As children of Polish veterans of World War II (Polish Home Army [Armia Krajowa], Szare Szeregi [Polish Scouting Association]), we take great exception to the tone and historical accuracy of the promotional materials (web page and television advertisements) for the upcoming NBC mini-series, Uprising.


In telling a true story of one survivor's experience in this historical event, significant untruths regarding the history of World War II in Poland are being promulgated by NBC and its associates in this project.  These false innuendos and assertions not only fly in the face of established, fundamental and easily verifiable facts, but also hurt, insult and desecrate the experience of all survivors of the Nazi occupation of Poland, as well as those who lost their lives in fighting the occupant.


Specifically, we are in disagreement with the following line that appears in the Uprising web page (, and which is echoed in television trailers appearing on NBC stations nationwide:


"Against impossible odds, they hold off the German army longer than the entire country of Poland, determined to live with honor - and if need be, die with honor - while lighting the torch for resistance in the occupied territories."


These assertions are blatantly false in the following respects:


1.  The Warsaw Ghetto uprising did not light the torch for resistance in the occupied territories as Poland's resistance movement had already been operating in an organized manner, including both Christian and Jewish Poles, since its inception on September 27, 1939, just days after Poland was invaded. 


2.  Polish forces (including Christian and Jewish Poles) fought throughout WWII on all fronts

(Eastern, African, Italian, France, Holland, German [after D-Day], the Battle of Britain, and in German-occupied Poland by the Polish resistance).  These Polish forces participated in many of the major battles of the Second World War and Polish resistance, on the part of the entire nation was virtually continuous from the outset of WWII to V-E Day.


3.  Historical facts indicate that the Warsaw Ghetto uprising began on April 19, 1943, and ended on May 16, 1943, lasting a total of 28 days.  The defense of Poland lasted 35 days (September 1 - October 5, 1939). 


These facts can be verified in any history of World War II Poland (see bibliography attached).  It may interest all parties connected with this project to realize these important facts:


·        The government of Poland never capitulated to the Germans, as did, for example, France 


·        The Polish Resistance movement was one of the largest and most elaborate resistance movements of its kind in Europe.  (See Davies, "Heart of Europe," pg. 73)


Most disturbing are the implications of these inaccuracies:


1.  The promotional material suggests that the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and the invasion of Poland can be compared on equal footing.  This is an erroneous idea as the invasion of a country by two powerful forces from either side (Germany and the U.S.S.R.), with the full force of ground troops and air power, as was the case, can hardly be compared to the situation of the Ghetto uprising.  Such allusions are dangerous, misleading and ultimately incorrect. 


2.  Furthermore, one of the TV trailers states that the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto did what their country could not--hold back the Germans.  This, too, is dangerously misleading as neither the Polish nation (Christians and Jews together) could ultimately resist the Germans and Soviets in September of 1939, nor could the Polish-Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto resist the Germans in 1943.


Manipulation of the history of anti-Nazi resistance in Poland already in the trailers to the program raises questions as to the intentions of the authors, as well as to the contents of this mini-series.  As sons and daughters of Polish survivors of that horrible chapter in our world's history, we were raised on the stories of our parents, their families and friends who suffered, fought and resisted alongside our Jewish brothers and sisters for six hellish years under Nazi occupation.  The bravery, courage and sacrifice of each and every one of them is besmirched and dishonored by such openly false rhetoric, which ultimately discredits its authors.


It is shocking to us that in sharing a chapter of this ugly story, in all the research and preparation preceding its production, these very simple facts could have been overlooked or ignored.  We respect and honor the heroism against insurmountable odds displayed by the fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and applaud it as a testimonial not only to the strength of the human spirit, but also to the resolute will to resist demonstrated by the overwhelming majority of all Poles, Jews and Gentiles alike, throughout World War II.


Telling the story of the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943 does not demand that facts be distorted, nor does it call for ignorance of historical truth in order to elevate this determined, desperate battle by a handful of fighters to the heights of heroism and honorable death. 


Misrepresenting the facts, however, may discourage and repel a considerable number of viewers not only from watching the mini-series, but also from deepening their knowledge of Holocaust history. 


To those who consider our petition a matter of insignificant details, we ask why, then, would anyone bother creating and presenting such historical programs in the first place, if not to set the record straight?  As for the amount of time spent on research prior to production, this mini-series could have been researched for one hundred years, but the assertions made in the promotional materials would still be incorrect. 


We urgently request that you do the right thing and make the morally correct decision by putting an end to the dissemination of inaccurate historical information by removing the phrases in question from all promotional materials and efforts concerning Uprising.



What was the Polish Home Army?



The Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa or AK, in Polish) takes its name from the Polish word, kraj, which can loosely be translated to mean homeland.  These forces fought the enemy in Poland.  In addition, there were the Polish Forces under British Command, which included Air Force, Army and Navy and numbered about 250,000 men and women.


