Warsaw Rising started 76 years ago

On Saturday, Poland’s capital will stop in a moment of silence on August 1, at 5 PM, the “W” Hour, when air-raid sirens will go off. In such a way, Warsaw citizens will commemorate the 76th anniversary of the beginning of the Warsaw Rising, when thousands of insurgents took up arms to fight against the Nazi German occupiers.

Just like in previous years, a number of ceremonies marking the anniversary will be held, although in line with the sanitary regime, in several places in the capital city, as well as all over the country.

Initially intended to last only a few days, but resulting in more than two months of fierce fighting, the Warsaw Uprising was the biggest armed offensive of any underground resistance in Nazi-occupied Europe. It was led by the Polish Underground State’s resistance movement, the Home Army.

The uprising began at 5 PM on August 1, 1944, in an attempt to liberate the city from German hands as the Soviet Army began their offensive in the German-occupied territory which is now central-eastern Poland.

The goal of the underground resistance organisations was to liberate Warsaw before the Soviet Union entered the capital.

However, real help from the Soviet Army never came. The “ally” stood on the eastern riverbank of the Vistula River and watched the capital city engulfed in blood and fire. After 63 days of fighting, running low on ammunition and food supplies, the uprising ended in the insurgents’ surrender on October 3.

In the end, around 200,000 insurgents and civilians lost their lives, and by the time the German forces withdrew from Warsaw in January 1945, around 85 percent of the city’s infrastructure had been completely levelled and barely 6 percent of Warsaw’s pre-war population still remained in the city.