Seventy-eight years ago this week, the Warsaw Uprising was crushed by the Nazis. The military action by the Polish Home Army had lasted 63 days. In a heroic effort to free Warsaw from Nazi rule, 2,500 partisans took on 25,000 German soldiers equipped with tanks, artillery, and heavy weaponry. Only one quarter of the partisans had weapons of any kind, many only pistols. The end result? The Nazis razed Warsaw to the ground and 180,000 civilians were murdered in retaliation. Eleven hundred partisans were captured and deported.
In the midst of this chaos and horror was a little girl, eight-year-old Roza. Her father had been killed by the Gestapo in 1943, and Roza had escaped her burning home with her older sister, Zofia, during the Uprising. She found refuge in a basement field hospital where she became the youngest nurse in the Polish Resistance. As she provided sips of water and encouraged her patients with smiles and good cheer, they nicknamed her “Little Rose”.
Roza survived the war, later graduated from college, and moved to France, where she died in 1989. Her iconic photo, by Resistance photographer, Eugeniusz Lokajski, illustrates that courage comes in all shapes and sizes. Thank you Little Rose for your marvelous example to us all!
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