The beginnings of the Home Army can be found in the first days of the German occupation (1939).  On the eve of Warsaw's capitulation to the Nazis (September 28, 1939), a resistance organization, the Service for Poland’s Victory was established. At the same time, however, scores of other smaller and larger resistance groups were spontaneously springing up all over Poland, independent of the SPV.


Founded by generals and officers of Poland’s army, the SPV became the main group of its kind in the country.  It functioned as the military arm of Poland’s secret government, which also was created in the first days of the war. Both the government and its army functioned under the auspices of the Polish Government-in-Exile, located first in Paris, then in London.


In 1942, Poland’s entire resistance movement was consolidated into a single organization, the Home Army.  It consisted of a network of patriotic young men and women (most between the ages of 18-22), and eventually some children as young as eleven.  Its soldiers functioned in absolute secrecy in “cells” of three to five people and were known only by their pseudonyms. 


The Home Army led a remarkable campaign of resistance against the German occupant.  It was one of the most extensive and resolute resistance movements in World War II Europe and numbered over 350,000 members. 


Throughout Poland’s occupation, from September 1939 - May 1945, the Home Army engaged in acts of sabotage and diversion, conducting military intelligence activities, and bolstering the spirits of millions of Poles in their darkest years.


The Army reached the pinnacle of its activity in late 1943 and 1944.  During this time, large units of the Home Army engaged in open warfare with German forces in Poland’s eastern territories and then in the Warsaw Uprising.








Who were the soldiers of the Polish Home Army?


The Polish Home Army was primarily made up of young men and women, and eventually children, born during the 21-year “interwar” period (1918-1939).  After almost 125 years of absence from the map of Europe, Poland regained its independence at the end of World War I.  In fact, the sovereignty of Poland was included as one of President Wilson’s famous Fourteen Points.  The two decades following could generally be characterized as a time of national rebirth. 


The young people of those times were a product of Poland’s legacy of struggle for freedom.  They were steeped in patriotism and inspired by the war stories of their older brothers, fathers and uncles, who had finally achieved the ultimate goal of independence.  Their love of country was further reinforced by tales of generations before them who fought unsuccessfully in uprisings against the monarchies that had partitioned Poland into non-existence (Prussia, Russia and Austria-Hungary).


When the war erupted in 1939, many of these young people were still in high school, while others were in the military, or were workers and professionals of various kinds.  They were the leaders, the flower of Polish society, and their poems, songs and art, produced amidst the destruction and hardship of the occupation and Uprising, attest to their passion, intelligence, creativity, talents, and zest for life and liberty.


Today, although many are no longer with us, their accomplishments after the war, after what they had witnessed and been a part of, are also a testament to their strength of spirit and person.  While many soldiers of the Home Army remained in Poland after the war, many of those taken to Germany as prisoners of war after the Uprising never returned home.  They were fearful of reprisals against them by the newly installed Communist government, which considered them enemies of the state. 


These individuals created new lives for themselves in Western Europe and in North America.  All of them pursued job opportunities or education, established families and became contributing members of their respective societies.


None, however, turned their backs on their homeland.  As long as Poland was under a Communist political system, the veterans resolutely lobbied the governments of the countries in which they settled and supported the cause of freedom taken up by various groups in Poland, most recently Solidarity.


Important Events of World War II in Poland



August 23, 1939                       Germany and the Soviet Union sign non-aggression pact, including

a secret clause on the partition of Poland


September 1, 1939                   Germany invades Poland at 4:45 a.m.; World War II begins


September 8-27, 1939             Siege of Warsaw


September 17, 1939                 Soviet Union invades Poland from the east


September 28, 1939                 The city of Warsaw signs capitulation to Germany at 1:15 pm


September 30, 1939                 Polish Government-in-Exile is formed in Paris, France by General Wladyslaw Sikorski


October 2-5, 1939                   Last battle of September Campaign by Nazi Germany against Poland at Kock; Poland is partitioned between Germany and the Soviet Union for the fourth time in almost 150 years


April 1940                                Polish Government-in-Exile moves from France to London, England


February 1942                         Polish Resistance movement is consolidated and reorganized into Armia Krajowa (Home Army), under the command of the Polish Government-in-Exile in London


September 27, 1942                 Council of Assistance to Jews (Zegota) organized in Warsaw by the Delegate of the Government-in-Exile; provides assistance (money, clothing, food, safe houses, medicine, falsified documents) to Jews in the ghettos, camps and in hiding with Polish families


April 12, 1943                          Discovery of mass graves of 4,200 Polish officers in Katyn forest in Soviet Union; ultimately mass graves of 20,000 Polish officers were discovered in the U.S.S.R., captured as POWs and murdered by the Soviets in the first months after their invasion of Poland's eastern territories


