Archaeological excavations in the area of Old Bródno (on the right bank of the Vistula) revealed a burgh and a craft-trade settlement existing in the 10th and at the beginning of the 11th century. Following its destruction, the centre of commercial exchange moved to Kamion (Kamień, mentioned in 1065?) on the right bank of the Vistula, as well as Solec (on the left bank). The 13th century witnessed the development of a burgh in Jazdów (centre of the local authority – probably one of the seats of Mazovian Dukes) and its adjacent trade and service settlement. In 1262, the burgh in Jazdów was destroyed by the army of the Lithuanian duke Mindaugas.
It was probably at the turn of the 13th and 14th century that a new burgh was established and a new town was incorporated four kilometres north of Jazdów. Around the year 1300, a town was incorporated under the Kulm law (Old Warsaw). The first mention of Warsaw dates back to 1313. In 1408, another city was incorporated north of Old Warsaw (New Warsaw). Since the 15th century, Warsaw was the capital of the region and the duchy (until 1526). In the same century, it flourished as a significant trade centre maintaining contacts with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Silesia and Danzig.
Since the 15th century, Jews settled in Warsaw, but were banished from the city towards the end of the century. In 1527, Warsaw obtained the privilege De non tolerandis Judaeis, abolished only in 1768.
Further development was related to the inclusion in 1526, alongside Mazovia, to the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland, and the Union of Lublin, concluded in 1569. Warsaw became a major political centre: capital of the Mazovian Voivodeship, place of the General Sejms (since 1569), elections (since 1573), seat of the monarch and central offices. In 1569, the royal court arrived in Warsaw, and in the same year king Sigismund III Vasa launched the adaptation of the castle to the needs of a royal residence, to eventually settle down there with his court in 1611. The city grew in size and new settlements emerged; magnate residences were built on the outskirts of Warsaw, folwark farms were established, as well as private cities (called jurydyki), such as Skaryszew (town charter in 1641), Nowe Leszno (1648), Praga (1648), Grzybów (1650), Tamka (1652), Solec (1675). Urban infrastructure was improved. Waterworks were launched in the second half of the 16th century, cobbled streets appeared in the end of the 16th century, and the first permanent bridge on the Vistula functioned between 1568 and 1603. The city performed the role of a major centre of overland transit trade from the east to the west, maintaining trade contacts with the German countries, France, Italy, among others. Timber floating continued to develop, enabling transport of crops and forest products via Gdańsk, as well as import of industrial and consumption goods. Crafts developed on a smaller scale. In the first half of the 16th century, there were around twenty registered guilds dealing mainly with alimentary trades and services.
The royal court was the centre of cultural life (theatre, music group, opera – first Polish opera performance in 1628). Print houses emerged: 1624 – Jan Rossowski’s, 1635 – Jan Trelpiński’s, 1643 – Piotr Elert’s. Around the same time appeared the first guide to the city — Gościniec, abo krótkie opisanie Warszawy by Adam Jarzębski, published in 1643 r. [1.1]. In 1620, Warsaw counted around twelve thousand inhabitants, in 1655 – around twenty thousand. They were mainly the people of Mazovia, but also newcomers from other regions of the Crown as well as Germans, Italians, the French, the Dutch, Scots, Armenians and others.
The Polish-Swedish war (1655-1657), during which the Swedish army and the troops of George II Rákóczi took turns to seize Warsaw, brought about the destruction of the city and reduced its population (1659 – ca six thousand inhabitants). After the rebuilding of Warsaw in the second half of the 17th century, the beginning of the 18th century saw a new economic collapse following the ravages of the Northern War and epidemics.
The rebuilding and development of the city began after 1716. There was a large influx of foreigners mainly from Saxony and other German countries, as well as Italians, Hungarians, Russians, and the Czech.
