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Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 14, Issue 5/6, 2004

Warsaw Uprising 1944: Part One

Aleksander Gieysztor, Aleksandra Rodzińska-Chojnowska
Pages 13-22
DOI: 10.5840/du2004145/617

The Warsaw Uprising in the Europe of 1944

The debate on the Warsaw uprising has been conducted for fifty years now, showing deep differences of attitudes and judgments. To explain a defeat is always difficult. For sure—as in the case of the partitions of Poland’s territory at the end of the eighteenth century—some of the reasons for the defeat lie in the fact that the two invaders drastically outnumbered Polish forces. Other reasons may be due to those macro-political decisions which, once made, sentenced Poland to the fate of a satellite within the eastern empire. What could be called the official stance on this subject proclaimed in the country, was reduced to stigmatizing the irresponsible, but tragic in its consequences—quotation from Stalin—“political adventure”. The political leaders and military commanders were unequivocally condemned. At the same time, the legend of the Warsaw Uprising first smoldered, and then started growing. At first, based on the oral tradition, later, fighting its way to publication, being revealed in exile, persevering in the country, the legend, which sought in the uprising the values worth passing to sons and later grandsons. A complicated and different picture of the uprising’s motivations has been formulated in journalistic publications, hundreds of memoirs, scientific papers, and during meetings with the growing participation of younger historians.