Volume 14, Issue 5/6, 2004
Warsaw Uprising 1944: Part One
Władysław Bartoszewski, Ewa Gieysztor
The Warsaw Uprising
Facts and Afterthoughts
Sixty years that have passed since the Warsaw Uprising are meaningful on the life scale of human generations. The Uprising, planned for 2 or 3 days, lasted in fact for 63 days. That fact astounded the military experts and was even noticed by the German high command, which has to be mainly ascribed to the exceptional tension of patriotism of the soldiers and the population.
The Germans suffered especially great losses on the average around 1,900 weekly, almost twice as many as during the highest intensity of fighting in 1944/45. On our side the losses were estimated at 18,000 dead (or missing) and about 6,500–7,000 wounded insurgents. However, the Warsaw Uprising and the whole nation counted around 150,000 dead among the civilians.
During the two months of the uprising 25% of the pre-war buildings in Warsaw were destroyed, mainly due to the barbarian practice of burning the whole streets. Against the conditions of the capitulation agreement just signed, the majority of historical monuments were burned down.
In Warsaw, the tradition of sacrifices and solidarity in action, bravery and the deep attachment to liberty, manifested in September 1939, was alive and brought results all the time of war through the acts of the patriotic resistance organizations. The leaders of the Warsaw Uprising belonged to the resistance fighters before World War I and during it. The battle for independence was their curriculum vitae, and the majority of the uprising participants, the youth, was educated in the independent Polish Republic, in respect for patriotic traditions of independence fights and insurrections.
Jerzy Kirchmajer believes that the Warsaw Uprising was an error, as it did not suit the Soviets; Jan Ciechanowski from London—that it was against the plans of the British ally. It is said sometimes that the Uprising started without calculating the possibility of a helping hand.
Faith played a major role during the Uprising. The clergy helped the community every way they could.