This is a narrative account of one of the most dramatic episodes in 20th-century history. In August 1944, Warsaw offered the Wehrmacht the last line of defence against the Red Army's march from Moscow to Berlin. When the Red Army reached the river Vistula, the people of Warsaw believed that liberation had come. The Resistance took to the streets in celebration but the Soviets remained where they were, allowing the Wehrmacht time to regroup and Hitler to order that the city of Warsaw be razed to the ground. For 63 days the Resistance fought on in the cellars and the sewers. Defenceless citizens were slaughtered in their tens of thousands. One by one the city's monuments were reduced to rubble, watched by Soviet troops on the other bank of the river. The Allies expressed regret but decided that there was nothing to be done; Poland would not be allowed to be governed by the Poles. The sacrifice was in vain and the Soviet tanks rolled in to the flattened city.
Norman Davies is a highly esteemed historian, Supernumary Fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford and is a Fellow of the British Academy, the Royal Historical Society and Professor Emeritus of London University. He is also the author of several books, including the bestselling Europe: A History and The Isles.