Particularly comprehensive development occurred in the second half of the 18th century (the areas of Jazdów, Wola, Bielin). For that matter, a significant contribution came from the Grand Marshal of the Crown, Franciszek Bieliński, who headed the Street Commission (Komisja Brukowa) since 1742. Warsaw became the economic, political and cultural centre of the country, the focal point of the Polish Enlightenment. The first groups of intellectuals emerged, which distinguished Warsaw from other Polish cities at the time. Active since 1740 was the Piarists’ school Collegium Nobilium (until 1832). Since 1765, performances were held on the first professional public stage – the National Theatre. Periodicals developed (“Kurier Polski”, “Monitor”); the public Załuski Library was opened. In 1773, the Commission for National Education (Komisja Edukacji Narodowej, KEN) was established, followed by the foundation of its main body – Society for the Elementary Books (Towarzystwo do Ksiąg Elementarnych) – in 1775. The circle around king Stanisław August Poniatowski gathered literary and artistic milieus (Adam Naruszewicz, Ignacy Krasicki, Stanisław Trembecki; the so-called “Thursday dinners”); the reformed colleges and the Corps of Cadets gathered around them the academic circles headed by Adam Kazimierz Czartoyski; also active were Hugo Kołłątaj and Stanisław Staszic, among others. The political and social life of the city peaked during the Four-Year Sejm in 1788-1792.
After 1768, Jews started to settle in Warsaw anew; among others, they founded a settlement outside the city limits, called New Jerusalem (demolished after 1775). A large borough was established in Praga. The bourgeoisie of Warsaw played a decisive role in the Warsaw Insurrection in 1794 (within the Kościuszko Uprising, 1794). On 4 November 1794, the Russian army stormed and seized Praga, burning down the buildings and slaughtering their inhabitants. In the 1790s, the population reached 115 thousand (compared with ca 30 thousand in 1764). In 1791, the jurydyki were abolished and all settlements were covered with a single municipal authority.
After the third partition of Poland, Warsaw lost its political significance. The Prussian rule lasted from 1795-1806 and brought economic and political regression despite the formal status of a Prussian provincial capital – Southern Prussia. The population nosedived to ca 64 thousand – in 1803. After 1795, the Prussian authorities legalised the residence of the Jewish population in Warsaw and agreed to the establishment of a borough in the left bank area of the city. Cultural life came alive after a couple of years; a theatre run by Wojciech Bogusławski was active between 1799 and 1814, and the Society of the Friends of Sciences (Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Nauk, TPN) was launched in 1800.
Between 1807 and 1815, the capital of the Duchy of Warsaw; since 1815 – the capital of the Kingdom of Poland (dependent from Russia). Centre of political (sejm) and economic life of the country. Development of industry: textile (factories of S. Fraenkl, J. Geysmer), alimentary (e.g., breweries of E. Reych and Kazimierus), metal (e.g., agricultural machine factory Evans, cauldron factory of D. Hoek, and later Borman and Szwed, plating factory of W. Norblin and J. Fraget, vessel factory Wulkan), leather industry (works of M. Grosse, tanneries of Brothers Pfeiffer and J. Temler), chemical, paper industry. The Merchants’ Union (Zgromadzenie Kupców) was founded in 1817, and the Polish Bank (Bank Polski) operated since 1828. The city witnessed urban modernisation and spatial development. The population rose significantly: in 1816 – ca 81 thousand, in 1830 – 145 thousand. It was accompanied by a rapid development of the Jewish borough, which in the second half of the 19th grew to become the largest worldwide.
