Doomed Soldiers Memorial Day in Poland
Doomed Soldiers Memorial Day is observed in Poland annually on
This observance is related to the cursed soldiers, the members of Polish anti-communist resistance movement formed in the end of World War II. The “Doomed Soldiers”, also known as the Cursed Soldiers ( Żołnierze Wykleci) were individuals and organizations involved in underground operations in Poland against both German Nazi and Soviet Communist occupiers.
The term “cursed soldiers” was coined in 1993, when it was used to describe the soldiers, who fought especially the Communist regime from the mid of the 1940s to the 1950s. Most of these Polish groups ceased to exist in the late 1940s or the early 1950s, when they were hunted down by NKVD (People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs) assassination squad or by MBP (Ministry of Public Security of Poland) security services. The date of 1st March was chosen as a symbolic reminder – on this day in 1951 an execution of seven members of a Polish resistance organization “Freedom and Independence”, who were the last coordinators of the fight against soviet occupation, was carried out.
Not only did individual people try to fight the repression in their everyday life, but there were also organizations devoted to overcoming the Stalinist government and rebuilding free Poland, both politically, and by force. Among them, there was Freedom and Independence (Wolność i Niezawisłość), National Armed Forces (Narodowe Siły Zbrojne), National Military Union (Narodowe Zjednoczenie Wojskowe), and the Underground Polish Army (Konspiracyjne Wojsko Polskie). Being a threat to the system, they were hunted by the officials of NKWD.
During the first years after the World War II Polish nation was shattered and confused, struggling to shed its image as the post-war battlefield, and the Soviet Union saw that as an opportunity to take control of the country. The political situation made it difficult for exhausted Poles to oppose, and though they tried, Poland became another of Eastern Europe’s communist countries. It remained so until the late eighties – the situation only changed with the formation of an independent trade union “Solidarity” in 1989 which organized a widespread wave of strikes.
For two generations, between 1939 and 1989, Poland was subject to the totalitarian domination of first, the Nazi Germany and then the Soviet Union or divided between both (see Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Soviet Invasion of Poland in 1939, Katyn Massacre). Rebellions and efforts to gain independence met with suppression by the Wehrmacht and SS, and then the Soviet army, NKVD.
Doomed Soldiers: Between Two Enemies …
The Russians Report Capturing 30,000 Polish Soldiers.
Moscow, 27th September. Moscow’s radio broadcasted military announcement of the General Staff of the Red Army about its [military] activities in Poland: Units of the Red Army are still continuing to move towards the line of demarcation, and deployed its forces in Osowiec, Chełm, Zamość, Rawa Ruska, Sambor, and Turek. During the liquidation of the remnants of the Polish army in the occupied territory, 30 000 [Polish] soldiers were taken prisoner, among them, 25,000 in the area of Brześć [eng. Brest-Litovsk] near the Bug River.
Berlin, 27th September: General Staff of the German Army announced of their army approaching the demarcation line established with the Soviet government. Units of the 41st Polish Division and 1-st Cavalry Brigade were taken into captivity .
In celebration of clearing [the Polish forces] in and around the demarcation line, a military parade of German and Red Army units was received by the commanding General of the German forces [General Heinz Guderian] and representing the Red Army units, Brigadier-General [Semyon] Krivoshein. The parade took place in front of the former district capital building. Photo above: [Russian & German commanding officers] receive the parade. Photo below: Armored vehicle of the Red Army, in front; left, German motorized infantry..
German–Soviet military parade in Brest-Litovsk on September 22, 1939
The date of the memorial day coincides with March 1, 1951, the day, when the last IV Executive Office of the Association of Freedom and Independence was murdered by the Communist. Among them was Łukasz Ciepliński, one of the most important figures in the resistant movement.
Doomed Soldiers Memorial Day was initiated by President Lech Kaczyński. After his death the holiday gained the status of a national holiday.
The Doomed Soldiers in Polish: (Żołnierze wyklęci) is a name applied to a variety of anti-communist Polish resistance movements formed in the later stages of World War II and afterwards. Created by some members of the Polish Secret State, these clandestine organizations continued their armed struggle against the Stalinist government of Poland well into the 1950s. The guerrilla warfare included an array of military attacks launched against the new communist prisons as well as MBP state security offices, detention facilities for political prisoners, and concentration camps set up across the country. The heroic soldiers of the Home Army and NSZ were hunted down by MBP security services and NKVD assassination squads.
Tribute to The „Cursed Soldiers”
“Because they live by the law of forest wolves the history is silenced about them”.
“Do not leave the graves of soldiers with broken souls. Do not leave them with a sense of defeat and hopelessness, but with an irrefutable belief that in spirit grow new values; the values are not mine, not yours, but for all of us – the value of belonging to the whole nation. It is necessary to keep the memory of them everlasting and living.” Marshal Edward Rydz-Śmigły
“Cursed Soldiers” – that’s how they were called by the official communist propaganda between 1944-1963, refused to lay down their arms after 8th of May 1945. Approximately 100,000 patriots and nationalists, who considered Soviet Union as enemy, not “liberator” of Poland, fought for almost 20 years during the Soviet occupation. They were called “forest bands” or “fascist gangs” by the communist state propaganda. On March 1st Polish nationalists and patriots are honoring “Doomed Soldiers”. Despite of various campaigns of left-liberal environment whose aim is to demonize the Heroes of Polish anti-communist and nationalist underground, they are still alive in hearts of many, giving hope that their dream of Great and Independent Poland will come true.
On this occasion the National Rebirth of Poland (NOP) organizes many marches and other demonstrations commemorating their brave heroes.
Thousands of people attend the events. Thousands nationalists and Polish patriots march through the capital and other big cities to pay tribute to those who fought Soviet-communist occupation forces that invaded and after World War II occupied Poland for many years .
Some names forgotten, and some never known
Crosses that grow from the wet grass below me
I have lost count, as my eyes seek horizons
Reflecting on lives of the soldiers, unknown
They left us one by one,
They left us carrying their gun.
They stay with us in our memories,
Although buried in unknown cemeteries.
They killed too, but the enemy was bad,
Grazing in silent memories, happy and sad.
Memorials will forever stand,
Dedicated areas, much of sacred land.
So although they’ve gone forever,
We shall never say never.
For they gave everything they had,
Just to protect us from the bad.
Glory to Polish Doomed Soldiers
You will never be forgotten !