Anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising
Observances on Friday, July 30, 2004
|A funeral mass for the AK Commander of the Warsaw
Uprising, Gen. Antoni Chrusciel ("Monter") was held at the Military
Cathedral, celebrated by Archbishop Slawoj Leszek Glodz, chief chaplain of
the Polish Armed Forces. The church was packed, with the overflow filling
Krasinski Square in front of it, where there is a huge monument to the
Uprising, erected in 1989 after the fall of Communism. After surviving
German captivity, the General was stripped of Polish citizenship by the
Communist government and spent his life in exile in England and the United
States. He died in Washington in 1960 and was buried in the American
Czestochowa, Doylestown, Pennsylvania. His two daughters brought his ashes
to Poland for this anniversary. After the mass, he was re-interred in the
military cemetery of Powązki, among his comrades-in-arms of the Uprising.
In the late afternoon, Lech Kaczynski, the President (Mayor) of Warsaw who was the official host of the observances, gave a reception for the participants of the Uprising in the courtyard in front of the Warsaw City Hall, a 19th century palace.
After the reception, the participants and hundreds of Scouts – a total of several thousand people – marched through the streets of Warsaw to the Plaza of Warsaw Insurgents for the official opening of the observances. This plaza is next to the building which before the war (then called the Prudential, on Napoleon Plaza) was the tallest in Warsaw; it had taken heavy damage in the initial German attack of September 1939 and again during the Uprising (photo at right), but survives to this day as Hotel Warszawa. A giant screen showed the proceedings to all in the plaza.
A procession of scouts with flaming torches lit a pyre to honor the fallen. A concert was given by Sinfonia Varsovia (no chamber group, but a full symphony orchestra) and the National Philharmonic Choir, a world-class ensemble. One of the numbers was Richard Addinsell’s "Warsaw Concerto," with the piano accompanied not by orchestra but by sounds of bomb bursts, explosions, gunshots and machine-gun fire, along with visual effects of red and white explosions flashed onto the building’s façade, and spewing of black and white smoke. Truly awesome! Other numbers included "Bogurodzica" by Wojciech Kilar and an oratorio of a journal of the uprising, accompanied by really heart-wrenching sounds from the orchestra, with solo turns by piano and cello. An experience that totally drained the emotions.