Mosque Near Ground Zero In New York?

No that’s not how its going to look like.  That picture is from Asia.  And technically its not even supposed to be a mosque, but a Muslim Cultural Center.  With a swimming pool among other things.  But that’s not the point.  This is the point:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Yep, that is it.  At this point I should just stop writing because the argument is over.  But apparently some of the people who are against the building of this Center have heard of the First Amendment of the US Constitution and still are opposed to it.  Wow.  Just wow.  A county that prides itself on letting any one believe in any thing no matter how stupid, is against building a center that caters to a religion.  And not some cult dreamt up yesterday, but a 1400 year old religion with about 1.5 billion followers.  And why?  Because 19 lunatics attacked us in September 11, 2001 and destroyed the World Trade Center in the name of their god.

What bullshit.

Their pathetic excuse is that’s its too close to the site of the WTC.  Only two blocks away.  What the hell does that mean?  What would not be too close?  4 blocks?  Because that is how far a mosque is located from Ground Zero right now.  Its been there before the Twin Towers were built.  Does that not insult anyone?  Or hurt anyone’s feelings?  People stating that the Center should not be built are saying that the whole of Islam is somehow responsible for the 9-11 attacks.  How many called for the banning of all militias after the Oklahoma bombing?  Or is it ok when a white, right wing nutter does it?  Then its only an act of an individual lunatic.  Here a billion and a half people are held responsible.

And the pathetic thing is that there are millions of Muslims in America, American born and bred.  And apparently they had something to do with it.  Quite a few of those men serve in our military.  We even have Muslim chaplains.  But no.  Fuck you and your Allah.  What one person does in your name, you do too, no matter how insane.  So we can safely come to the conclusion that all Baptists laugh when our soldiers die.  Damn those Baptists.  How could they all be like that?  Perhaps we should stop building baptist Churches?  After all, those freaks from Westboro speak for all of them.  Yeah, I know, doesn’t make any sense.  Well neither is protesting a fucking cultural center or a mosque using the same logic you cretin.

This is how that dreaded Center will look. Nice actually.

What we have here is a movement against a whole faith.  And its not about Ground Zero, that’s just a pathetic excuse.  There are morons all over America protesting mosques left and right.  Tennessee, California, Wisconsin are just a few states.  No attacks there.  No people died because of Islam.  I bet those who specifically argue just against this one in NY, quietly are with those protesters from other parts of America.  That idiot Newt Gingrich said that there shouldn’t be a mosque built in NY till they allow churches and synagogues in Saudi Arabia.  Ah yes, that beacon of freedom that America always tried to emulate, Saudi Arabia.  Unreal.  Another idiot, some American family group leader said that there should be no mosques at all in the United States.  Yep, who cares about the Constitution, I’m angry at some dark skinned people.  Fuck ’em and their god.

Some peace loving Christians tried to burn and bomb mosques that were already standing.  Genius.  The best way to show how someone else is violent is to bomb the shit out of them and burn their house of worship.  Really?  We’re going to have a religious war now?  Middle Ages are back?  Will we have crosses on our uniforms?  Or the stars of David perhaps?  Cause the idiots at ADL are also opposed to the center near Ground Zero.  But just watch those hypocrites bite at anyone who says what they see as anti-Semitic, real or imagined.  If someone was opposed to building a synagogue or a Jewish cultural center anywhere, for any reason, they would all have kittens.  But no.  Muslim bad.  Allah bad, Muhammad bad, mosque bad.  What’s next?  No more hummus?  Freedom Dip!!!  God forbid some woman puts a towel on her wet hair.  A terrorist with a hairdryer.  She might burn though the pipes to cause a leak to flood America.  Make sure all bathrooms are watched.

What the fuck is wrong with us?  My god.  Well I don’t really do god, but you know what I mean.  We stopped hating blacks and the Irish and Italians, and the Eastern Europeans.  Well thank the Pope that the Mexicans are Catholic otherwise we would have no one to pick our strawberries or mow our lawns, we would have 50 Arizonas, but much harsher.  I don’t like to run around and accuse people of bias, bigotry or racism.  But that is just what it is.  If they  were nice and properly white like all normal people should be, and have European culture and manners we would see them for what they are.  Normal people who believe in their god as any god fearing Christian would.  Only their bad luck that a few lunatics run around bombing shit and killing innocent people in their name.

Some modern mosque, looks awesome.

Seriously.  Can we not tell the difference?  Are we that ignorant?  Surely we can’t be.  because the more we go on like that the more we resemble the extremists we hate and fear so much.  And that is the point of all this.  I am not defending Muslims.  I don’t care for them very much.  Nor for their customs.  I like to drink once in a bit, I like women in bikinis.  I don’t particularly care for their faith either.  I don’t care for any religion.  I do respect religions.  But I also fear them.  Just for that reason.  Anyone who strongly believes he is right will easily justify all kinds of shit.  I fear fundamentalists.  Of all forms, from religious nutters to warring atheists.  From those idiots who kill anything that moves and call it hunting or a sport, to those morons at PETA who would kill a person before they would see someone hurt a cockroach.  They are all frightening.  I do fear them.  But not to the point of becoming like them.  Never to the point of really hating them.

Because most Muslims, like most Christians or atheists, are just good hard working people who want to live out their lives in a peaceful good way.  And just as I do not condemn all American Protestants whenever Par Robertson says something truly stupid and hurtful.  I do not condemn all atheists whenever one says idiotic things about religion.  I also do not condemn all of Islam for 9-11.  And it was my city they attacked.  They killed people I knew.  They destroyed two of my favourite buildings.  I really did love the Twin Towers.  But if all of Islam was like those 19 fanatical dicks then we would be losing by now.  Because guess what.  Its hard to kill one and a half billion people.  But they don’t all want to kill us.  They don’t all want to do Jihad and get virgins.  The ones that do hate the West, hate us for what we are and for what we stand.  They sure as shit would not let anyone build a church in Afghanistan.  In fact the Taliban blew up ancient Buddhist statues when they were running Afghanistan.

