Tadeusz Rajszczak "Maszynka" (left), Ryszard Michał Lach, and one other young soldier from "Miotła" Battalion, 2nd September 1944


The Warsaw District Home Army forces ranged in size from 20,000 to 49,000 soldiers. Other underground formations also contributed, with estimates ranging from 2,000 to 3,500 men total, including members of the National Armed Forces and the communist People's Army.

Most of them had spent years training in partisan and urban guerrilla warfare but had no experience fighting in broad daylight. Because the Home Army had shuttled weapons to the east of the country prior to the decision to include Warsaw in Operation Tempest, the forces lacked equipment.

Rafalska-Kodymowska was just 16 at the time of the uprising.

Surviving Warsaw Uprising insurgents honoured in series of moving posters – The First News

A group of insurgents during the battle.

Mikołaj Kaczmarek

Colonel Antoni Chruciel (codename "Monter"), who commanded the Polish underground forces in Warsaw, divided his units into eight areas:

  • Sub-district I of Śródmieście (Area I) which included Warszawa-Śródmieście and the Old Town;
  • Sub-district II of Żoliborz (Area II) comprising Żoliborz, Marymont, and Bielany;
  • Sub-district III of Wola (Area III) in Wola;
  • Sub-district IV of Ochota (Area IV) in Ochota;
  • Sub-district V of Mokotów (Area V) in Mokotów;
  • Sub-district VI of Praga (Area VI) in Praga;
  • Sub-district VII of Warsaw suburbs (Area VII) for the Warsaw West County;
  • Autonomous Region VIII of Okęcie (Area VIII) in Okęcie;

A woman handing cigarettes to a group of insurgents surrounding her. The company sign visible in the background is of a firm owned by Seweryn Staniszewski seated on Jasna 13-15. First days of the Rising.

2013 © Warsaw Uprising Museum

The units of the Directorate of Sabotage and Diversion (Kedyw) remained attached to the Uprising Headquarters.

On 20th September, the sub-districts were reorganised to correspond with the three areas of the city controlled by Polish units.

The entire force was renamed the Warsaw Home Army Corps (Polish: Warszawski Korpus Armii Krajowej) and commanded by General Antoni Chruciel, who was promoted from Colonel on 14th September.

Civilian fighters

On 1st August 1944, when General Tadeusz Komorowski, better known by his nickname Bór-Komorowski, issued the order for the AK to mobilise, the streets filled with AK soldiers rushing to their meeting points, many wearing civilian winter clothes to conceal weapons and ammunition despite the summer heat. The civilian population of Warsaw yearned for vengeance after nearly five years of Nazi occupation.

Unknown insurgent during the uprising.

2013 © Warsaw Uprising Museum

Jubilant insurgents overcome by joy after they capture a German stronghold in the Police Headquarters complex and the Holy Cross Church on 23 August 1944.

2013 © Warsaw Uprising Museum

The Jewish contingent

Other partisan groups deferred to the command of the Home Army, and many volunteers joined the fighting, including Jews liberated from the Gsiówka concentration camp in the ruins of the Warsaw Ghetto.

However, on occasion, antisemitism harmed Jewish fighters' morale, with antisemitic Poles even killing several former Jewish prisoners in combat units.

However, it is important to note that antisemitism was not the norm within the insurgent ranks and such violent incidents must be recognised as the exception to the rule.

On a more positive note - and more reflecting of the general attitude of the Home Army towards the Jewish population of Warsaw - the Armia Krajowa freed up to 100 Hungarian Jews from the custody of the SS.

Furthermore, in one of the most important actions of the Home Army on behalf of the Jews during the Uprising, the insurgents engineered the liberation of Jewish inmates of the Nazi concentration camp “Gesiówka,” where about 300 Jews were imprisoned. Many of them then joined the insurgents and fought in their ranks with distinction.

Although the AK leadership did not allow Jewish soldiers to serve in their ranks, some units were more tolerant and allowed what remained of the city's Jewish population to serve alongside their compatriots. The Socialist People's Army (Armia Ludowa), for example, readily accepted Jewish soldiers and volunteers into its ranks, but the decision was ultimately determined by the attitude of the commanding officers.

In one case, a group of Jewish prisoners was allowed to join the ranks of the Zoka Storm Battalion. During the first week of the uprising, the battalion, which was mostly made up of Polish Boy Scouts, was given the mission of liberating Gsiówka, a concentration camp located on Gsia ("Goose") Street within the walls of the former Jewish Ghetto. Soldiers discovered hundreds of prisoners drawn up in two long ranks in the middle of the camp after the AK captured it. This "Jewish Battalion," led by Henryk Lederman, was prepared to fight. 

Micuta, the commanding officer, was astounded by the site and stated:

Róża Maria Goździewska, youngest Polish Nurse in the Warsaw Uprising at 8 years old. 1944

Foreign fighters

The exact number of foreign fighters (obcokrajowcy in Polish) who fought in Warsaw for Poland's independence is difficult to determine, given the chaotic nature of the Uprising, which resulted in their irregular registration.

