Poland marks 158th anniversary of January Uprising

"The January Uprising was an act of great courage in the fight for independence. We owe memory and respect to those who stood up solidly against the occupant at that time to defend the homeland", the head of the Ministry of National Defence, Mariusz Błaszczak said on Friday, marking the uprising’s 158th anniversary.

"Today is the 158th anniversary of the January Uprising, which was an act of great courage in the fight for independence. We owe memory and respect to those who stood up solidly against the occupant at that time to defend the homeland. Praise the Heroes," the Minister of National Defence wrote on Friday.

The January Uprising broke out on January 22, 1863. The spark that initiated the outbreak of the insurrection was the conscription of young Polish activists into the Imperial Russian Army.

The uprising took over the territory of the Russian partition and resembled partisan warfare. According to historians, the Polish forces totalled approximately 200,000 people and over a thousand clashes took place during the insurrection.

The uprising’s first leader was Ludwik Mierosławski, who, however, lost this position after a month. His further successors were Marian Langiewicz and Romuald Traugutt, who later became the insurrection’s tragic symbol. Arrested as a result of denunciation and imprisoned in Pawiak - a prison serving as a transfer camp for Poles sentenced by Imperial Russia to deportation to Siberia, Traugutt was sentenced to death by hanging by a Russian military court. The sentence was carried out on the slopes of the Warsaw Citadel on August 5, 1864. It was in that year that the uprising collapsed.

The uprising’s aftermath

After the insurrection’s collapse, Poles suffered numerous repressions, such as the confiscation of noble estates, the dissolution of monasteries in the territory of the Kingdom of Poland, high tax contributions and active Russification leading to the Polish language being removed from schools and public offices. For participation in the uprising, the tsarist authorities sentenced approximately 700 people to death and exiled at least 38,000.

Historians state that the experiences of the January Uprising had a strong influence on the further independence activities and struggles of Poles over the next generations.

The last surviving veterans of the Uprising were honoured by the authorities of Independent Poland after 1918.

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