Destroyed by the Taliban

Do we really want to take example from Taliban?  What makes us any better when we act like that?  Yoda said:  Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. He was wise.  We can not become what we fear.  But slowly we are.  When we act like intolerant twats.  No one is telling you to like the Muslims.  But you have to tolerate them.  This is what America is all about.  A motley collection of people not killing each other.  One would hope that in the XXI century Americans would be more enlightened then the Spanish inquisitors.  But one might be wrong.  And that is sad.  And some of our leaders and opinion makers fail us once again.  Once again they take the wrong stand aimed at the wrong people.  And some are quite learned.  Some know better.  Yet they do it any way.  For a rating point.  For a future vote.  Some like Beck love to bring up Nazism all the time.  Well this is how they started.  With hate.  They did not go out on the first day and say:  We’re going to murder millions of Jews for no good reason.  No, they started preparing people by doing the little things first. It was only then that the Holocaust became possible.  Now of course America is not likely to become like the Nazis.  But we’re more and more starting to resemble those intolerant and hateful Islamic fundamentalists we hate so much.

America, Recession, Division- How Long Can We Go On Like This?

Jobless Recovery?

How Long Will This Recession Last?

Short answer is:  A long time.

The last time we had 10% unemployment was during Ronald Reagan’s first term.  In fact I think it was in 1982 that it was highest.  So perhaps the Obama people will look at it and draw parallels and make optimistic conclusions.  After all, just two years later Ronald Reagan was re-elected in a landslide.  Well its not that simple.  Those two numbers are where the similarities end.  Our situation today is completely different than it was 28 years ago.

Sure the economy was just as poor, sure we were going through some kind of jobless recovery.  But nothing like this.  We had money then.  Yes, before the 1990’s Americans saved money.  And when we did not save, we lived from day to day.  In 2010 its nothing like that.  No one saves money, we live on credit, day to day is a dream for a lot of folks.  Now of course as much as the right would want to pin this on Clinton or Obama, and the left on Bush, its not their fault despite president Bush telling us to go shopping after 9-11 and wanting everyone to own a home.

The politicians did help to create the larger fiasco, but not our rampart consumerism.  They did not tell us to buy cars we don’t need on credit, or televisions we could not afford, again, with credit.  Or anything else we wanted now!  On Credit of course.  In the 1980’s America was still a manufacturing nation.  In the 90’s we were switching over to a service economy, but with a dotcom boom the switch was quite painless and we actually prospered.  However we started to spend beyond our means.  And we kept it up all through the next decade too.

But then even our service jobs started to get outsourced.  And so to keep our economy going we kept spending.  And here we are.  10% unemployment.  And no prospect of recovery.  When the economy picked up during the Reagan era up the people went back to factories.  Today there are no factories to go back to.  The only way we can quickly recover from this recession is to go back to our pre 2008 ways.  Spend, spend, spend.  But that would mean a bigger disaster a few years from now.  So that is not an option.

So what is left for us?  Hope that the financial sector, the one we bailed out, recovers and that people will feel secure enough to start hiring enough workers for us to get out of this mess?  Well they would do it on credit too basically.  And we would not go back to work to our old jobs on our old salaries.  Everyone would want to save money, employers as much as employees.  So less money for basically the same work.  Right now many people would jump on that chance.  That is how desperate times are.

We lived on greed.  All of us.  No one is a saint here.  No one is more at fault than the next guy.  Yes even if the next guy used to run AIG or Goldman Sachs.  They might have knowingly cheated many people out of their lives and homes, but those people went willingly.  Because of greed people bought houses and cars they could not afford, they only heard what they wanted to hear.  After all, life was so good for so long, surely it must go on.  But go on it could not.

Yes everyone was telling us to buy, buy, buy, but no one told us to save.  We all became the instant gratification generation, no matter how old.  “On Demand” was not just for cable companies, it was a slogan for all of us.  And we demanded everything, now.  No money?  No problem, someone will give us credit.  Have a mortgage or a paid off house?  We’ll give you more money now, just refinance and you can buy more shit.  And all of a sudden families with hardly any bills found themselves with a lot of bills.  Bills they hardly could pay.  But no worries, more credit coming soon.

Both spouses were working.  One losing a job automatically meant a lower standard of living.  With hardly any savings and most likely a lot of credit it meant disaster for a lot of people.  Both losing jobs meant being thrown out of one’s house.  Yes many were fooled or talked into bad loans by greedy agents.  But they wanted all those things.  After all, having a lot of useless shit became a status symbol in America.  And with technology the way it is now, there was a lot of stuff to spend money on, oops sorry, credit not money, we had no money.

And so here we are.  Penniless, no jobs, barely making minimum payments.  What are our prospects of recovery.  Grim I say.  Its not like America can go on a housing boom to create jobs and stimulate spending.  We make nothing.  A lot of our service jobs were outsourced.  Who will hire us?  And what jobs can we do?

There is no magic bullet to fix this.  We can’t rebuild America, we can’t afford to.  Our brightest minds became bankers and stock brokers, not scientists and entrepreneurs.  Energy?  Right…  Like we ever are going to do anything serious about energy.  The ongoing 40 year debate that never ends.  Full of promises and no answers because we don’t have the willpower to change any more.  So where?  What will save us?  What will make us great?  Do tell if you know, cause I have no idea….

Two Americas?

Our best and only hope would be the government.  But…  yes, there is a but.  Our government had spent like we did.  Tax cuts, two wars, program after program and here were are, in debt with no prospect of ever paying it off.  Our government is a reflection of us.  Irresponsible overspending with no prospect of recovery.  In the old days we would build huge dams or a new road network.  The whole infrastructure would be rebuilt.  But the government has no way to pay for it.  We have no income.  We cut taxes so much that even in great times we still would be running a deficit.  And those two pesky wars we’ve been fighting for years now.  There was no thought to pay for them.  We wanted our cake (cakes actually) and to eat them too.

