I’ve just spent hours watching footage of the siege. The pictures are familiar: planes fall like vultures through the sky and buildings are blown apart, children are brought to hospitals covered in blood, bodies are buried in shallow graves, hospitals themselves are repeatedly bombed, entire districts of the city turned to rubble, civilians flee their homes amid burning buildings. Rescue workers tug at the living and the dead amid the wreckage of the city. America and Britain demand an end to the destruction but do nothing. And Russia cynically and cruelly allows the innocent to die. Readers will know exactly what I am describing.
The Warsaw Uprising, of course, 1944, not 2016. The scenes are eerily familiar to all that other blood-soaked footage from Aleppo we’ve been watching more recently – but, in one critical way, very different. For the fighters of the Home Army in Poland – ‘rebels’ against German occupation, patriots loyal to the Polish government in London – appear constantly in the old black-and-white film of the Warsaw Uprising. Their own military targets are attacked by their enemy. Civilians are seen queuing for weapons to fight alongside the insurgents.