Today, the 75th anniversary of the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising was especially significant for my father – Bohdan Dembinski. On this day, 75 years ago, he left his home on ulica Filtrowa 68 at three o’clock in the afternoon – and was not to return for another 17 years, as a visitor from another country. And it was in this same building that Colonel Antoni Chruściel – ‘Monter’ – gave the order to launch the Uprising.
The laying of wreaths outside what was my father’s prewar and wartime home has come to mark the first of the day’s official events; the officials and guards of honour have gone, the flowers remain, including wreathes from Poland’s president and prime minister
The first of many media interviews that my father gave today. Here interviewed by Ola Duda from #Rising44live team. Afterwards, we visit my cousin Marynka, who still lives in Filtrowa 68 (though a floor down from the family’s prewar flat, as the entire building lost one floor)
Another friendly face; Juliette meets us at the gates of Powązki Wojskowe (military) cemetery to conduct another interview, this time in English
First port of call during our visit to Powązki Wojskowe each year is the Batalion Odwet memorial by the grave of its leader, ps. Roman. This year, for the first time, two soldiers form a guard of honour. This year, only four members of Odwet are present at this annual event. Last year there were six, two years ago, nine
A very moving moment; my father kneels at the grave of his brother, Józef Dembiński, who died in early September 1944. Józef, a senior sergeant at the age of 19, fought with Batalion Miotła, first in the hell that was Wola, then in the Old Town, then making his way through the sewers to Czerniaków, where again the fighting was intense. Here he was hit; he died of his wounds in a field hospital five days later. My father only learnt of his brother’s death after the war, in the first exchange of mail with his surviving family
After the Godzina ‘W’ sirens, after the politicians had left, time for reflection. So many people come up to my father to thank him for his service; soon, a small crowd has gathered to ask hims for his recollections from those days of battle 75 years ago
The small crowd gets bigger, people of all ages – children, teenagers, adults young and old, scouts, soldiers and civilians, gather around my father, asking questions. People thank him and move on, others join the group. For nearly two hours, my father is the centre of attention – so much heartfelt interest and gratitude
My father makes them a promise – he will come again next year!
Author: Michael Dembinski on his blog Jeziorki.
Michael Dembinski was born in London, brought up a Pole. Son of Bohdan Dembinski, 96-year-old veteran of the Warsaw Uprising. Mother came through Siberia to the UK with General W. Anders army.