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Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 14, Issue 5/6, 2004
Warsaw Uprising 1944: Part One

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1. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 14 > Issue: 5/6
Ashes and Diamonds of European Historicity
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i. the absurdities of the situation, the meaning of struggle
2. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 14 > Issue: 5/6
Aleksander Gieysztor, Ewa Gieysztor Introduction to the Conference “The Meaning of Polish History”, Royal Castle, Warsaw, November 4, 1988
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The State and the nation belong to the ideas created by the common consciousness, and at the same time, as a true forma formans, have connotations to the world of predominance, influencing the reality. There exist such strong connections, that their understanding is an intellectual duty of those who research nowadays the social links and try to explain them to the contemporary audience.
3. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 14 > Issue: 5/6
Aleksander Gieysztor, Aleksandra Rodzińska-Chojnowska The Warsaw Uprising in the Europe of 1944
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The debate on the Warsaw uprising has been conducted for fifty years now, showing deep differences of attitudes and judgments. To explain a defeat is always difficult. For sure—as in the case of the partitions of Poland’s territory at the end of the eighteenth century—some of the reasons for the defeat lie in the fact that the two invaders drastically outnumbered Polish forces. Other reasons may be due to those macro-political decisions which, once made, sentenced Poland to the fate of a satellite within the eastern empire. What could be called the official stance on this subject proclaimed in the country, was reduced to stigmatizing the irresponsible, but tragic in its consequences—quotation from Stalin—“political adventure”. The political leaders and military commanders were unequivocally condemned. At the same time, the legend of the Warsaw Uprising first smoldered, and then started growing. At first, based on the oral tradition, later, fighting its way to publication, being revealed in exile, persevering in the country, the legend, which sought in the uprising the values worth passing to sons and latergrandsons. A complicated and different picture of the uprising’s motivations has been formulated in journalistic publications, hundreds of memoirs, scientific papers, and during meetings with the growing participation of younger historians.
4. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 14 > Issue: 5/6
Władysław Bartoszewski, Ewa Gieysztor The Warsaw Uprising: Facts and Afterthoughts
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Sixty years that have passed since the Warsaw Uprising are meaningful on the life scale of human generations. The Uprising, planned for 2 or 3 days, lasted in fact for 63 days. That fact astounded the military experts and was even noticed by the German high command, which has to be mainly ascribed to the exceptional tension of patriotism of the soldiers and the population.The Germans suffered especially great losses on the average around 1,900 weekly, almost twice as many as during the highest intensity of fighting in 1944/45. On our side the losses were estimated at 18,000 dead (or missing) and about 6,500–7,000 wounded insurgents. However, the Warsaw Uprising and the whole nation counted around 150,000 dead among the civilians.During the two months of the uprising 25% of the pre-war buildings in Warsaw were destroyed, mainly due to the barbarian practice of burning the whole streets. Against the conditions of the capitulation agreement just signed, the majority of historical monuments were burned down.In Warsaw, the tradition of sacrifices and solidarity in action, bravery and the deep attachment to liberty, manifested in September 1939, was alive and brought results all the time of war through the acts of the patriotic resistance organizations. The leaders of the Warsaw Uprising belonged to the resistance fighters before World War I and during it. The battle for independence was their curriculum vitae, and the majority of the uprising participants, the youth, was educated in the independent Polish Republic, in respect for patriotic traditions of independence fights and insurrections.Jerzy Kirchmajer believes that the Warsaw Uprising was an error, as it did not suit the Soviets; Jan Ciechanowski from London—that it was against the plans of the British ally. It is said sometimes that the Uprising started without calculating the possibility of a helping hand.Faith played a major role during the Uprising. The clergy helped the community every way they could.
5. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 14 > Issue: 5/6
Jerzy R. Krzyżanowski The Unforgettable 1944
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The events occurring in Poland in 1944 are discussed here as the story of Home Army [AK] unfolds in its dramatic developments taking place during that year. Starting with south-eastern provinces the gradual Soviet incursion moved toward the north-east, and eventually to central Poland, everywhere affecting the actions of AK aimed at liberation of Poland. The ensuing conflict culminated in the Warsaw Uprising in August and September when the Soviets refused to help AK in order to promote their own choice for Poland’s government. The author participated in many of the events presented, thus being able to recall them as an eyewitness.
6. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 14 > Issue: 5/6
Józef Szajna, Agata Trzcińska Sense and Nonsense
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These are reflections of an outstanding artist on his traumatic experience in the time of war and hatred through overcoming suffering and anguish towards a radical change of mentality: reconciliation is what we vitally need today as we are all responsible for the fate of the world.
ii. the uprising as a tragic and heroic legend: transforming poland
7. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 14 > Issue: 5/6
Andrzej Stelmachowski Reflections on the Triumph of Warsaw Uprising Ideals
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The author reflects on the Warsaw Uprising and its effects on his contemporaries and subsequent generations. The Uprising has evoked conflicting emotions, the hottest debates whether it was justified in light of the ensuing losses and the destruction of Warsaw. A frequently-asked question is whether it was worth sacrificing so many people for an obviously lost cause.The Warsaw Uprising also functions as a national legend of selflessness, sacrifice, solidarity, and courage, its protagonists displaying uncommon determination and perseverence in their struggle to free their country. A legend which successive generations of Poles have kept alive despite the years that have elapsed.
8. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 14 > Issue: 5/6
Andrzej Krzysztof Kunert, Maciej Bańkowski Colonel Ignacy Matuszewski Remembers the Warsaw Uprising
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Two important essays on the Warsaw Uprising, both written in distant New York, the first completed after the Uprising’s October, 1944 fall, the second shortly before the second anniversary of its outbreak and days before the author’s death. They came from under the pen of Colonel Ignacy Matuszewski, before the war a member of Poland’s ruling elites and during the war years a leading journalistic voice for Poland’s independence (the poet Jan Lechoń even called him “the Mochnacki of the post-September émigré community”).Both texts belong to the most important Warsaw Uprising accounts and contain a personal note—the title’s “Mewa” (seagull) was the codename carried by Colonel Matuszewski’s 25-year-old daughter Ewa Matuszewska, a Home Army medic who died in the fighting.
9. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 14 > Issue: 5/6
Ignacy Matuszewski, Maciej Bańkowski Warsaw’s Final Days
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iii. soldiers of the uprising in the face of extremes and eschatological situations
10. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 14 > Issue: 5/6
Zbigniew Ścibor-Rylski, Michał Cytrycki Reminiscences of the Warsaw Uprising of 1944
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The author, during the Warsaw Uprising a commanding officer in the Home Army’s “Radosław” unit, recounts the first days of the fighting and subsequent battles, including the seizing of “Gęsiówka” and a landing by General Berling’s troops. Ścibor-Rylski also underscores the solidarity between Poles fighting their occupants, a solidarity inspired by a love of freedom.
11. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 14 > Issue: 5/6
Stanisław Nałęcz-Komornicki, Anna Tchórzewska Cadet “Storm Wind”
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In his short stories describing tragic events during the Warsaw Uprising the author, himself a participant in the fighting, recalls fallen comrades, particularly cadet “Storm Wind”. This concise tale paints a moving picture of the insurgent’s heroic stance and the horrors of war.
12. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 14 > Issue: 5/6
Stefan Bałuk Home Army Paratroopers in the Warsaw Uprising
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An account of the Home Army’s elite paratrooper unit, formed at the outset of the war under orders of General Sikorski. The article recounts the unit’s formation and subsequent operations.
13. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 14 > Issue: 5/6
Bronisław Troński Notes of an Insurgent
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This running account of the fighting shows the complex circumstances that surrounded the Warsaw Uprising and its tragic finale. The author recounts the frontline atmosphere, the fighting frequently taking place between two floors—even two rooms—of one house, the scant living space and the terrible air-raids on hospitals and clinics. A look back at sixty-three days in which superhuman courage and sacrifice walked hand in hand with fear and dejection.
14. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 14 > Issue: 5/6
Andrzej Tymowski, Mark Znidericz “…and She also is Not Here”
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The story of a boy soldier who loses a leg in the first days of the Warsaw Uprising. His bitterness at being unfit to fight is steeped by his helplessness to prevent the Nazis massacring the wounded in the hospital to which he was brought. His only source of consolation is his nurse Liljanka.
15. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 14 > Issue: 5/6
Wojciech Militz, Maciej Bańkowski In the “Baszta” Unit
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This is an account of the Uprising fights of a young machinegunner of the “Baszta” Unit from the “W” hour (5 p.m. on August 1) to the honorable surrender at the end of September.
16. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 14 > Issue: 5/6
Stanisław Likiernik, Maciej Bańkowski I Did Not Want to Die for Nothing
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In this interview a Warsaw Uprising fighter speaks about his work for the Diversionary Directorate of the Home Army (“Kedyw”) and recalls the dramatic moments of the Uprising and his feelings about the meaning and consequences of this memorable event.
17. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 14 > Issue: 5/6
Witold Kieżun Virtuti Militari
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During the 1944 Warsaw Uprising Witold Kieżun served in the Home Army’s “Harnaś” [Highlander] Special Unit. During an assault on the Polish Post he personally took 14 Germans prisoner, seizing large quantities of arms. He also singlehandedly damaged a German tank in the district Wola. A unit under his command captured the parish office of the Holy Cross Church and a heavy machinegun, and was the first to enter the city’s police headquarters, where it seized another heavy gun.During the Uprising Witold Kieżun was decorated with the Cross of Valor, he also received the Virtuti Militari from the hands of the Home Army Supreme Commander.
18. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 14 > Issue: 5/6
Tadeusz Targoński, Zbigniew Prokopiuk Arm in Arm with Death
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Description of painful experience in the Warsaw Uprising of an 18-year-old corporal of the 1st Polish Army which participated, together with the Soviet armies, in seizing the right-bank part of Warsaw. Together with a part of his regiment he supported the dying out Uprising in the district adjacent to the Vistula. The author cast in his lot with the most dramatic history of the Uprising.
19. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 14 > Issue: 5/6
Wieńczysław J. Wagner A Bad Dream or Cruel Reality? Some Thoughts on the Origin, Developments and Aftermath of the Warsaw Uprising of 1944
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The traditional German policy was to “push to the East”. After signing a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union, Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, and the Red Army entered the Polish territory on September 17.The German occupation was marked by terror and executions. A resistance movement was developed, and along a secret government and underground army came into being. It was organized by officers who were not taken prisoners of war and by main political parties. The German retaliation—arrests, tortures, concentration camps—did not deter the Poles from joining the patriotic conspiracy.For about five years, the nation waited for a proper moment to fight the occupants. For the city of Warsaw, it seemed that the good time was the middle of the summer of 1944. The Germans were retreating on all fronts, and the Red Army was on the suburbs of Warsaw, on the right bank of the Vistula. It was expected that it would help the insurgents.The Uprising was intended to last a few days. It ended after more than two months, when the Home Army had no more bullets, and the population—no more food. An honorable surrender was signed with the Germans, by virtue of which the insurgents were treated as allied soldiers rather than bandits to be executed, as was the case at the beginning of the Uprising.
iv. philosophers-soldiers: “thinking is fighting”
20. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 14 > Issue: 5/6
Andrzej Grzegorczyk, Marek Gołębiowski A Philosophy for That Time: The Philosophy of Selflessness
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The author reflects on the moral attitudes displayed by Poles fighting in the Warsaw Uprising. He believes that the sacrifice and selflessness with which Varsovians battled for their city had its roots in the general mentality of the Poles, who for generations had been raised in the spirit of “mutual and willing endowment”. He also notes that the noble ideals of the wartime generations have today been largely replaced by mercenary selfishness.