Resistance and destruction
Warsaw occupies a special place among the countless sites of German crimes committed during the Second World War. The Polish capital witnessed two uprisings against the inhumane occupation by the National Socialists, both of which were put down violently. On 19 April 1943, the inhabitants of the Warsaw Ghetto rose up in a bid to prevent their impending deportation. For almost a month, the practically unarmed groups put up fierce resistance against units of the German SS and Wehrmacht.
Inspired by this example, the Polish Home Army then rose up against the German occupiers on 1 August 1944. It was only after 63 days and unexpectedly heavy losses that the German troops were able to put down the uprising. Almost the entire city was subsequently razed to the ground, and some 150,000 to 200,000 people were killed during the uprising. German troops murdered 30,000 to 50,000 people in the district of Wola alone.
Reconstruction and looking to the future
After the end of the Second World War, the almost entirely destroyed capital was rebuilt as part of an immense feat. From the rubble of the destroyed city of Warsaw emerged the modern European metropolis of today. The ceremonies marking the 75th anniversary of the uprising therefore not only focus on commemorating the past, but also pay tribute to this achievement and look to the future. Germany will be represented at the memorial ceremonies by Heiko Maas. The Foreign Minister emphasised that, in view of the unspeakable crimes committed by the Germans in Poland, this was “a special sign of trust”.
The resilience and the courage with which Poland stood up to the German occupation in 1944 is a testament to an overwhelming desire for freedom and self-determination. Poland, and especially Warsaw, rebuilt itself after the war under its own steam, a fact that inspires great respect and humility in me.
Together with his counterpart Jacek Czaputowicz, Foreign Minister Maas will lay a wreath at the Warsaw Uprising Monument and visit the site of the Wola massacre. The programme also comprises a joint visit to the Warsaw Rising Museum. The two Foreign Ministers are particularly committed to ensuring that the memory of these terrible past events does not fade, but can become a bridge to the future. It was with this in mind that they launched the project “remembering people - people remember”, which brings together school pupils from both countries.