Transnational uprisings
Warsaw, Paris, Slovakia
in Fighters across frontiers
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This chapter argues that the so-called ‘national’ uprisings in Warsaw, Paris and Slovakia in 1944 which have become the centrepiece of narratives of national liberation were in fact far from purely national. As the Germans retreated, resistance moved from the countryside to the cities, even to capital cities, which were highly cosmopolitan. It also swept up many who now escaped from POW camps, labour camps and even concentration camps, together with deserters from the Wehrmacht who were often non-German. The uprising in Warsaw involved a Slovak platoon which also included Czechs, Poles and Ukrainians, a British SOE agent and a Nigerian jazz player. The first troops into Paris were not French or even American but Spanish republicans who had mostly come via Vichy camps in North Africa and took over from Polish-Jewish freedom fighters, a Hungarian intellectual and a black former POW from Gabon. The so-called Slovak national uprising, a month or so later, was supported by a unit of escaped French POWs and by OSS and SOE agents, many of whom were themselves of Czech, Slovak, Polish or Hungarian origin. The limits of transnationalism and internationalism were also evident, however, as the Cold War took a grip as British agents sent in to support the uprising were kidnapped by the USSR’s Interior Ministry, the NKVD.

Fighters across frontiers

Transnational resistance in Europe, 1936–48

Editors: Robert Gildea and Ismee Tames


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