The last time we tried to fight a long war without making sacrifices as a nation we ended up with the seventies.  Awful inflation, rising unemployment, American national unity almost destroyed.  Now inflation is not a problem really.  Unemployment is high, and we are as divided as we ever were barring 4 years of killing each other.  We can’t even have a decent political debate on anything.  And I mean anything.  We are becoming two separate blocs opposed to one another instead of being one nation that has political disagreements.  Everything is becoming a political fight.  Today “debate” means screaming at one another and calling the other side names.

We stopped listening.  Whatever the other side says we assume they are wrong and that we must oppose them before they even finish.  As soon as they shut their mouths we start our idiotic and incoherent and senseless rants.  Even when they propose things we proposed just few years ago. Compromise became a dirty word.  Is this America?

Have we become so divided that we can’t agree on anything?  I thought being American meant standing together in tough times.  Just 9 years ago everyone waved the flag and spoke of unity when faced with danger.  Well we are still in danger.  And we are in as much trouble as ever before.  And what now?  Fuck you?  I will work for America only when its the America that I want?  And fuck everyone who disagrees with me?  Are we even still proud of our country?  Or have the talking heads on television and the politicians destroyed that America?

The America I love used to be able to do shit.  Hoover Dam?  No problem.  Skyscrapers?  How high do you want them?  Interstate Highway System?  Sure.  Land on the moon?  No worries.  What have we done lately that as a nation we can be proud of?  What gets us up in the morning as a people?  We had problems before.  Its not as we did all those things in perfect times.  We were divided then.  Racism, immigration, wars, political and economic divides.  Those were always the background to the great things we did.  We didn’t stop as a nation because we disagreed.  We disagreed and still kept on.

The greatest generation fought a war.  Those left home lived on rations and all worked towards one goal.  They worked in factories, they fed the troops, they bought bonds, they paid taxes.  All that to win, get the boys back home and go on living our lives.  What do we have now?  Two wars, hundreds of thousand of our men and women deployed over the years, thousands dead and wounded.  And what do we do here?  We buy shit.  Not one sacrifice!  No one asked us to do anything for our country.  We wanted a painless war, two wars actually.  No one suggested how we were going to pay for the wars.  Nope, we went to Best Buy and we bought fucking tv’s and video games.

Absolute madness.  The pinnacle of selfishness, greed and irresponsibility.  No politician asked how we are going to pay for all of this either.  But somehow we pretend that we care.  Do we really?  What have we sacrificed?  How do we care?  Buying a Chinese made cheap American flag does not make one a patriot.  Its like wearing those stupid coloured bracelets.  The American flag became a fashion symbol.  Look at me, I bought a $20 flag, I am a proud American.  Yet I did not raise hell when I found out our troops went into combat with substandard equipment.  But I have a yellow ribbon on my lapel so its ok.

Its pathetic.  Just how stupid are we as a people?  How ignorant can we get?  How biased can we become?  How intolerant?  And we have become intolerant.  Yes, we were a racist nation with a dark and shameful past, but over the years we overcame that and moved on to become better.  But now were are going back.  One would think that all this education and technology would make us more knowledgeable, more worldly, more tolerant.  But we keep doing the same shit over and over.  Blacks were going to integrate.  Quick, hide the white women!  Yeah, cause black people are so scary.  Now gays want to marry, and all of a sudden marriage is the most sacred of things.  This in a country whose divorce rate approaches 50%.  Laughable.  As if gays marrying was going to change our lives so much.  It does nothing to us.  If your religion allows gays to marry, change churches.  That simple.  The government is supposed to be separated from religion.  Its not that big of a deal if two dudes want to marry.

You can come up with as many pathetic straw grasping excuses, but it changes nothing.  Gay marriage is a private issue.  And the people who usually claim they love freedom and do not want government interference now want the government to interfere and want to take away someone’s right to marry.  How big of a hypocrite can you be?  Why are we even talking about this.  Its a non issue really.  We have real problems.  Two homos getting hitched should be way down on people’s lists.

But no, we fight over stupid shit.  The only people who are affected by this are the gay people.  Those who don’t like it, just don’t go when you’re invited, and don’t send them a gift.  Fuck em.  Let them buy their own shitty toaster.

Some Muslim group wants to build a cultural center and a Mosque a few blocks away from where the Twin Towers stood apparently.  How the hell is this news?  How did this turn into a debate?  Islam is a religion.  We have freedom of religion in this country.  If someone wants to build a center and a church then fucking let them.  Its that simple.  End of story.  Why should I care, I live in NYC, I wont be going to their silly center.  Not my problem.

But apparently I am supposed to care somehow.  Why?  Are we at war with the whole of Islam?  All Muslims terrorists?  Are we going to built camps for them like we did for the Japanese in the 40’s?  Have we learned nothing?  A few thousand lunatics speak for a over a billion people?  You want to give more of them an excuse?  You want to alienate a whole society?  All 7 million Muslims in America now have to pay because of a few lunatics?  Is that it?  Group responsibility?  Is the whole Catholic Church evil because some priests molested kids?  Are all the mega churches corrupt and full of fags because a few of their reverends turned out to be not so holy?  Ground Zero is holy ground now that no Muslim can step near it?

And I do love the excuses.  Because Saudi fucking Arabia does not allow churches, therefore fuck our fellow American citizens.  Really?  Saudi Arabia has now become what we measure ourselves against?  We want to be just like Saudi Arabia or a tiny bit better?  Cause I’m starting to get confused.  When President Bush was invading Afghanistan and Iraq he stressed that our fight is not with the Afghan and Iraqi people, nor Islam, but with the lunatics who aim to harm us.  But now America wants to take on the whole of Islam?  Are we fighting fundamentalist murders or the whole lot?  If the latter, then burn down every mosque.  If not, then what the hell is the problem?

