“The celebration of the Polish Army Day and the 103rd anniversary of the Battle of Warsaw are an opportunity to talk about the lessons learned from the victory, the effects of which shaped the consciousness of generations of Poles. In addition to the military triumph in August 1920, there was another great triumph in the hearts and minds of the citizens of the reborn Republic of Poland” – President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda wrote in a special message on the occasion of the 103rd anniversary of the Battle of Warsaw, in which the young Polish army defeated the Bolshevik onslaught, saving Poland and Europe from communist enslavement. One more army took part in this battle: the Virgin Mary, assisted by Polish hussars, appeared to the Bolsheviks, hence this event was recorded in history as the “Miracle on the Vistula”.
“Polish and foreign historians often point out that the defeat of the Bolsheviks near Warsaw saved Europe from their invasion of other countries of the continent. For us, however, apart from its momentous geopolitical significance, August 1920 was an unprecedented experience of community and national solidarity – it was an experience of Polishness for the nation, who was told for 123 years that there was no Polishness anymore. That hot summer, the Battle of Warsaw was won by volunteers who went to fight straight from their villages and towns. They were all born under the partitions. Many fought on the fronts of World War I. Everyone got to know its face. They knew the taste of slavery, so seeing the threat of losing their recently regained freedom coming from the east, they took up arms ” – Andrzej Duda wrote, adding that “soon the news of their victory reached the thatches of family homes. It became the topic of conversations, sermons, articles. Brought pride, restored dignity, became part of the identity of a generation that was soon to experience the nightmare of the totalitarian ideologies of German Nazism and Soviet Communism”.
“The Battle of Warsaw in 1920 was won by a nation which, since the loss of statehood in 1795, had consistently been subjected to a policy of denationalization. The invaders fought against our culture, language and religion. We put up armed resistance twice, in November 1830 and in January 1863. The survivors of the insurgents battlefields were then subjected to unbearable repression, which was to ultimately destroy our love of freedom. Nevertheless, successive generations of Poles brought up in captivity passed on to their children the most precious gift – Polishness. Such a nation, such Poles, in August 1920 defeated the Bolsheviks, stopping their march to the west of Europe” – the president continued.
“Today, it is impossible to talk about the heroes of the Battle of Warsaw without describing the background that shaped them. Each of them, when deciding to enter the battlefield, carried the baggage of experience of their parents and grandparents, brought up in the shadow of 1795, 1830 and 1863. Each of them, facing the red plague and defeating it, he wrote a new page of history. Its title is “August 1920″, and the content is our pride, glory of arms and steadfastness” – he added.
It was indeed a great victory. So great that the British diplomat Edgar Vincent D’Abernon described this battle as the eighteenth most important and groundbreaking in the history of the world. It is worth emphasizing that the Poles’ defeat of the power of the army deployed by the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic made it possible to stop the Bolshevik march to the west and thus saved Europe from communist enslavement.
Not without reason, however, from the very beginning the Battle of Warsaw was referred to as the “Miracle on the Vistula”. From August 13 to 25, 1920, apart from the mobilization of all able to fight young volunteers, often trained in a hurry, there was a real prayer storm to heaven. People prayed in the streets of cities, in humble kneelings and solemn processions, begging God and the Holy Mother for help.
Fr. Ignacy Skorupka, who, although in poor health, in July 1920, in the face of the Soviet invasion of Poland, was nominated chaplain of the garrison in Warsaw’s Praga district. He was convinced that victory would come on the day of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and it would soon turn out that he was right.
On August 13, 1920, he set off from Warsaw’s Praga to Ossów to provide spiritual support to the young Polish army. At the decisive moment of the battle, on August 14, he raised the cross and led the young volunteers to the attack. These events were described by Cardinal Aleksander Kakowski, Ordinary of the Archdiocese of Warsaw: “Among others, Father Skorupka, a young and beautiful priest who had an even more beautiful soul, went. The moment of death of Fr. Skorupki is a turning point in the Battle of Ossów and in the history of the 1920 war. Up to that moment, Poles were running away from the Bolsheviks, since then the Bolsheviks have been running away from the Poles”.
Soon after, Fr. Skorupka fell from an enemy bullet, but what happened with his death was engraved in the memory of systemically atheistic Bolsheviks for many years. They saw Mary, the Mother of God, surrounded by hosts of Polish hussars, and the sight made them so terrified that they were unable to continue the fight. In panic, they fled the battlefield, abandoning their weapons and spreading to other Bolsheviks in the rear of the battlefield, the supernatural phenomenon they had witnessed.
The appearance of the Queen of Poland and the Hetman of the Polish Nation was not known to the Polish soldiers, who looked at the retreating Bolsheviks with considerable astonishment. Only from the local population, who gave them testimonies of the fleeing enemy army, did they learn about these extraordinary auxiliaries. The captured Soviets also spoke of the miracle. They said that in the dark sky they saw a powerful, powerful female figure from which a bright light shone. It was neither a ghost nor a phantasm [!]. The Bolsheviks clearly saw the Holy Figure as a living person. A halo of light shone around Mary’s head. In her hand she held a sort of shield, from which the bullets fired at the Poles reflected, and then returned to explode on the positions of the attacking army. They clearly saw how the flaps of her wide, navy blue cloak lifted and waved in the wind, obscuring Warsaw. The horror of the phenomenon was intensified by her assistance. The Mother of God was accompanied by troops of terrifying winged, mounted knights, clad in steel armor, covered with leopard skins, which gleamed despite the darkness. The Bolsheviks testified that troops of spectral figures were preparing for battle.
It is worth adding here that 48 years earlier, when Poland was not yet on the world map and Poles were suffering under the cruel rule of the invaders, on Good Friday 1872, Mary appeared to the Polish mystic Wanda Nepomucena Malczewska with the following words: “Since Poland will receive independence soon the former oppressors will rise up to stifle it. But my young army, fighting in my name, will defeat them, drive them far away and force them to make peace. I will help her”. A year later, the Mother of God, on the feast of the Assumption, said: “Today’s celebration will soon become a national holiday for you, Poles, because on this day you will achieve a great victory over the enemy striving for your destruction. You should celebrate this holiday with special splendour”. So it happened.