Commemorating the Uprising

The Uprising is a key event in Polish history, and events commemorating it take place over a week, although the final one is in October, marking the end of the Uprising after 63 days. I pick up a sheet outlining the program and providing location maps from a holder in the tram.

On Sunday I go to the evening mass held in the square around the Uprising monument. A stage is set up amongst the figures and the area is illuminated with red light. The surrounding streets are closed to traffic, and the area is packed. I am, most of the time, doubly bewildered: I’m not familiar with the protocols of the Catholic mass, and I’m even less familiar with the Polish language. However, there are a few things I have no trouble comprehending. I recognise the Polish National anthem and am oddly moved by it. I know that participants are being honoured when I see a group of old people moving towards the stage. Young guides hand out free water, a far cry from the role of their age-mates in 1944. I jump when the salute is fired, wondering what on earth it was like to be under constant bombardment. 

Leaving, I walk behind an old woman wearing an AK armband, an indication that she had been in the Home Army (Armia Krajowa).

(This photo was taken by PAP photographer Bartłomiej Zborowski.)

On Monday morning I have a bird’s eye view of the procession moving along ul Puławska, as it turns around our corner into ul Dworkowa to commemorate at the Uprising monument just down the block from us.

On Monday at 5 pm, the time the Uprising began, sirens sound, Warsaw traffic stops and people get out and stand beside their cars for a minute’s silence. We leave the playground to stand beside the road. Some drivers are obviously bewildered at the sudden stopping, but the man in the brown jacket knows exactly what is happening and stands with military stillness.

In the middle of all this my daughter says: “You know, I always get angry at this commemoration. Nothing like this is done to commemorate the Ghetto Uprising.”

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About morselsandscraps

A retired Australian who spends a lot of time in Warsaw, and blogs as a way of life.
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11 Responses to Commemorating the Uprising

  1. Sue says:

    Your daughter has a point regarding the ghetto uprising….and it leaves me wondering how large the Jewish population is in Warsaw now

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  2. Lucid Gypsy says:

    What a shame that some had no idea what was happening. Your daughter clearly takes after you.
    Have a lovely weekend dear Meg 🙂

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    • I actually suspect that I take after her! A lovely weekend to you too. I feel as if I may have earns one this week. I spent yesterday wallowing in lake water while I invigilated the twins, as two swans and an adolescent cygnet and a pile of ducks sailed by. A day in the sun is fatiguing!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Lucid Gypsy says:

        Haha know just what you mean, I learn from my wonderful daughter as well! Not sure I’d like to swim in a lake, especially with swan mummies around x 🙂 x

        Liked by 1 person

        • restlessjo says:

          The red lighting is highly effective, Meg. Surely the Ghetto Uprising is part and parcel of the same commemorations? It’s never been an easy life being Jewish, but their religious observations do set them apart.
          I’m picturing you with a large fishing net, scooping alternate twins out of the water. 🙂 🙂

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          • The Ghetto Uprising was an entirely different matter and in April / May 1943. My daughter reckons it was a matter of life and death: the Jews were going to be exterminated anyway, so maybe the Uprising would give them a chance: whereas the Warsaw Uprising was in the end a waste of lives and a city, doomed by lack of weapons and as it turned out by blind eyes – although Hitler was determined to eradicate Warsaw anyway. But that’s only one view. It’s a bit hard not to see the negatives when you live in Warsaw.

            Hope your weekend has been conversely joyful!

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            • restlessjo says:

              Oh dear! My knowledge sadly lacking on the subject, but you’re right- somewhat depressing. A sunny afternoon with a book and the company of plants, so I can’t complain 🙂 🙂

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  3. Heyjude says:

    I see one young lady spied you with your camera! I’m shockingly ignorant about all this so your posts are an education. I’m not big on commemorative events though I can understand why some people/places want to make sure the next generation doesn’t forget the past.

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    • You notice everything! I’m not big on commemorative events either as a rule. Anzac Day, our equivalent, would never draw me to a church service or parade. So I’m a bit surprised at the importance I attach to such events here. Partly it’s the fact that I can’t understand the rhetoric, although it was pretty clear that church, state and army were probably uttering much the same platitudes as they would in Australia. And why on earth did the Polish national anthem bring tears to my eyes? “Advance Australia …” doesn’t.

      Liked by 1 person

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