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Saturday, 1 August 2015

Time Stops In Warsaw

My dearest hearts,

Did you know that every August 1st, everyone in Poland - and especially in Warsaw - stands still for one minute? Why would people stand still, you ask, when our life is so busy and on a daily basis we know not how to partition our time? Why - you ask? To celebrate the Warsaw Uprising. The Warsaw Uprising (Polish: powstanie warszawskie) was a major World War II operation by the Polish resistance Home Army (Polish: Armia Krajowa) to liberate Warsaw from Nazi Germany. The Uprising was timed to coincide with the Soviet Union's Red Army approaching the eastern suburbs of the city and the retreat of German forces. However, the Soviet advance stopped short, enabling the Germans to regroup and demolish the city while defeating the Polish resistance, which fought for 63 days with little outside support. The Uprising was the largest single military effort taken by any European resistance movement during World War II.
The Uprising began on 1 August 1944, as part of a nationwide plan, Operation Tempest, when the Soviet Army approached Warsaw. The main Polish objectives were to drive the German occupiers from the city and help with the larger fight against Germany and the Axis powers. Secondary political objectives were to liberate Warsaw before the Soviets, to underscore Polish sovereignty by empowering the Polish Underground State before the Soviet-backed Polish Committee of National Liberation could assume control. Also, short-term causes included the threat of a German round-up of able-bodied Poles, and Moscow radio calling for the Uprising to begin (source).

Warsaw Uprising Timeline
1 Aug 1944 Soviet 1st Byelorussian Front under Konstantin Rokossovsky arrived in the suburbs of Warsaw, Poland. Seeing the arrival of friendly forces, the Polish Home Army rose up against German occupation troops.
20 Aug 1944 Members of the Armia Krajowa attacked the State Telephone Exchange high-rise building in Warsaw, Poland.
25 Aug 1944 The headquarters of NKVD rear guard troops of Soviet 3rd Byelorussian Front ordered Soviet troops to disarm and detain all Polish Home Army troops who were attempting to pass through Soviet lines toward Warsaw, Poland.

27 Sep 1944 2,000 fighters of the Armia Krajowa surrendered in Warsaw, Poland.
2 Oct 1944 The Warsaw Uprising ended in failure after 63 days of fighting largely due to lack of food and ammunition. 15,200 insurgents and 200,000 civilians were killed, while the German occupation forces suffered 16,000 killed. Many buildings were destroyed in the fighting.

A shrill wail of sirens and the toll of church bells will mark the 71st anniversary of the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising at 5pm this Saturday. Thousands of people are expected to stop in the streets of Poland's capital to pay silent tribute to the insurgents, just like they do each year (source).
You may not have known this - and you may even find it hard to believe - but in 1941 the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto were keeping alive with only 1125 calories per day (according to witnesses of the time). In the Schindlers Museum, here in Kraków,  it is also said that people in Auschwitz would barely live with the amount of calories that they had, per day, which amounted around 300!
On January 17, 1945 the Red Army "liberated" Warsaw. The number of inhabitants left in the city was 174000, less than 6% of the pre-war population - according to the Polish statistics. Out of that number around 11500 were Jews that escaped Death by the hand of Arians. When I wrote "liberated" with quotation marks I mean it... I would not call it liberation. It was a change of regime and a change of tirans... but that is a whole different story! Today, my friends, we celebrate the bravery of the people that fought in the Warsaw Uprising. The heroes with or without name, that made the city and their country proud. The city was destroyed and wiped away from the face of the world yet they came back and rose from the ashes like a Phoenix. I will be in Warsaw today and I will celebrate their courage and bravery in the face of the many with power. I will stand still for a minute, remembering the ones that fell so that others could be alive. Will YOU remember them? Will YOU join us?

Yours sincerely,
The Twisted Red LadyBug that celebrates 1st August