Celebration of liberation of Breda by General Maczek’s Polish 1st Armoured Division
Next weekend (28th and 29th of October) fully marks the liberation of Breda. It was 73 years ago, on October 29, 1944, when General Maczek’s Polish 1st Armoured Division liberated Breda. Fortunately, the city and its inhabitants did not suffer many losses. Unfortunately, during the liberation many young Polish soldiers died. Their memory will be honoured during two days: Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th of October.
Polish liberators of the Netherlands and their great tragedy
The great tragedy of these Polish liberators was that they could not return to their native country in 1945 which was occupied by the communists. The Communist regime in Poland certainly did not appreciate Polish soldiers who accepted the Polish government in Great Britian in exile as legitimate authority. Thus the young men who had brought such great sacrifices, for their own country of birth, but also for the freedom of France, Belgium and the Netherlands, could never even experience freedom in their own country.
See here ( in Dutch) the footage about liberation of Breda and the visit of General Maczek after liberation, on October 30th in the Municipality where he met with the Mayor of Breda: Mr B. Van Slobbe
Many Polish soldiers stayed after World War II in Breda.
See the footage about Polish integration in Breda here ( in Dutch): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1fUV_3xdMA
After the war General Maczek was stripped of Polish citizenship by the Communist government. He could not get back to Communist Poland. He left the army on 9 September 1948 and was not granted a general’s pension by the British government. As a result, Maczek worked as a bartender at an Edinburgh hotel until the 1960s.
General Stanisław Maczek cultivated strong relations with the Netherlands. He was awarded honorary citizenship of the city of Breda. Recently acquired archive documents show that the Polish general secretly received a yearly allowance from the Dutch government, for the rest of his life. The Polish general was doing unskilled labour to make ends meet. He also had to take care of a chronically ill daughter who needed costly treatment. Lieutenant General Stanisław Maczek died on 11 December 1994, at the age of 102. According to his last wish, he was laid to rest among his soldiers at the Polish military cemetery in Breda.
Delegation from Poland
Polish Minister of Culture and National Heritage Jaroslaw Sellin has promised that Poland will assist in the establishment of the Polish General Maczek Memorial in Breda.
The minister therefore arrives on October 28, the memorial weekend of the Liberation of Breda, to Breda, to sign a letter of intent. He will also visit Oosterhout Honorary Cemetery at Veerseweg 54 where 30 Polish heroes died liberating Oosterhout,
Poland will support for example setting up of the exhibitions prepared by Polish artists in General Maczek Memorial.
Polish Minister Jan Józef Kasprzyk will also attend the celebrations. He is an acting Head of the Office for War Veterans and Victims of Oppression and General Jarosław Mika Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces will be present.
The memorial should be a memorial to the legacy of Polish fighters at the Ettensebaan. Cost: 1.5 million euros. The municipality of Breda has made available 50,000 euros for the design and 200.000 euro for the memorial, which must be ready in 2019 when the 75th anniversary of liberation of Breda by General Maczek’s Polish 1st Armoured Division will be celebrated.
The building is to be made of glass, concrete and dark metals. The glass wall of the Memorial Hall will feature a monument with the text “For Your and Our Freedom” at the Polish Honorary Cemetery at Ettensebaan. In the central place will be the uniform of General Maczek.
The Memorial Project was commissioned by the architects’ office of Oomen BV in Breda and designed by Maarten Meevis from the KinKorn BV office in Tilburg.
Memorial is to be a place combining the past with the future and reminding visitors of common past. Here the visitors will be able to get information about the Polish brigade in the library rich in pictures and books, follow the battlefield of General Maczek’s Polish 1st Armoured Divisionfrom 1939 until Wilhelmshaven in 1945 or to contemplate in the “chambre d’affaires”.
The foundation General Maczek Memorial is now launching actions to find sponsors of the memorial.
Film and reportage
Polish public TV will prepare the reportage about the events in Breda and Oosterhout.
The Polish Embassy in The Hague made the film “Meet in Breda and Oosterhout to raise awareness about the contribution of Polish soldiers in the liberation of the Netherlands and invite all interested guests to the celebrations. The film is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OsfaJujzuM
Welcome to Breda and Oosterhout!
Schedule of the events
Saturday 28 October
10.30 Celebration of the liberation day at the Honorary Cemetery at Veerseweg 54
14.00 Departure from the Royal Military Academy through the city center, the bell of the church: Grote Kerk rings for the Polish soldiers
14.05 concert of the Military Orchestra from Żagania in front of the Town Hall
15.00 Ceremony of laying the wreaths at the honor plaque dedicated to the soldiers of the 1st Polish Armored Division
15.45 A march of the honorary company with the orchestra, the scout group and the flagship post to the Wilhelminapark, next to the panther tank
16.00 Concert “To the memory of liberators Breda”
Aldona Bartnik with her Poland2Holland companion
Children’s Historical Reconstruction Group GRH “Soldiers September 1939
Cracovia choir of Eindhoven,
– military vehicles from the Second World War
– presentation of the school program for youth “Breda calendar card 29 October 1944” in the Visserskot building next to the tank
17.45 dinner for invited guests in cafe “Parkzicht” in front of “Panther”
20.15 Andrzej Grabowski and his cabaret program “The life of a funny man”
in Sacramentskerk, Zandberglaan 58
Sunday 29 October
09.15 Mass in Sint Laurentiuskerk at Ginnekenweg 333
10.45 Celebration at the Polish Honorary Cemetery Vogelenzanglaan, Ginneken
12.30 Celebration at the Polish Cemetery, Ettensebaan
Sources: Haart voor Polen foundation, Wikipedia, youtube, archives Communications-Unlimited.nl
Photo: Embassy of the Republic of Poland in the Kingdom of the Netherlands