Les gens qui ne rient jamais ne sont pas des gens sérieux

Be who you are and say what you mean, those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


63 years ago, a small group of brave Poles rose up against the occupying Nazis in Warsaw. They expected help they didn't get and fought an enemy that had better weapons and more men. Hundreds of thousands of people died, and the city was razed to the ground as further punishment.

In just under an hour, at 5pm, cars will stop in the streets and hoot their horns, people will stand still and bow their heads, sirens will wail and the few left who experienced the uprising will salute the memory of their friends who didn't survive it.

I just saw a white-haired old guy crossing the road, dressed in his uniform and walking stiffly, proudly, to the place he will commemorate the anniversary. Real heart-breaking stuff.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The german soldier letters are really impresive

4:55 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Then a SS unit arrived. They looked strange. They had no ranks on their uniforms and reeked of vodka. They attacked instantly screaming hooorrraaay and were dying by dozens. Their commander dressed in a black leather coat was raging in the back pushing his men to attack. A tank arrived. We rushed with the SS troopers behind it. A few meters from the buildings the tank was hit. It exploded and a soldier’s hat flew high up. We ran away again. The second tank was hesitating. We were covering the front as the SS-men were rushing civilians out of their homes and positioning them around the tank, forcing some to sit on the armor. For the first time in my life I saw such a thing. They were speeding up a Polish woman in a long coat. She was holding a little girl in her arms. People crowded on the tank were helping her to climb up. Someone took the girl. When he was handing her back to the mother the tank started moving forward. The child fell down under the tracks and got crushed. The woman was screaming in terror. One of the SS-men frowned and shot the woman in the head. They continued driving. Those who tried to escape were killed by SS-men."

“I was setting explosives under big doors, somewhere in Old Town. From inside we heard Nicht schießen! Nicht schießen! (don't shoot). The doors opened and a nurse appeared with a tiny white flag. We went inside with fixed bayonets. A huge hall with beds and mattresses on the floor. Wounded were everywhere. Besides Poles there were also wounded Germans. They begged the SS-men not to kill the Poles. A Polish officer, a doctor and 15 Polish Red Cross nurses surrendered the military hospital to us. The Dirlewangerers were following us. I hid one of the nurses behind the doors and managed to lock them. I heard after the war that she has survived. The SS-men killed all the wounded. They were breaking their heads with rifle butts. The wounded Germans were screaming and crying in despair. After that, the Dirlewangerers ran after the nurses; they were ripping clothes off them. We were driven out for guard duty. We heard women screaming. In the evening, on Adolph Hitler's Square [now Piłsudzki Square] there was a roar as loud as during boxing fights. So I and my friend climbed the wall to see what was happening there. Soldiers of all units: Wehrmacht, SS, Kaminski's Cossacks [ RONA ], boys from Hitlerjugend; whistles, exhortations. Dirlewanger stood with his men and laughed. The nurses from the hospital were rushed through the square, naked with hands on their heads. Blood ran down their legs. The doctor was dragged behind them with a noose on his neck. He wore a rag, red maybe from blood and a thorn crown on top of the head. All were lead to the gallows where a few bodies were hanging already. When they were hanging one of the nurses, Dirlewanger kicked the bricks she was standing on. I couldn't watch that anymore....


From a letter to his father, 5 October, 1944
... The Capitulation was undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary things you can imagine. The reality of it puts all drama, all tragedy into the shade. They came out with fully deserved honours after true heroism in battle. In truth they fought better than we did. What we can learn from it is the following: 1) that nothing sensible can come from this kind of subjugation of an entire nation. Sad but true! 2) we don't have a monopoly on fortitude, spirit, patriotism, and sacrifice (we can't take the Poles' credit away from them). 3) that a city can defend itself for months on end, with much heavier losses on the attacker's side ... and much can be learned from this by a neutral observer. 4) that although a fighting spirit and a pure and courageous approach can achieve a great deal, in the end this spirit will always succumb to material advantage.


During one visit I witnessed an event, which sickened me to my very core. The SS officer’s office was on the upper floor of a building and had a balcony that overlooked a large courtyard. The SS had lined up near a wall about 40 or so Polish men, women, and children of all ages. I distinctly recall a young woman holding hands with two small children. It was clear to me what was about to happen. I confronted the SS commander as to why these people were about to be shot. His reply was that they were being executed as a reprisal for the Germans that had been killed in the Uprising. He informed me that it was also none of my concern. Shortly, thereafter the hostages were shot before my eyes. I was disgusted by what I had witnessed and after 60 years later it still haunts me.


As a matter of fact, the unfortunate Polish nation wanted nothing else but to live undisturbed by their two big neighbors. The uprising, which broke out as the Red Army was approaching, was only intended to secure the future independence of Poland. Now, however, the Russians were sitting close by Praga, the suburb of Warsaw, on the right bank of the Vistula River. The Russians were watching, and not grudgingly, how the last class of Polish leaders and intellectuals were being slaughtered. They even prohibited the Anglo-American alliance, which wanted to help the insurgents, from using their airports

6:20 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

40.000 soldiers is not a "small

1:26 pm  
Blogger Becca said...

woo, three anon comments. lucky me.

anon 1 yes they are.
anon 2 (prob same as anon 1) thanks for that.
anon 3 fair enough. still, you get the point.

3:06 pm  

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