Sirens echoed throughout Warsaw in memory of those who fought for the freedom of Poland’s capital on Aug. 1, at 5:00 p.m., which marks the exact hour the 1944 Warsaw Uprising began,
For one minute, the city came to a complete standstill, with pedestrians stopping in their tracks, and cars, buses and trams turning off their engines. Some even blared their horns.
Each year, Poles pay respect to their fallen heroes in this manner throughout the entire country.
The time of 5:00 p.m., also called the “W Hour”, marks a minute of silence for all those who heroically gave their lives fighting occupying German forces in August and September of 1944.
This year, due to epidemic restrictions, the commemoration ceremonies were limited, and organizers encouraged citizens to participate online.
Despite the pandemic, a few thousand people still took to Warsaw’s streets at “W Hour”.
The participants held Polish flags and banners, as well as bands on their arms with the Anchor — the symbol of Polish underground resistance.
Boats on the Vistula also paid respect to Warsaw’s heroes with dozens of them drifting down the river with red and white flying.
The aerial acrobatic group “Żelazny” also paid a tribute to underground fighters by drawing a huge symbol of the Anchor resistance fighters in the sky with specialized planes.
— ORLEN Grupa Akrobacyjna ŻELAZNY (@grupazelazny) August 1, 2020
“W Hour” marks the largest armed underground resistance in German-occupied Europe, with between 40,000 to 50,000 people taking up arms against the Germans on Aug. 1, 1944. The uprising was meant to last a few days. Instead, it lasted 63.
Approximately 18,000 insurgents died and another 25,000 were wounded during the Warsaw Uprising. Civilian losses were catastrophic and amounted to over 180,000 deaths. The remaining surviving Warsaw citizens — about 500,000 — were chased out of the city.
Warsaw itself was burned and bombed to the ground by Germans.
Special German forces used dynamite and heavy weaponry to methodically destroy Poland’s capital home city even three months after the uprising had ended.
Another 15,000 insurgents fell into German captivity, including 2,000 women.