Warsaw Uprisers Speak Out on the Future of Europe

, by Alliance 4 Europe

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Warsaw Uprisers Speak Out on the Future of Europe
Wanda Traczyk-Stawska. Credits: Alliance 4 Europe

Survivors of the Warsaw Uprising fought for freedom and humanity almost 80 years ago. Now, as war returns to Europe, the last of their generation are keen to let their voices be heard.

The few remaining survivors who participated in the Warsaw uprising are some of the last representatives of the Generation of Columbuses - a generation of Poles whose first steps into adulthood was marked by World War II. Having been born into the finally independent Poland, which was then again deprived of its freedom through World War II, these are the last of those who fought for 63 days in 1944 against Nazi Germany, and for a free and indepedent Poland. Then, they had to shoulder the responsibility of discovering Poland on the maps of Europe one more time. Now, some of these Uprisers tell their story, and offer their views on the future of our continent. Thus - Columbuses.

Wanda Traczyk-Stawska, now 96 years old, was one of the soldiers. Having fought through the Warsaw Uprising, she is now actively engaged with some of the most pressing issues of the Polish, and indeed by extension - European society. For her, everything comes down to freedom. As part of the ‘Humans in the EU’ project, Wanda told Alliance4Europe: “Freedom is an essential component of human dignity. Every human being is born with human dignity. If they are not free, they suffer from the beginning.”

Wanda continued: “Where there is no democracy, where there are no values that are most important for every human being, then, there is no respect. Respect for a man, regardless of his material status, but most importantly, his education. Sometimes a simple man is wiser than a university graduate. It is a question of his personal values. There are people who are very simple and yet so wise and so great. This is why it is most important that in the Constitution it is written that all citizens are equal. So that we have good citizens. Let’s teach them, let’s educate them, so that they know how to be tolerant, how to be helpful, how to be friends. These are all values that are priceless, because, maybe, that would be an end to wars. I hope this war will be the last one, the one in Ukraine. And so it will be if Ukraine is not abandoned by all countries, which are also democratic.

Where there is no democracy, where there are no values that are most important for every human being, there is no respect.

Ukraine has already won. It has already won, because even if Russia was to defeat it now, it is impossible to sit on bayonets. They will not sit for long. There will again be a new uprising, just as it was with us during those 123 years when our freedom was taken away from us. We fought and fought. What I want to tell you to remember is that the first successful uprising was Solidarity. Without a single shot we regained our independence, and what we gained went further. All the countries that the Soviet Union occupied also regained their independence. The Russians only lost everything.

We have matured into a democracy and we should guard it with all our might, bringing up children all over Europe and all over the world so that they know how to be friends with one another.”

In light of the recent Russian invasion on Ukraine, it is ever more crucial to look to history for lessons, and to listen to those who remember. The war in Ukraine is wreaking destruction not seen in Europe since World War II. The message from the Uprisers is clear: Never again. As those of us who are blessed with peace can afford to debate the Future of Europe at conferences we’d do well to listen to those who suffer - and those who have suffered - through the horrors of war. It is, perhaps, of little surprise that those whose grandparents threw Molotovs into Soviet tanks - who continued to resist the Nazis, aiming through the glow of broken Warsaw street lights - rally to resist this new war of Kremlin imperialism. It is incumbent on all of us, who are privileged enough not to remember, at least to do our best to listen.

‘Humans in the EU’ brings together creators and communicators to foster understanding, dialogue, and active citizenship by telling the human stories. We interview Uprisers to show the human faces of history, the people who survived the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, fighting for Polish independence. We want to tell the stories that bring inspiration and hope for a better future. Website: humansinthe.eu

A video of the interview with Wanda Traczyk-Stawska can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKJ1SFvIL_U

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