Papal Nuncio in Poland Archbishop Celestino Migliore takes part in a field mass on Wednesday in Warsaw in tribute to the Warsaw Rising. Photo: PAP/Pawel Supernak
“The Warsaw Rising was not at all a sign of irresponsibility,” affirmed Cardinal Jozef Michalik, Archbishop of Przemysl, in a statement released on the official web site of the Episcopate.
“Rather, it was the expression of a longing for freedom,” he stressed.
“That is why I look with pain on all the malice, unfairness and dishonesty which certain luminaries today are trying to use in their interpretation of the Warsaw Rising,” he reflected.
The insurgency, which participants believed would last three days, ended two months after the 1 August 1944 outbreak, with about Polish 200,000 casualties (the vast majority civilians). The Red Army – technically a Polish ally – declined to help, in spite of earlier indications. A Soviet-backed communist regime was ultimately installed after the war.
A new book published this week by popular historian and journalist Piotr Zychowicz, Madness '44: How the Poles gave Stalin a present by launching the Warsaw Rising (Obled '44: Czyli jak Polacy zrobili prezent Stalinowi, wywolujac powstanie Warszawskie), argues that the insurgency was a senseless act of suicide.
In 2011, Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski was criticised by opposition MPs for “undermining” the “heroism” of the uprising by referring to it as a “national catastrophe."
In 1944, several of Poland's key military leaders fighting in the West, including General Wladyslaw Anders, had advised against the Polish underground Home Army (AK) launching an insurgency, believing it had no chance of success.
“Like all of my colleagues in the 2nd Corps, I was always of the opinion... that the Rising had no sense, that it was even a crime,” Anders wrote.
However, speaking with Polish Radio's English Section, Marzenna Schejbal, chairman of the Polish Home Army Ex-Servicemen's Association, London branch, defended the insurgency.
“We had had enough of sacrifices - with being taken to Germany for work, with the arrests, or being shot in the street," she said on a visit to Poland in 2012.
“It was too long, and too much sacrifice. We couldn't wait for the liberation. And also we decided we wanted to liberate the country ourselves, and not have it done by Russia. Also, they [the Russians] were supposed to help us, and they didn't.”
A minute's silence will be held at 5 pm today in Warsaw, marking the outbreak of the Rising 69 years ago. Official commemorations will continue this evening. (nh)