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Operacja Ostra Brama
Part of Operation Tempest, World War II
Wilno ak 1.png
Dislocation of Polish and German units at the start of the fighting
Date July 6 - July 15, 1944
Location Vilnius, present-day Lithuania (pre-1939 Polish: Wilno, pre-war Poland)
Result Soviet victory
Belligerents
Flaga PPP.svg Polish Secret State (Armia Krajowa) Nazi Germany Germany  Soviet Union
Commanders
Aleksander Krzyżanowski
Antoni Olechnowicz
Czesław Dębicki
Rainer Stahel Ivan Chernyakhovsky
Strength
12,500 30,000 Unknown
Casualties and losses
~500 Unknown
Chapel of Ostra Brama, eponym of the Operation.

Operation Ostra Brama (lit. Operation Sharp Gate) was an armed conflict during World War II between the Polish Home Army and the Nazi German occupiers of Vilnius (Polish: Wilno). It began on July 7, 1944, as part of a Polish national uprising, Operation Tempest, and lasted until July 14, 1944. Though the Germans were defeated, the following day the Soviet Red Army entered the city and the Soviet NKVD proceeded to intern Polish soldiers and to arrest their officers. Several days later, the remains of the Polish Home Army retreated into the forests, and the Soviets were in control of the city.

There are some controversies involved in determining the result of the battle. From the Polish point of view, while the German defeat constitutes a Polish tactical victory, the ensuing destruction of the Polish units by the Soviets resulted in a strategic defeat, especially considering the goals of Operation Tempest. From the Soviet point of view, the operation was a complete success, as both the Germans and the Poles loyal to the London government suffered a defeat.

Uprising

On June 12, 1944 General Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski, Commander-in-Chief of the Home Army, issued an order to prepare a plan of liberating Vilnius from German hands. The Home Army districts of Vilnius and Navahrudak planned to take control of the city before the Soviets could reach it. The Commander of the Home Army District in Vilnius, then known as Wilno, General Aleksander Krzyżanowski "Wilk", decided to regroup all the partisan units in the northeastern part of Poland for the assault, both from inside the city and from the outside.

The starting date was set to July 7. Approximately 12,500 Home Army soldiers attacked the German garrison and managed to seize most of the city center. Heavy street fighting in the outskirts lasted until July 14. In Vilnius' eastern suburbs, the Home Army units cooperated with reconnaissance groups of the Soviet 3rd Belorussian Front.[1]

Soviets enter

General Krzyżanowski wanted to group all of the partisan units into a re-created Polish 19th Infantry Division. However, the advancing Red Army entered the city on July 15, and the NKVD started to intern all Polish soldiers. On July 16, the HQ of the 3rd Belorussian Front invited Polish officers to a meeting and arrested them.[2][3][4]

The internees, almost 5,000 officers, NCOs and soldiers, were sent to a provisional internment camp in Medininkai, a Vilnius suburb. Some of them were given the option of joining the 1st Polish Army which was integrated into the Soviet armed forces, while the majority were sent to the USSR.[5]

Subsequently, the remnants of the local Home Army HQ ordered all units to retreat to Rūdininkai Forest. It is estimated that by July 18 almost 6,000 soldiers and 12,000 volunteers reached the area. They were soon discovered by Soviet air reconnaissance and surrounded by the NKVD. Commanders decided to split their units and try to break through to the Białystok area. However, most of the Home Army forces were caught and interned.

An unknown number of soldiers under Lt. Col. Maciej Kalenkiewicz "Kotwicz" remained in the forests around the city until early August. On August 21, a minor battle between them and the NKVD occurred. Very little is known of their fate.

See also

References

  1. ^ (English) G J Ashworth (1991). War and the City. London: Routledge. pp. 108. ISBN 0-415-05347-1. http://books.google.com/books?visbn=0415053471&id=8nA_txFp7GQC&pg=PA108&lpg=PA108&q=Wilno&vq=Wilno&dq=War+and+the+City&sig=FksPAUjJmgaHTdKHXF0RdIY3Mzs.  
  2. ^ (English) Anthony James Joes (2004). Resisting Rebellion: The History and Politics of Counterinsurgency. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 47. ISBN 0-8131-2339-9. http://books.google.com/books?visbn=0813123399&id=IoCsbXb03bUC&pg=PA47&lpg=PA47&dq=Wilno+uprising+1944&sig=DNr9UY9V82HVlcBxfCJJ_CKKfiE.  
  3. ^ (English) Michael Alfred Peszke (2004). The Polish Underground Army, the Western Allies, and the Failure of Strategic Unity in World War II. McFarland & Company. pp. 146. ISBN 0-7864-2009-X. http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN078642009X&id=zhb2doihL1wC&pg=PA146&lpg=PA146&q=Wilno+uprising+1944&vq=Wilno+uprising+1944&dq=Wilno+uprising+1944&sig=PyfbCJOmvAL0VzoQu0DofZY-Pao.  
  4. ^ (English) Jan M. Ciechanowski (2002). The Warsaw Rising of 1944. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 206–208. ISBN 0-521-89441-7. http://books.google.com/books?visbn=0521894417&id=2kvvMiclgVMC&pg=PA207&lpg=PA208&printsec=8&vq=Wilno&dq=Wilno+uprising+1944&sig=dssBKL8F-Lf2eujhSc78M91fDmU.  
  5. ^ (English) Tadeusz Piotrowski (1997). Poland's Holocaust. McFarland & Company. ISBN 0-7864-0371-3. http://books.google.com/books?visbn=0786403713&id=A4FlatJCro4C&pg=PA99&lpg=PA99&q=Wilno+1944&vq=Wilno+1944&dq=Wilno+uprising+1944&sig=a4_dBoxddfKo3IA4RmY-CftNPlM.  

Further reading

  • Korab-Żebryk R., Operacja wileńska AK, Warszawa 1988.

External links

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