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Liberation of Warsaw

17 January 1945

The beginning of the Soviet offensive in Poland was scheduled for January 20. But on January 6, due to a major failure of Anglo-American forces in the Ardennes, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill appealed to I. V. Stalin's assistance asking him to urgently organize an offensive "at the front of the Vistula River or anywhere else." To support the allies, the Supreme Command headquarters had to limit the time of preparation for the Vistula-Oder operation, the beginning of which was now scheduled for January 12.

An important part of this operation was the Warsaw-Poznan operation held by the forces of the 1st Belorussian Front (Marshal G. K. Zhukov), during which it was planned to dismember and destroy in parts the enemy's forces. One of the tasks of the operation was to seize the Polish capital Warsaw.

Warsaw-Poznan operation unfolded on January 14 and on the night of January 17 began the rout of the Warsaw group. The 1st Polish Army crossed the Vistula to the north and south of the capital of Poland and in the morning broke into the city. On behalf of the Soviet Union the attack was carried out by the 47th Army of General F. I. Perhorovich from the north and the Army of General P. A. Belov from the southwest. An important role in the combined impact played also the 2nd Guards Tank Army of General S. I. Bogdanov. By 12:00 a.m. the Soviet-Polish forces fully liberated the destroyed, looted and deserted Warsaw.

Participants in these events recalled that on the streets of the Polish capital they saw "only ashes and ruins covered with snow. Residents of the city were drained and dressed almost in rags. Of one million three hundred ten thousand pre-war population now in Warsaw there were only one hundred sixty-two thousand. After the incredibly brutal suppression of the Warsaw Uprising in October 1944, the Germans systematically destroyed all the historical buildings of the city..."

To award direct participants in the liberation of Warsaw, a medal "For the liberation of Warsaw" was established at the request of the People's Commissariat of Defense of the USSR. It was awarded to more than 690,000 men.

The liberation of Warsaw allowed the Red Army to advance considerably to the border of Germany and played an important role in post-war relations between the USSR and Poland.

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