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'Warsaw Calling' Exhibition Launch

Bush House Arcade, London

20JulWarsaw Uprising 1944

On 1 August 1944, the Polish resistance fighting the Nazis launched the Warsaw Uprising — one of the biggest acts of rebellion against Hitler’s rule in occupied Europe. Seeking to exploit Soviet military advances to the east of Warsaw and establish control ahead of the Red Army’s arrival, the Armia Krajowa — ‘Home Army’ — was outnumbered and outgunned, battling German troops for two months, before being forced to surrender, while Moscow’s military paused its offensive. The Nazis killed an estimated 200,000 combatants and civilians, and destroyed the city.

This dramatic story is told in a free exhibition at The Arcade, Bush House, King’s College London opening on 20 July, to feature personal stories of those involved in this terrible battle — the fighters and the civilians caught up in the conflict. The suffering, the courage and the despair of those involved resonate widely in today’s world with its multiple violent conflicts.

The exhibition also highlights the key role played by London in the uprising. The Polish Government, based there for most of World War Two, and the Polish military headquarters directed the fighting via encrypted radio links with the Warsaw commanders. Secret messages went back and forth daily between Britain and the Polish capital. There was also limited practical support with airdropped supplies from Britain, while the BBC was significant — with the Polish service broadcasts significant, but also subject to censorship and institutional tussles.

The opening of the exhibition is accompanied by a series of complementary activities. The schedule for the day is as follows:

  • 11:00 Exhibition Opens
  • 11:00 - 17:00 Audio Installation — BBC Radio 4 documentary Red Runs the Vistula — The Story of the Warsaw Uprising 1944 (narrated by Polish-British actress Rula Lenska)
  • 11:15 Practical Analogue Image Making with Photographs from the PUMST archive (Dr. Milena Michalski, Department of War Studies)
  • 12:00 Documentary Film Screening —: The Battle for Warsaw, 1944 Dir. Wanda Koscia, 2005
  • 13:00 - 14:30 'Warsaw Rising!' Panel discussion
  • 15:00 Documentary Film Screening — The Battle for Warsaw, 1944 Dir. Wanda Koscia, 2005
  • 16:00 Analogue Image Making with Photographs from the PUMST archive (TBC)

The exhibition is organised by a partnership involving the Sir Michael Howard Centre for the History of War, King’s Culture, the Department of History and the Department of War Studies, at King’s College London, and the Polish Underground Movement Study Trust (PUMST), based in Ealing in West London, and home to an impressive archive of material on the Home Army and the Uprising, which underpins the exhibition, with invaluable help and further material from the London-based Polish Institute and Sikorski Museum, which holds archives of the Polish government-in-exile and the Second World War Polish military, as well as contributions from Warsaw.

More information at

At this event

James  Gow

Professor of International Peace and Security

Milena Michalski

Research Associate

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