The Warsaw Uprising captures the human will and spirit in a way I didn’t think possible.
In an effort to take back their city after 5 years of German occupation, struggling Poles rebelled in what is known as the Warsaw Uprising. Barely armed (it is said 1 in every 10 Poles had a rifle) and with the Germans brutality (going door to door, shooting every inhabitant including elderly, sick, women, and children), it was a losing battle from the start. Remnants can be seen throughout the city, especially in the concrete. See corbel (projection from wall, supporting a structure above it) pictures below. You can tell the Poles were fighting behind the smooth side because there’s little to no bullet holes since they lacked sufficient weapons. Conversely, same corbel opposite side is riddled with bullet holes. You can tell the Germans were fighting on this side as they had the weapons necessary for the extermination. Small details like this can be seen throughout the city.
Kotwica, symbol of the Warsaw Uprising, are frequently throughout Warsaw. The combination of a ‘P’ and ‘W’ is short for Polska Walcząca (“Fighting Poland”). The design was deliberately chosen because it could be quickly drawn by anyone.
One of the devastating aspects of the Warsaw Uprising is a significant portion was fought the Gray Ranks, which were basically glorified boy-scouts. The Little Insurgent statue below is a dramatization – a boy this young would have been a messenger carrier, but a few years older and he would have been fighting. The over sized helmet is a German helmet, accurately depicting how Poles used any and all resources from the Germans they could.
It is estimated that about 16,000 members of the Polish resistance were killed and about 6,000 badly wounded, although the exact number of casualties is unknown. Additionally between 150,000 and 200,000 Polish civilians died, mostly from mass executions.
Barely armed, using homemade weapons or captured German rifles they defended their city. Only 1 in 10 had a rifle.
Pictures of concrete eves above demonstrate that one side shows bullet holes from Germans and other side pics from Poles, which goes to show how amateur they were since Poles side has few bullet holes, if any.
For more information, visit the Warsaw Uprising Museum, which is free on Sunday.