April 19, 1943                          Warsaw Ghetto Uprising begins; heroic effort by Polish Jews to die with honor on their own terms


May 16, 1943                          Warsaw Ghetto Uprising ends


July 22, 1944                           Polish Committee of National Liberation (PCNL) created in Lublin, Poland (already liberated by Red Army); declared as provisional government of Poland; under auspices of Soviet government


August 1, 1944                         Warsaw Uprising erupts at 5 p.m.; attempt at proclaiming independent Poland; in opposition to PCNL


October 2, 1944                      Warsaw Uprising ends


February 1945                         Yalta Agreement signed by Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin, establishing Soviet domination in eastern and central Europe


March 27, 1945                       General Leopold Okulicki, last commander of the Home Army, arrested by Soviet organs in Poland; sentenced to 10 years in prison in Moscow


May 1945                                Fall of Berlin; Germany unconditionally surrenders to Soviet and Polish troops; World War II ends


Timeline of Selected Resistance Activities in Poland


·        September 27, 1939 - “Service for Poland’s Victory”, the foundation of the Polish Resistance Movement is formed.


·        March 1940 – Directives for the sabotage and diversionary actions sent to Regional Commanders.  Included were sabotage of railroad transportation, gasoline and diesel depots, factories for the production of arms, storage depots of arms and of food. 


·        June 1941 – Germany attacks the Soviet Union


·        Summer 1941- a large unit, code name “The Fan” (Wachlarz), specializing in sabotage and diversionary activities deployed in Eastern Poland/ Western Russia behind German lines.

·        The unit was commanded initially by Lt.Col. Jan Wlodarkiewicz,”Jan”, and later by Lt.Col. Remigiusz Grocholski, “Doctor”.

·        During 1941-43, over 60 actions of sabotage carried out against the German supply routes and telecommunications.  Among them were the following:

·        April 1942 – Telephone lines were brought down over a mile along the road from Brest to Moskow,

·        May 1942 – German railroad transport of war materials was blown up and rails cut or destroyed many times,

·        July 1942 – German transport on Wermacht troops blown up; Germans engaged in a battle near Kopcewicze.


·        October 7-8, 1942 – Action”Wreath”, several railroad lines around Warsaw were blown up or otherwise destroyed, causing many hours of breakdown in transportation.


·        September 1942, Command for sabotage and diversion, code name  KEDYW,” was formed to plan and direct increased sabotage, actions carried out by partisans and production of a variety of arms. Increased actions against the Gestapo and informers were also planned.


·        Late 1942, Germans start the “pacification” of the Zamosc region.  In response, several partisan units are formed in the region beginning early 1943 to defend the population, and to carry out sabotage, diversionary actions and liquidation of Gestapo officials and informers.  Nine units were formed by mid 1943.


·        Jan 18, 1943, in Pinsk in Eastern Poland, the partisan unit led by Lt. Jan Piwnik, “Ponury”,

      freed several prisoners, among them three members of “The Fan” unit.


·        March 26, 1943, Warsaw. In daylight action, Jan Bytner “Rudy”, a leader of the Scouting Organization in south Warsaw imprisoned by Gestapo, was freed by members of his troop.


·        April 1943, Lwow in southeast Poland, Lech Sadowski “ “Wasyl”, was freed from German prison.


·        May 1943, Celestynow, a unit of the Scouting Organization frees a large group of Polish prisoners from a German railroad transport.


·        August 1943, Jaslo, 60 prisoners freed.


·        Battle with Gestapo, designed to instill fear in its prominent members.


·        May 6, 1943 – Otto Schulz, Gestapo leader known for exceptional sadism, was liquidated.


·        Dec. 13, 1943 – Emil Braun, one of the organizers of mass deportations from Warsaw, was liquidated.


·        Feb. 1, 1944 – Chief of the SS and German Police in the Warsaw district, Gen. Franz Kutschera, was liquidated, together with several of his security guards by “Rudy’s” scouts.


·        Dec.1943 – Pitschman, Chief of Gestapo in Kobryn was liquidated.


·        In the period from 1941 to 1945, some 5,000 actions against the German apparatus of terror were carried out.

Selected Bibliography


I.  From "Recommended Reading: Polish History" compiled by John Radziwilowski

Braun, Jerzy, ed. Poland in Christian Civilization, London: Veritas, 1985.

Cargas, James Henry, ed. Voices from the Holocaust. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1993.

Davies, Norman. God's Playground: A History of Poland, 2 vols. New York: Columbia University Press, 1982.
(In Polish: Boze Igrzysko, Krakow: Znak, 1989).

----. Heart of Europe: A Short History of Poland. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984.

