The Warsaw Uprising began August 1, 1944 as a heroic, catastrophic last stand against the Germans, and ended 63 days later with the death of more than 200,000 Poles, the majority civilians. After nearly five years of German occupation, the Russians were advancing from the east, sending German troops into retreat. The Germans had begun evacuating Warsaw. In July 20, a failed assassination attempt on Hitler revealed a huge coalition of top German officials complicit in their perceived need to murder Hitler. And, Soviet aircraft even dropped leaflets in Warsaw exhorting people to rise up in armed action. On the surface, it sounded like a good time to revolt. History played out differently.
In 1926 a grateful Polish nation sent a very special birthday card to the United States in honor of the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Five and a half million Poles, or nearly one-sixth of the population of the country, signed the declaration. Signers included government officials, leaders of many prominent institutions, and millions of school children. Even better, the (U.S.) Library of Congress has digitized the entire collection, 111 volumes containing 33,000 pages, and is now available publicly online. The information is just too cool not to share in time for the July 4th American Independence Day. Thank you to my friend Sue for sharing this with me! Click here for more details.
The Zookeeper’s Wife opens in movie theaters in the United States on March 31, 2017. I’ve been waiting for this film for three years. When my husband and I visited Warsaw in October 2013 they were filming it (per our innkeeper.) If you haven’t seen the previews yet, it stars Jessica Chastain in the true life story of Jan and Antonina Żabiński. They were the directors of the Warsaw Zoo when WWII broke out and are credited with saving 300 Jews from certain death. Their story is more timely than ever.
Polish Independence Day is celebrated every year on November 11. In the United States, we celebrate November 11 as Veterans Day. The United Kingdom celebrates November 11 as Armistice Day. The single event all commemorations trace back to is the end of World War I on the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month. Germany signed an armistice agreement with the Allies that morning. Poland returned to the map of Europe for the first time in 123 years.