Wednesday, 1 August 2012

'W'-Hour, and Warsaw pays tribute

For my father, Bohdan Dembiński, 89, who fought in the Warsaw Uprising in Batalion Odwet.

Each successive first of August is an opportunity to become ever-more closely acquainted with the history of the Warsaw Uprising (see links below for a personal overview of its significance). Today I was on ul. Marszałkowska to mark 'W'-hour (sadly there was no flypast this year), but the sight of an entire city (almost) coming to a complete halt and standing still as the sirens wailed could not have failed to have made a strong impression.

Cycling to work up ul. Puławska, I noticed hand-painted banners stretched out across both sides of the new footbridge (kładka) in Pyry, reading 'God, Honour, Fatherland'...

...and another hung up on the railway viaduct, reminding us that this is the day; that we should remember that the 63 days of the Uprising are indeed a matter of pride.

Below: the PASTA building, just after the sirens had stopped. Scenes of ferocious fighting; the Home Army captured the German communications HQ; in the basement of the former Polish Telephone Company building lay the cables (a bundle several feet in diameter) linking Berlin to the Ostfront. A sign of the times - in the foreground, the Warsaw offices of the Bank of China.

Right: my father told me only recently that he spent most of the Uprising on ul. Noakowskiego. What better day than today to check it out. There is a plaque here saying (and I'll translate: "Politechnika Region: A Warsaw Uprising stronghold from 1 August to 2 October 1944. Unbroken line of barricades defended by soldiers of the 'Golski' 3rd Armoured Battalion, 6th Śródmieście Grouping, Home Army. It survived every ferocious attack by the enemy - On the 60th anniversary of the outbreak of the Uprising - for the memory of generations").

My father spent 44 days (from 16 August to 2 October) defending the buildings at nos. 16 and 18 ul. Noakowskiego. For me, having walked along the street today, and then spoken at length this evening to my father about his experiences (including listening to Mieczysław Fogg sing at the commemoration of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Archecture Department of the Warsaw Politechnic on ul. Lwowska), the link with the Uprising is most tangible. Long may it remain so.

Remembering 'W'-Hour:
Last year.

Three years ago.

1 comment:

Paddy said...

Hear, hear. I was in the Old Town to mark this moment, a special one for Varsovians. It would be very interesting to hear more of your Father's experiences. Paddy