International participation in Warsaw Uprising
Even though Warsaw Uprising was a fight of the Poles from Warsaw against the Germans, many nations were fighting helping polish side. In the different ranks of the insurgents fought many foreigners in Warsaw, but also deserters and fugitives from the Nazi labor camps and prisons from around the whole Europe. Historians counted on the Polish side, as many as 18 nations fighting arm to arm with Poles, including the Slovaks, who created a separate platoon, Jews, Hungarians, Frenchmen, Brits, Georgians and Germans.
Many foreigners were in prisons and detention centers in Warsaw, where in the early days of August 1944 they were freed by polish insurgents and they joined polish forces to support them.
Most of the 348 Jews who were transported to the German concentration camp at Gęsia Street and freed by polish army, including those Jews from Greece, the Netherlands, Germany and Hungary, also joined in the uprising.
The largest group of foreigners in the uprising were the Slovaks, who formed platoon on their own, and they have even received the right to use their national colors on the polish uprising bands. This was a platoon with 535 number.
A big group of foreign insurgents were also Hungarians. Most of them were people living in pre-war Warsaw before the Uprising started. But a large group of fighters on the Polish side of the Hungarians were deserters from the army forces subordinated to Germany. Although Hungarian troops were banned from helping the Poles, it soon turned out that the Hungarian soldiers were openly sympathetic with the Poles and they weren’t following the orders not to help the polish side which made it more dangerous for them. Hungarians on a daily basis offered food and weapons to the insurgents.
In the uprising on the polish side there were also deserters from the German forces, who couldn’t take the situation anymore. After hard experience in the German army, where they were often treated like dogs, they “thanked” Germans for fighting in the Polish army, where they felt great and expressed their gratitude that the Poles had received them and trusted them even though they were enemies before.
Wilhelm Adalbert Hosenfeld
One of the most famous Germans who have helped Poles is Wilhelm Adalbert Hosenfeld who is known from the movie “Pianist”. He was a German officer who has helped to hide and rescue several Polish people and Jews in occupied Poland. He has helped Polish-Jewish pianist Władysław Szpilman to live while he was hiding in the ruins of Warsaw in the last months of 1944.
The less numerous nationality fighting in the Uprising were the French but one of them became very famous for the destruction of the German Goliath. Goliaths were remote-controlled mines connected to the operator by means of a cable. During the uprising they showed great effectiveness in destroying insurgent barricades and fortifications. The brave French soldier name and nickname are unknown.
In the uprising there were also the Italians, mostly Italian restaurateurs, who participated by organizing food for insurgents and serving as cooks for polish army forces.
August Agbola O’Brown
Among the insurgents could be found even exotic Nigerian – August Agbola O’Brown “Ali”, fighting in the South Downtown near the streets of Wspólna, Marszalkowska and Wilcza in polish Platoon.
August Agbola O’Browne was a Nigerian musician who is still believed to be the only black skinned and African participant of the Warsaw Uprising.
O’Browne moved to Poland in 1922. He was living in Ulica Złota. He was married to a Polish woman. His friends remembered him as a very intelligent person and a polyglot (August spoke six languages).
When war broke out, Agbola was involved in music. He played drums in the Warsaw jazz band. He performed in the best places in the city.
He fought in the times of the Invasion of Poland in 1939, defending nazi occupated Warsaw. He stated that during the Uprising his nickname name was “Ali”. There are informations that before the warsaw uprising O’Browne during war was already connected with the polish resistance and distributed illegal, underground papers.
After war he was working in the Department of Culture and Art of Warsaw and he continued his music passion by playing in the best restaurants in Warsaw. O’Browne moved to Great Britain in 1958. He lived there for almost two decades and died in 1976.
Walter Edward Smith
The only Australian person that was actively involved in Warsaw Uprising was Walter Edward Smith born in 1915 in Sydney.
Before war he was working as a bartender until on 9th October in 1939, until the stert of World War II when he has joined the Australian army forces. He was taken as a prisoner during the German invasion and he was kept in prsion Stalag XX-A in Poland near the city of Toruń but he escaped.
After his escape Polish Army has helped him and he took part in the Warsaw Uprising along with polish soldiers.
The fact that in the insurrection fought representatives of many nationalities helped to raise the spirit of the fighting Poles and to encourage the civilian population to fight for freedom and not feel left out by the rest of the world.
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