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Famous last words.  Well, can’t we?  Do we need to resemble opposing fundamentalists in every debate no matter how trivial?  When has “compromise” become a dirty word?  Seriously!  Has it really come to this?  Are we going to now live in a divided country when the minority will do everything to sabotage the majority at every opportunity?  Is “NO!” going to be the official minority party slogan?  Not having a go at one particular party, but all of them, all of us.  I do not write this as a Republican or a Democrat, a leftie or a conservative.  I write this as an American.  A very concerned American.  The political landscape has been poisoned.  The politicians still make speeches about how they want to work with those across the aisle.  How they will compromise to achieve consensus.  The other side still pretends to look disappointed if it was not included in the process and something was done by one party.  But we know they are not.  We know they don’t want to.  We know that they want to lay all blame, and will minimize any credit when it concerns the other side.  I am actually waiting for the not too distant future when one or the other party will take power and instead of the usual empty bullshit they will say “Well, fuck you all, this is our time, we will do what we damn well please.”  At least they would be honest for a change.  of course the opposition would say “we wont give the bastards an inch!”

But, last time I checked we were not a nation of fundamentalist lunatics.  The majority are not either left wing nutters or right wing psychos.  We’re Americans, we’re sane.  Middle of the road kind of folks who get along with their neighbours.  We have our beliefs but are willing to listen to what the other man has to say.  We debate politics.  We look at issues.  We make up our minds after considering the issue, not by looking at which party is in power and America be damned as long as I get what I want, or at least I stop the other guy.  How have we become such loonies?  And if we are not, then why do we let the lunatics run the asylum.  And how in the hell do we let them get away with all this shit?  These people are supposed to be representing me and you.  They act in our name.  What they do reflects on us.  And we let them do this?  How?

Should we just divide the country up now and who ever does not like us let him move to the other side we wont tolerate dissent?  Perhaps we could fight a nice war over it?  Oh that’s right, we can’t afford one.  Where is the great America?  Where is the land that other nations used to look up to?  We still say we are number one, but are we really?  What have we done to deserve it?  How are we to lead the world if we can’t have a single civilized debate?

Warsaw Uprising Remembered- Was It Worth It?

Necropolis- Death of A City

Warsaw After the Uprising

And so we come upon yet another sad anniversary in the history of Poland.  In a couple of days Poland will commemorate the 66th Anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising.  A sad chapter in Poland’s recent history.  Well most were sad chapters in the past 200+ years, but this one stands out above most.  A whole city was destroyed, hundreds of thousands people were killed.  The lives lost were especially tragic too.  Warsaw’s best and brightest went to the barricades and perished under the rubble and the hail of bullets.  Civilian casualties numbered around 200,000.  That is on top of the military casualties of 20,000+ killed and wounded and the loss of hundreds of thousands of Warsaw Jews (and those from near Warsaw who were forced into the Ghetto).  By the time the Germans were done with the city there was hardly a building standing, hardly a live person left.

In 1939 Warsaw’s population was over 1.3 million.  Several thousand lost their lives during the September Campaign and during 5 years of brutal Nazi occupation.  Germans then collected many Jews from around Warsaw and crammed them into an already overcrowded Ghetto.  Most of those were murdered, whether in the gas chambers or through disease that came from starvation and overcrowding.  But it was murder all the same.  Still, on August 1, 1944 Warsaw had about 1 million people.  When the Soviets finally decided to “liberate” the city in January of 1945 there was hardly anyone left.  Most of the population was buried under the ruins or were forcibly driven out.

Girl praying at a makeshift grave next to a bloc of flats in one of many makeshift cementaries during the Rising.

And what ruins they were.  By this time 85% of the city was rubble.  Systematically destroyed by Hitler’s order.  Poland’s capitol, one of the biggest cities in the middle of Europe, simply ceased to exist.  The death was not instantaneous.  Warsaw was dying for well over 5 years.  A good part of the city was destroyed when Warsaw defended itself from the initial Nazi onslaught in 1939.  The Germans bombed the city indiscriminately right from the beginning of the war.  When they approached Warsaw with their armies the aerial bombing was combined with artillery fire.  On Hitler’s orders nothing was rebuilt, except for what Poles did themselves in order to live.

Then came the Ghetto.  Several buildings were destroyed when the Germans isolated the Jewish population from the rest of the city.  A wall was erected surrounding the Jews from the rest.  In 1943 came the first Warsaw Uprising.  Some 60,000 Jews were left in the Ghetto by then, from what was over half a million at the peak of overcrowding.  Almost half a million perished in Treblinka or died inside the Ghetto.  Hitler ordered the final clean up of the Ghetto, except this time the Jews fought back.  Numbering around a thousand, the Jewish fighters said no more.  They were not going to go to their deaths peacefully.  They wished to die on their own terms.  They wanted to show an uncaring world that they are human and they will not go quietly into the night.  And fight they did.  With hardly any weapons, they used what they had heroically.  The brilliant and tragic fight of the Warsaw Jews infuriated Hitler.  Once the Ghetto was cleared it was turned into rubble.

Remains of the Ghetto

During the Warsaw Uprising itself a further 25% of the city was destroyed.  The Germans once again indiscriminately bombed the city.  They even used their famed, but by then outdated Stuka dive bombers due to the Poles not having any anti aircraft weapons, and the Soviets were hardly going to send fighters to protect Warsaw.  Hospitals and churches were even targeted by the Luftwaffe.  Heavy artillery weapons were employed.

