• Published 16th Nov 2012
  • 4,941 Views, 297 Comments

A Great Endeavor - Rune Soldier Dan

On July 3, 1943, Equestria declared war on the Axis Powers. These are the stories of those times.

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Chapter 6: What Poles us Together

"And in despair I bowed my head.
'There is no peace on earth,' I said.
For Hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Pain. Her world was pain, and nothing more.

Before the pain, there were memories of a peaceful time. Righteous anger tempered with cautious planning. A word: D-Day. Flying above bloodstained beaches, watching the war hang in the balance. Men pinned down, dying in droves. This was it – if we lost here, we lost everything. We have to do something. A desperate plan. Pegasi rushing over the beaches towards the machine-gun nests and bunkers. Her mithral-clad hooves breaking a grey-uniformed man's ribs. The first time she had ever killed. His compatriot turning to her with a rifle.

But now it was all gone, leaving only the pain behind. Her mouth was open in a silent scream, the body behind it forgetting to breath. It was just her knee, but the feeling consumed the rest of her. Fractured bone grated on bullet fragments and muscle. It was a horrid, grinding feeling that banished everything else before it.

Hearing was the first thing to come back to her. The Germans had returned to their cannon, minus the man she killed. It boomed again and again, raining death onto the beaches. She hoped her other pegasi had fared better.

HER pegasi. That's right, she was their leader. Her name was Spitfire. She had forgotten for a moment.

The pain had turned to freezing numbness, but it still hurt. Her knee throbbed – each beat of the heart was pouring out blood.

She stiffened, but still didn't have the breath to cry out. The pain became fiery as someone clamped a cloth to her knee.

"Heidrich!" a voice called out. "It's time to go! Help us get the gun limbered!"

"This one's still alive," a rougher one spoke from directly above her. "Do we have room on the truck?"

Gravel crunched as heavy boots stepped gingerly over. "Well, yes, but we need to pinion the little bird or she'll just fly away from us. I wouldn't know where to start."

Spitfire felt her wing being roughly grabbed and spread outwards, and the second voice spoke again. "It's just carving out a bone in the wing. When I was a boy, my dad did it to a parrot we got. Here, give me your knife; I'll show you how. No need to kill when we don't have to."

"If I were her, I'd choose death over the Blackshirts." The officer grumbled, but Spitfire heard something being passed between them.

The pain that emerged at her wing joints was nothing compared to the one in her knee, but she was already at her limit. She whimpered for a few seconds and fell unconscious.


She couldn't remember many details of the days that followed. The wounds got infected and went untreated. For weeks she rambled, thrashed, and screamed, sickness ravaging her body and mind. Her only comfort came in fevered dreams and hallucinations of home. Good ol' Cloudsdale – city of bright clouds and daring racers. She babbled on about it for a while to Soarin before realizing Soarin wasn't there. She was talking to an American prisoner as he changed the cloth around her knee. He and other POWs had cared for her as best as they could. It was probably the reason she survived.

Men in black uniforms shouted questions and slapped her, but nothing she said made sense. She talked about Fleet Foot's love for pies for a few minutes before remembering it was Soarin's favorite instead. She told them that she was captain of the Cloud Kickers, but the men in black rolled their eyes and walked out of the room. They had stopped taking notes a while ago.

The infection ran its course, and one day she felt her mind fall back in order. They were on a train, others in the crowded box told her. To Warsaw. To a walled-in ghetto. Anyone who didn't belong in Hitler's Europe. Jews. Gypsies. Slavs. Equestrians.

Some said things would be better there – no mobs attacking them, no soldiers shooting at them. Spitfire knew better. She’d seen the photographs.

The train stopped in the "good" part of Warsaw. Polish citizens watched them be herded off the train. Some looked sympathetic, others uncaring. Some looked hateful, though Spitfire guessed they were looking at the German guards.

Their gazes distracted her, and she stumbled into a pallet of bricks. The corner caught her knee sharply, reopening the barely-healed wound. She cried out and fell. A few voices shouted at her, but the horrid grinding was back, and it didn't leave room for anything else. She gritted her teeth fiercely against the pain and wept. That saved her life – the guards had already shot a few who screamed too loudly.

Again, her hearing was the first to return.

"Just leave it!" A harried voice shouted in German. "We're behind schedule already!"

