Submitted by Iwona Proszek-Mooney
Why is the Szare Szeregi “Grey Ranks” monument on Old Barry’s Bay Road so important in Poland’s history? What is its significance to the Polish scouting movement?
In 1994 the monument was officially opened to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. Some historians consider the Warsaw Uprising as one of Poland’s key battles in WW II. Thinking that Soviet troops positioned across the Vistula River would come to their assistance, the call to arms was made on Aug. 1, 1944 when the Polish Home Army with minimum firearms and aided by civilians of Warsaw went out into the streets in one last heroic attempt to overcome their German occupiers. No such assistance materialized and the Allies were also denied landing rights to bring in much-needed supplies. Given the terrible loss of human lives, Polish General Komorowski ordered the insurgents to surrender. The Warsaw Uprising ended on Oct. 3, 1944 having lasted 63 days.
The Polish scouting movement was strong and well-organized in Poland before the war. Their distinctive light-grey uniforms provided their moniker of Szare Szeregi, the “Grey Ranks”. When WW II broke out they quickly organized auxiliary fire and ambulance units in key Polish cities. They also set up a clandestine arm which worked directly with the Polish Underground forces. They assisted in handling communications among various entities, established armed units and helped wherever they could. Being young they could easily slip in/out of areas with little suspicion.
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