Central and Eastern Europe, International Journalism and PR

Polish liberators of Axel and Hulst

During the Second World War, Axel and Hulst in the Dutch province of Zeeland were liberated in September, 1944  by 1st Polish Armoured Division led by Colonel Zdzisław Matthieu Szydlowski after four days of fierce battle. A number of street names in Axel (Poland Street, General Maczek Street, General Sikorskistreet) and the main square, Szydlowski Square, still remind of Polish liberators. Between Axel and Hulst there is the Gdynia Bridge. This is the place where the Poles under cover of dense fog crossed over the canal from Axel to Hulst using a pontoon bridge. This bridge was created when  Axel was still in the hands of the Germans after four days of fighting. The Poles were initially planning to bomb Axel on the fifth day, but when it turned to be (19th September 1944) a foggy day, they decided to build the bridge and attack from the East. Earlier attacks from the southern part were not successful since Germans had placed a lot of artillery on the southern access road to Axel and submerged pieces of land.

Polish liberators are every year commemorated in Axel.

Photo: Monument of the Polish liberators in Axel, Axel.nl