Friday, August 2, 2013

At 5 p.m. yesterday in Warsaw, thousands of Varsovians stopped what they were doing for one minute.

Traffic froze in the middle of the streets.

Sirens wailed throughout the city.
Almost 5 p.m. on August 1, 2013, at the Palace of Culture in Warsaw.
Here is my short video clip of the 5 p.m. memorial in Warsaw.
Yesterday marked the 69th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising, which broke out at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 1, 1944. The day’s code name was “W-Hour” as in Wolność, which means freedom in Polish. Every year, Warsaw pays tribute to the Polish insurgents that fought in the battle against the Nazis. The insurgents had wanted to liberate the capital city from the Hitler’s occupation before the Soviet Army arrived.

National flags were hung on every street. Hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of red candles were lit in front of memorials and monuments, which mark the blood of the murdered residents of the city in 1944.
Memorial flowers and candles left at the Warsaw Uprising Monument at Plac Krasińskich.
The Warsaw Uprising was anticipated to last for a few days, but lasted over 2 months. In the end, more than 18,000 insurgents died and 25,000 were wounded while more than 150,000 civilians were killed. (Read more about the History of the Warsaw Uprising here.)

Yesterday, as I watched young and old Varsovians light candles around the city, my eyes started to water. I couldn’t help but tear up. I was witnessing an important and very moving moment in my new city. I imagine several of the elderly men and women I saw had lived through and managed to survive the Warsaw Uprising.

These are courageous men and women.

When the dust settled after the Uprising, more than 85 percent of the city had been destroyed by the Nazis. This poignant video, City of Ruins, shows what the city of Warsaw looked like in 1945.

The city was devastated.

You can still see parts of war-riddled Warsaw, such as the ruins of the Bank of Poland, built between 1907-1911 and bombed by Nazi planes in 1944. It was a Polish stronghold during the Uprising.
Hundreds of bullet holes riddle the walls of the ruins of the Bank of Poland in Warsaw. 
Yesterday, young and old honored those who lost their lives during the Uprising.

I was there.
The Little Insurgent Monument, located on Podwale Street by the old city walls, commemorates the scouts and the younger participants, the children, of the Warsaw Uprising. This monument was unveiled on Oct. 1, 1981 and made by resident Jerzy Jarnuszkiewicz. 
Residents of Warsaw near the Royal Castle plaza yesterday.
Even children participated in re-enactments of the Warsaw Uprising.

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kami said...

have you been to Plan Zamkowy in the evening where thousands of people gathered to sing Uprising songs? That was really moving and a perfect ending of this special day in Warsaw

Joy said...

@Kami, thanks for the tip! I did catch a few of the songs around 6:30 p.m., but then I had to get home so I could make dinner. Next year, I'll plan to spend more time in the Plac Zamkowy area on Aug. 1.

Unknown said...

What an incredible experience for you to witness this amazing commemoration. Thank you for sharing it.

BacktoBodrum said...

How moving. I wonder if we will be commemorating Gezi Park in 69 years time?

jaz@octoberfarm said...

thanks so much for showing this. how are you liking your new home?

Julia said...

Had no idea about this Joy which is poor since I have GCSE, A-Level and part of my degree in 20th Century European History. Not surprised you were so moved by it all.

Joy said...

@Thyme Sarah, you are welcome! Happy to share my experiences.

@Annie, good question!

@Joyce, Still adjusting, but things are getting better and looking up. Yavas, yavas.

@Julia, We all learned something then. :-) I've been reading up a lot about Poland's history since we moved here. A lot of it is very sad.