Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

Warsaw Uprising

Dec 16 2020 - Dec 16 2020

Bielańska 10

  • Dec 16 2020 - Dec 16 2020


The building, now known as Polish Bank Redoubt, has been built between 1907-1911 to serve as the headquarters of the Russian State Bank. In the interwar period, the National Polish Credit Union and later the Polish Bank were established within. After 1939, the German occupying forces created the Issuing Bank in its place. It was from here that the convoy carrying over 100 million zlotys set off on 12 August 1943 – only to be plundered during a bodacious operation planned by the Home Army, AK. Due to its location and strategic significance, the building was a crucial target for the insurrection.

The first failed attempt to recapture it from the occupying forces was made on the 1st of August. AK hoped to fortify the area and turn it into a redoubt, which would be crucial for the planned defence of Śródmieście, the heart of the city. However, the two squads that were supposed to seize the bank – “Oppenheim” under the command of Lt Wacław Kozicki and “Sienkiewicz” under Major Olgierd Ostkowicz-Rudnicki – suffered heavy losses during the first two days of the uprising. It was not until the night of August 3-4 that the German guard evacuated the building without a fight, fearing it would soon become completely surrounded. The defence of the building was entrusted to the company “Troki”, a part of the battalion “Łukasiński” under the command of Cpt Tadeusz “Zdan” Majcherczyk. Three other formations were stationed there at that time – a platoon under 2nd Lieutenant Henryk “Chwast” Pokrzywnicki, Lt Tadeusz “Odrowąż” Garliński’s company, and several squads from the “Czarniecki” battalion.

The following few weeks consisted of constant firefights to maintain the established position on Bielańska, which was bombed from the air by German planes on August 5th. Another air raid took place on 18 August, during which the wing of the building adjacent to Bielańska road collapsed. Soon after the Wola massacre, additional German troops reinforced the local occupying forces and outnumbered the 150-200 insurgent soldiers by far. On August 15 the Germans managed to get to the redoubt. The overwhelming hostile presence was pushed back by a counterattack organised by the 1st Platoon of Cpt Zdan’s company under the command of 2nd Lieutenant Józef “Wodzyński” Zgarda. On August 21 German troops managed to break into the building, but it remained under the control of the insurgents at the cost of blowing up part of the structure.

In the last week of August the situation of the insurgents in Starówka became more and more dramatic. Heavy bombing and the complete isolation of the Old Town from other parts of the city took its toll on the defenders of Reduta Banku Polskiego. On 26 August, members of the Home Army general staff (KG AK) and the Government Delegation for Poland (Delegatura) pulled out of Starówka district. It was decided to withdraw all troops from the region.

The last group of Polish soldiers left the redoubt on September 1st and retreated through the canals to Śródmieście. This operation, organised by Bronisław “Piotr” Kalinowski, was the only successful one of its kind – all other insurgent attempts to break through to the centre of Warsaw from Starówka failed.

The Polish Bank Redoubt building was considered for the premises of the Warsaw Uprising Museum because of the prevalent role it played during the historical events of 1944.


Bielańska 10

key figures

Captain Bronisław Kalinowski „Piotr”, Captain Tadeusz Majcherczyk „Zdan”, Lt. Henryk Pokrzywnicki „Chwast”, cf. Tadeusz Garliński „Odrowąża”

date of event

4 August 1944 – occupation of the building by AK troops

wartime fate

In 1939 the Germans established the Emission Bank here.

modern-day fate

The building survived the war, now it houses exhibition rooms and spaces for rent.

„On the topic of our stay in the bank – it was pretty bad because we came under immediate fire from handheld and stationary weapons. The people who were fending off German attacks from the building’s windows got the brunt of it. Not to mention the constant air bombardments – a couple of shells even landed on the courtyard. We’ve used any duds found there as a source of explosive material. The officers removed their detonators and extracted the TNT, which we fashioned into bombs. They were useful later on, during the last days of our defence, when the Germans got inside and took over the first floor. It was impossible to flush them out, so the decision was made to blow them up, and our sappers sneaked into the cellar bare-footed, placed the improvised explosives on its ceiling and triggered them, effectively pushing back the Germans for some time.”
Bogdan „Konrad” Lipnicki „Gozdawa” group, engineering company.

„Those that died defending the redoubt were buried in a small cemetery in the front courtyard of the central building […]. It was the only place with diggable earth. We’ve stored the fallen in garages until evening came. […] We dug the graves. A horse was killed and we carved it up for food, which was prepared any possible way. We’ve cooked using bricks heated on fire from burning packs of banknotes. Thousands, millions of zlotys. […] Mass was held almost daily – they were short, the holy communion only. On the 13th of August tragedy struck during mass on the premises of the Polish bank. At the time of the elevation, a bomb fell. I don’t know how many civilians were there, but almost 800 people died, including the priest. An awful tragedy. I knew some of them – the wife of director Kaczkowski, a wonderful woman, which her husband reburied in 1946, laid there pinned under the fallen beams. She seemed perfectly fine – and turned to dust only after someone tried to move her.”
Zofia „Czarna” Werchowska“Łukasiński” battalion

memory collection

The building


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