Seventy-five years ago, late afternoon on 1 August 1944, the biggest single act of resistance in the Nazi occupied Europe commenced in Warsaw. The Uprising was to last two month, during which some 200,000 civilians and 40,000 soldiers of the Polish underground perished while the capital was reduced to ruin. Throughout that time, the Red Army remained on the other bank of the Vistula river, Stalin quite happy to let the Germans deal with the anti-Nazi, but also anti-communist, Home Army (Armia Krajowa). When the Russians eventually crossed the river in January 1945, Warsaw was a ghost town, from which the victorious Wehrmacht and SS have expelled all the remaining inhabitants and then dynamited all the buildings not destroyed during the fighting.
Every year, to commemorate the start of the Uprising, Warsaw stops for a minute – and I mean stops. I’m not a big fan of red flares, as they are otherwise associated with football fans/hooligans, in this case the followers of Legia Warsaw, but it’s difficult not to be moved by the overall effect. Enjoy this brief clip and lest we forget 1944 too:
If you are interested further (and I mean much further) I recommend two excellent books on the topic, one by Norman Davis and a more recent one by Alexandra Richie.