Science and culture flourished. In 1816, the University of Warsaw (Uniwersytet Warszawski) was established, complete with a fine arts faculty. In 1818, the Botanical Garden was set up by the University, followed by the Astronomic Observatory in 1825. The year 1820 saw the launch of the Agronomic Institute in Marymont, 1821 – of a conservatory, 1826 – of the Preparatory School to the institute of the Polytechnic, which in the advent of the November Uprising was transformed into the Institute of Polytechnic. Active entities included: the TPN; between 1826-1861, a Rabbi School headed by A. Eisenbaum and J. Tugendhold; theatre headed by L. Osiński (1814–1830). Modern periodical publishing bloomed (“Gazeta Codzienna Narodowa i Obca” and “Kurier Warszawski”, established by B. Kiciński, among other titles), the Jewish biweekly magazine ”Dostrzegacz Nadwiślański — Der Beobachter an der Weichsel” was published between 1823 and 1824, large-circulation printing houses emerged (N. Glücksberg’s, among others). Warsaw was the heart of the patriotic movement and an arena of activity of conspiracy organisations (Panta Koina, Związek Wolnych Polaków [Free Poles’ Association], Wolnomularstwo Narodowe [National Freemasonry], Towarzystwo Patriotyczne [Patriotic Society], among others).
After the outbreak of November Uprising on 29 November 1830, Warsaw was the seat of the uprising authorities. In 1831, for more than eight months it was the target and the centre of war activities (battles of Grochów and Wawer, among others), to be eventually seized by the Russian army after the storm to Wola on 6 September 1831. The collapse of the uprising ushered in a period of terror and political persecutions (symbolised by the Warsaw Citadel) under the reign of I. Paskiewicz. Cultural and academic life came to a standstill, the university and the TPN were closed, cultural activity was prohibited. Emigration struck a blow to the intellectual and artistic elite. Cultural and academic life clustered mainly in the editorial boards of periodicals (“Biblioteka Warszawska”, “Przegląd Naukowy”, among others), which were ersatz academic societies, as well as in salons, mainly of intellectuals (the most renowned run by J. Łuszczewska). The establishment in 1832 of a customs border between the Kingdom of Poland and Russia hampered economic growth, textile industry collapsed, trade was limited.
Development resumed in the mid-19th century. The abolishing in 1851 of the customs border and the protectionist policy of the government boosted trade with Russia. Warsaw-Vienna Railway was built between 1845 and 1848, followed by railways: Warsaw-Petersburg (1862), Warsaw-Terespol (1867), the Vistula Railway (1877). Circular railway was launched in 1876, which turned Warsaw into a major railway hub – the gateway in the exchange of goods between Europe and Russia. The years 1858-1864 saw the construction of the Alexandrian Bridge (Kierbedź Bridge), and 1875 – the first railway bridge, followed by the second in 1908 (both near the Citadel), and the Third Bridge (Poniatowski Bridge) in 1914. The first modern waterworks were built in 1855 (H. Marconi), and in 1886 – Lindley’s waterworks operating until the present day. Between 1864 and 1872, works began on the sewage system for the entire city; gasworks were launched in 1864. Horse tramway started to operate in 1866, telephone exchange – in 1881, power plant – in 1903, electric tramway – in 1908. A large credit for the development of the city is given to the mayor of Warsaw between 1875 and 1892, Sokrates Starynkiewicz (Russian).
The short-lived liberalisation of the policy of the Russian authorities (around 1860) infused a new life into periodical publishing (“Tygodnik Ilustrowany”, “Przegląd Tygodniowy”, “Ateneum”, “Niwa”, “Prawda”, among other titles). The period saw the establishment of: Towarzystwo Zachęty Sztuk Pięknych [Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts] (founded in 1860), Muzeum Sztuk Pięknych [Museum of Fine Arts] (founded in 1862, as of 1916 as the National Museum), Instytut Muzyczny [Musical Institute], Akademia Medyko-Chirurgiczna [Medical-Surgery Academy] (1857). Szkoła Główna Warszawska [Main School of Warsaw], operated in 1862–1869 as a higher school of a university character, which raised the entire generation of Positivists (P. Chmielowski, A. Dygasiński, J. Ochorowicz, B. Prus, H. Sienkiewicz, A. Świętochowski, among others). They restored Warsaw as an intellectual centre. Biological sciences developed (W. Taczanowski, B. Dybowski, H. Hoyer), chemistry (J. Natanson) and medicine (T. Chałubiński). A fact of immense significance was the release in 1859–1868 of S. Orgelbrand’s Encyklopedia powszechna (Universal Encyclopaedia), drawn up in collaboration with the academic milieus of Warsaw.
