The 1st of August is a day that will forever be remembered in Polish history. On this day in 1944, the Polish Resistance army commenced 'Operation Tempest' – the start of the Warsaw Uprising. After 5 years of extreme hardship under Nazi occupation, the Polish Resistance Army saw an opportunity to take the city back from Hitler's retreating forces. Promised help from the Stalin's Red Army did not materialize however, allowing the Nazis to come crushing down on the Polish insurgents. The result was the death of 200,000 people and the virtual destruction of the entire city. On the eve of the anniversary of the uprising, Wrocław Uncut made a visit to the capital to learn more …
Perhaps the best way to learn of the struggle, hardship and sacrifice made by many Polish men, women and children, is to visit the Warsaw Uprising museum. Located on Grzybowska street, the museum is full of artifacts, articles, transcripts and interactive screens, allowing visitors a true insight into goings on in the capital during the uprising. A small cinema in the museum also allows you the chance to see the film below in 3D, which shows the complete and utter devastation caused by the Nazis' retaliation to the insurgents.
Following the end of WW2, in the era of communist Poland, the insurgents were labeled as fascists and endless propaganda was produced to slur the Polish fighters. Stalin did his upmost to erase the Uprising from social memory, making it forbidden to pay homage to the rising. During this time no anniversaries were commemorated nor statues erected. It wasn't until the fall of communism that the line damning Poland's "irresponsible and clumsy commanders, who ignited the rising only to defend the interests of the 'London Government' and the 'propriety classes" was dropped.
Since then, times have thankfully changed. The heroes who decided to take their opportunity to end the brutal fascist occupation are now largely remembered as brave patriots, who sought to defend their country's people, livelihood and way of living. The fact that many different people were involved in the uprising is not lost either. Jewish and Slovakian soldiers were an active part of the team, while small numbers of other nationalities also contributed to the cause .
Every year Poland's capital now remembers the rising at 17.00 on August 1st, by standing to a minutes silence while war sirens play out throughout the city. Last year this moving moment was captured for a short film, which can be seen below:
The moment was also commemorated on Saturday, in the 22nd annual Warsaw Uprising run. Runners choose between a 5 or 10 km route, winding its way through ul. Konkwiktorska, Bonifraterska, ul. ul.Miodowa, Krakowskie Przedmieście, Karowa, Wybrzeże Gdańskie and Sanguszki finishing at Konkwiktorska. The photo on the right was taken as the runners dashed their way towards the finish line in the city's old town.
Our city will of course be doing its own commemoration of the uprising, starting today at 17.00 with a replica of Warsaw's minutes silence.
The next event takes place at 16.00 Saturday at Chopper Club on ul. Kotlarskiej 42. Everyone will have the chance to talk to members of the historical reenactment group 'Festung Breslau'. Here the uniforms, equipment, weapons, and historic vehicles from Sunday's uprising reconstruction will be presented. Then later at 18:00 Professor Nikolai Ivanov will gave a lecture named "The Warsaw Uprising as seen from Moscow", after which you can listen to the thoughts of the insurgents themselves.
Sunday's uprising reconstruction is due to take place at 16.00 on the Rynek, and is sure to be both a fitting tribute and a fascinating spectacle. Approximately 200 people will play German and Russian soldiers, insurgents and civilians from the capital. Authentic military vehicles, uniforms and armory will also be used to make the reconstruction as accurate as possible.
Following Sunday's Presentation the musical play "Remember" will take centerfold. The show Includes insurgent songs and poetry as well as extracts from "Diary of the Warsaw Uprising" by M. Bialoszewski. The works of Jacek Kaczmarski will also be represented.