Thursday, May 24, 2012


Our first full day in Warsaw the weather was more what we expected, though a disappointment after the previous one.
We enjoyed a great breakfast at the hotel from the buffet, complete with eggs in several forms, scrambled, benedictine, accompanied with bacon, sausage, cheeses, fruit, salads -
And a large choice of cereals, breads and pastries. Just about anything one could imagine. On the excellent advise of the hotel we took a taxi to the "Uprisings Museum" - an experience which made us again appreciate our lives. Though I was a child during WWII, I really knew little about it, and nothing about Warsaw. We saw news reels when we went to the movies, had curfews and air raid drills in Philadelphia. At the Jersey Shore in the summer we had blackout lights and black curtains on the ocean side of our home, oil on the beach from ships sunk by German subs though that was few and far between, and we watched "dog fights" overhead as our fliers trained for combat overseas. We heard about Germany, London, Paris, Japan and the Pacific Islands, but nothing about Warsaw,the capital of Poland. Not until we visited the museum. On September 1, 1939 Germany invaded Poland and WWII began.
Upon entering the museum the first area encountered was for the children, and there were many there. There were ho horrifying photo as elsewhere in the museum (in fact the worst photos were shown in deep wells where I cold barely see over the rim). This area contained this statue of a little boy dressed as a soldier and children playing. The real story as we found out was very different. Children as young as 8 were used as mail carriers to run letters all over the bombed city after the Germans destroyed the post office. Many of them were killed.
Children tried to escape the Nazis any way they could.
After the first meeting of "the big three", Roosevelt Churchill, & Stalin, Poland weary of German occupation began the first uprising, expecting help from the allies. Unknown to Poland, and against Churchill's advice Stalin was given concessions about the border of Poland after the war - essentially giving a part of Poland (and other east block countries) to the USSR.
The people of Warsaw, against enormous odds with very few supplies built barricades using anything they could find and tried to retake their city bit by bit. Children dragged materials to help with these project.
In underground rooms and sewers men fashioned weapons to help with the fighting and though some of the allies air dropped food, war and medical supplies to aid the people of Warsaw, America did only once and most of the supplies landed in the hands of the Germans.
This was the Goliath, a remote controlled tracked vehicle, explosive payload transporter used against the insurgents.
Hitler was so enraged by the uprising that he told his troops to "annihilate the city until it was only a hole in the map of Europe". The Germans proceeded to do just that.
Before the war the city of Warsaw, the Capital of Poland and center of its culture had about 1,300,000 inhabitants. After WWII only about 1,000 starving souls lived in it rubble.
This display of the still camera used during this time fascinated me, even more so the many hours of movie film taken by brave war correspondents. The reels were secured and buried until years later after the war.

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