| Historical and political assessments of the
start an uprising in Warsaw in August 1944 are so
conflicting, that it is not possible, and unlikely
will be possible in
the foreseeable future, to reduce them to a common
of the whole absurd of the political predicaments of
the uprising, and
horrors of its military defeat, it still remains
popular among an army
of its enthusiasts. While its critics often use the
"crime". Mounds of radio-dispatches exchanged
between Warsaw and London
during the time of critical decisions have been
examined. Memoirs of
eyewitnesses of the events have been published.
generals Tadeusz Komorowski (Bór), Antoni Chruściel
Jankowski (Sobol) and objections of Colonel Jerzy
Kirchmayer have been
known. So are known the facts... In no way do they
diametrically opposite views in their assessment.
Yet, one factor has been consistently missing in the
these disputes, or at least it is not popular among
politicians. Let us then hear the voice of a renown
Stefan Kisielewski (Kisiel):
Gen. Tadeusz Pełczyński
(Grzegorz): The actual inspirer and the commander
of the uprising,
because Bór did not command there too much. It was
not until 1957 that
I met him in London. He called me and said he
wanted to meet. We met,
and he, incidentally, was an officer of the
"Second Department", that
is Intelligence. And right off the bat he started
to interrogate me
Have you served
I answer: Yes,
This and that.
Uhm, and who is
Has he served in
I say: No, as
far as I know.
And why not?
I do not know
And Stomma, has
in the army?
Finally I got tired of this and said: General,
now I want to ask you a question.
And he said: Go
And I told him: You
tuxedo, my father's library...
He said: What?
And I: They
have been lost in
the Uprising, and I want to know why.
And then he became really angry: Because
you're a demagogue!
And something else
about my ancestry.
We parted without saying goodbye. He was a decent
man, but whatever you
say, he had Warsaw destroyed. [Kisielewski
Piano, tuxedo, father's library... Short and to the
making decisions about the armed uprising, whether
it would be
fleeting, as, for some unknown reasons, expected
Komorowski (Bór), or -
as it turned out - lasting two months, one needed to
reckon with the
destruction of the urban substance, the civil
structure of a major
European city. Obviously, it was impossible to
anticipate the planned
and systematic destruction, which the Germans had
revenge after the surrender of the insurgent forces.
But huge losses
were inevitable. Meanwhile, arguments of the
ideologists of the
uprising do not show any concern about this
question. The prospect of
destruction of seven centuries of cultural heritage,
generations of tens of thousands of Polish families,
archives and libraries, did not instill any of them
with horror. The
of city blocks was estimated from a purely military
point of view: as
strongholds, firing emplacements, zones of troops'
single word about cultural treasures, masterpieces
of art, about civil
achievements created by generations of labourers.
Let us turn to the pages of history: in 1814 the
coalition took Paris. The emperor was determined to
So resolved was he on a
march on Paris (...)
Macdonald admitted that he felt overwhelmed and
humiliated by the
surrender of Paris but before Napoleon could
mistake this as an
endorsement of his plans to attack the city, the
marshal said bluntly
that his troops were unwilling to expose Paris to
the fate of Moscow.
He then went on to give a detailed picture of the
poor state of his
troops and suggested what would happen to them if
they met colossal
enemy forces in the open field. [Delderfield
R. F. (2001)
Ney volunteered as spokesman and the
two old veterans, Lefebvre and
Moncey, agreed to second him. The three of them
went into the palace
leaving the others to await the outcome on the
R. F. (2002)
Napoleon's reaction (...) was (...) to return once
again to the subject
of a rally of all available arms. There was one
concession. Recognizing the hopelessness of
carrying these men with him
he threatened to appeal directly to the army. At
this Ney's uncertain
temper boiled over.
"The army," he shouted, "will not march! The army
will obey its chiefs!"
In other days this would have produced an
explosion that would have
emptied the room but today it produced no more
than a thoughtful pause.
Then Napoleon said, quietly, "What is it you want
me to do?"
It was a general question, addressed to them all.