In October of 1944 when the Rising ended the Germans, after they stole what they could, systematically turned what was left of Warsaw into rubble.  More than 35% of what was left of the Polish capitol was destroyed.  85% of the whole city.  A lot of what stood was on the right bank of the Vistula River which the Red Army occupied since September of 1944.  Warsaw was no more.  Hitler achieved his dream.  The destruction was so bad that there was a debate about rebuilding Warsaw at all and about moving the capitol elsewhere.  To their credit, the Soviet run Polish Commies decided to rebuild Warsaw.  But they being red bastards could not do even that the right way.  In a hurry, and for the glory of Communist Poland the commies rebuild Warsaw at the expense of other Polish cities.  No, not by not rebuilding them.  But by actually taking apart perfectly good, centuries old buildings.  The shortage of materials “forced” the commies to demolish many a historical and beautiful Old Town.  Mainly these were “materials”  taken from ex-German cities (but belonging to Poland now, though they were underpopulated at the time).  But the short sighted attitude of the new communist regime was shocking.  Stalin’s motto about breaking eggs to make omelets was never so true.

Tempest and Battle for History

Polish Held Warsaw During the Rising, August 4, 1944

The Warsaw Uprising did not come out of nowhere.  It was part of a bigger battle.  Operation Tempest (Burza) was an Armia Krajowa (AK, Home Army) nationwide operation that aimed to disrupt German defences in Polish territory when the Red Army approached.  From the moment the Red Army entered the pre-war 1939 borders of Poland the AK fought behind the lines, or in cooperation with the Red Army itself to make the Red Army’s job easier.  This came on top of the Soviet partisan operations and those of the Soviet controlled Polish Armia Ludowa (AL, People’s Army, formerly Gwardia Ludowa, People’s Guards, though their numbers in the grand scheme of things were insignificant).   Almost all of the forces who were not controlled by Moscow fought under orders of AK.  From some very right wing small organizations to left wing ones like Bataliony Chlopskie (BCh, Peasant Battalions).

Armia Krajowa resembled the government in London.  Most of the pre-war political factions united themselves under the orders of the unity govt in exile.  When the Germans occupied Poland several different resistance groups immediately came into being.  What became Armia Krajowa was the result of reorganization and consolidation of many different factions.  By 1944 only the small extreme right wing groups were not formerly incorporated under the AK, nor were the communists, but they had a different master, one in Moscow.   However to their credit, both the right and the communists did fight under the orders of AK during the Uprising.  Their numbers were insignificant, but their heroism was as great as the rest.  Several different groups and individual Polish Jews also joined the Rising.  Estimated range from 20,000 to almost 50,000 of AK fighters (estimates are wide due to the fact that some include forces in the Warsaw district and many of those only participated in the fighting in Warsaw itself for a very short time before withdrawing to the surrounding forests, or not at all).  With up to 4,000 that came from other groups.

By the time of the Warsaw Uprising “Tempest” was in full force.  The Polish partisans liberated several cities and towns by themselves even before the Red Army arrived in what was Eastern Poland before the war.  On many occasions the cooperation between the AK and the Red Army was quite satisfactory.  However behind the Red Army the NKVD (internal police forces, later known as the KGB) units followed, whole divisions of them.  Most of the AK formations were disarmed, their soldiers were forcibly incorporated into the Communist led Polish People’s Army which fought alongside the Red Army on the Easter Front.  Most officers and many AK  soldiers were imprisoned by the NKVD.  Sent to Soviet gulags, shot, or kept in prison on trumped up charges, or without being charged at all.  Reports of these incidents reached Warsaw by the time of the Rising.  With time as the knowledge spread, Polish partisans were more reluctant to fight alongside the Soviets or to even make themselves known.

The Decision

Barricade in Warsaw

Still the government in exile (without consulting the CiC of Polish Forces General Sosnkowski) gave General Komorowski “Bor” permission to make the decision in country along with the government’s civilian representative.  By late July the Germans were reeling.  Just days before an attempt was made on Hitler’s life by his own soldiers.  The Wehrmacht was retreating on all fronts and the Red Army was approaching the Vistula Line and Warsaw itself.  Time was up.  It was now or never.  A decision had to be made.  Warsaw’s numerous fighters were eager to free their own city.  Soviet controlled Polish Radio, on Stalin’s orders, called on all Poles to rise up and fight the Nazi menace.  And so, on the last day of July of 1944 General Komorowski made his decision.  W Hour was to come the next day 17:00.

The hour of the start of the Rising is peculiar.  5 PM in August in Poland is not the ideal time to begin military operations.  It would be light for several more hours.  And while night would hinder coordination of the Rising, the defenders would have problems seeing the attackers.  But Warsaw was under martial law.  No one was allowed to be on the streets at night without special permission, so thousands of mostly young men gathering in certain areas would get attention in late evening.  The afternoon “rush hour” gave them a decent cover.  In any case the secret was out soon and the Germans were quite prepared for something, though the scale of the Rising did surprise them.

Even before the fighting was over the Armia Krajowa command was criticised for giving the order to fight.  Accusations flew from left and right.  A dangerous adventure, criminal action, reckless, responsible for the destruction of Warsaw and hundreds of thousands dead, were just a few of the descriptions.  The people who encouraged Warsaw to rise up immediately accused the AK command claiming that the Rising was aimed against the Soviet Union as much as it was against Germany.  By the middle of August Stalin was calling the fighters a “gang of criminals.”

The Rising turned out to be a tragic event.  A city was destroyed, over 200,000 dead, unspeakable suffering, the Home Army as a fighting force pretty much ceased to exist.  Questions come up to this day.  Due to not being able to have an open nationwide debate about this till 1989 Poland is still dealing with the issue of the Rising.  For 45 years lies and accusations were spread by the official Communist “historians.”  Armia Krajowa was accused of being fascist, of cooperating with the Nazis, the importance AK and its  actions were minimized, instead all glory went to the tiny in comparison, band of Communists who called themselves Armia Ludowa.  At first the Communists accused the AK of not being aggressive enough in their struggle against the Germans.  Then they were called reckless.  The Communists of course were just heroic.  Armia Krajowa had a policy to not engage the Germans if it meant that the general population would suffer disproportionately, after all, they were fighting to free those people from Nazi oppression, there was no point to this whole exercise if no one was left to enjoy the hard won freedom.  The AL had no such problems.  Their struggle was for world revolution and their efforts were aimed at helping the Red Army in their fight against the Nazis.  Chaos behind the German lines accomplished that, by any means.  If any civilians suffered, so much the better, an angry population is likely to turn against the occupiers.

