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Tribute paid to the insurgents who captured the PWPW building 79 years ago

The Polish Security Printing Works is one of the symbols of the Warsaw Uprising - its building was captured by the insurgents on 2 August 1944 and then heroically defended for four weeks. Exactly 79 years after the capture of the PWPW, tributes were paid in its courtyard to the living and dead participants in the capital's insurrection.

Celebrations of successive anniversaries of the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising at the headquarters of the Polish Security Printing Works are always accompanied by a unique atmosphere. This is thanks to the place itself, which played an important role in the functioning of the Polish Underground State throughout the occupation.

"On the premises of the PWPW, the clandestine Banknote Production Department PWB/17/S operated for four years, producing forged documents and banknotes for use by Underground Poland. On the second day of the Uprising, the huge reinforced concrete complex of PWPW's buildings was captured from the inside, becoming the northernmost outpost of the Old Town occupied by the insurgents, constantly shelled, and bombarded by the Germans" - Piotr Ciompa, CEO of the PWPW, recalled during the anniversary celebrations.

However, during the uprising itself, the PWPW also performed several other important functions as a shelter for civilians, an incendiary bottle factory, a food warehouse and a hospital, whose patients and staff, led by Dr Hanna Petrynowska, pseudonym Rana, were brutally murdered by the occupiers after the fall of the redoubt.

"The heroic struggle of the insurgents and the death of many of them had a profound meaning - they wanted to live with dignity in their own independent state. Their attitude is a model of Polish patriotism and when we remember them today, at the same time we feel the burden of great responsibility for the fate of the Homeland and its successful future," said Mariusz Kamiński, Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration, the ministry overseeing the PWPW.

The insurgents defended universal values, which also today, after almost eight decades since the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising, still need to be protected and sometimes also require a tribute of blood, as Małgorzata Gosiewska, Deputy Speaker of the Polish Parliament, reminded.

"At this very moment, when we are honouring the memory of the heroes of the Polish capital, Russian bombs and missiles are hitting Ukrainian schools, apartment blocks, hospitals. The struggle between good and evil continues, and we cannot remain passive or indifferent to this fact," - emphasised the Polish parliamentarian.

The celebrations of the anniversary of the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising and the battles for the PWPW Redoubt traditionally also have a theme. This year, the figure of Major Mieczysław Chyżyński, alias Pełka, founder and commander of PWB/17/S group and commander of the approximately 600-strong insurgent crew defending the Old Town fortress in August 1944, was commemorated.

"Major Chyżyński, like all the other heroes of the Rising, had the peculiar gene of freedom written in his DNA. We are a proud and chivalrous nation, a nation that values independence and freedom above all else," - remarked Jan Józef Kasprzyk, Head of the Office for War Veterans and Victims of Repression.

He recalled that soldiers from all social groups and political backgrounds, from socialists and Piłsudskiites to peasants and nationalists, fought on the insurgent barricades.

"This is the most important lesson for us, that in moments of trial, when our independence is once again threatened, we should be able to put aside current disputes. This is what the Polish raison d'état requires of us, this is what the memory of the Warsaw insurgents teaches us" - explained the head of the Veteran Office.

The last but the most important element of the anniversary celebrations at the PWPW headquarters was the opportunity to meet the insurgents still alive - the last defenders of the PWPW Redoubt. As in previous years, this year's ceremony was attended by Captain Juliusz Kulesza, the last surviving soldier from PWB/17/S group.

Jan Józef Kasprzyk decorated the hero with the Pro Bono Poloniae medal, in recognition of his special merits in spreading knowledge about the history of the independence struggle, fostering patriotic attitudes in Polish society and popularising knowledge of the freedom traditions abroad.

"Friendship between people is natural, but I have an unusual friendship with an institution like the Polish Security Printing Works. I am referring to my participation and that of many of my colleagues in its defence, but also to the fact that my parents worked here before the war. So, you could say that without the PWPW I would not be in this world at all," - Captain Kulesza said. 

PWPW (Polish Security Printing Works)

1 Sanguszki Street
00-222 Warsaw, Poland
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tel. (+48) 22 235 20 00
fax (+48) 22 235 24 50