They told him,
without preamble: "Abdicate". [Delderfield
R. F. (2001)
The people present were all Napoleon's marshals:
Michel Ney, Louis-Alexandre Berthier,
François-Joseph Lefebvre, Adrien
Moncey, Charles-Nicolas Oudinot - who would dare to
accuse them of
contempt of Bonaparte? And yet even to them the
sacrifice of their
capital seemed too high
The following year, when Napoleon finally abdicated,
and the Allies
occupied Paris again, after Waterloo, the Prussian
to blow up a symbol of the past defeats - the Iena
Bridge. And then
XVIII, that fat and blunt Bourbon, to whom alien was
any cult of the
Emperor, rushed to czar Alexander I and tearfully
begged him to stop
barbarity. Alexander rode in his carriage at the
Blast, but only
It smelled with diplomatic scandal...
Are these the
Your Majesty protects?
It's not the
will not let you to destroy Paris!
Let us go back in August of 1944... Simultaneously
with the uprising in
Warsaw broke out the uprising in Paris. But its
picture was quite
Parisians waited until the Allied armies were only
one day to go to the
city, having no serious riverine obstacle between
them and Paris.
Assault groups in advance received orders to capture
only the important
strategic points (although the barricades were
raised all over the
of them quite unnecessarily). Armed Vichy police
sided with the
insurgents. A quality and constant
radio-communication between assault
groups, as well as between the
headquarters of the uprising and the Allied command,
was maintained at
all times. The
fighting affected 0.02% of urban substance!
Also in August 1944 the Italians had a good reason
to wash by force of
arms, even symbolically, the stain of fascism and to
Allies in Rome as liberators. But no, that did not
even come to their
Instead, they did everything possible - through
negotiations - to have German troops withdrawn
without a shot from Rome
declared it an open city.
You say - these examples are incomparable? They come
diametrically different political and military
conditions? It is not
historical, military or political parallels - it is
Generations of Polish students have their heads
crammed with the thesis
that the tragedy of the
Poles is that they shoot at the enemies with pearls.
phrase contains the sorrow for the victims of the
young and talented poets Krzysztof Kamil Baczyński
Gajcy. But is this not the same thing as digging
trenches in the
cemeteries, post machine-gun nests in libraries,
turn palaces into
churches into rubble? This is something much harder
understand to the minds poisoned with patridiotic
fumes. To them much
clearer speaks the scene from the Ashes
by Stefan Żeromski, in which General
Michał Sokolnicki orders to demolish the ancient
church of St.Jacob in
Sandomierz to prevent the Austrians from placing an
Gintult stopped before him.
"What is it?" cried Sokolnicki.
"Is St. Jacob's to be demolished?"
"Who summoned you to me?"
"No one summoned me."
"I have come to ask..."
"Fire!" said Sokolnicki, pushing the intruder
Before the command had been repeated, Gintult
seized the general by the
hand, by the arm... He besought him, crying out:
"Look! It is all aglow."
The first volley fell.
"Stop your command, general! Collect all your
forces, attack the
position, you can still win it back!"
"I have no forces," the general
muttered, dazzed by the assault.
"You have five thousand men!"
"Get you gone, man!"
A second and a third shot rang out.
"You are destroying and trampling holy ashes... Do
you not see
what these shells will destroy? Look!"
"I see no worse than you. But I raze these holy
ashes to save the
living city. Do you hear?"
"You shall not raze them!"
New shots rang out. Gintult seized Sokolnicki by
shouting to him to order the firing to cease. The
pulled him away by force and pushed him aside.
Then in insane torment
he leaped to the cannon, snatched the lighted
match from the hands of
the cannoneer and threw it on the ground. The
astounded soldier stood
without moving. The Prince rushed up to the
next... But at that instant
the officer in charge of the section stabbed him
with his sword. The
soldiers pushed him aside with their malkins. The
cannon groaned with
"Soldiers!" shouted Gintult, as he lay on the
ground, "do not listen to
that command! Soldiers, soldiers!"
The din of crashing shots was his answer. [Żeromski
And just who is prince Jan Gintułt in the Ashes? He is an
intellectual aristocrat, gourmet and adventurer, and
also a Lithuanian
and a free-mason - i.e. the embodiment of all that
is alien to the
mentality of the society obsessed with provincial
And I, when I travel all over Europe, I admire the
splendour of the
of the architectural ensembles and austere beauty of
Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque churches, pristine
untouched by the time Medieval and Renaissance urban
of screen designers of historical films unemployed,
because all that
ready, and I regret that there are still places
where the ambition and
daring are valued more than respect for the work and
generations of compatriots.