Spitfire moaned softly as the sounds of the prisoners and guards grew further away. The pain slowly deadened to the point where she could think again. She wiped her eyes with her good hoof and looked around, careful not to disturb the injured knee.

There wasn’t much to see. Warsaw looked very grey, and its people didn’t have much more color.

But wait…

There were two Poles close by, a tall man and a squat one. Neither of them seemed to notice her, or had just presumed her to be a dying straggler. She looked up just in time to see them quietly exchange something. The tall man showed a pistol as he pulled his coat back to remove a package. Without making eye contact, he discreetly placed the parcel in the other man's hands.

Hope tugged in her chest. If they were rebels, maybe they could help. She certainly wouldn't last long by herself.

Not wanting to spook them in the middle of the transaction, she watched in silence until the short one left. His friend paused to light a cigarette, giving Spitfire the opening she needed.

"Hey!" she called out, and was astonished by her own voice. It was hoarse and desperate. "Help me! Please!"

The hope sagged as he turned to look at her. The man was thin and sharp-chinned, with dusty brown hair and hateful eyes. He arched his head to look even further down his nose at her.

"Why should I? There's enough of your kind here already."

The words stunned her. Spitfire quickly shook her head and swallowed, desperately clinging to her last chance. "N-No. My name's Spitfire, I'm Captain of the Wonderbol…of the Cloud Kickers. Equestrians. Allied soldiers. I was captured in Normandy, and I'm hurt bad. I need help."

"Oh, I know what you are." The sharp-faced man gestured at her ratty blue uniform.

"P-Please, I'm on your side and I need-"

"You are NOT…" the man snapped. "On. Our. Side. No one is on our side, so we are on our own side. Poland for the Poles. No one else."

Spitfire flinched, fresh tears rolling down her face as the man continued to crush her last hope. "We don't have time to waste on a broken bird like you. Best thing for you to do is flap your little wings and get over the wall. Go to the Ghetto, where you belong. It's the one good thing Hitler did for Poland, so we might as well make use of it."

Her flightless wings twitched at their mention. Spitfire was strong – she held herself together as best as she could and shook her head, confused and despairing. "Please! We all fight the Nazis!"

"Poland for the Poles," he snapped again.

Spitfire looked down, sobbing openly now. This was the end. No one would help some crippled outsider. No one even wanted to. There would be starvation, exposure, and disease. The rest of her life would be very miserable and very short.

She tried to stand on her bad knee, but it couldn't support her weight. Her head snapped up to look him in the eye. "Then kill me," she whispered, breathless from pain and despair.

The man gave a wry smile. "Sorry. If the guards hear a gunshot, they'll search me, find my gun, and then it'll be a firing squad for ol' Zeke."

There was maybe a twinge of guilt or sadness on his face, but he turned away too quickly for Spitfire to be sure. The pegasus settled onto her side and got as comfortable as she could.

She didn't cry anymore. There was nothing else to do but wait to die.

This time the hallucinations were brought by hunger and thirst, and once more they were her only comfort. Some days she would stare at the gray city around her. But others – oh! Sailing above the clouds with the Wonderbolts. Stunt flying and racing, tossing around a never-ending stream of good-natured boasts with the other pegasi. Even in those fevered dreams her knee felt sore, but that hardly mattered with the wind beneath her wings and the sky beneath her hooves.

And then she would drift back to reality. She passed time in between the dreams by listlessly counting the people walking past, trying to identify which ones didn't notice her and which ones were just pretending. It was dull, but her time awake was growing shorter, the dreams themselves becoming more numbing and surreal. Death was coming, and she welcomed it. The world was grey, hateful, and hurtful. Just a few more fading dreams, and she'd never know pain again.

The pattern abruptly changed one day. One moment she was directing a tornado, the next she was snapped back into reality by a fresh fire in her knee. She screamed at the sudden pain and kicked, but a pair of hands held her firm. She felt herself be hoisted onto a human's shoulders and carried, and that was the last she felt for a while.

Some parts of the dreams started to become consistent. She was always warm – sometimes sunning on a cloud, but usually in bed beneath her quilts. Someone was always trying to feed her soup in these dreams. Usually it was her mother. The soup was awful, but Mom was so insistent that Spitfire usually gave up and had a little. Sometimes it was an old human instead, but she had no idea how he got to her room in Cloudsdale.