Engel, David. Facing a Holocaust: The Polish Government in Exile and the Jews, 1943-1945. of North Carolina Press, 1993. Chapel Hill: University

Gut-Opdyke, Irene, with Jeffrey M. Elliot. Into the Flames: The Story of a Righteous Gentile Borgo Press, 1992. San Bernadino, Calif.:

Halecki, Oskar. A History of Poland. New York: Roy Publishers, 1942. (Reprinted many times since then.)

Iranek-Osmecki, Kazimierz. He Who Saves One Life: The Complete, Documented Story of the Poles Who Struggled to Save Jews during World War II. New York: Crown Publishers, 1971.

Kieniewicz, Stefan et al., History of Poland, Warsaw: PWN, 1979.

Lukas, Richard C. Did the Children Cry? Hitler's War Against Jewish and Polish Children, 1939-1945 New York: Hippocrene, 1994.

----. Forgotten Holocaust: The Poles Under German Occupation, 1939-1945. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1986.

Lukas, Richard C., ed. Out of the Inferno: Poles Remember the Holocaust. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1989.

Nowak, Jan. Courier from Warsaw. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1982.

Peleg-Marianska, Miriam and Mordecai Peleg. Witnesses: Life in Occupied Krakow. London: Routledge, 1991.

Polonsky, Antony, ed. My Brother's Keeper? Recent Polish Debates on the Holocaust. London: Routledge, 1990.

Proch, Franciszek J. Poland's Way of the Cross, 1939-1945. New York: Polish Association of Former Political Prisoners of Nazi and Soviet Concentration Camps, n.d. (late 1980s).

Reddaway, William et al., eds. The Cambridge History of Poland, 2 vols. New York: Octagon Books, 1971.

Roos, Hans. A History of Modern Poland: From the Foundation of the State in the First World War to the Present Day. London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1966.

Topolski, Jerzy. An Outline History of Poland. Warsaw: Interpress, 1986.

Wandycz, Piotr. The Price of Freedom: A History of East Central Europe from the Middle Ages to the Present. London: Routledge, 1992.

Wood, E. Thomas, and Stanislaw M. Jankowski. Karski: How One Man Tried to Stop the Holocaust. New York: John Wiley and Sons Inc., 1994.

Wyrozumski, Jerzy, Jozef Andrzej Gierowski and Jozef Buszko. Historia Polski. Warsaw: PWN, 1978.

Zajaczkowski, Waclaw. Martyrs of Charity. Washington, D.C.: Maximilian Kolbe Foundation, 1987.

Zamoyski, Adam. The Polish Way: A Thousand-Year History of the Poles and their Culture. New York: Franklin Watts, 1987.

II.  From


Anders, W., An Army in Exile, MacMillan, London 1949
ed. Anders, W., The Crime of Katyn: Facts and Documents, London 1965

Baluk, S, Poles on the Fronts in World War II, Warsaw 1995

Barbarski, Krzysztof, Polish Armour 1939 - 45, Osprey (Vanguard 30)

Bialoszewski, M., A Memoir of the Warsaw Uprising, Northwestern University Press.

Bielecki, T. & Szymanski, L., Warsaw Aflame: the 1939 - 1945 Years, Polamrica Press 1973

Cholewczynski, G. F., Poles Apart: The Polish Airborne at the Battle of Arnhem, Sarpedon N.Y. 1993

Ciechanowski, J.M., The Warsaw Rising, Cambridge.

Deschner, G., Warsaw Rising, Pan/Ballantine.

Garlinski, Jozef, Poland in the Second World War, MacMillan 1985

Glinski, M., Westerplatte, Wydawnictwo Gdanskie, 1998.
Irving, David, Accident: The Death of General Sikorski, William Kimber, London 1967

Karski, J., Story of a Secret State, London

Klukowski, Zygmunt, Diary From the Years of Occupation, 1939 - 44, Illinois Press,1993

Komorowski, B., The Secret Army, London.

Korbonski, S., Fighting Warsaw: The Story of the Polish Underground State, 1939 - 1945, London.

Kurowski, W., After The Battle No. 65: Westerplatte , Plaistow Press 1989.

Kurcz, F. S. (pseud. Skibinski, F.), The Black Brigade , Atlantis Publishing, London 1943
 Potyralscy, B.M. & Sakowska, R., The Warsaw Ghetto: 1940 - 1943, Warsaw

Rozek, Edward J., Allied Wartime Diplomacy: A Pattern in Poland, John Wiley 1958

Sosabowski, Major-General S., Freely I Served, William Kimber, London 1960

Zaloga, S. & Madej, V., The Polish Campaign, 1939, Hippocrene 1991

Zaloga, Steven J., Polish Army 1939 - 45, Osprey (Men-at-arms 117)

Zaloga, Steven J., Blitzkrieg: Armour Camouflage and Markings, 1939 - 1940, Arms & Armour 1990

Zamoyski, Adam, The Forgotten Few, John Murray 1995.
The Warsaw Ghetto No Longer Exists, Orbis Publishing Ltd., 1973.