Last weekend (28th and 29th of October) fully marked 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 was 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 President 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):
After the war General Maczek was stripped of Polish citizenship and the hemeral title 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, the Netherlands and guests
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 arrived on October 28, the memorial weekend of the Liberation of Breda, to Breda, to sign a letter of intent. He also visited 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.
The commemoration at the Polish Honorary Cemetry at Ettensebaan in Breda was attended by Polish Minister Jan Józef Kasprzyk who is an acting Head of the Office for War Veterans and Victims of Oppression, representative of the Ministry of Culture and the National Heritage Jerzy Plajtas, General Jarosław Mika Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. His Excellency Ambassador of the Republic of Poland in the Hague Marcin Czepelak, Consul General Renata Kowalska and counsellors of the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in the Hague were present. The celebration was also attended by the mayor of Wroclaw Rafal Dutkiewicz and mayor of Breda Paul Depla.
Paul Depla in his speech said: ‘’ We are commemorating today many Polish soldiers, who for our freedom paid a very high price. More than 160 Polish soldiers are buried here. The grave of General Maczek is situated in the middle of the cemetery and a grave of an unknown soldier whose name is known now: Edward Cieslar. Other 80 Polish soldiers are buried at a Vogelenzang cemetery.
These brave Polish soldiers, under command of General Maczek, lost their lives for our freedom. We will never forget it’’.
His Excellency Ambassador of the Republic of Poland Marcin Czepelak said:’’ Breda unifies Polish and Dutch people.
It is a place where the pre-destination has brought both the difficult and joyous experiences of our two nations together. Breda makes it possible that we Polish people can understand the Kingdom of the Netherlands better. And even it is easier for me to speak Dutch here, although that may not be noticeable. I hope, however, that it is easier for you our dear Dutch friends in Breda to understand Polish people. We thank you for thinking about us. We thank you for thinking about our soldiers. We thank you for being here together today!´´ (translation from the Dutch version).
The commemoration at the Polish Honorary Cemetry at Ettensebaan was attended by various Polish organizations from the Netherlands and abroad, scouting groups and individual Polish and Dutch guests who wanted to pay honour to Polish liberators of the Netherlands
During the celebration of liberation of Breda five Dutch and Polish citizens were awarded the Polish Army medal. Father Slawomir Klim from Polish Maksymilian Kolbe parish was decorated with a golden Polish Army Medal, Ms Bozena Rijnbout-Sawicka from Serce Polski foundation, Mr Bolek Krzeszewski, Mr Wadek Salewicz and Mr Stas Szamrowicz were awarded a silver Polish Army medal for their outstanding contribution to promoting the history and traditions of the Polish Army outside of Poland. Polish Army Medal is awarded by the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Poland.
Mayor of Wroclaw and letter of intent
The mayor of Wroclaw Rafal Dutkiewicz signed on October 30th together with the mayor of Breda Paul Depla a letter of intent. The achievements of the General Maczek’s Polish 1st Armoured Division would be promoted for example by introducing murals in Breda, creating certain guide through the city in relation to the Memorial. Cooperation in the field of promotion of Polish history, culture as well as cooperation in the fields of technology and business will be stimulated. Wroclaw has been a partner city of Breda since 1991.
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 Division from 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:
Photos and text:
Communications-Unlimited.nl© Copyright www.communications-unlimited.nl, 2017. All rights reserved.
Photos: Signing the letter of intent: Bozena Rijnbout-Sawicka, 2017. All rights reserved.
We would like to tahnk you Serce Polski Foundation to their support in creating this article.
Father Slawomir Klim from Polish Maksymilian Kolbe parish
Father Slawomir Klim from Polish Maksymilian Kolbe parish, Ms Bozena Rijnbout-Sawicka from Serce Polski foundation, Mr Bolek Krzeszewski, Mr Wadek Salewicz and Mr Stas Szamrowicz decorated with the Polish Army Medal.
Ms Bozena Rijnbout-Sawicka
His Excellency Ambassador of the Republic of Poland, Mr Marcin Czepelak and Mr Aloys Bruggeman
Father Slawomir Klim from Polish Maksymilian Kolbe parish
Polish Minister Jan Józef Kasprzyk
General Jarosław Mika Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces
30 October: signing an intention letter
President of Wroclaw: Rafal Dutkiewicz and President of Breda Paul Depla
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