Poles Commemorate 72nd Anniversary of Warsaw Uprising

The Warsaw Uprising - the largest act of resistance by any nation under the German occupation - remains a defining element in Polish national identity.

People stand on Warsaw's main intersection holding burning flares to commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, Warsaw, Poland, August 1, 2016.
Czarek Sokolowski, AP

People across Warsaw observed a minute of silence as a siren wailed on Monday, marking the 72nd anniversary of the start of the Warsaw Uprising, a struggle against Nazi Germany in 1944 that lasted 63 days and ended tragically for the Poles.

The minute of silence is a yearly tradition that always takes place at 5 P.M., the hour when the uprising began on August 1, 1944.

On Monday, people across the capital of 1.7 million people stopped in their tracks, some holding flags or torches.

There were several other observances involving Poland's political leaders, war veterans and ordinary people.

The Warsaw Uprising was the largest act of resistance by any nation under the German occupation during World War II, and the heroism of the insurgents remains a defining element in Polish national identity.

The Germans suppressed the rebellion brutally, destroying most of Warsaw and killing around 200,000 people, most of them civilians.

Poles felt betrayed by the Soviets, whose troops had arrived on the outskirts on Warsaw in their westward push against Adolf Hitler's forces. The Red Army remained on the Warsaw outskirts without helping the Poles — allegedly their allies.

The city-wide revolt took place a year after the April 19, 1943, start of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, a separate revolt by doomed Jews that also ended in tragedy.