Till communism fell in Poland there were no monuments commemorating the AK.  But several were erected to remember the struggle and sacrifices of the communists.  For the communists it was best when the AK was totally ignored, when they could not ignore it they made sure to paint the AK command and officers as reactionary at best, fascist and Nazi sympathizers who were more obsessed in trying to destroy the Polish communists than fighting the Germans at worst.  Home Army soldiers were murdered, imprisoned, branded as traitors by the communists after the war.  The fight by the remnants of the AK and others against the communist regime after the war ended just gave them ammunition.  Any trouble was blamed on the reactionary fascists whether they had anything to do with it or not.  In a short time the Home Army went from being the biggest anti Nazi organization to Nazi sympathisers and the West lapped it up as it gave them an excuse to do nothing about Poland’s new occupation.  Slowly the Home Army and the Polish struggle is getting its deserved recognition.  But still a debate goes on.

Life Among Chaos. A Wedding Takes Place During the Rising

Edit:  Brilliant.  I was just watching a Polish newsreel from 1990.  And unbelievably saw a video from the wedding pictured above, followed by an elderly couple reminiscing about their wedding.  Both survived.  His Uniform was borrowed, as was her blouse, the flowers they found in some vase.  The doctor who saved his arm wanted to lend them his and his wife’s wedding rings, but they declined.  Instead they used metal rings that held up some curtain on a rod.  They had them till 1990 at least.  I hope they had many happy anniversaries.

Military reasons for the rising seem simple enough.  The aim was to wrest control of Warsaw and the bridges on the Vistula to give the Red Army an easy way to cross the river and establish themselves on the left bank.  While a major city is not an ideal springboard for further offensive the Warsaw bridgehead could have been easily defended and would draw German forces from other areas of the front to defend against further Soviet advance.  With the help of the AK and with the full support of the civilian population the Red Army’s job would have been made easier if they had pressed on into Warsaw.  They didn’t of course.

Political reasons seem not so simple.  After the disarming and arrest of several AK units earlier in Eastern Poland the Poles did not trust the Soviets very much.  There was also the inclination to show that the London supporting AK was a force to be reckoned with.  As the representatives of the legal government the Poles wanted to welcome the Soviets into a free Warsaw as hosts.  This is especially important in light of the 22 July announcement of the formation of PKWN in Lublin (Polish Committee of national Liberation).  A group of nobodies who were formed to govern post-war Poland, and who took their orders from Moscow.  They were the red alternative to the Polish government in London.  The fighting went on for 63 days, but the Uprising was meant to last no more than a couple of weeks.  Neither the AK nor the people of Warsaw were prepared for such long and ferocious fighting.  So.  Was it worth it?

In hindsight we can judge them quite harshly.  The Warsaw Uprising was a military disaster.  It achieved none of its objectives.  It led to the complete destruction of the city and countless deaths.  But to judge the Rising in such a way does not give the fighters, and the people responsible for it justice.  We can of course separate the fighting man from the decision maker and put all blame on the latter while honouring the former.  And that is the tactic of the leftist debaters who still believe that it was at best reckless, at worst, criminal.  But as I mentioned, the fighters themselves wanted to fight, they have been preparing for this for almost 5 years.  If they did not fight then what was the point?  They of course would be called cowards and Nazi sympathizers by the same people who now accuse them of recklessness.  The debate, despite radical geopolitical changes, did not change much.  Damned if their did, damned if they did not.

A very young nurse of the rising.

WWSD? – What Would Stalin Do?

One hardly hears that any more.  Now religious Christians just ask themselves “what would Jesus do?”  But the communists had their own god and saviour.  And make no mistake, that is not an exaggeration.  His word was holy to them.  Everything he did and said was adhered to.  So of course the people who now so eagerly accuse the AK command forget one thing.  They forget, or make excuses for the Soviets.  Now of course revisionism is not communist invention, but they sure were good at it.  They conveniently omit the actions of the Soviet leaders and its army.  Just days before the Soviets were calling on the whole Polish nation to rise against the Germans.  When they did they got no help.  In fact Stalin did everything to make Hitler’s job easier in fighting the Warsaw Uprising.  Suddenly supplies stopped being given out to frontline units so they could not advance any more.  The scale of the fighting was diminished by Soviet propaganda.  “A Band of Criminals.”  Yes up to 50,000 criminals fighting to free their city from Nazi yoke.  Simple fact is that the destruction of the AK and its leadership saved Stalin a headache later.  Why kill them after the war when Hitler can do the job for you.

Any efforts to help the fighters in Warsaw were thwarted.  RAF and Polish (among them also brave South African pilots) supply flights were first not allowed then hindered.  Most of the casualties these brave pilots suffered were actually at the hands of the Soviets who shot them down any chance they got (by mistake of course), as the Germans had very weak air defences in the area.  The help was minimized still by Stalin’s refusal to let the flights land on Soviet air bases.  This meant lighter payloads as they journeyed from Britain and Italy.  The Americans for their part were quite willing to go along with everything Stalin did and said for fear of antagonizing him before Yalta.  When the Red Army finally did reach the Vistula at Warsaw in mid-September it hardly did a thing to help Warsaw.  A weakly supported landing of a couple of battalions of Polish People’s Army troops was not enough.  They suffered heavy casualties and their bridgehead was isolated.  Only a few returned to the right bank of the river when the fighting was ending.  General Berling, the commander of the Polish First Army was soon dismissed from his post.  He showed too much initiative in trying to help his countrymen.

