The Warsaw Uprising broke out on August, 1 1944. It was a tragic 63 day fight to liberate Warsaw from German occupation.
On September 29, Gen. „Bór" wired to London: “Our struggle is dying out.” There is no longer any hope of help for the fighting Warsaw. The civilian population and wounded soldiers find themselves in a tragic position. Famine is rampant in the city". (source: www.1944.pl).
The Uprising ended on October 2, 1944 when the agreement on suspension of warfare operations in Warsaw was signed.
The results of the heroic fight were dramatic: 18.000 Polish soldiers were killed, 25.000 wounded. Between 120.000 – 200.000 civilians died as well, mostly from mass murders conducted by German soldiers. Additionaly 600.000 civilians were expelled from Warsaw while the German troops started systematic destruction block by block. In consequence 85% of the city was turned into rubble. The German losses amounted to 17.000 soldiers killed and 9.000 wounded.
Warsaw has over 300 plaques dotted around the city that commemorate Nazi execution sites. They display the date and usually the number of people who were killed by German hit squads.
Monument to the Warsaw Uprising (Krasińskich Sq., near the New Town)
In the decades following the war the communist authorities refused to acknowledge the significance of the Warsaw Uprising. It was only with the regime close to collapse, as well as much lobbying from veterans and Solidarity, that a monument was finally unveiled. Built in 1989 on the site of the former national theatre, Wincent Kućma’s masterpiece depicts a group of insurgents in battle and another group fleeing into the sewers. It was here that German president, Roman Herzog, apologized on the 50th anniversary of the uprising for German atrocities committed against the Polish nation.
The Little Insurgent
Podwale St., near the Old Town
Warsaw's most poignant memorial commemorates the hundreds of children who were killed during the Uprising. Many were used as messengers, others fought in the ranks. The monument itself depicts Antek Rozpylacz - a boy-soldier killed nearby.
Warsaw Uprising Museum
ul. Grzybowska 79, tel. 022 539 79 05 www.1944.pl
A stunning museum, opened in 2004, and revamped in early 2005, and one which is rated as the best museum in Poland. Packed with interactive displays, photographs, video footage and miscellaneous displays this is guaranteed to leave a deep mark on all visitors.
Occupying a former tramway power station the 2,000m2 space is split in three levels and takes leads visitors through the complete story of the uprising.
Life under Nazi rule is covered through a series of slides, and a section of the ground floor is dedicated to the children who served as both messengers and soldiers. The rattle of machine guns, Stukka dive bombers and heart beats are played over the speakers, adding to the ominous atmosphere. Different halls focus on the many aspects of the Uprising; a replica of an insurgents radio station has been built, while other sections document the massacre in Wola, allied airdrops and the role of medical units.
On the mezzanine level a cinema screen plays a ten minute film detailing the first month of the battle, after which the museums route takes visitors through a mock sewer.
The final section features a section devoted to the Soviet creation of ‘Lublin Poland’, a hall of remembrance for the fallen and a display entitled ‘Death of the City’; a haunting epitath to the destruction of Warsaw in which silent films project before and after shots of city landmarks.
The wall of the small park outside is marked with the names of 4,000 casualties, and is also home to occasional photographic exhibitions. New additions to this fantastic space include a replica of B24 Liberator plane, a 110-seat cinema and a 32 metre tall viewing tower. Although multi-lingual tour guides are available, the translations on most of the museums displays are clear enough to render a guide unnecessary and there's even a creche for the kids.
Monday, Wednesday and Friday: 8.00 am - 6.00 pm
Admission 4/2 PLN, Sunday free
Between 1939 and 1944 over 85 percent of Warsaw was completely destroyed, with the city centre bearing the brunt of the damage. In spite of the Herculean rebuilding work that has since taken place, the odd bullet scarred wall or pre-war tenements can still be found.
10 Bielańska St. - Built in 1907 the mammoth building originally functioned as the National Bank of Russia, before being turned into the Polish state treasury in 1917. Smashed by German bombs, its decaying hulk now lies fenced off from the public. Plans to turn the building into an Uprising museum have repeatedly stalled.
Waliców St. - Located within the bounds of the Jewish ghetto, the shell pocked walls were actually damaged during the intense fighting of 1944. The dark, brooding courtyards of several of the tenement buildings still carry an ominous air.
Wilcza St. - The facades of a few buildings between Poznańska St. and Koszykowa St. remain sprayed with bullets. In particular keep an eye open for no. 9a, 72 and 73.
Prudential Insurance building - Now the derelict Hotel Warszawa, when the tower was erected in the 1930s it was the tallest building in Warsaw. During the uprising it was a primary target for the Home Army and captured on the first day of battle. Although it was gutted by German shelling its steel skeleton refused to topple.
Praga district – The neglected Praga district holds whole streets seemingly left as they were. Visitors should look out for Okrzei St., and Zamojskiego St. Walking around at night is not advisable.
more information: www.1944.pl
More information: http://www.inyourpocket.com/poland/city/warsaw.html