After 1860, Warsaw became a place of patriotic manifestations and centre of conspiracies prior to the January Uprising (1863-1864), and later – the seat of the uprising National Government (Rząd Narodowy). The fall of the uprising ushered in a new tide of Russification. The Main School of Warsaw was transformed into a Russian university. On the national level, Warsaw lost its leading role in culture and science to Lvov and Cracow. A significant role in organising the cultural and academic life of the period was played by major publishing houses (M. Orgelbrand, Gebethner and Wolff, J. Unger, F.S. Lewental), periodicals (“Głos”, “Ogniwo”), Józef Mianowski Fund (Kasa Józefa Mianowksiego, established in 1881), secret teaching (Uniwersytet Latający [Flying University]). In 1875, the Museum of Industry and Agriculture was founded, under which operated a number of research departments, including the meteorological station launched in 1885. The Branicki Zoological Museum, a major research centre, was founded in 1887. Also the Medical Society [Towarzystwo Lekarskie] (est. 1820), Gardening Society [Towarzystwo Ogrodnicze] and the Technologists’ Society (Stowarzyszenie Techników) demonstrated interest in research activities.
The enfranchisement of peasants in 1864 was followed by a mass influx of the rural population into Warsaw. In 1870, the city recorded ca 266 thousand inhabitants, while in 1941 – as many as 885 thousand. The Jewish community counted many thousands, comprising before 1914 around 42% of the population of Warsaw. The period saw a boom in the metal industry (machines, metal structures, means of transport, Akcyjne Towarzystwo Przemysłowych Zakładów Mechanicznych Lilpop, Rau i Loewenstein [Industrial Mechanic Works Stock Society Lilpop, Rau and Loewenstein], among others), alimentary industry (breweries, mills, sweets factories), while other industries: tanning, chemical, wood, mineral, confection, textile, paper, printing and metallurgy also developed. The number of factories grew from ca 250 in 1870 to ca 480 in 1893, and ca 1690 in 1914, and accordingly – the number of workers (from ca 5.8 thousand to ca 19.2 thousand, and ca 80.2 thousand in the respective years). Banking institutions were active (among others, Kasa Pożyczkowa Przemysłowców Warszawskich [Warsaw Industrialist Credit Fund], Bank Handlowy [Commercial Bank], Towarzystwo Kredytowe miasta Warszawy [City of Warsaw Credit Society], Bank Dyskontowy Warszawski [Warsaw Discount Bank], Towarzystwo Kredytowe Ziemskie [Estate Credit Society], Hipolit Wawelberg’s Bank with branches in Petersburg, among other locations), as well as numerous stock companies and trade firms.
In 1904, patriotic and anti-war demonstrations broke out. The workers’ strike in Wola (26-31 January 1905) sparked the revolution of 1905-1907 on the Polish territories. At the turn of 1905 and 1906, the Flying University was legalised as the Academic Courses Society [Towarzystwo Kursów Naukowych]. In 1907, the Warsaw Academic Society (Towarzystwo Naukowe Warszawskie] was established. Scholars gathered also in Warsaw’s private schools, such as H. Wawelberg’s and S. Rotwand’s Mechanical-Technical School, among others; there was a rise in the number of published scientific and popular-scientific periodicals. Given the lack of material infrastructure for experimental research between 1869 and 1918, it was social sciences that developed the most in Warsaw (L. Krzywicki, S. Krusiński, Sz. Dickstein, J. Dawid, among others), earth sciences — geography (W. Nałkowski) and geology (J. Morozewicz and J. Lewiński), as well as chemistry (J.J. Boguski), microbiology (O. Bujwid). The Philharmonic was active since 1901. In 1913, A. Szyfman’s Polish Theatre (Teatr Polski) was established, while the modernist “Życie” and “Chimera” were superseded by S. Krzywoszewski’s “Świat”, among others.
