August 1, 2023

The Warsaw Uprising – 79 years

About the timeless memory of the Warsaw Uprising. In tribute to the Varsovians who stood up to liberate their city and homeland from Nazi German oppression. 79 years later, the fire of their sacrifice still burns in our hearts.

August 1st, 5.00pm.

Every year, for one minute, the city of Warsaw freezes. The sound of sirens reverberates across the heavy summer air. Gathered in contemplation, we look back to those who, in 1944 at that same hour, initiated a battle to liberate their beloved city and homeland.

The Warsaw Uprising. 63 days of perseverance, honor, and bloodshed. Fighting to their last breath, Varsovians watched their home crumble to ruins.

Why did the Polish Home Army stand up and face a nearly insurmountable enemy?

They wanted to be free and owe this freedom to nobody.

Independence was to be won from the Germans and defended against the Soviets. Both these totalitarian regimes were set on destroying Poland. The Warsaw Uprising was an act of rebellion against their long-standing domination plots.

And so, the people of Warsaw took their arms. Meanwhile, the Red Army waited patiently on the opposite side of the river for the uprising to be crushed… Only to march in as “liberators” after the city had been turned to ruins, drained from all life.

Once again, through Hitler and Stalin’s cooperation, Poland was deprived of its freedom.

Ceremonies commemorating these days have penetrated my childhood for years and seem to have been there always. Without yet knowing any details of the uprising fights, I stood in awe before the way its participants were honored. I gazed in wonder at the red-and-white armbands worn by insurgents.

As the years went by, I yearned for more knowledge. The museum of the Warsaw Uprising appeared like an inexhaustible fountain of memory, where, upon each visit, I discovered new jewels.

And then, I heard the songs which brightened those soldiers’ days, strengthening them in battle. I was surprised at how they found space for hope and merriment despite the inescapable horrors witnessed every day. Then I understood that those first days of August 1944 were filled with a tragic blend of elation and sacrifice. After 5 years of subjugation to Nazi German occupation, when resistance and combat were forced into secrecy, the people united to openly demonstrate their hatred of evil. During the years of terror, they secretly prepared for this final outburst. And when that moment of ultimate confrontation came, the happiness flowing from it was irrepressible.

While they faced the German tanks and heavy armament with pistols and gasoline bottles, evidently outplayed by the enemy army’s equipment, the insurgents did not manifest regrets. For years after the war, they testified that in those days, the call to fight was impossible to ignore.

As the Germans stubbornly insulted them as “bandits from forests”, the Home Army’s soldiers persisted in faith, knowing they stood on the side of justice and righteousness.

I think it was that minute at 5.00 pm, repeated every year, that sank into my mind inerasably. If I was to forget everything that I love Warsaw and Poland for, this impression would always remain.

The ever-present memory of these events sparked a first inspiration into my heart. But for years, my remembrance was but a vague sentimental shiver. Nothing but a feeling, lacking any substantial rationale. Yet I wished I was able to paint a picture concisely and accurately to someone unfamiliar with the entire epopee.

In the past few years, determined to deepen my knowledge, in the hope of one day spreading it further, I read widely about the topic. Enough to feel a closer bond forged between me and these people. I have even found my favorites among the insurgent soldiers. Reading memoirs and letters left by those who fell in battle, I have the impression these are friends that I am getting to know better with every day. After all, so many were my own age or even younger…

Coming to know their inspiring stories, I found better direction in writing my own tribute to these heroes. I now desire more strongly than ever to introduce the brave boys and girls who laid their lives down so that I could live in a free country.

Deep inside me I feel, and I know, that the Uprising was a fiery instinct of national need – against terror, a life of misery, and against the deadly enemy destroying us. And even today, after everything my eyes have witnessed – if the decision were placed in front of me – to go to the Uprising or not – I would go once again. And I know that others would as well. Gloria Victis – Glory to the Defeated – will be engraved on Warsaw’s uprising cemeteries if we fall in this battle. ~ Andrzej Romocki, codename “Morro”, scoutmaster and soldier of the Uprising.

Monument to soldiers

comments powered by Disqus