 7a at the 9th Army and the security police assumed guard of Pawiak prison be) one of the main perpetrators of the massacre in Wola. On 3 August reported later than the “butcher of Warsaw” designated Reinefarth the evening at the command post stationed near Warsaw 9 Army, he was initially assumed. During the next day he made himself familiar with the situation in Warsaw. On 5 August 1944 he reported the first days use its group nor to the Commander of the 9th Army, General of Panzer Troops Nicholas of foreman.

On 5 August 1944 was SS-Obergruppenführer Erich von dem Bach-Zalewski of Hitler commissioned to quell the uprising. It was directly subordinate to Himmler and he was given the command of all German forces in Warsaw (Corps Group “From Bach”) license. His Ia was the later SS-Hauptsturmführer Kurt Krull. The Corps initially consisted of “Battle Group Reinefarth” and the second on August 1944 formed “Kampfgruppe pipe” (next to the disposal of Bach Zalewski numerous, smaller Wehrmacht units – mostly in the department or Battery strength. These included artillery, infantry, assault pioneer and armored infantry troops). To support standing in a field replacement battalion of the Parachute Panzer Division “Hermann Goering” ready. As of September 1944, von dem Bach-Zalewski then also the 19th Panzer Division assigned under Lieutenant General Hans Källner.

The operations of Major-General Günther tube “battle group tube” were under the Warsaw Police Units (including quite different departments of the work and train protection) under SS and Police Leader Paul Otto Geibel, and consisting only of two battalions and 1,700 men strong, on 4 August from Częstochowa zoom out SS Division “RONA” under Bronislaw Kaminski and his regimental commander Major Yuri Frolov. He also possessed some Wehrmacht units.

In Wola, above all, the “battle group Reinefarth” level with her ​​commander Reinefarth. It included some battle-tested and has already been incurred in the past by their brutality units of the SS and was about 6,000 man core of the group was the infamous SS special unit “Dirlewanger” the convicted SS Standartenfuhrer Oskar Dirlewanger, which consisted of two battalions and had been requested from Elk. First, the approach led to the suburb Sochaczew Dirlewanger had only 16 officers and 865 men. On 4 August 1944 his unit was filled with about 1,900 inmates of the SS prison Danzig Matzkau and changed their name to “Assault Brigade.” In the following days Dirlewanger received another 600 men. Dirlewanger was a third battalion – the Second Azerbaijani battalion “Bergmann” – assigned.

The second part of the troops Reinefarth group were of the order police units that had been deducted from Posen. This, also called “Poznań group” known troupe had originally consisted of 16 gendarmerie companies from Poznan, Gniezno, Ravich, Pabianitz and other cities. Due to losses they had to be reduced to two police regiments together with 12 companies. At the Poznan troupe included a company of the SS Junker School Braunschweig Posen Treskau. The total of almost 3000-strong units were poorly armed with heavy weapons.

Finally, the group was also the fuse Regiment 608, with its three battalions – allocated under Colonel Willi Schmidt – consisting of 20 officers and 600 enlisted men and officers. The soldiers of this unit had been returned from combat duty because of their age and also only partially suitable for the following urban warfare.

To von dem Bach-Zelewski units were diverse, smaller “foreign peoples organizations”, in which Russians, Cossacks, Turkmens (where it was five Cossack divisions, two Russian riders departments and two ostmuselmanische SS companies) and other Azerbaijanis (Aserbeidschanisches Infantry Battalion I/111 man with a thickness of 200) served under Captain Werner scraping mountain. Total standing of the Bach Zalewski in the first two weeks of August, about 11,000 men at his disposal. Partly because the Russian troops Kaminski Division should operate in addition to their main field Ochota in the Wola district, said about half of the soldiers serving in the German army in Wola no German.


Himmler had the following Hitler’s wishes, instructions given to make against combatants and civilians en no mercy. Using the use of terror tactics of the will of the insurgents should be broken. In the later Nuremberg trials n described by Bach-Zalewski his first meeting with the competent until then Reinefarth in Warsaw:

Of the Bach Zalewski, yet to oversight of fortresses on the Vistula River in Sopot reassigned, reached by flight from Gdansk to Wroclaw and drive from there to Warsaw the city on 5 August by 17 clock. His staff he brought initially in Sochaczew. At the time fought for several hours and murdered German units already in Wola.

