New Polish initiative: The Warsaw Uprising museum said Monday that it is trying to track down former residents of the Polish capital removed from their homes by the Nazis during the 1944 revolt.
The museum, which has already acquired German documents related to the operation, now hopes also to gather accounts from witnesses. Museum director Jan Oldakowski described the German-issued residency cards given to it by a private donor as ``extremely precious and little known to historians.''
They contain the names of 545 people - mostly women and children - forcibly removed from their homes in Warsaw by German forces between August and October 1944. The museum posted the list of the names on its website in an effort to find any survivors or descendants who could recount their experiences.
``The stories were quite traumatic,'' Oldakowski said. Those evicted ``didn't know what would happen next, if they would be shot, or if they would be relocated.'' Oldakowski said the evictions are not a very thoroughly documented aspect of the uprising, and that witness accounts would help fill out historians' picture of what happened.
Documents in poor condition
Street-by-street fighting erupted in Warsaw on August 1, 1944, raging for 63 days. About 250,000 civilians were killed in the revolt, which the insurgents - largely ill-armed teenagers - waged in the hope of liberating the capital from the Nazis. However, the revolt was ultimately crushed and the city razed.
Oldakowski said that in the first days of the uprising, German troops were ordered to kill all civilians; but after protests from the army that this would tie down too many troops, residents were relocated or sent to labor camps. The residents were placed in temporary camps outside Warsaw, some placed later on with families in other parts of occupied Poland, Oldakowski said at a news conference.
About 700,000 residents were forced out of Warsaw in the fall of 1944. Approximately 60,000 of them were sent to concentration camps and another 100,000 to forced labor camps in Germany.