The outbreak of the war was followed by a political revival amid an economic crunch (evacuation of industrial plants to Russia, destruction of resource stocks). Since 3rd August, The Citizens’ Committee (Komitet Obywatelski) held social patronage over the population. On 5 August 1915, the city was seized by the German army. Towards the end of the 1915, Polish tertiary education institutions were opened: the university and the polytechnic (Politechnika Warszawska [Warsaw University of Technology]). Moreover, the Warsaw University of Life Sciences (Szkoła Główna Gospodarstwa Wiejskiego) and the Higher School of Economics (Wyższa Szkoła Handlowa) were launched between 1915 and 1918. In April 1916, the city expanded from ca 3.3 thousand to 11.5 thousand ha (the so-called great incorporation).
After Poland regained independence in November 1918, Warsaw was officially declared the capital of the state, and became the centre of administration and commerce. Between 13 and 25 August 1920, the outskirts of Warsaw saw the “Battle of Warsaw”, which decided the fate of the Polish-Bolshevik war of 1919-1921. In 1926, the May Coup took place in Warsaw.
Between 1924 and 1930, the city’s wealth doubled, and communal infrastructure was developed (waterworks, gasworks, transport). A makeshift airport operated since 1921, and a radio station followed in 1926. Since 1934, an urban redevelopment scheme was carried out by the mayor-commissioner (until 1938) of Warsaw, Stefan Starzyński. Education developed, including new schools on the tertiary level (Free General Polish University [Wolna Wszechnica Polska], Music Academy [Akademia Muzyczna]). The Judaistic Science Institute [Instytut Nauk Judaistycznych] was active since 1926, offering lectures run by M. Bałaban and rabbi M. Schorr, among others. The Museum of the Polish Army (Muzeum Wojska Polskiego) was established in 1920, and the National Library (Biblioteka Narodowa) – in 1928. In 1920 and 1927, Warsaw hosted congresses of Polish science. In 1939, the capital of Poland counted 10 tertiary education schools, which hired 37% of the total number of academic lecturers, and gathered 45% of Polish students. New research institutes emerged (40 in 1939). International relevance was achieved by the mathematical school of Warsaw (Polish mathematical school) and the Lviv-Warsaw school of philosophy. The following academic milieus enjoyed considerable international prestige: sociology, experimental biology, physics, technological science. Warsaw was the seat of the majority of specialist academic societies. Many academic periodicals were published, such as “Nauka Polska” and “Fundamenta Mathematicae”. 38% of Polish academic book titles and 60% of circulations were published in Warsaw. Culture also enjoyed a revival. Famous literary groups were active (Skamander, among others), daily newspapers, apart from the older ones (“Kurier Polski”, “Kurier Warszawski”, “Kurier Poranny”), included also “Rzeczpospolita”, among others; both renowned and newly established publishing houses operated on the market (the Arcts, J. Przeworski, Gebethner and Wolff, Trzaska, Evert and Michalski, Rój); landmark theatre activities were pursued by J. Osterwa’s Reduta, Ateneum headed by S. Jaracz, K. Adwentowicz’s Teatr Kameralny; cabarets flourished (the famous Qui pro Quo). Polish Academy of Literature (Polska Akademia Literatury, PAL) was established in 1933.
Industry developed, mainly metal industry (ca 47% of total employment), alimentary (extension of the factory E. Wedel), armaments, telecommunications, automotive, aircraft, chemical, printing. Following the sluggish period of the economic crunch of 1929-1933, the city developed in the 1930s. New areas were included within the city limits a number of times, extending the total territory from 11.5 thousand to 13.5 thousand ha; new residential areas emerged in the districts of Żoliborz, Mokotów, Saska Kępa, and Ochota. The population grew from ca 937 thousand (1921) to ca 1.3 million (1939), including ca 394 thousand Jews.
