By Beata Bruggeman-Sekowska
On October 29, 1944, 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.
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):
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.
The memorial in Breda is a memorial to the legacy of Polish fighters at the Ettensebaan.
It is a place combining the past with the future and reminding visitors of common past. Here the visitors are able to get information about the Polish brigade, follow the battlefield of General Maczek’s Polish 1st Armoured Division from 1939 until Wilhelmshaven in 1945 and to pay honours to Polish heroes buried near the memorial.
Author: Beata Bruggeman-Sękowska is an award-winning international journalist, TV correspondent, author, chief editor of international journalism centre, Central and Eastern Europe Centre, president of the European Institute on Communist Oppression and a sworn translator. She was born in Warsaw, Poland and has also Armenian blood and roots in Lvov, which is part of Ukraine. She has been living in Heerlen, the Netherlands since 2005.
Reportage: Commemoration of Liberation of Breda by Polish General Stanislaw Maczek and his 1st Armoured Division