In one last dream, she became too warm. She tossed and turned, unconsciously trying to free herself of the heavy blankets. It was so hot, she couldn't breath.

And with a gasp, Spitfire woke up and launched her head from the blankets. They were coarse, brown, and entirely too warm. She kicked them off the rest of her body, wincing as her bad knee moved. Yet this was a distant, dull soreness, a far cry from the grinding pain she had endured. She stared at the fresh bandage wrapped around her knee and blinked slowly, wondering if this was another dream.

No, she was definitely awake. Moreso than she had been in a long time.

She shook off some of the sweat on her body and looked around. Thick stone walls rose around her, their high windows showing that she was in a basement. The sofa she laid on was worn and musty. Two tables occupied half the floor, littered with mechanical odds and metal junk.

Her uniform was gone, but she wasn't naked. Spitfire glanced back and flushed as she saw a cloth diaper pinned around her flank.


A voice boomed next to her with deep laughter. "After four children and two grandchildren, I don't think I'd know what to do with myself if I didn't have diapers to change! Still, I'm happy you're outgrowing them."

"You mean…you've been changing…" Spitfire shook her head and gazed at her benefactor. He was a human, and definitely an old one. Only a few wisps of white fuzz graced his head, and liver spots dotted his face. His chest was like a barrel, but his limbs were skinny and arthritic. More than anything else, though, it was his eyes that seized Spitfire's attention. They were mud brown, but there was a light in them. They seemed to laugh with innocent humor, a spark of childlike joy that grim reality had yet to conquer.

He grinned, showing ugly, tobacco-stained teeth. "Well, you couldn't rightly change yourself, now could you?"

His cheer was infectious. Spitfire smiled back at him, nervously at first, then growing into a grin. She felt just a little bit like her old, cocky self again. "Well. Guess I'm grateful to your kids."

"As am I, as am I!" The old man laughed again and slapped his knee. "They brought me so much joy!"

"Seriously," Spitfire said, bowing her head. "Thank you. You're…"

She hesitated, then continued. "You helped me. You’re the only one who did. I always thought we were all on the same side."

"Things are different here." The man's smile vanished and he turned his back, stooping to pull bread from a cabinet. "It's not 'all of us against the Germans,' or 'some of us against the Germans,' or even 'some of us against some of us.' It's Poles against Germans against Jews against Ukrainians against Russians against Romanians…and on, and on."

He gave a little laugh as he turned back with the food, but it was a sad, quiet laugh. "I think one enemy is too much already, but what do I know?"

Hard bread and beet soup never looked so good to Spitfire. She ate slowly, gears turning in her head. Things were looking better than they had in months, but…

"What happens now?" She asked.

"Now? Now you rest and get your strength back." The old man looked at her empty bowel and laughed. "You can feed yourself now, too? My, they grow up so fast…"


A week later, Spitfire saw the thin resistance fighter again. She woke up to see him sitting on one of the tables, berating the old man.

"Where's my tank, Old Man?" he kept repeating.

"It'll be done soon enough, Zeke," the old man grumbled, readying Spitfire's soup.

Zeke shot Spitfire a deathly glare, but turned his head away. "Don't piss away your rations like that, Old Man. Every Pole will need all their strength for the Uprising. Especially you, you'll be needed to maintain my-"

"-'Tank,' yes, I know," the old man snapped. "You won't let me forget."

"Leave him be!" Spitfire shouted. She was never one to stay quiet.

"The tank's important." Zeke turned to fully face the mechanic, ignoring Spitfire.

The old man clicked his tongue and shook his head. "You were never so persistent when it came to Sophie."

Pain and rage flashed across the young man's face. He grabbed the elder by the collar, the two humans glaring into each other's eyes. Spitfire crouched, ready to spring. She wasn't sure how good a lame pegasus was in a brawl, but she'd damn well stick up for her benefactor.

"This is for Sophie," the young man snarled.

"Did she ask you to do this, hm?" The old man didn't back down an inch. "To turn your love into hatred?"

Zeke shoved him away. "She's DEAD, you old fool! They killed her, remember? Your last living daughter! How can you not hate them?"

"Because the world is already filled to the bursting with hatred." The old man pinched his brow and shook his head. "Because this tank my son-in-law wants is going to kill someone's son. Maybe someone's last son. How can I carry a grudge knowing that?"