Until WWI and in the inter-war period, Warsaw was a centre of Jewish culture and the seat of political parties, social organisations, schools. Numerous daily newspapers were published. Printing and publishing houses operated as well as a theatre run by E.R. Kamińska.
Between 8 and 27 September 1939, Warsaw under German siege was defended by the Polish Army headed by Gen. J. Rómmel and Gen. W. Czuma, as well as the mayor of the city Starzyński (Civil Commissary at the Headquarters of Defense of Warsaw). On 28 September 1939, the city capitulated; 6 thousand soldiers and ca 25 thousand civilians perished, 50 thousand people suffered injuries. On 1 October 1939, the German army marched into Warsaw.
Under the German occupation, the city was the seat of the authorities of one of five districts of the General Governorate. Apart from the German Governor of the District, also active was the Polish City Authority (Zarząd Miasta), which became a stronghold of conspiracy activities despite German official control. From the start of the occupation, Germans arrested people in Warsaw and organised secret executions, among other locations, in the Sejm garden at night from 26th to 27th December 1939 – in Wawer (107 people). From December 1939 to July 1941 in the vicinity of the village of Palmiry, the Germans murdered ca 1.8 thousand people, which was followed by mass executions in the Kabaty Forest and in the Chojnów Forests. From May to the autumn of 1940, they accomplished the AB Action targeted against Polish intellectuals.
In November 1940, the ghetto was established (ca 0.5 million people), where disastrous sanitary conditions and famine led to the death of nearly 100 thousand people before July 1942. Between 22 July and 21 November 1942, the Germans deported ca 310 thousand people from the ghetto to the extermination camp in Treblinka. The deportation left ca 60 thousand people in the area of the so-called Large Ghetto. The Jewish Fighting Organisation (Żydowska Organizacja Bojowa, ŻOB) was active since 28 July 1942. A response to the German action of liquidation of the ghetto came with the outbreak of an uprising (Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943), which cost the lives of more than 10 thousand people, while another 50 thousand where deported by the Germans to the extermination camp in Treblinka. Having squashed the uprising, the Germans liquidated the ghetto and demolished the buildings in the area.
Since the autumn of 1943, the Germans carried out systematic street executions in Warsaw, which took the lives of at least 8.4 thousand people. The seat of the German security police (SD) in the Szucha Avenue and the prison in Pawiak were places of torture. Prisoners and people caught in street roundups (since 1940) were deported by the Germans to forced labour in Germany and to concentration camps (dozens of thousands of people).
Since the beginning of the occupation, Warsaw was the seat of the authorities of the Polish Underground State (Polskie Państwo Podziemne), including the Service for Poland’s Victory (Służba Zwycięstwu Polski), Armed Combat Union Police Headquarters (Komenda Główna Związku Walki Zbrojnej, since February 1942 – Home Army (Armia Krajowa). The Government Delegation for Poland (Delegatura Rządu Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej na Kraj) and the Political Consultative Committee (Polityczny Komitet Porozumiewawczy, operating between 1944 and 1945 as the Council of National Unity [Rada Jedności Narodowej]) were active since the autumn of 1940, as well as headquarters of other secret military organisations and all political factions and groups active in the underground. At night from 31 December 1943 to 1 January 1944 the State National Council (Krajowa Rada Narodowa, KRN) was established. February 1944 saw the foundation of the Centralisation of Democratic, Socialist and Syndicalist Parties (Centralizacja Stronnictw Demokratycznych, Socjalistycznych i Syndykalistycznych).
