Every day we watch this city from our office window on the 8th floor of a building in the middle of the Grochów neighborhood in Warsaw, and what we see is a vibrant city with a bright outlook on the future. But on our way to work, when we look at the walls of the tenement houses just around the corner, we see the scars that cannot be seen from the 8th floor. The city remembers. And so do we.
It’s hard to believe it’s already been 75 years. On 1 August 1944, Warsaw stood up against the Nazis and fought a heroic fight for 63 days with very little support from the outside. It is estimated that about 16 000 members of the Polish resistance movement were killed during the insurrection, and about 6000 were badly wounded. But many more lives were lost in result of this courageous act of resistance. There were between 150 000 and 200 000 victims among civilians, mostly because of mass executions. What is more, the fall of the Warsaw Uprising resulted in the razing of the city by the Germans. The Uprising made the German leaders furious and they decided to punish it severely.
Warsaw was turned into ruins. It took a lot of time and effort of all the citizens to rebuild it. But even though it’s been 75 years since the outbreak of the Uprising, a careful passerby will still see the city’s scars. The bullet marks on old tenement house walls. And what can’t be seen with the naked eye are the scars in the Polish people’s hearts.
Today at 5 p.m. CET sirens will wail. The city will freeze to commemorate the Uprising. To honor all the victims and all those who stood up against oppression, against evil, and fought for freedom. And so will we. May the world never forget.
(To see a short video of the "W" hour at Wiatraczna roundabout in Warsaw, visit RealPoland's YouTube channel.)