Warsaw Uprising commemorations held in Polish capital

During his address at the Warsaw Rising Museum in Warsaw, Duda thanked the insurgents "for being there." Radek Pietruszka/PAP

President Andrzej Duda, Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski and a group of insurgents took part in Saturday's commemorations in Warsaw, which started events to mark the upcoming 78th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising.

During his address at the Warsaw Rising Museum in Warsaw, Duda thanked the insurgents "for being there."

"Your service for the Republic of Poland is being carried out. You are a testimony of the attitude that a human being should have for their homeland and their countrymen," he said.

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.

Duda said at the Saturday event that "it is possible to preserve memory and build attitudes in a completely extraordinary way, especially in this place"... which is a memorial... and a tribute to the Warsaw insurgents, those who survived and those who died... to the generation that lost blood in the fight for a free homeland".

Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski said that "great words that capture the soul" are spoken every year at the Warsaw Uprising anniversary events.

"And rightly so, because such words should be used when we pay tribute to the heroes without whom we wouldn’t have our freedom," he added.

"Sometimes these great words like 'the sacrifice of blood' are a great abstraction. Nowadays, when there is a war across our eastern border, it appears that this is not an abstraction, it shows how important these values are," Trzaskowski said.