Central and Eastern Europe, International Journalism and PR

Hans van Baalen honours again Polish liberators of the Netherlands. Thank you!


Hans van Baalen, former Member of Dutch Parliament, leader of the VVD party (The People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy) in the European Parliament and President of the European ALDE party, personally reacted to our action initiated by a 10 year old Alexia who discovered ridicoulus mistakes in her school book: De Wijzer door de Wereld. ( Guide through the World)


Hans van Baalen’s reaction


“The Poles have played an important role in the liberation of the Netherlands. We should be grateful and remain grateful to them. History teaching at school does not help to keep this memory alive. The Polish heroism is often not mentioned at all. That must change. I hope that the Military Order of William for the Polish troops, who took part in Operation Market Garden, and the posthumous Bronze Lion for their commander Major General Stanislaw Sosabowski will also lead to a lasting recognition, including the history books at school. I will continue to get committed to this”


Hans van Baalen and Frans Timmermans for the recognition of Polish liberators


Gen Sosabowski received posthumously the highest Dutch award, the Bronze Lion thanks to three prominent Dutch politicians Hans van Baalen (VVD),  Frans Timmermans (PvdA) and Mat Herben (The Pim Fortuyn List ) who have initiated the process in 2004 in the Dutch parliament.

Hans van Baalen and Frans Timmermans on December 13 2006 were awarded by the Polish President Lech Kaczynski the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland for their involvement in honouring General Sosabowski and his brigade and supporting the EU membership of Poland.



General Sosabowski and his brigade: liberators of the Netherlands


The Bronze Lion (Dutch: Bronzen Leeuw) is a high Royal Dutch award, intended for servicemen who have shown extreme bravery and leadership in battle.

Major General Sosabowski was the founder and commander of the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade who fought bravely in September 1944 in Arnhem and liberated Driel. Unfortunately Sosabowski despite his bravery became a scapegoat and was blamed for the failure of the Battle of Arnhem by among others the British general and Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery. After World War II General Sosabowski could not return to Poland, which was occupied by the Soviet Union. He had no retirement fund, so he was forced to work in the factory till his 75th birthday. Ultimately general Sosabowski was posthumously awarded the Bronze Lion in 2006 and his brigade the Military Order of William. ( Dutch: Militaire Willems-Orde)


What do actually Dutch children learn at school thanks to the book: Wijzer door the Wereld


Alexia – a 10 year old Dutch-Polish girl has discovered ridiculous mistakes in her school book: De Wijzer door de Wereld published by Wolters-Noordhoff. The book has already been on the market for 8 years.

According to the book Poland and other countries behind the Iron Curtain were liberated after World War II by the Soviet Union. Then these countries chose to cooperate with the Soviet Union.

The book also mentions liberators of the Netherlands and does not say a single word about the Polish army, not a single word about General Sosabowski and General Maczek.

It is essential to mention here that Poles have liberated Breda and Driel and also fought in Gelderland, Drenthe, Overijssel, Groningen, including such places as: Arnhem, Borger, Buinen, Hoogeveen and Meppel.

Poland is also according to this popular book situated in Eastern Europe. Official European Union information shares completely different information on this subject: https://europa.eu/european-union/about-eu/countries/member-countries/poland_en


Open letter


Alexia’s mother has written an open letter ‘I am shocked. I am shocked because You teach the kids in the Netherlands lies (https://www.communications-unlimited.nl/i-am-shocked-i-am-shocked-because-you-teach-kids-in-the-netherlands-lies/) and the letter went viral, not only in the Netherlands, where around 150,000 first-generation Polish people live but also internationally.



Live on Polish television


She has also contacted Polish public television, which is also an international channel, and talked live with her daughters about the mistakes in the schoolbook. (Http://halopolonia.tvp.pl/27333802/13102016-nauczanie-w-holandii-beata-bruggemansekowska

and here: https://www.communications-unlimited.nl/no-to-lies-and-mistakes-in-schoolbooks/ )



Embassy of the Republic of Poland


The Polish Embassy was not happy with the content of the schoolbook, either. The Polish Embassy sent an official letter to the publishing house to emphasize that the book creates an inaccurate and offensive image of the post-war situation in Europe.



De Telegraaf and the reaction of the publishing house


De Telegraaf, the largest Dutch newspaper, wrote an article about the ridiculous mistakes in the Dutch schoolbook on 2 December.

De Telegraph also published the reaction of the publishing house which states that the development of teaching materials for this age group requires ” simplification ” and ” making choices in formulations’ ‘. ‘’This is why we have limited ourselves here to mentioning the most famous liberators. We also realize that the terms liberation and cooperation in the East European historical context are not chosen luckily. It has not been of course in any way our intention to hurt anybody with the above formulations ”





It is noteworthy that the publisher continues to use the terminology Eastern Europe in relation to Poland and has not offered any excuse!

Link to the Telegraph: https://www.communications-unlimited.nl/the-biggest-dutch-newspaper-about-mistakes-in-dutch-schoolbooks-about-poland-and-other-cee-countries/


Direct link to the article in the Dutch version is available here: https://www.pressreader.com/netherlands/de-telegraaf/20161202/281732679100474


There were many responses to our action. Thank you for your efforts! All comments are available here: http://www.nl.communications-unlimited.nl/veel-reacties-op-het-artikel-fout-lesmateriaal-van-de-telegraaf/



Back to Hans van Baalen’s reaction


It’s a comforting feeling that such a prominent politician like Hans van Baalen continues to honor Polish liberators, and remains committed to the truth. He knows that children are entitled to learn truth. Truth not only about Poland but also about the history of Europe and the history of the Netherlands, which is connected so strongly with Poland. Thank you!




Text: Beata Bruggeman-Sękowska


Photo: http://www.hansvanbaalen.eu/


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