Every year, the people of the city of Warsaw stop what they’re doing for exactly one minute, and that means everyone from adults to children. Check out the full video to see what this looks like in action and learn more about this powerful tribute.
Why the tribute? During WWII, there was an event called The Warsaw Uprising, which was a major World War II operation by the Polish resistance Home Army to liberate Warsaw from Nazi Germany. The Uprising was timed to coincide with the Soviet Union’s Red Army approaching the eastern suburbs of the city and the retreat of German forces. However, the Soviet advance stopped short, enabling the Germans to regroup and demolish the city while defeating the Polish resistance, which fought for 63 days with little outside support. The Uprising was the largest single military effort taken by any European resistance movement during World War II.
Although the exact number of casualties remains unknown, it is estimated that about 16,000 members of the Polish resistance were killed and about 6,000 badly wounded. In addition, between 150,000 and 200,000 Polish civilians died, mostly from mass executions. Jews being harbored by Poles were exposed by German house-to-house clearances and mass evictions of entire neighborhoods. German casualties totaled over 8,000 soldiers killed and missing, and 9,000 wounded.
During the urban combat approximately 25% of Warsaw’s buildings were destroyed. Following the surrender of Polish forces, German troops systematically leveled another 35% of the city block by block. Together with earlier damage suffered in the 1939 invasion of Poland and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943, over 85% of the city was destroyed by January 1945, when the course of the events in the Eastern Front forced the Germans to abandon the city.
This is why today’s Warsaw yearly salutes their countrymen.