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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

Warsaw pays tribute to WWII freedom fighters

31.07.2020 23:00
Sirens are set to wail, church bells are set to toll, and traffic will stop for a minute's remembrance on Saturday as Warsaw commemorates a bloody revolt 76 years ago against the occupying Germans.
Polish President Andrzej Duda meets with participants of the 1944 insurgency at a ceremony in Warsaw this week.
Polish President Andrzej Duda meets with participants of the 1944 insurgency at a ceremony in Warsaw this week. Photo: PAP/Marcin Obara

Officials, World War II veterans and residents are expected to visit sites around the city to mark the 76th anniversary of the outbreak of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, a heroic act of resistance in which poorly equipped Polish fighters took up arms against the country’s Nazi German invaders.

Every year on August 1, people in Warsaw, and much of Poland, stop to the sound of sirens at exactly 5 p.m. to remember "W Hour," the time when the insurgency began in the dark days of German occupation.

While the day is usually observed with massive gatherings, most of this year's events on August 1 will not be open to the public due to restrictions on the number of people allowed at concerts and museums amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Many commemorative events will instead be held online, and the heroes of the bloody WWII revolt have also been honoured through music and cultural projects.

In previous years, ceremonies usually included roll calls of honour and wreath-laying as well as speeches, prayers, poetry readings and the singing of patriotic songs.

Polish President Andrzej Duda has said that the Warsaw Uprising demonstrated that "the Polish people are unvanquished, that they cannot be easily subjugated, that they cannot be suppressed without resistance, that they are proud and strong, and that they are no stranger to heroism and bravery even at the price of death.”

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said last year that fighters in the Warsaw Uprising were not only "fighting for the future of the nation” but defending fundamental human values such as patriotism, truth and honour.

Polish lawmakers in 2019 passed a special resolution in which they saluted “all the heroes of the Warsaw Uprising" and said that the insurgency was “one of the most heroic and tragic Polish battles of World War II" and the largest military operation by any underground resistance movement in German-occupied Europe.

US ambassador Georgette Mosbacher said last year that "the patriotism, the heroic struggle for freedom and the great sacrifice of the Heroes of the Warsaw Uprising deserve the utmost respect."

The US embassy last August released a commemorative video in which American soldiers stationed in Poland paid tribute to the heroes of the Warsaw Uprising.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, in a speech in Warsaw on August 1, 2019, asked the Polish people for forgiveness for the horrors their country suffered at the hands of Nazi Germany during World War II.

The 1944 insurgency lasted 63 days before it was put down by better equipped and more numerous German forces.

The heroic act of resistance left the city razed to the ground and resulted in the death of some 18,000 Polish fighters and 200,000 civilians.

(gs)

Source: Polish Radio, IAR, PAP, TVP Info