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POLAND : WARSAW - History

Warsaw is notable among Europe's capital cities not for its size, its age, or its beauty but for its indestructibility. It is a phoenix that has risen repeatedly from the ashes. The city probably grew around a castle built in the 13th cent. by a duke of Mazovia . In 1413, Warsaw became the capital of the duchy of Mazovia. After Kraków burned, Warsaw replaced it (1596) as Poland's capital. Warsaw grew rapidly as a commercial and cultural center, despite frequent invasions and pillages. It fell temporarily to the Swedes under Charles X (1655-56) and Charles XII (1702), was occupied by the Russians in 1792 and 1794, and passed to Prussia in 1795.

Liberated by Napoleon I in 1806, it became (1807) the capital of the grand duchy of Warsaw (see Poland ) .In 1813, however, the city fell to the Russians, and in 1815 it became the capital of the nominally independent kingdom of central Poland,

German forces took the city in 1915, during World War I. In November 1918, it was liberated by Polish troops and proclaimed capital of the restored Polish state

The Second World War began when Germany invaded western Poland on 1st September 1939. In the course of the September Campaign Warsaw was severely bombed and in the course of the Siege of Warsaw approximately 10 to 15% of all the buildings were destroyed. In 1940 the Germans isolated the Jewish ghetto, which in 1942 contained about 500,000 persons. In reprisal for a Jewish uprising (Feb., 1943) in the ghetto, the Germans killed an estimated 40,000 of the Jews who had survived the battle. When Warsaw was liberated (Jan., 1945) by Soviet troops, only about 200 Jews remained.


After the war, Boleslaw Bierut's puppet regime, set up by Stalin, made Warsaw the capital of communist People's Republic of Poland, and the city was resettled and rebuilt In 1955, the Warsaw Pact established the now-defunct Warsaw Treaty Organization , the Eastern European counterpart to NATO.

 

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