The city was the main centre of conspiracy publishing (secret publishing works of the Propaganda Committee of the Information and Propagation Department of the Warsaw Region of the Home Army [Komisja Propagandy Biura Informacji i Propagandy Okręgu Warszawskiego Armii Krajowej], state-wide secret education (Secret Teaching Organisation [Tajna Organizacja Nauczycielska], high schools, University of Warsaw, University of the Western Lands [Uniwersytet Ziem Zachodnich], State Institute of Theatre Arts [Państwowy Instytut Sztuki Teatralnej], other tertiary institutions operating officially as vocational schools). Secret academic courses gathered around eight thousand students, 35 people worked on PhD theses, 19 – on habilitation. Research was pursued into several hundreds of scientific problems and academic course books were drawn up. Documentation of the occupation of Warsaw was kept, while maintaining cooperation with the conspiracy by carrying out scientific and technological evaluations (recognition of German missiles and radar) and making laboratories available for preparations to military actions. The Warsaw world of science suffered major losses both with regard to victims (reaching 50% of the community in some disciplines) and to the material aspect (90%). Warsaw was also the centre of cultural life in conspiracy (the institution of secret literary-artistic salons, among others, audio drama theatre spectacles, poetic soirees, concerts, lectures; the Military Theatre established upon the initiative of the Information and Propaganda Department of the Headquarters of the Union of Armed Struggle – Home Army [Biuro Informacji i Propagandy Komendy Głównej Związku Walki Zbrojnej – Armii Krajowej]), whose important element was the literary press (“Sztuka i Naród”, “Dźwigary”, “Kultura Jutra”, “Prawda”, “Prawda Młodych”, “Droga”, and other titles). Difficult living conditions gave rise to a black market (petty manufacturing, commerce, smuggling alimentary products from the country to the city), which functioned as a peculiar form of resistance to the occupant.
Warsaw was a major centre of conspiracy manufacturing of armament and other means of combat; a place of ca 1000 military actions, such as the action “Wieniec” at night from 7 to 8 October 1942 r. (Home Army, AK), 24 October 1942 – revenge action of the People’s Guard (Gwardia Ludowa, GL) in Café Club, 30 November 1942 – expropriation action of the GL in the State Savings Bank (Bank Krajowej Kasy Oszczędności), 26 March 1943 – prisoners transported from the Gestapo seat to Pawiak were reclaimed (AK) next to the Warsaw Arsenal, in April-May 1943, military actions of the troops of the AK, GL and other organisations at the ghetto walls supporting the fighters in the Jewish uprising. On 12th August 1943, a shipment of money from the Emission Bank [Bank Emisyjny] (action “Góral”, AK). In 1943-1944, there were executions of officers of the German occupation authorities, including the Gestapo, among others, on 1 February 1944 – the head of SS and the police in the Warsaw district, Gen. F. Kutscher (AK).
On 1 August 1944, the Warsaw Uprising broke out, supported by the population of the city. The insurgents seized a residential compound in the centre and smaller compounds in other areas. On 6 August, the Germans seized Wola, 11 August – Ochota, 2 September – the Old Town, on 6 September, they pushed the insurgents out of Powiśle. Between 16 and 21 September, troops of the [People’s] Polish Army established bridgeheads in Żoliborz, Powśle, Czerniaków (destroyed). On 27 September, the Germans seized Mokotów, 30 September – Żoliborz, 2 October – Śródmieście surrendered. After the collapse of the uprising, on 2 October 1944, the Germans displaced the population of the left bank part of Warsaw to a transit camp in Pruszków, closed participants of the fights in POW and concentration camps, and then embarked on a systematic destruction of the city. On 14 September 1944, Praga was seized (by the First Army of the Polish Army and troops of the Red Army – Polish troops attempted to provide help to the insurgents), and on 17 January 1945 – the left bank areas of Warsaw.
The joint losses in the population of Warsaw between 1939 and 1944 amounted to 600 – 800 thousand people, including ca 350 thousand Jews and 170 thousand people perished or murdered during the Warsaw Uprising. The urban losses – ca 84%, including industry 90%, residential housing 72%, historic monuments 90%. Also destroyed was a major part of the communication network and the fleet.
