Recalling the 1944 Warsaw Uprising: “Poles wanted to be Poles”

August 1st marks the 74th anniversary of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. It is considered by many to be one of the most heroic but also tragic struggles in the history of the Second World War

editor: REMIX NEWS

The 1944 Warsaw Uprising is considered by many to be one of the most heroic but also tragic struggles in the history of the Second World War.

Marking the 74th anniversary on August 1st, Poles are determined to keep its memory alive and highlight the fight they gave to reclaim their country.

“We saw that we were fighting for the honour and independence of our country,” Andrzej Wernic said, a survivor of the Uprising.

During an interview for Gazeta Polska Codziennie, Wernic remembers the first day of the Uprising well. “On the 1st of August I was left home alone. In the first hour of the Uprising my house was set on fire by an explosion. Together with my neighbors, we put the fire out,” he said.

When asked whether as a fourteen-year-old boy he was conscious of what was happening, Wernic replies that he understood that his country was occupied and was trying to free itself from German oppression.

“I thank my parents for my upbringing. My family is rooted in the tradition of independence. My father served in Józef Piłsudski’s Polish Legions,” he said.

The Polish Legions were the first active Polish army in generations. They fought in the First World War and sought Polish independence, which finally came to be in November 1918. “I spent my childhood in military garrisons, which is why I was aware of what was happening,” Wernic adds.

When talking about the day-to-day life during the Uprising, Wernic remarks that it was very varied. “At times it was amazing,” he says. Even under the threat of German fire when building barricades, the atmosphere remained optimistic. “And at other times, terrifying,” he said, such as being witness to mass executions and murders of Poles by the Germans. “They did it only because Poles wanted to be Poles,” says Wernic.

A question he is often asked is whether he was afraid during the Uprising. “Of course I was. Each day I prayed for no bullet or explosion to hit me. I was scared of suffering,” he said. The conviction amongst all of the underground soldiers was the same, be it men, women or children: “We had a mission to fulfil. After five years of occupation, we wanted to be free for at least one moment,” he added.

Addressing publications criticizing the decision to carry out the Uprising that couldn’t be won and resulted in the death of about two hundred thousand people and total destruction of Warsaw, Wernic simply said, “They will just never understand the social mood back then.”

           


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