By the Associated Press
World War II veterans, Warsaw residents and the leaders of Poland joined anniversary ceremonies Wednesday honoring the fighters and victims of the city’s ill-fated 1944 revolt against the Nazi occupation.
President Andrzej Duda laid a wreath at a memorial in Wola district, where German forces killed tens of thousands of civilians in early August 1944, in retaliation for the revolt organized by Poland’s clandestine resistance movement, the Home Army.
“We pay homage not only to the fighters but also to those who were brutally murdered by the German forces — and the only reason was that they were Poles,” Duda said.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki met with the few surviving veteran insurgents at a ceremony at the Warsaw Rising Museum. In a much welcomed declaration, he vowed that the government was taking full responsibility for financing the care for all known insurgents’ graves and the search for those graves not yet found.
Eugeniusz Tyrajski of the insurgent’s association said it meant a lot to the veterans that their struggles and sacrifices have not been forgotten.
Among the many observances, groups of boy and girl scouts walked through the Mokotow district that saw some of the fiercest fighting.
Warsaw traffic will stop for a minute’s remembrance when the sirens wail at 5 p.m., the exact hour when the revolt started Aug. 1. Nationalist groups also pick the moment to hold loud rallies.
An estimated 50,000 young Poles took part in the Warsaw Rising. Some 18,000 of them were killed and another 25,000 were injured in the 63 days of struggle against the well-armed German troops. Some 180,000 civilians were killed in German bombings and executions.
The Nazis then razed the city and expelled some 500,000 remaining residents, sending some to the Auschwitz death camp.