Warsaw Uprising anniversary commemorated in Polish capital

President Andrzej Duda took part in anniversary commemorations in Warsaw's Wola district. Paweł Supernak/PAP

Ceremonies at the memorial to the 1944 Warsaw Uprising insurgents who fought in the Mokotow district of the Polish capital commenced Monday's observances marking the 78th anniversary of the city's revolt against its Nazi-German occupants.

The Warsaw Uprising was the largest underground military operation in German-occupied Europe. On August 1, 1944, around 40,000-50,000 insurgents took part in the fighting. Planned to last several days, the uprising eventually lasted over two months.

During the fighting in Warsaw, about 18,000 insurgents lost their lives and 25,000 were wounded. Losses among the civilian population were huge and amounted to approx. 180,000. After the Warsaw Uprising was crushed about 500,000 surviving residents were forced to evacuate and Warsaw was almost completely razed to the ground.

On Monday morning, flowers were laid at the monument to the Mokotow insurgents in Dreszera Park, the national flag was raised and the "fire of memory" was brought from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to burn for 63 days, as long as the Warsaw Uprising lasted.

Present at Monday's observations were veteran insurgents, officials of the Sejm, lower house of parliament, and Warsaw residents.

President Andrzej Duda took part in anniversary commemorations in Warsaw's Wola district.

During the ceremony, Duda laid a wreath at the site of the so-called Wola Massacre, where the Germans mass-executed thousands of Wola civilians in retaliation for the uprising.

He said that during the Wola Massacre the Nazi Germans murdered between 15,000 and 65,000 people and that it the largest single extermination of Poles during World War II.

Later in the day, Duda visited the exhibition "Warsaw-Mariupol - cities of ruins, cities of struggle, cities of hope" at Pilsudskiego Square which juxtaposes photographs of the Warsaw Uprising with those of the cities of today's Ukraine, destroyed by the Russian aggressors.

"How similar these pictures are, how the same bestiality of those who kill, who destroy, who ruin the lives of innocent people," he said.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki visited the Warsaw Uprising Museum where he laid flowers at the plaque to the late President Lech Kaczynski, who was behind the idea of establishing the Museum.

"Heroism, fight for freedom, fight at all costs, also at the cost of one's own life, was then and is today a role model for us, a model for all generations," he said.

The anniversary's main commemorative ceremonies in Warsaw were scheduled for 5 p.m. on Monday, the time the Uprising commenced.