After WW2, Warsaw was the seat of the State National Council and the Provisional Government of the Republic of Poland (Rząd Tymczasowy Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej), and later – of the highest state authorities. It became a large administrative, scientific, cultural and industrial centre, as well as an important transport hub. In 1945, the displaced people eagerly returned to the city. On 14 February 1945, the Capital City Reconstruction Office (Biuro Odbudowy Stolicy) was set up, followed by the Capital City Reconstruction Fund (Fundusz Odbudowy Stolicy). With the effort of the entire nation, Warsaw was rebuilt and developed.
The city witnessed a territorial expansion. The population grew: December 1945 – ca 472 thousand, 1955 – over one million, 1973 – 1.3 million, at the end of 1992 – 1.65 million. Head authorities of parties and political factions were active here (Polish Workers’ Party [Polska Partia Robotnicza] and Polish Socialist Party [Polska Partia Socjalistyczna] – united later by the authorities into the Polish United Workers’ Party [Polska Zjednoczona Partia Robotnicza]), Polish People’s Party [Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe], Democratic Party [Stronnictwo Demokratyczne], People’s Party [Stronnictwo Ludowe], Labour Party [Stronnictwo Pracy], social organisations, trade unions. Cultural and academic life enjoyed a revival, higher schools, theatres, museums, publishing houses (a special role was played by Czytelnik) launched their activity. Daily press emerged (“Życie Warszawy”) and literary press (“Odrodzenie”, followed slightly later by “Twórczość”, “Przegląd Kulturalny”). In 1951, the Polish Academy of Sciences (Polska Akademia Nauk, PAN), was established.
In the second half of the 1940s, Warsaw and its vicinity were the area of activity of groups and structures of opposition to the communist authorities. Warsaw witnessed numerous political trials, among others, of the group Liberty and Independence (Wolność i Niezawisłość) in 1947, leaders of the Polish Socialist Party headed by Kazimierz Pużak (1948), Gen. S. Tatar (1951), Bishop Cz. Kaczmarek (1953). After Warsaw was seized by the Soviet army and the Polish Army, more than a dozen of labour camps were set up – łagry, among others, between 1945 and 1949, the Central Labour Camp for the Reconstruction of Warsaw at 26 Gęsia Street (more than 8 thousand prisoners - POW, Volksdeutsch, Reichsdeutch), and between 1946 and 1949 - the Labour Camp of German PWO Warsaw-Mokotów Field, 9 Wawelska St. (more than 27 thousand people), political prisons (Public Security Office [Urząd Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego] in Rakowiecka St. and in Miedzeszyn as well as the NKWD in Rembertów and Służewiec in Kłobucka St.).
In the later period, the city became a centre of social movement towards democratic reforms (Klub Krzywego Koła) and protests in 1956 (October political breakthrough), 1968 (March 1968), 1976 (June workers’ protest in 1976), in the 1980s, as well as independent political and trade union activity (Solidarność), cultural activity (non-official exhibitions, events, theatre performances) as well as publishing (the so-called second-circulation houses Nowa, Krąg, Most, CDN, Przedświt, Rytm, magazines beyond censorship: “Zapis”, “Krytyka”, “Głos”, “Opinia”, “Tygodnik Mazowsze”, “Kos”, “Kultura Niezależna”, “Res Publica”).
The year 1989 brought a transformation of the political regime. By virtue of the law of 1990, Warsaw was divided into seven (later eight) areas, the competences of the mayor were changed. The law of 1944 defined Warsaw as a municipal union of 11 boroughs. On 1st January 1999, Warsaw became the capital of the Mazovian Voivodeship and the seat of the Warsaw Powiat. The new law of 2002 dissolved the Powiat and introduced a single municipal borough with 18 districts.
Entry based on source materials of the PWN.
- [1.1] The contemporary edition: A. Jarzębski, Gościniec, abo krótkie opisanie Warszawy (1643), edited and with foreword by Władysław Tomkiewicz (1974).