The defenders of the Great Stalin will of course point out that the Red Army couldn’t help the Rising even if it wanted to.  Well that’s an admission that they did not want to help, but communists and their defenders never bothered themselves much with moral issues.  So could they have?  Of course they could.  Fact is they did not even try and they did everything possible to make sure it failed.  It is possible that even if they did try they would have failed.  But that is no excuse.  Yes the great 1944 offensive was reaching its end.  And the STAVKA (Soviet Command) was moving the point of new attack north and south of Warsaw.  But this was a local action.  The units the Germans had in the area were not first rate nor were there a lot of them.  Hitler threw 2 Panzer Corps to north and south of Warsaw to defend the Vistula line (the last natural barrier before Germany).  But they would not send their best troop into urban combat.  Stalingrad was not that long ago.  Facing the Soviets were weak Wehrmacht infantry divisions which lacked heave weapons and air support.  The units in Warsaw were having a tough time dealing with under armed partisan forces.  Properly supported a corps could have reached the banks of Vistula crushing any German resistance, while another corps could have made the crossing and taken Warsaw along with the AK.  The Soviets did not even need to lift a finger fighting on the left bank, the Poles would have gladly gone.  All they needed was supplies, and air and artillery support to cover the crossing and the fighting later.  The Germans had no reserves to speak of in the area, or anywhere for that matter.  Any forces sent to Warsaw would mean weakening an already weak line.

Did Any of Them Survive?

But the Stalin forbade it.  Instead the world watched as Warsaw died.  And with Warsaw went the AK command, its fighters and its citizens.  They faced unspeakable horror, for this was not your normal urban combat.  The brave Wehrmacht was tasked with squashing the Uprising.  And so special units were called in, under the command of SS General von dem Bach-Zalewski (one of the worst war criminals tasked with anti-partizan operations through out the war, never tried for his crimes in the East because he agreed to testify against his masters at Nuremberg).  Von dem Bach was supposed to be an expert at this.  The main force fighting the Poles became known as Kampfgruppe Reinefarth named after its commander, another war criminal who was protected by the Western Allies and never tried, he even became a small town mayor in Germany after the war and lived of his general’s pension.  A special group of fighters this was.  It included what was known as the  Dirlewanger Brigade.  A motley penal SS unit composed of criminals and deserters.  Full of rapists and murderers they distinguished themselves by looting and murdering civilians.  Von dem Bach also had the Kaminski Brigade.  A unit of Russians loyal to the Nazis.  And while they were not officially a criminal unit they gave Dirlewanger’s men a run for their money.  By August 8 they managed to massacre tens of thousands of civilians in Wola and Ochota alone (two boroughs of Warsaw).  Kaminski’s men were so bad that he was later executed by the SS.  Now of course the honourable Germans were not shocked at the murders, his crime was stealing material belonging to the Reich.  His sin was not sharing what he looted.

EDITFun Fact.  I forgot to include the post war life of Oskar Dirlewanger.  Under the authority of the French Occupation Forces, who used Polish troops for the occasion, he was captured and brought to prison where he was tortured for several days and basically beaten to death.  🙂  Now I am against revenge and even the death penalty, but this brought a smile to my face.  And a silly Wiki article on the murdering bastard call his death a “murder.”  How?  At worst it was justifiable homicide and the Polish troops certainly did much better than the Western Allies who dealt with and protected many a very guilty Nazi after the war.

Sabaton’s “Uprising” a Swedish group that sings mainly about military history.  Most of the footage in the video is from the Uprising.  “Warszawo Walcz!” means “Warsaw, Fight on!”

But Germans used anyone they could to fight the Poles.  A unit from the 5th SS Panzer Division “Wiking” was used.  Police, Wehrmacht, SS, garrison troops, anyone who could be spared was thrown into Warsaw. Tens of thousands of Nazis fought in the Uprising.  All in all the Germans lost around 17,000 in killed and missing, with a further 9,000 wounded and as high as 5,000 taken prisoner.  Of course the Germans did not take prisoners in the beginning.  Any Polish fighter captured, whether man, woman, or child was summarily executed.  After all these were just bandits and untermenschen to boot.  Only later did the Germans begin to treat the Polish fighters as POWs.

Warsaw Fights On

The Poles themselves fought first to free Warsaw and later to win honourable terms after it became apparent that the Rising was doomed and no help was coming.  Terms they did gain, but Germans being Germans stuck to them only when it was convenient for them.  As I said, the fighting was to last no more than a couple of weeks.  The fighting begun even before the official start hour as German units came across Polish fighters in their areas of concentration.  The element of surprise was gone.  Only some objectives were taken.  The Poles never did manage to consolidate their gains enough to control the whole city.  And what they did control was a patchwork of areas (as the map above shows).  The Nazis defended their lines of communication across the river to the front fiercely.  When they lost them they fought hard to gain them back.  Even though they were under constant fire for several days the Poles never did manage to cut off Warsaw from the front.  The all important bridges remained in enemy hands.  As the battle drew on the Polish forces were squeezed and surrounded.  Isolated areas held on as long and whenever they could.  When they could not they either tried to break the ring and fight through to other Polish controlled areas, or withdrew through Warsaw’s sewers.

The Warsaw sewer system was used trough out the occupation as means of escape and communication with the Ghetto.  Now it became means of communications between different districts and areas of operations.  Young runners, girls and boys, when not dodging bullets above ground, went through the sewers to bring orders and supplies whenever possible and to evacuate the wounded to safer areas.  Many a brave Pole found his death in those tunnels (those who have not seen it I would suggest watching Andrew Wajda’s “Kanal,” Canal).  Wells were improvised as water became scarce due to destruction of pipes or because the Germans turned it off.  Food shortages came.  Along with destruction Warsaw had to worry about feeding itself.

