Warsaw Uprising Monument
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Panoramic photo by Marcin Klaban EXPERT Taken 18:56, 19/03/2009 - Views loading...

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Warsaw Uprising Monument

The World > Europe > Poland > Warsaw

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The Warsaw Uprising (Polish: Powstanie Warszawskie) was a struggle by the Polish Home Army (Polish: Armia Krajowa) to liberate Warsaw from Nazi German occupation during World War II. The Uprising began on 1 August 1944, as part of a nationwide rebellion, Operation Tempest. It was intended to last for only a few days until the anti-Nazi Soviet Army reached the city. The Soviet advance stopped short, however, while Polish resistance against the German forces continued for 63 days until the Polish surrender on 2 October. The Uprising began as the Soviet Army approached Warsaw. The Poles' chief objectives were to drive the German occupiers from the city and help with the larger fight against Germany and the Axis powers. Secondary political objectives were to liberate Warsaw before the arrival of the Soviet Army, to underscore Polish sovereignty and to undo the division of Central Europe into spheres of influence by the Allied powers. The insurgents' aimed to reinstate Polish authorities before the Soviet Polish Committee of National Liberation could assume control. Initially, the Poles seized substantial areas of the city, but the Soviets did not advance beyond the city's borders until mid-September. Inside the city, bitter fighting between the Germans and Poles continued. By 16 September, Soviet forces had reached a point a few hundred meters from the Polish positions, across the Vistula River, but they made no further headway during the Uprising, leading to allegations that the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had wanted the insurrection to fail so that the Soviet occupation of Poland would be uncontested. Although the exact number of casualties remains unknown, it is estimated that about 16,000 Polish insurgents were killed and about 6,000 badly wounded. In addition, between 150,000 and 200,000 civilians died, mostly from mass murders conducted by troops fighting on the German side. German casualties totaled over 16,000 soldiers killed 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 35% of the city block by block. Together with earlier damage suffered in the invasion of Poland (1939) and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (1943), over 85% of the city was destroyed by January 1945, when the Soviets finally entered the city.

"The city must completely disappear from the surface of the earth and serve only as a transport station for the Wehrmacht. No stone can remain standing. Every building must be razed to its foundation." —SS chief Heinrich Himmler, 17 October, SS officers conference

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This panorama was taken in Warsaw, Europe

This is an overview of Europe

Europe is generally agreed to be the birthplace of western culture, including such legendary innovations as the democratic nation-state, football and tomato sauce.

The word Europe comes from the Greek goddess Europa, who was kidnapped by Zeus and plunked down on the island of Crete. Europa gradually changed from referring to mainland Greece until it extended finally to include Norway and Russia.

Don't be confused that Europe is called a continent without looking like an island, the way the other continents do. It's okay. The Ural mountains have steadily been there to divide Europe from Asia for the last 250 million years. Russia technically inhabits "Eurasia".

Europe is presently uniting into one political and economic zone with a common currency called the Euro. The European Union originated in 1993 and is now composed of 27 member states. Its headquarters is in Brussels, Belgium.

Do not confuse the EU with the Council of Europe, which has 47 member states and dates to 1949. These two bodies share the same flag, national anthem, and mission of integrating Europe. The headquarters of the Council are located in Strasbourg, France, and it is most famous for its European Court of Human Rights.

In spite of these two bodies, there is still no single Constitution or set of laws applying to all the countries of Europe. Debate rages over the role of the EU in regards to national sovereignty. As of January 2009, the Lisbon Treaty is the closest thing to a European Constitution, yet it has not been approved by all the EU states. 

Text by Steve Smith.

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