October 2 Marks 72 Years Since the End of the Warsaw Uprising

Soldiers of the Polish Home Army during the Warsaw Uprising

Soldiers of the Polish Home Army during the Warsaw Uprising. By M. Swierczynski [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

October 2 marks 72 years since the end of the Warsaw Uprising. By August 1944, Poland had already endured five years of occupation by both the Germans and Russians. The Germans occupied Warsaw, and had already wiped out Warsaw’s Jews with the defeat of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising a year earlier. But the Russians had advanced to within ten miles of Warsaw, forcing German divisions into retreat. The Polish Home Army calculated an uprising would coincide with advancing Soviet troops planning to liberate Warsaw, and presumed the Soviets would move in to help defeat the Germans. It would be a deadly miscalculation.

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Happy Mother’s Day to Irena Sendler

Irena Sendler, Polish heroine, 1942

Photo taken 1942. Public Domain.

Happy Mother’s Day to Irena Sendler, a Catholic Pole, who smuggled some 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw ghetto, from 1939-1943. She was assisted by about two dozen other members of Zegota, the Polish underground, but she alone knew the identities and locations of each child. When arrested and tortured by the Germans, she never revealed a single name. She barely escaped execution by firing squad, when members of Zegota bribed a German guard at the last minute. She passed away on May 12, 2008, at the age of 98. Continue reading

225th Anniversary of the Polish Constitution

Photo of hand-written Polish constitution 1791

Photo from Polish Heritage Club Wisconsin-Madison FB page

Poles around the world celebrate the 225th Anniversary of the Polish Constitution on May 3, 2016. The Polish constitution became the first constitution in Europe, and only the second in the world, after the young United States ratified a constitution less than four years earlier. In many ways, the Polish constitution was patterned after, and inspired by, the U.S. Constitution. It’s the joint spirit of freedom that my friend Henry Zguda always told me “See, we Poles always come back.”

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The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began April 19, 1943

Modern day outline of the Warsaw Ghetto Wall

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began April 19, 1943. This noble ‘last stand’ by desperate Jews against the Germans became the first urban uprising in German-occupied Europe. Symbolically it stands as the most important Jewish uprising. It lasted less than a month and nearly all who participated lost their lives, but it inspired other uprisings at Sobibor and Treblinka and changed the story of millions walking in resignation to their death without a fight. 

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