"Just have it ready by August." Zeke shook his head, tired of the argument. He turned to leave, sending one last glance back. "And eat your own damn rations. The pegasus has been pinioned – that means she's stuck here. That means she'll die here, so don't waste your food."


Zeke came by again two days later while the old man was at one of the tables, mending a broken valve. Spitfire was resting and they thought her asleep, but she heard every word.

The soldier was a lot more subdued, starting the conversation with a roundabout apology. "I checked on the tank in the garage. That valve’s the last part, right? You've done good work."

The old man remained engrossed in his task, ignoring the compliment and asking a question of his own. "Zeke. Let me ask you, what in the world is worth anything?"

"Philosophy?" Zeke laughed. "Fine. For us here, it's Poland. It's all we have. It's bigger than all of us, an idea and an ideal. It’s hope. It’s something to call our own. Any sacrifice, any hardship, is worth it for even the barest chance to see it restored."

"No, you fool," the old man snarled with anger. "The answer is innocence. Without it, the flag is just cloth and hatred. The Cross is wood and suffering. Kindness is the slave of convenience, and love…"

He sent a pointed glance to his in-law. "…becomes hatred."

Zeke stiffened, his proud soul rising to the debate. "Is that why you care for the pegasus? She's a soldier, the very opposite of innocence."

"No." The old man shook his head. He settled back from his work and sighed, eyes looking into the distance.

"I do it for my own sake. I…I must have been very wicked in a past life, to be required in this one to bury my children and grandchildren. It's just a selfish old man's wish, to finally create something that will outlive him. That's why I won't be stopped, Zeke. This is my last chance to change this world for the better."

The young man gave a "tch," but it lacked the bile he showed earlier. "What about her wings? If she can't fly away, one day she'll be discovered. The Nazis will kill her and your kindness will be in vain."

"Then I'll make her fly again," the mechanic said with conviction.

Zeke laughed at that. "She's been pinioned. She's missing bones, Milo."

Spitfire gave a small smile. Milo. That's the old man's name.

"I'm a craftsman.” The certainty never left Milo’s voice. “If bones she needs, then bones she'll have."


Milo knew nothing of wings, but the old man could learn. He would retire to the basement with books and diagrams of birds, studying them behind thick wooden glasses. He compared pictures to Spitfire's own wings, and brainstormed ways to make them work again.

Pinioning was unheard of in Equestria, so Spitfire was just as uncertain. The pair tossed a few theories back and forth, wondering what the best way to restore her flight would be. Milo tinkered together a few fake bones of metal and rubber, but the surgery needed to insert them would be dangerous. He put them in one of the toolboxes, saving them for a last resort.

"It sounds strange, but it's good that they pinioned both wings." Squinting through his glasses, Milo summarized one of the anatomy paragraphs he was reading. "Otherwise your balance would be thrown off and you'd likely never fly again."

Spitfire nodded. “Makes sense. The big issue is force. I'll need to be able to get enough wind under my wings to support my weight. I'm missing some feathers needed for maneuvering, but I won't exactly be stunt flying."

"…Ever again." She looked down, heart sinking. Even if she somehow made it home, her days as a Wonderbolt were gone.

"Heh…I used to be a stunt flier.” Her voice was wistful. Saddened. “I've been one all my life. Guess I'll have to find a new line of work."

Milo glanced over. His friend was pawing at the ground with her hoof, mentally recalling all the daring maneuvers she would never do again.

He had a way of infecting others with his optimism. "To fly again after being pinioned is one heck of a stunt, no?"

Spitfire looked over, seeing his ugly grin, his shining eyes pleading her to cheer up. She laughed softly and nodded, feeling the moment of sadness pass. "Yeah. Yeah, you're right."


The solution they found was bizarrely simple. Spitfire was missing the triangle of flesh, bone, and feathers that formed the tip of each wing. Rather than inserting some replacement inside of her, they fashioned an external creation to be attached in its place. It was made of wood and canvas, as light as Milo could make it. Metal clips would pin it in place on the wing's edge.

It wasn't even close to perfect. She couldn't go fast or high without shaking the whole thing to pieces. Although only a few pounds, they still felt heavy on her wings. Her flying would be clumsy at best. Any sort of accident could shift the clips on her, possibly with disastrous results. Even if all went well, the clips would bite into her from the moment she put them on. They had to be tight, or else even a slow flight would shake them off.

