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The Warsaw Voice » Society » August 13, 2008
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Warsaw Uprising Commemorated
August 13, 2008   
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The official state commemoration of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising by the Polish Home Army (AK) against the occupying Nazi Germans was held under the Gloria Victis (In Honor of the Fallen) Monument in the military section of Warsaw's Powązki cemetery Aug. 1 at 5 p.m.-the time the 63-day battle began 64 years ago.

President Lech Kaczyński and government officials including Prime Minister Donald Tusk, along with parliamentarians, clergymen, high-ranking military officers and some of the survivors, observed a minute's silence to the sound of an air-raid siren. "We're not here to commemorate the failure of the Warsaw Uprising," said Kaczyński, speaking at the ceremony. "We're here to commemorate a tragic yet indispensable part of our history. We're here to pay our respects to the heroic soldiers of an exceptionally heroic army."

Earlier the president, the prime minister, the speakers of both houses of parliament, the head of the National Security Office, the defense minister, the mayor of Warsaw, and a group of war veterans laid wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Warsaw's Piłsudskiego Square during a changing-of-the-guard ceremony.

The Warsaw Uprising of 1944 was a heroic and tragic 63-day (Aug. 1-Oct. 2) struggle undertaken by a Polish resistance group known as the Home Army (AK). It was intended to last for only a few days. The uprising's chief objective was to drive the German occupiers out of the city, helping with the larger fight against the Axis. Other objectives were to liberate Warsaw before the Red Army arrived so as to underscore Polish sovereignty, and to undo the Allied division of Central Europe into spheres of influence.

Polish losses amounted to 18,000 soldiers killed and 25,000 wounded, in addition to between 120,000 and 200,000 civilian deaths. German casualties exceeded 17,000 soldiers killed and more than 9,000 wounded. Together with earlier damage suffered in 1939 and during the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, more than 85 percent of the city's buildings were destroyed. By January 1945, when the Soviets finally entered the city, Warsaw had practically ceased to exist.
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