Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Warsaw's walls bear witness

I'd just like to remind readers that it went on for 63 days, so the commemorations should not fizzle out after one euphoric, sunny Saturday of civic pride. One terrible feature of the Warsaw Uprising was the massacre of civilians that occurred on a massive scale across central, southern and western districts of the city within the first few days of the outbreak.

Walking around Warsaw, one cannot miss these ubiquitous crosses marking the spot where the dregs of mankind carried out mass murder of civilians uninvolved in the Uprising. Criminals led by psychopaths in the service of a lunatic leading an obedient nation to its downfall.

Forty shot here, 108 shot there, 150 elsewhere, 59,400 in the district of Wola alone in just four days - the scale and nature of these atrocities put the Warsaw Uprising in a category of human suffering that is difficult to comprehend these days.

There's 355 plaques around Warsaw like these two. Here's an index to them by street name (in Polish).

The military action resulted in the death of 16,000 Polish Home Army soldiers* and a similar number of Nazi forces, although Polish civilian deaths were close to 200,000** - on top of the 56,500 Jews killed during the Ghetto Uprising, the 250,000-300,000 Jews deported from the Ghetto to extermination camps in the summer of 1942, the 100,000 Jews who died in the Ghetto of starvation and disease. Plus the 25,800 civilians killed during the Nazi invasion of Poland in September 1939. Throughout the five-year occupation, the Nazis deported the entire Jewish population to death camps while rounding up and executing civilians in reprisal for Home Army actions.

During the war, Poland's capital was all but obliterated, in terms of its people and its buildings. The fact that today it thrives is a matter of intense pride. In place of the heavy communist-era memorials to martyrology pictured above, today's street artists commemorate the Uprising in a lighter style, but one that shows that for the younger generation the empathy with the fallen is very much there, pride in being from Warsaw.

* Five times the number of Allied soldiers killed on D-Day
** More than the number of Japanese civilians killed by the atomic blasts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link. I knew that there were many, but I never imagined that there were 355. I allways pass them with a shiver. I have thought of these plaques as grave stones of a city that had died. The new Warsaw is in the same location, but I think something died that could not be rebuilt.
Andrew in Calif.