2014 marks the 70th anniversary of the tragic Warsaw Uprising. During this great feat of martial heroism, the Polish anti-Nazi, anti-Communist underground resistance fought the German occupiers of their homeland for sixty-three days — from 1 August to 3 October 1944. Predictably, the Soviet troops on the other side of the river Vistula stood by passively; Stalin hoped to destroy the Polish resistance with Nazi claws. The Western Allies did little more than airdrop some small arms and ammunition, most of which fell into German hands. As a result, the city of Warsaw was almost entirely destroyed, and a significant element of the Polish Home Army slaughtered. In addition, the Germans and their auxiliaries massacred approximately 200,000 civilians as they suppressed the uprising.
Yet, in spite of the toll and the defeat, the Poles generally celebrate the failed Warsaw Rising. In the fourth annual Kościuszko Chair Military Lecture, Dr. Marek Jan Chodakiewicz explained this phenomenon.
In this lecture, given on September 11, 2014 and entitled “The 70th Anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising: Why the Poles Commemorate Defeat,” Dr. Chodakiewicz offered personal experiences along with historical facts in order to indicate that Poles do not solely celebrate defeat but rather, the spirit of freedom within the context of defeat.
– Pawel Styrna and Anjani Shah