WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland on Friday honored the fighters and victims of a 1944 rebellion against Nazi Germans by laying wreaths, lighting candles and singing insurgent tunes to mark the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising.
On Aug. 1, 1944, thousands of poorly-armed young city residents rose up against the German forces to try to take control of Warsaw ahead of the advancing Soviet army. They held on for 63 days in the cut-off city before being forced to surrender. Almost 200,000 fighters and civilians were killed in street fights and in German bombings. The Nazis expelled the survivors and set the city ablaze.
President Bronislaw Komorowski joined a group of the surviving insurgents for a series of ceremonies that honored the heroic struggle that remains a source of pride for the Poles.
Komorowski laid flowers on the graves of the revolt's commanders and was to attend ceremonies at a symbolic grave to the fighters in the Powazki cemetery in the afternoon at the exact hour when the struggle began. In a long-standing tradition, people in Warsaw and many other cities stop still for a moment of homage when sirens sound at the hour.
The Warsaw Uprising was a taboo subject until the fall of communism in 1989. It has been honored ever since as a symbol of Poland's readiness to pay the ultimate price for freedom.