They were thought to number in the hundreds and come from at least 15 different countries, including Slovakia, Hungary, the United Kingdom, Australia, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Greece, Italy, the United States, the Soviet Union, South Africa, Romania, Germany, and even Nigeria.

21-year-old Polish fighter Zbigniew Knotowski, wearing a captured German helmet, who was killed during the Uprising.

Mikołaj Kaczmarek/Warsaw Rising Museum

Insurgent Wiesław Chrzanowski with a captured MP-40 machine gun, resting in front of a fireplace, during a rare moment of peace.

Mikołaj Kaczmarek/Warsaw Rising Museum

An insurgent takes a moment to read his letter. Judging by his expression, the message it holds is important.

"Powstanie Warszawskie" - cała kronika w kolorze. "Warsaw Uprising"-the whole chronicle in color - Bing video

These individuals - emigrants who had settled in Warsaw prior to the war, escapees from numerous POW, concentration, and labour camps, and deserters from the German auxiliary forces - were absorbed into various fighting and supporting formations of the Polish underground.

They wore the underground's red-white armband (the colours of the Polish national flag) and the Polish traditional independence fighters' slogan 'Za nasz I wasz wolno'. Some of the 'obcokrajowcy' displayed exceptional bravery in combat and were awarded the highest decorations of the AK and the Polish government in exile.

Wounded Cpl. Julita Cyrus-Sobolewska (codename “Lidka”), a soldier from “Grażyna” Company of “Harnaś” Group on Świętokrzyska.

2013 © Warsaw Uprising Museum


Polish military supplies included 1,000 guns, 1,750 pistols, 300 submachine guns, 60 assault rifles, 7 heavy machine guns, 20 anti-tank guns, and 25,000 hand grenades as of 1st August at the start of the uprising.

During the fighting, the Poles received additional supplies via airdrops and captured enemy vehicles, including two Panther tanks and two Sd.Kfz. 251 armoured personnel carriers. Throughout the fighting, resistance workshops produced weapons such as submachine guns, K pattern flamethrowers, grenades, mortars, and even an armoured car (Kubu).

Polish insurgents using a variety of captured equipment.

Mikołaj Kaczmarek/Warsaw Rising Museum


Approximately 18,000 insurgents were killed and 25,000 were injured during the fighting in Warsaw. The civilian population suffered massive losses, amounting to approximately 180,000. After the Warsaw Uprising was crushed, approximately 500,000 surviving residents were forced to flee, and Warsaw was nearly completely destroyed.

Mikołaj Kaczmarek/Warsaw Rising Museum

Fighters from the Anna Battalion on Dąbrowskiego Square.

Mikołaj Kaczmarek/Warsaw Rising Museum


After the war, Witold Kieżun, pictured here at the age of 22, became a professor and internationally recognised economist. 

Soldiers from the legendary Battalion 'Umbrella′.

From left to right: an unrecognized liaison or paramedic. ′Kama′ (Maria Stypu łkowska-Chojecka), Picha ′Krzych′ (Krzysztof Palester - died 21.09.1944 in Upper Czerniak.
Hotel ′Savoy′ is visible in the background.

Mikołaj Kaczmarek

Mikołaj Kaczmarek

Warsaw insurgent, Włodzimierz Wiśniewski "Cygan" from the "Harnaś" Battalion with a captured hand machine gun ZB wz. 1926, captured after an attack on Police Headquarters. 

The ZB wz. 1926 was a Czechoslovak light machine gun developed in the 1920s, which went on to enter service with several countries.

Mainly used during World War II, The ZB vz. 26 influenced many other light machine gun designs including the British Bren light machine gun and the Japanese Type 96 Light Machine Gun.

The ZB-26 is famous for its reliability, simple components, quick-change barrel and ease of manufacturing.

Mikołaj Kaczmarek


Warsaw insurgents in front of the barricade on ul. Tamka at the intersection of ul. Solec. In the background a tenement house on ul. Tamka 13 with 'Fruit' store. August 20, 1944

Polish underground resistance of the Warsaw Uprising pose in the doorway of a house on the 1944 Pl. Napoleon, Warsaw.

Mikołaj Kaczmarek


A Polish insurgent wearing a captured German helmet, standing guard during the uprising.


Sebas62 Cervera

A group of insurgents during a pause in the fighting, displaying a range of clothing and captured weaponry.

Mikołaj Kaczmarek

Grave of insurgents from battalion "Chrobry I" killed on August 31th, 1944 in wing of Simons' department store at Wyjazd street.

Further reading


Many of the incredible colourised pictures you seen on this page were created by. Mikołaj Kaczmarek. More of his amazing work can be seen on his Facebook page. 



Mikołaj Kaczmarek

Warsaw Rising Museum




Joachim Joachimian


Tadeusz Bukowski


Sebas62 Cervera