5 August 1944

Reinefarth directed his command post at the railway viaduct at the Woloska one. He stood on the morning of 5 August 1944, and later as “Black Saturday” (Czarna Sobota) refers to some 5,000 soldiers available to eliminate the insurgent troops in Wola and the Lieutenant-General and Captain-Rainer Stahel and its enclosed by the Home Army Staff and the Warsaw Governor Ludwig Fischer reach the Brühl Palace. Some of its units (especially police) he held back as a reserve this first counter-attack German troops after the start of the uprising.

On the Polish side of the commander of the revolt, Antoni Chruściel decreed (pseudonym: “Monter”), in Wola Radosław about the group (named after Lieutenant Colonel January Mazurkiewicz pseudonym “Radosław”). This group consisted of several battalions, five of which from combat experienced and relatively well equipped Kedyw units (during the occupation of Poland by German troops operating in the underground organization Kedyw was part of the Polish Home Army and had each of sabotage, assassinations and armed struggle German units and specialized collaborators) were compiled. Much of this strong force, however, was to secure the Kamler factory (production of furniture, corner Ulica Okopowa / Ulica Dzielna) located on the southwest tip of the former ghetto headquarters of the Supreme Commander of the Home Army, Tadeusz Komorowski, has been shut down. So the attacking from the west and southwest Germans were numerically far inferior Polish units – mostly in street barricades – against. Only at the cemeteries (Powązki Cemetery, Protestant Cemetery, Jewish Cemetery, Islamic cemetery and Tatar cemetery) in the north Wolas was a major Polish association with about 1,000 fighters. These units were under heavy losses (around 50%) then the site until the 10th August stopped. Some barricades were manned by members of the former Armia Ludowa.

At 8 clock, the attack began with a slight fire bombing by the Luftwaffe. Reinefarth his group had split into four units of some of the AOK 9 Army tanks have support questions. In the preparation of the thrust reports of the positions of the Home Army of German people living in Wola s were incorporated. The German troops began about two kilometers west of the Ulica Towarowa the advance to the opposite direction in ostwärtiger Wola. It went on the left (northern) flank against the battalions of the regiment fuse 608. As they came upon the Jewish cemetery on ulica Młynarska and there lying, strong Kedyw units, they were stopped by sniper fire. 500 meters to the south remained the motorized police companies already established here after some 100 meters in advance of the Wola Hospital stuck. Only Dirlewanger troops, equipped with five PaK, inspired by the Woloska south east were advancing, were able to reach the level of Towarowa that day. They worked around a barricade of poorly equipped Polska partia Socjalistyczna that could be turned off from the rear. Greater enemy contacts differed Dirlewanger men however. So on the first day of the Home Army lost only 60 soldiers (20 dead, 40 wounded). The German troops even lost only six men.

Was more bloody by the Germans against civilians – the procedure – mainly women, children and the elderly. On the now partially Woloska conquered the inhabitants were driven out of their houses and partially executed immediately on the length of one kilometer. Others were driven westward in large groups to the site of the works in the Ursus Ursus district, where they were shot. According to a compilation of the Polish Main Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Poland were so alone along the Woloska on 5 August 1944 at least 10,000 civilians executed by machine-gun fire or shot in the neck:

•Woloska 26: over 100

•Woloska 43, Pranaszek factory grounds: ca 1000

•Woloska 55, Ursus factory site: several thousand

•Woloska 60: ca 500

•Woloska 76, St. Adalbert Church

(Kościół św. Wojciecha): about 400

•Woloska 78: ca 3000

•Woloska 101: a few hundred

•Woloska 102: a few hundred

•Woloska 105-108: ca 2000

•Woloska 122: about 700

•Woloska, Sowiński Park: ca 1000

•Woloska 140, St. John Climacus Church

(Cerkiew Św. Jana Klimaka): about 60

•Woloska 140a, St. Lorenz Church

(Kościół św. Wawrzyńca): a few hundred

•Woloska 151: about 50

Dirlewanger’s men also broke into two hospitals located in Wola (the Wola Hospital in Ulica Płocka and St. Lazarus Hospital, Ulica Leszno) and also murdered here around 1100 patients and their caregivers. January Napiórkowski, a surviving member of the staff of the Lazarus Hospital later reported:

The Kaminski Brigade, which was from the southwest Coming advance (at the right edge) by Ochota with two peaks along Ulica Grójecka and held by German troops Mokotów airport on the Jerozolimskie Avenue and there lying, big Lindley-water filter systems, was out of Reinefarth over the radio. He wanted to ensure compliance with its orders by current unreliable troops through this narrow and direct contact. The two battalions led by Frolov Russians, however, were already in late. Although they were equipped with some loot tanks, but did not have enough ammunition. They attacked a result not as ordered, to unsuccessful Polish units at the barricades in the Wawelska and Ulica Kaliska. Instead, they looted houses and raped and murdered civilians. The lying on the Wawelska 15 Marie Curie Cancer Hospital became the scene of cruel crime. Sick wives and sisters working here were raped and murdered along with the doctors; hanged in part. Fire was placed in the hospital, people burned. Men prisoners were tortured. In the frenzy of violence and under the influence of alcohol, it even came to attacks on German women. So also KdF members were raped and murdered by soldiers of this brigade.

Reinefarth meanwhile complained to his supervisor foreman that allocated to him was not sufficient ammunition to shoot them all trapped civilians.

By 14 clock managed a company of the battalion under Zośka Waclaw Micuta using a captured Panther main battle tank to take the concentration and labor camp Gęsiówka. Here some 500 Jewish prisoners were freed. In addition, the conquered ground now allowed the preparation of the hitherto missing link between the insurgents in Wola and the old town.

6 August 1944

The next day the attack of the partially regrouped German forces continued. In the south, still was the Kaminski Brigade, in the north were now three rifle companies and the company of the SS leader Sciences Braunschweig. In the middle were the two battalions Dirlewanger, now reinforced by the Bergmann’sche Battalion, police and gendarmerie units from Poznan, Lodz, Pabianitz and of the gendarmerie school in Vistula Städt. As the hedging reserve Regiment 608, the field replacement battalion “Hermann Goering” and six other field gendarmerie companies were available. Furthermore, the SS Schumacher brigade “victory Ling” was coming.

The groups “middle” and “North” recorded when that day also higher losses, initial success. Reinefarth himself led the middle group itself and had already come in the morning along with two armored cars and Elektoralna Ulica Ulica Chłodna to the Palais Brühl trapped there for Warsaw Wehrmacht commanders before Stahel. To further action could be discussed. In the afternoon, parts of the I. Battalion Dirlewanger arrived to the Saxon Garden. The insurgents battalions “Parasol” and “Zośka” could not prevent the breakthrough. With the creation of the corridor operating in Wola and Ochota part of the Home Army were cut off from each other. The coordination of action initiated by the 9th Army Major iG parked Voelkel. The group “South” could, however, hardly achieve progress. As on the previous day was plundered and murdered especially.

Due to the higher losses in proceedings against the rebels vigorously defended barricades Reinefarths units put increasingly trapped civilians as human shields one. Groups of up to 300 Poland – often women and children – had to go before the German fighting vehicles, others formed living walls, behind which took German infantry cover. Still others were used during the fighting for clearing the barricades.

On the evening of 6 August 1944 saw the Polish commander in chief Komorowski forced to move its headquarters into the still little-fought Warsaw’s Old Town. Also on the evening of the day of the Bach-Zalewski ordered for tactical reasons, the setting of the looting and shooting of women and children. The violent excesses of the two days of fighting threatened to damage the discipline of the troops. He also realized that the desired effect of terror did not occur. Women and children should not be killed on the spot from now on, but stayed in camp and murdered by special task forces. Male civilians in Wola were, however, continue to execute. These later executions were mainly carried out by the troops of Hauptsturmführer Spilker, the task force of the security police in the battle group Reinefarth.

Subsequent days

On 7 August received the support of German troops in the meantime brought up armored units. Even now, people had to go groups as protection from the vehicles. Using the amplification of the corridor was now also the Plac Bankowy be recaptured expanded and secured along the Elektoralna like. Several hundred prisoners, male civilians had to leave barricades and were then shot in the Mirów halls.

Only on 12 August order was issued not to shoot and male civilians. Of the Bach Zalewski commanded to send such prisoners now in concentration or labor camps. Members of the Home Army were excluded from the scheme, they also no combatant was awarded enstatus.