And yet…she would fly again. Fly.

Maybe. If they actually worked.

The pair was beside themselves with excitement. Spitfire posed in the attachments, wincing slightly as they pinched the flesh but grinning ear to ear.

"A cloudy night," Milo repeated, eyes twinkling brighter than ever. "Just a low, short flight, to test them. A few of those, then it'll be off you go! Go north. Germany is in the west, and the Soviets are to the east. I do not know how the Russians would greet you, so go north. Over the Baltic to Sweden or Finland, and make your way home from there."


Five minutes later, three Poles kicked down the door to Milo's house: Zeke, a young woman, and a squat man who Spitfire vaguely remembered. The two strangers had submachine guns in hand, Zeke had his pistol.

Milo and Spitfire stood up in panic. Zeke gestured with his gun. "Sorry about the door, but this place isn't safe. The Germans just overran our positions the last block over and they're swarming this way. The bastards are smart, they're searching everywhere."

"What positions?" Milo shouted as they stumbled outside. No one was on the streets, but gunfire seemed to echo all around them.

"The Uprising's begun!" Zeke yelled, exulting in the words.

He laughed, but didn't slow down as they ran through the streets. "It began last week! You really need to come out of your basement more, Father!"

The squat man was the first to round a corner. He gasped and tuned back, motioning for them to go the way they had came. "Panzers! Three of them! With infantry!"

"Which way are they going?" Zeke paused to ask.

The man didn't slow down as he tore past. "This way!"

"No good!" the woman shouted. "We're just running back to the ones that chased us here!"

Zeke pointed to an alleyway, and the band turned into it with the wolves at their heels.


For a breathless fifteen minutes they were hounded by the Germans. Zeke led them this way and that, but everywhere they turned there were men in grey, firing rifles and machine guns. In a final bid for time, they scrambled into an apartment flat and fled to the roof.

Zeke sent the squat man to run for help. He was only gone for a few seconds when gunshots sounded on the floor below. A scream of pain followed them, then some shouting in German and one last gunshot.

"They must've been right on our heel," Zeke growled, drawing a second pistol. The woman took up a firing position by the stairs.

Spitfire was craning her neck, trying to peer over the side of the building. Maybe there was a fire pole, or even a big dumpster they could…

A spotted old hand settled itself on her neck. She stopped looking, and her eyes went wide.

"It's time for you to go," Milo said quietly.

She turned back to look at him. That kind, ugly face was creased in a gentle smile. His eyes were watering, but that light within them shined as brightly as ever. She shook her head, but he nodded insistently. The vision of him blurred – Spitfire was crying herself. Milo crouched, and without a word spoken the two of them shared a tight embrace.

"Thank you, thank you," she said over and over, trying to smile even though she was crying. Even though she knew what was about to happen to him.

Milo pushed her away a little. He took his knotty right hand and raised her chin so she could look him in the eye. "No. Thank you, Spitfire. You've given this old man a purpose. I'm happy, happy as can be. The only way I can be happier is if you fly away. So please, fly. Live."

He gave her one last hurried hug and stood up.

She looked up at him for a final second. The words sprang too her mouth without thought, yet they felt so natural. "Goodbye, Grandpa!"

Milo laughed and tussled her mane. "Ha! Goodbye, granddaughter. I'm a very lucky man, to have had three beautiful grandchildren. Now, it's time to fly."

Spitfire took a deep breath and flexed her wings. The attachments pinched, but they'd have to do. She turned and faced the opposite edge, knowing she'd need as much of a running start as she could get.

She caught Zeke's eyes. He gave a little, nervous smile. "Guess you have to live for all of us."

He shook his head. "Feh, listen to me. Forget me. Just live. Live for him."

The pegasus nodded and ran forwards. She focused squarely on the sky beyond, ignoring the height. If she thought about falling, she'd hesitate and fall for real. In under a second, her gallop brought her to the edge and she jumped.

Spitfire spread her wings, the same way she's done since she was a foal. She felt the pressure build beneath them. She felt her height sag as gravity pulled against it, and felt the clips bite into her like teeth.

A few flaps of the wings…and she didn't fall. She was in the air, and she wasn't falling.

She was flying.

A few more flaps, and she was above the apartment. She turned back with practiced ease, hovering with slow, easy sweeps of the wing.

