Operation Ostra Brama was an armed conflict during World War II between the Polish Home Army and the Nazi German occupiers of Vilnius. It began on July 7, 1944, as part of a Polish national uprising, Operation Tempest, and lasted until July 14, 1944. Though the Germans were defeated, the following day the Soviet Red Army entered the city and the Soviet NKVD proceeded to intern Polish soldiers and to arrest their officers. Several days later, the remains of the Polish Home Army retreated into the forests, and the Soviets were in control of the city.
There are some controversies involved in determining the result of the battle. From the Polish point of view, while the German defeat constitutes a Polish tactical victory, the ensuing destruction of the Polish units by the Soviets resulted in a strategic defeat, especially considering the goals of Operation Tempest. From the Soviet point of view, the operation was a complete success, as both the Germans and the Poles loyal to the London government suffered a defeat.
The starting date was set to July 7. Approximately 12,500 Home Army soldiers attacked the German garrison and managed to seize most of the city center. Heavy street fighting in the outskirts lasted until July 14. In Vilnius' eastern suburbs, the Home Army units cooperated with reconnaissance groups of the Soviet 3rd Belorussian Front.
The internees, almost 5,000 officers, NCOs and soldiers, were sent to a provisional internment camp in Medininkai, a Vilnius suburb. Some of them were given the option of joining the 1st Polish Army which was integrated into the Soviet armed forces, while the majority were sent to prisons and GULAGs in the USSR.
Subsequently, the remnants of the local Home Army HQ ordered all units to retreat to Rūdininkai Forest. It is estimated that by July 18 almost 6,000 soldiers and 12,000 volunteers reached the area. They were soon discovered by Soviet air reconnaissance and surrounded by the NKVD. Commanders decided to split their units and try to break through to the Białystok area. However, most of the Home Army forces were caught and interned.
An unknown number of soldiers under Lt. Col. Maciej Kalenkiewicz "Kotwicz" remained in the forests around the city until early August. On August 21, a minor battle between them and the NKVD occurred. Very little is known of their fate.