Military consequences

The idea of ​​the German leadership to mobilize resources by the perpetration of atrocities the Warsaw population against the insurgents, was not fulfilled. But it was just the opposite. The beginning of the uprising to a large extent rather skeptical inhabitants of Warsaw now stood behind their home army. Whose troops seemed the only protection against the unscrupulous attacks of the Germans to offer. Tens of thousands of residents fled Wolas therefore in the occupied areas of the Home Army. The support readiness for the AK troops grew there. As a result of the fighting spirit of Polish soldiers was strengthened. The mass influx of residents but also led to a tightening of supply problems in the occupied territories.

Another consequence of the mass murders in Wola was the increasing brutality of the Polish soldiers approach. Particularly so outlandish German soldiers were not captured, but executed immediately in the following weeks. This included units that had not participated in the shootings in Wola. Their families could expect no mercy from the insurgents. In addition, the soldiers of the Home Army went on to shoot SS and police members. Only members of the Wehrmacht were captured for extradition purposes.

Under these circumstances, and also because of the tough urban warfare, the losses of the Germans were very high. Bach-Zalewski later estimated the number of fallen German soldiers to 17,000; came to another 9,000 wounded. The relative rate was high favor in his opinion to the brief battle Distances in connection with the accuracy of the Polish fighters. The German losses during the uprising were roughly the same height as that of the entire campaign in September 1939.

Combustion command

From the 8th August 1944 a force recruited from Poland arrested combustion command was formed, that the stacked corpses of those murdered had to burn. The responsible SS line wanted to destroy the traces of mass killings in addition to the prevention of disease risk. The approximately 100 members of the commands have been around mid Septemnber largely liquidated in 1944 after completion of the work.

Consequences for the perpetrators

On 5 November 1944 Reinefarth described in Poznan East German observer, a Gazette of the Reich Governor’s Correspondence of the Warta Country, under the headline “For the freedom of the Warthegau”:

On 30 September 1944 he was at the request of the Bach Zelewski than 608 Wehrmacht soldier was awarded the Oak Leaves to the Knight’s Cross. Reinefarth his part, had requested the Knight’s Cross for Dirlewanger, who – by Himmler praised as “brave Schwabe” – this also for his work in Warsaw on 30 September received. Dirlewanger was also invited by the Nazi Governor General Hans Frank to feast on the Krakow Wawel.


Oskar Dirlewanger was on 1 June 1945 arrested by allied troops n. He died on 7 June 1945 in a French prison. Erich von dem Bach-Zalewski was convicted a few years after the war
were never held accountable for his participation in the Wola massacre to justice. He died in 1972 in prison. Heinz Reinefarth also was not held accountable for his deeds in Wola responsible. He was even an impressive, unique pursue post-war career. So he became a lawyer, mayor of the town of Westerland, State Executive Committee of the GB / BHE and a member of the Schleswig-Holstein Landtag. Investigations against him were discontinued without charge. Reinefarth died 1979.

No standing in the massacre in Wola involved German or in German service soldier was prosecuted after the war in the Federal Republic of Germany. This is remarkable, since the German military historian Hanns noted by Krannhals in 1964, that the fact that Commanding the Wola Massacre witnessed the implementation of their commands with their own eyes, a new dimension of responsibility for war crimes would entail.

In 2008 called Janusz Kurtyka, the head of the Polish Institute of National Remembrance, by German authorities to prosecute surviving members of the Dirlewanger unit criminally. The Central Office of the State Justice Administration for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Ludwigsburg was involved. By chance we had noticed in Poland on the surviving soldiers. In search of witnesses, the Museum of the Warsaw Uprising the search service of the German Red Cross in Munich had obtained the names and addresses of about eighty members of the SS special formation Dirlewanger, who had returned in the fifties from Soviet captivity. For two years, these index cards were unheeded located in the archives of the museum, to a journalist from the daily newspaper Rzeczpospolita had come out and had established on the basis of phone book entries some survivors in the Federal Republic. A list of these are still alive, former soldiers Dirlewanger was released in May 2008 uprising museum.


•Adolf Ciborowski, Warsaw.Destruction and rebuilding of the city, Impress Publishing (PAI), Warsaw in 1969.

•Janusz Piekalkiewicz, battle for Warsaw.Stalin’s betrayal of the Polish Home Army in 1944, FA Herbig Publishing House, ISBN 3-7766-1699-7, Munich 1994.

Wola (Warsaw)

Massacre (World War II)

Nazi war crimes

Warsaw Uprising

Order Police

Waffen SS

Polish Home Army


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