A Polish built improvised armoured vehicle used during the Rising, nicknamed Kubus (a cute name in Polish, we call Winnie the Pooh, Kubus Puchatek)

The Poles did manage to control most of Warsaw for a time.  They even captured some fighting vehicles.  A few armoured personnel carriers and even a couple of SS “Wiking” Panther tanks that they repaired and used against the Germans.  Barricades were erected.  The city became a bastion.  The civilians, though somewhat afraid, welcomed the Uprising.  Field kitchens were operated by civilians, mechanics, builders, anyone who was useful helped.  Men, women, young and old, all helped.  The whole city fought the hated Nazis.  But it was the civilians who paid the ultimate price and who suffered the most.  The official figures do not include the thousands who were sent to forced labour or death camps after the fighting ended.  The figures don’t speak of the rapes and murders.  They don’t tell anything about how these people lost everything they had.  Their homes in ruins, their possessions destroyed or looted.  Whole families uprooted.

And what of the fighters themselves?  Most were kids really.  Some as young as 12.  Child soldiers.  All volunteers.  All brave and idealistic.  Many were students completing their education in underground schools and universities as the Germans allowed only for the most basic education of Poles, nothing above a few grades.  They were poets, painters, engineers, or manual labourers, many still just students.  They were everyone.  From all walks of life.  The Polish Boy Scouts deserve a mention here.  The organization was forbidden in Poland under the German occupation.  But it did not die, it met and organized in secret.  It kept the spirit of Poland alive.  These young men and women (the girls of the Rising were as brave as any heroes of WWII) fought side by side with their elders for their city, for Poland.  The famous Battalion Zoska (a female name, pseudonym of an AK commander who was killed in action earlier ) fought gallantly in the Rising.  It was a Scout (Szare Szeregi, Grey Ranks, Underground Scout Units) unit under the AK.  They freed a concentration camp in the middle of what was left of the Warsaw Ghetto.  All able bodied freed prisoners (most of them Jews kept alive to work for the Germans, just under 400 in number) joined the battalion and fought alongside their saviours.  Or “Parasol” (Umbrella), another famed unit of the AK Scouts.  Along with many famous actions throughout the occupation “Parasol” fought on gallantly all through out the Uprising.  Among its ranks was a famous Polish poet, Krzysztof Kamil Baczynski, he was killed at his post on August 4 by a German sniper, he was just 23,  His wife, Barbara, 22, was killed less than a month later.  No happy endings here.

In memory of the youngest fighters

The fight did not end for some with the end of the Rising or even the war.  Persecuted some went underground and kept fighting the commies.  Many were persecuted even though they did not fight the communists.  By virtue of association brave heroes were imprisoned by the communists.  All the surviving members of the “Zoska” battalion were imprisoned after the war after fighting for the very freedom the commies enjoyed.  For those who survived the end did not really come till 1989.  It was only then when they could come out of the shadows and be officially remembered.  It was not till then that they could be honoured.  Most though did not live to see those days.  While their oppressors, both Nazi and Communist, were free to enjoy their pensions and peaceful life.  Unlike Hollywood films, most of Polish war films do not end on a happy note.

In the end the Rising was doomed to fail.  And fail it did.  But was it worth all the blood and ruins?  Objectively speaking no.  It was not.  Nothing is worth that much suffering.  But in that case nothing is worth fighting for, nothing is worth the sacrifice.  So we can’t be objective here.  And its not as if they had a choice.  They had to fight.  The brutal occupation had to be ended.  The sooner the better.  They had every right to expect outside help.  Especially from the east in the form of the Red Army.  It was not their fault that Stalin was willing to let his mate Hitler deal with the Poles.  Blaming the AK commanders for what was a straight forward military operation aimed at freeing the capitol of Poland, with Soviet help, is absurd.  That means those who do blame General Komorowski blame him for all the suffering and not the Germans or the Soviets.  Its not as if he could have predicted the Soviets will happily watch while Warsaw bled.  Or that the Western Allies would hardly lift a finger to help in any way.  General Komorowski and the Polish leadership are not responsible for the destruction of Warsaw.  Hitler and Stalin are.

So those willing to tarnish the memory of those brave men and women would do well to remember that.  I for one, rather remember them, their bravery and sacrifice.  As long as we remember them they have not died in vain.

Finally Remembered. Warsaw Uprising Monument

Author’s Note:  Thank you for taking the time to read this.  These brave men and women deserve to be remembered.  Feel free to post comments, especially if you have issues with this post.  But do remember it is by no means meant to be complete history of the Rising or even a partial one.  I just wanted to commemorate their sacrifice in my own way and to argue a bit with those who in my opinion tarnish their memory by placing blame where it should not go.  And sadly the debate still goes on.  Its hard to reverse over 40 years of lies and propaganda.

There are a lot of good works written about the Rising.  First and foremost a comprehensive study by Norman Davies titled: Rising ’44.  There are also several good works by Polish historian translated into English and witness accounts from those who fought in the Rising.  As well as quite a few good films and TV programs.  Not all is in English, but quite a lot is, and some of those are very good on their own, the subject matter only makes them better and more important.

For quicker sources there is a lot of stuff on the web, all you need to do is google.  Wikipedia has pretty good articles on the whole and several different aspects of the Rising.  I encourage anyone interested to look, there are fascinating stories of bravery, sacrifice, idealism and tragedy that can make anyone tear up.

Anyone visiting Warsaw please visit the new Warsaw Uprising Museum.  It had to wait till communism fell, and sadly for some years after, but finally under the mayor Lech Kaczynski (later president of Poland, he died in a plane crash this past April along with 95 others) Poland built its heroes a proper place of remembrance.

A fascinating digital reconstruction project done by the Warsaw Uprising Museum.

Thank you again.  We shall never forget.