There was Milo, jumping like a schoolchild. He was waving his hat in his hand, cheering her onwards and upwards.

The woman soldier fired a burst down the stairway and fell backwards, blood erupting from her throat. Grey coated men stormed up the stairs, rifles lowered.

"Don't you dare look away, Spitfire." She whispered to herself, fighting to keep her eyes clear of tears. "You'll regret it forever if you look away."

With one last wave, Milo turned calmly to the Germans. Zeke had crouched low and fired his pistols, getting off three shots before a bullet found his heart.

The soldiers fanned out in a half-circle, surrounding the man standing on the roof's edge. Spitfire saw an old man in their midst, and a freckle-faced youth. Some of them were already pulling the trigger, moved by the adrenaline of combat.

Milo smiled gently at them, and his eyes seemed to glow as the sun caught them. "Do what you must, you poor men! I am as happy as I can ever be, and there's not a thing you can do to me now!"

Spitfire heard the crack of the guns. She saw the blood come from his body and watched him fall backwards off the rooftop. But by the time Milo hit the streets below, she was flying away. A few bullets chased her, but none even came close.

Her eyes were dry now. She angled her body with perfect instincts, seeking the most aerodynamic position. She'd need to save her energy, to husband every ounce of lift if she wanted to make it to Sweden.

There was no "if" in her mind. Spitfire was going to make it to Sweden, and from there, back to Equestria. She was going to live. Not for her own sake, although she loved life. It was the only way to repay Milo, and Spitfire wasn't about to disappoint him.

The sun warmed her from above, shining as brightly as his eyes. It watched over Spitfire's journey, never setting until she at last landed in the neutral country.

"Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
'God is not dead, nor doth he sleep.'
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men."

-From "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" by Henry Longfellow, 1864

Author's Note:

Thanks for reading. This one is very different from the rest, so I hope it was enjoyed. Not really a battle or anything like that, but…I dunno, every once in a while a writer had an idea that he just has to write. This was one of mine.

As a side note, Longfellow’s poem was made into a Christmas Carol by numerous singers. Bing Crosby’s version is definitely something to write home about. It’s pretty much the only song that has ever made my manly eyes cry. And yes, I’ve heard The Highwayman. And Dante’s Prayer. And The Lady of Shalott.

Now have your history lesson of the day:

Poland holds some of the great honors and great sins of WWII, and its fate is among the war’s tragedies. Of all the nations conquered by Germany, it was the Polish people who resisted the hardest. The largest percentage of their population joined the resistance, and they fought the Nazi regime with fanaticism and desperate ingenuity. Church bells were turned into cannons, firing piles of garden tools like massive shotguns. Armored cars were built in garages, weapon factories operated out of forests, even Panzers were stolen and turned to the cause of the resistance.

The uncompromising nationalism the Poles held had a darker side as well. While they were the fiercest resistance, they also conducted ethnic atrocities of their own. Jews and Germans alike had little reason to surrender to the rebels.

The Warsaw Uprising has long been romanticized as a ‘charge of the light brigade,’ a gallant, doomed attack made for honor and pride. The accepted history is only partially true. While certainly desperate, the Polish leaders had sound political reasons for launching the revolt. The Soviet army was on Warsaw’s doorstep, but they were coming as conquerors rather than liberators. Stalin had created a puppet communist government to rule after the nation was “freed.” The existing government-in-exile and military forces were labeled as criminals and traitors, including much of the anti-Nazi resistance. If Polish nationalists could take Warsaw before the Soviets did, it would put them in a position to bargain for an independent Poland.

From August 1 to October 2, the Polish Home Army engaged in a bitter street war with the German Wermacht. The Germans were no less desperate – they needed Warsaw to hold back the Soviets. Neither side could afford to lose. The fighting was relentless and brutal: About 200,000 lost their lives, mostly Polish civilians.

The battle proved Polish fears of Soviet “liberation.” The Red Army refused to support the uprising with air or ground attacks, and ignored attempts by the Home Army to establish radio contact.

After 62 days of battle, the Polish Home Army was fought out. Out of supplies and pushed back to their last few strongholds, they negotiated the right to be treated as uniformed combatants. When this was achieved, they surrendered. The Soviets entered the city in January 1945, and the government they installed would rule for the next two generations.

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