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Poland Marks Anniversary of 1944 Warsaw Uprising

Poland's capital is marking the 65th anniversary of the heroic but doomed Warsaw uprising against German occupiers during the Second World War.

President Lech Kaczynski and Prime Minister Donald Tusk joined war veterans and Warsaw citizens at the commemoration Saturday. State officials and veterans laid wreaths in a solemn ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Sirens wailed and Warsaw fell silent for a minute at 5 p.m., the exact time when the uprising's street fighters attacked Nazi forces.

Troops of the underground Polish Home Army, using home-made weapons produced by makeshift factories, fought against impossible odds, but their rebellion was not crushed until October 2. After two months of battle, the capital lay in ruins. Nearly 35,000 soldiers - both Germans and Poles - and an estimated 250,000 civilians were dead.

Tadeusz "Bor" Komorowski led the Home Army forces, and the uprising was directed Poland's wartime government in exile, based in London. At that point in the war, the Soviet Union's Red Army was advancing on German forces from the east, and the Poles expected the troops occupying their capital would retreat in a few days.

The Soviet army stopped at the eastern edge of Warsaw, however, and did not intervene in the Polish-German fighting. Many Poles' enmity toward the Soviet Union in later years was based on their belief that the Red Army's inaction was deliberate, allowing the uprising to run its course despite the huge casualties, in order to sap the strength of both Polish and German fighters.

After three months after the uprising in January 1945, Soviet troops resumed their march westward and seized control of Warsaw.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.