With the century’s third great war came ruin worse than that of 1944. NATO laid siege to the city between June and September of 1997. Shelling and air attacks occurred daily. During the siege, Soviet troops stationed in the city gained a reputation for mercilessness as they hoarded supplies of food and medicine while the general population did without. After the siege was lifted, six tactical nuclear airburst strikes were made over the city in an effort to slow the Warsaw Pact advance and cripple the central Polish road and communications networks.
The weapons used against the city were six of the eight warheads of a Trident II (D-5) missile fired from a British submarine. Each warhead was rated at 355 KT. Three of the warheads were aimed at the center of the city itself, the fourth at Okecie airport, the fifth at the suburb of Wlochy to the west, and the sixth at the southern spur of suburbs on the eastern bank of the Wisla. The seventh and eighth warheads from the missile were targeted at military units to the southeast.
In the weeks following the attack, most of the outer city was in flames. The firestorm swept through those areas of the city which were not in the rubble, destroying most of those structures which withstood the blasts. The destruction was nearly complete. Over half of the native population died in the initial blasts and the firestorm which ran through the city. While many structures still remain standing,they are, for the most part, only shells, standing ominously over the sea of rubble which is modern Warsaw.
Those who remained alive had to flee the devastation and radiation which characterized their old home. Disease and famine dwindled their numbers. They scattered to the countryside, to find things elsewhere little better, It is estimated that out of every one hundred inhabitants of Warsaw in 1997, only one survived to see the 21st century.
As the radiation died down to near tolerable levels in late summer of 1998, people began to move back into Warsaw, but slowly. These settlers began to hack out a bleak living from the ruins, trading such things as metal and stone to their neighbors in the country. However, their numbers were, at first, few, due mostly to a (justified) fear of radiation, the presence of tens of thousands of unburied corpses and their accompanying diseases, and the skyrocketing rat and insect population. By the following spring, however, the situation was somewhat less prohibitive. As the carnage decayed away, the rodent population shrank to a more acceptable level (though still high compared to pre-war numbers). Disease became less widespread in the city, to the point where one was only slightly more at risk in the city than outside of it. Even the radiation levels were down to only a couple of rads per year – easily acceptable. This is the time when most of the settlers moved in.
The settlers began to dig up the rubble in order to farm the land under it. The easiest locations for such activity were in the old park areas, which, though covered by debris from the blast, don’t have building foundations to get in the way. Before the spring of 1999 was over, hundreds of plots of land were cleared and planted, supporting a population in the neighborhood of 1500 people. The largest problems faced in that year by the settlers were disease (there was a small outbreak of plague) and rats eating the crops. Filip Kizysztof and his followers were among the original settlers of ’99.
The winter of 1999-2000 was not terribly harsh, and did not take as bad a toll on the settlers of Warsaw as it might have. Fresh settlers moved in that spring, adding to the work force which could clear away the rubble. As it was, the increase in population to over 3000 total in the city was easily absorbed, as the increase in tillable acreage provided more than enough food, despite the rats. In addition, separate communities began to form around particularly large park areas, such as in Praga, Kamionek, and Sielce.
Within these communities there quickly appeared craftsmen and other specialized laborers. They began to mine the rubble for materials to fabricate all manner of goods for use in the community
and for trade with those who lived in the countryside. Especially useful items for trade were pieces of metal fabricated into farm machinery, spare machine parts of almost any kind, and stone, which the country-folk used to build walls and buildings.
Unfortunately, all was not to remain peaceful Unfortunately, all was not to remain peaceful. The Baron Czarny, originally from the area of Pultusk to the north, moved into the city to make it his base of operations. His original army of marauders, deserters, and other cutthroats moved in, virtually unopposed, taking the shell of the Palac Kultury as their own. To supply his troops, Czarny began to extort what food and other supplies he could from the various communities of settlers, in exchange for ochrona (protection). By late summer, the Baron’s army had swelled to nearly four times the size it had been when he arrived in Warsaw just two months earlier. He virtually ruled the city and countryside with his men, and the Wisla River with his Rzeka Korsarz. Only one community held out against his expansion – the Milicya of Sielce.