70 years ago today, at 5 PM local time, the Warsaw Uprising began. After 5 long years of Nazi occupation, having suffered the devastating loss of the whole Jewish Population, having suffered the loss of many Polish lives with countless others taken away as slave labor, and with the Russians (Soviet Army) just across the river, the remaining Polish people of Warsaw rose up against the Nazis. Vastly outnumbered and outgunned, they held the huge German army at bay for two months. Help from the Russians never came–they were content to watch the Nazis slaughter the Poles. Help from the Allies never came either–Stalin would not allow American and British planes to use Russian bases to refuel. To his defence, Churchill pleaded with Stalin and Roosevelt, to no avail. The people of Warsaw fought on–alone in the world.
It did not end well. When the Warsaw Uprising finally ended nearly two months later, 12,000 Polish soldiers/fighters were dead, and 150,000 to 200,000 citizens were dead, many through Nazi mass executions. 25% of the city was in ruins. But that was just the beginning. Furious that the Poles resisted (and that they were so successful at it), Hitler ordered the city leveled. the remaining 700,000 or so Poles were expelled and the city was leveled, block by block. At the end of the war, no more than 1000 or so people were left in the once grand city.
And so today, at 5 PM, in Warsaw, for one minute, horns and sirens will sound, and all people will stop for a minute and remember what started 70 years ago. They stand today in one of the largest cities of Europe with a population of 1.7 million, the bustling a vibrant, totally rebuilt, capital of Poland, a triumph of freedom and human will–today Poland stand proud as a free country, but does not forget what happened 70 years ago today, nor the fact that Russia and the allies stood idly by and did nothing. Pamiętamy!