Poland do not forget its Heroes. Honor to their memory!

Commanders of subunits of the 5th Vilnius Brigade/ Photo: Institute for National Remembrance

March 1 is the National Day of Remembrance of the Cursed Soldiers in Poland – a day of remembrance of the fight of the Steadfast Soldiers of the Polish independence underground, who, not recognizing the treacherous decisions of Yalta, decided to fight to the end for the independence of the Polish state.

After the order to dissolve the Home Army, tens of thousands of Polish officers and soldiers remained in the forest units fighting the Soviet occupier. Contrary to what has been tried to be said for years, the dissolution of the Home Army was to be a signal not to surrender, but to continue the fight for the country’s independence, however, conducted in different conditions and in a different way. It was well defined by General Leopold Okulicki, who wrote: “We do not want to fight the Soviets, but we will never agree to a different life than in a completely sovereign, independent and justly socially organized Polish State”. In the last order, he drew attention to the choice of means of this fight: “Conduct your further work and activities in the spirit of regaining full independence of the State and protecting the Polish population from annihilation. Try to be the guides of the Nation and the executors of an independent Polish State”. Some of the soldiers chose to continue the partisan fight against the Soviet invader, hiding in the forests and organizing operations against the bloody functionaries of the Soviet security apparatus on Polish soil. Their courage, daring actions and persistence in the hope of regaining independence against all hope gave them the nickname “Steadfast Soldiers”. Many of them paid with their lives for their sacrifice for the Homeland – brutally tortured by communist investigators in the dungeons of UB prisons, they were murdered or sentenced to life imprisonment.

On March 1, 1951, in the basement of the Mokotów prison, which was nothing but a secret police torture chamber, outstanding Polish officers, members of the 4th Main Board of the WiN Association (Freedom and Independence Association) were executed: the president of the organization, Col. Łukasz Ciepliński and his closest collaborators – Adam Lazarowicz, Mieczysław Kawalec, Józef Rzepka, Franciszek Błażej, Józef Batory and Karol Chmiel. Their bodies were buried by the communists in an unknown place. In free Poland, it was in their honor and in honor of all those who persevered with arms in hand that the Polish Parliament declared March 1 the National Day of Remembrance of the Cursed Soldiers.

Unequal fight

When in 1944 the Russian Red Army entered the territory of Poland betrayed by the allies in Teheran and Yalta, there were already clashes with Polish soldiers. Nevertheless, the Soviets installed a communist regime in Poland. Before General Leopold Okulicki issued an order to disband the Home Army on January 19, 1945, the head of Kedyw of the Home Army, General August Fieldorf “Nil”, began organizing a new structure, “Nie”, which took its name from the word “Independence”. However, it was soon exposed and dissolved. On September 2, 1945, the Association “Freedom and Independence” (WiN) was founded in Warsaw, which was the largest independence organization in 1945-47. And although its aim was more a political than an armed struggle for freedom, independence and the introduction of democracy in Poland in the Western European sense of the word, for the communists it was an obstacle to the introduction of Soviet rule in Poland. Its members were arrested, subjected to cruel interrogations and sentenced to long prison terms, and in some cases even the death penalty.

For independence and liberation from the communist yoke, the National Military Union (NZW) also fought, gathering about 30-40 thousands people. The Commander-in-Chief of the NZW, Lieutenant Colonel Danilewicz, said clearly: “We will not give up the fight for Great Poland under the influence of the terror of Soviet Russia and its agents”. After 1945, the fight was led by the National Armed Forces and a number of other military formations, such as the Polish Conspiratorial Army. Fighting also continued in the Eastern Borderlands of the former Republic.

Young people were involved in underground activity, and the communists dealt with them in the same ruthless way as with adults – arrests, brutal investigations, and later imprisonment or death.

Remembering Heroes

As the historians of the Institute of National Remembrance emphasize, the post-war pro-independence conspiracy was – until the emergence of Solidarity – the most numerous form of organized resistance of Polish society against the imposed power. In the year of the greatest activity of the armed underground, 1945, 150,000-200,000 conspirators worked directly in it, grouped in units of very different orientations. Twenty thousand of them fought in partisan units. Another several hundred thousand were people who provided the partisans with provisions, intelligence, shelter and communication. We must also add about twenty thousand students from underground youth organizations opposing the communists. “In total, this gives a group of over half a million people forming the community of Cursed Soldiers” – they enumerate.

“The National Day of Remembrance of the Cursed Soldiers is to be an expression of homage to the soldiers of the second conspiracy for the testimony of bravery, steadfast patriotic attitude and attachment to independence traditions, for the blood shed in defense of the homeland” – said many years ago President Lech Kaczyński, although the celebration itself was established in 2011, so after his tragic death in Smolensk. The fight for the memory of these best sons of the Republic of Poland lasted long after Poland regained its independence and was led by both historians and veterans. Among other things, on November 19, 2008, during a meeting at the Historical Institute of the University of Wrocław, with the participation of the vice-president of Opole Arkadiusz Karbowiak and the plenipotentiary of the Opole voivode for veterans and repressed people Bogdan Bocheński, it was decided to organize the Day of the Anti-Communist Soldier on March 1, 2009 in Opole. In a letter to the president of Opole, Ryszard Zembaczyński, the president of the Institute of National Remembrance, Janusz Kurtyka, wrote that “the ceremony of paying tribute to the members of armed independence organizations fighting after World War II with the authorities of the communist state should become a permanent part of the calendar of state celebrations”. However, several years had to pass for the Steadfst Soldiers to get their celebrarion in a nationwide dimension.

Contemporary Poland remembers the blood shed by its Heroes. Honor to their memory!

Anna Wiejak

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