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Exhilaration was the main emotion in the early days of the uprising. After almost five years of Nazi oppression, the citizens of Warsaw revelled in their new freedoms.

Hanna Niedzielska-Kepinska was trained as a courier in 1944 and was a member of the Gustaw Battalion.

"The old town was absolutely free," remembers Niedzielska-Kepinska. "It was a fantastic feeling because there were Polish flags everywhere, people were on the street. Everybody was kissing each other and we were free. There were no Germans there."

"People were spontaneously building barricades," says Jan Nowak-Jezioranski, "throwing all the beautiful furniture, beautiful antiques, pianos, completely crazed. And that was very infectious."

At an average age of 19, the young men and women preparing to fight had graduated through the ranks of the Scout movement, which from 1939 onwards had become a clandestine battle school for patriotic young saboteurs and artillery officers. Youth, and a na´ve belief in their leaders, gave the insurgents confidence and bravado.

Zbigniew Bokiewicz

"I saw a young man in front of me," says Zbigniew Bokiewicz, "and in front of him there was a German soldier who was armed, and that young man produced a bottle of beer, and stuck the bottle of beer in the German's back and demanded him to surrender his gun, and he did. When I saw that, of course I ran in the opposite direction very quickly."

"My father and my mother," says Slawinski, "they knew that I am involved in something, but they didn't treat it like it was anything very serious. You know after all, I was only 15, nearly 16, but I had to tell my father that I'm going to fight. And in a sort of roundabout way, I disclosed this as far as I could to my father and he laughed at me and said, 'What do you mean? You're so young. You cannot get involved in anything serious.' I got a bit, you know, agitated about it. So I opened a small packet, which I opened and inside there were six white and red arm bands with WP which means Polish Army, the Polish eagle and the number 101. That was the allocated number of our home army platoon. My father just couldn't believe his eyes. 'You're really in it?'"


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