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Grzegorz Wasowski - Fundacja "Pamietamy" about the Doomed Soldiers Memorial Day In Poland.  

Why were the “Doomed Soldiers” doomed, and by whom?

By Grzegorz Wąsowski, Fundacja "Pamiętamy"

I call upon you, stranger
When you unearth the white bones
When the sounds of the battlefields are silenced
You will hold my skeleton in your hands
The banner of my Homeland

By Krzysztof Kamil Baczyński (April 18, 1943) in “Wiatr” [Eng. “The Wind”]

As the National “Doomed Soldiers” Memorial Day, to be observed in Poland on March 1st approaches, we ought to explain to our readers where the term “Doomed Soldiers” [Pol. “Żołnierze Wyklęci”] originated from. The date of this Polish national holiday coincides with March 1, 1951, that is the day on which officers of the last, IV Executive Office of the Association of Freedom and Independence [Pol. Wolność i Niezawisłość, abr. WiN], were murdered by the Communists; among them, their commanding officer, Lt. Colonel Łukasz Ciepliński, nom de guerre “Pług”.

Let us spend a few moments, however, pondering a little bit about the origins of the term “Doomed Soldiers”. The term “Doomed Soldiers” was first used in 1993 to describe the soldiers of the armed democratic resistance who fought the Communist regime from the mid - 1940’s into the 1950’s.

The term “Doomed Soldiers”, also called the “Cursed Soldiers”, originated in the circles of the Republican League [Pol. Liga Republikańska], an organization active in Poland during 1990’s. I was an active member in this group, tasked with, among other things, returning the legacy of the soldiers of the anti-communist resistance to their rightful historical place; hence, I am intimately familiar with this subject matter. As a part of many initiatives undertaken by the Fundacja "Pamiętamy" [Eng. The Foundation “We remember”], I was destined and privileged to collaborate with these circles and continue to do so till this very day. Having been intimately familiar with the very origins of the term “Doomed Soldiers”, I’ll attempt to assist you in decoding its original meaning. I used the words “original meaning”, because a phenomenon that lead us to coin this term, seems to trickle into the past, and the date March 1, 2011, symbolizes in some fashion, its meaning, to exist in the past tense.

The term “Doomed Soldiers” was coined when we searched for a suitable title for an exhibit dedicated to the anti-communist resistance members that was to open in the fall of 1993. The exhibit opened to the public at the Auditorium Maximum of the Warsaw University in November of that year. In the end, it was entitled “The Doomed Soldiers: The Anti-Communist Armed Underground After 1944.” It was the first exhibit of this type in Poland to be dedicated to the heroes of the anti-communist resistance, after the fall of the Communist government. With support received from the late Dr. Andrzej Stelmachowski, in 1994, the same exhibit, under the same name, was also unveiled at the “Dom Polonii” [Eng. “Polonia House”] in Warsaw, on Krakowskie Przedmieście St.. It was enthusiastically received by many in Warsaw, and was also noticed by the media. As such, (on the day it opened, which was Victory Day, on May 9th) it received nationwide coverage, including a spot in the main edition of the news program “Wiadomości”.

Throughout the years that followed, “The Doomed Soldiers” exhibit visited dozens upon dozens of places in Poland. The late Jerzy Ślaski, who in 1995 published a fantastic book under the same title, also popularized the term “Doomed Soldiers”. In 1999, also under the auspices of the “Liga Repubikańska”, the “Oficyna Wydawnicza ‘Volumen’ ” printed the first large publication dedicated to this subject matter. I had the pleasure of being one of its editors. Realizing the necessity of emphasizing its contemporary meaning, and tying up the subject matter of the exhibit with the release of the publication itself, we - you guessed it - stuck to the original 1993 term, the “Doomed Soldiers”.

  Antoni Macierewicz: The passengers on Polish plane that crashed in Russia knew they are going to die ...
Photos of “The Doomed Soldiers: The Anti-Communist Armed Underground After 1944” public exhibit prepared by the “Liga Republikańska”, and the “Oficyna Wydawnicza ‘Volumen’ ” in 1993, in Warsaw. This exhibit is presently on loan to the BBN [Pol. abbr. Biuro Bezpieczeństwa Narodowego – The National Security Bureau].
Antoni Macierewicz: The passengers on Polish plane that crashed in Russia knew they are going to die ...
Antoni Macierewicz: The passengers on Polish plane that crashed in Russia knew they are going to die ...  

Left: Front and back covers of the 1st edition of “The Doomed Soldiers: The Anti-Communist Armed Underground After 1944”. The second edition was expanded by nearly 200 additional pages. Both the 1st and 2nd editions are almost impossible to find these days, and when they do sporadically show up for sale, are very expensive.

Hence, this very term we thought, dedicated to the soldiers of the anti-communist underground was particularly well-suited to show the process by which the heroism and memory of these men and women were both excluded and doomed to disappear from our history, and our national psyche.

But, it wasn’t only a singular phenomenon that was intrinsically linked to the period of the [Communist] PRL [Pol. abbr. Polish People’s Republic] alone. After all, to us it was a given, that the Communist party, and its far-reaching institutionalized propaganda machine, was never able to achieve that. To borrow from legal terminology, it simply had no evidence whatsoever to make a convincing case before the court of public opinion. After all, the sense of belonging to a nation does not originate through the association with any political party, but rather, through the respect for all members of society, through an acknowledgment and respect of their commonly shared experience, respect for the achievements of the past generations, their fate, and traditions. Hence, it is exactly this compendium of commonly-shared experiences that ought to be the foundation, a starting point, for the future growth of any society. The Communist party that reigned over us, however, negated all of this en masse. It was an institutionalized and ferocious enemy of all that human society represented […]

Adam Michnik, editor-in-chief of Poland's largest newspaper "Gazeta Wyborcza", together with former head of the dreaded Polish Secret Police, the SB, Czesław Kiszczak ...  

Left: Adam Michnik, editor-in-chief of Poland's largest newspaper "Gazeta Wyborcza", together with former head of the dreaded Polish Secret Police, the SB, Czesław Kiszczak ...

The term “Doomed Soldiers” is also an indictment against the media elites of the III Republic of Poland; an indictment for their conscientious omission, and elimination of this dramatic and heroic chapter of our history - an indictment for amputating history, written in blood and suffering by those who fought and died for [Poland’s] freedom.

[…] We must also mention several public figures who were instrumental in memorializing the “Doomed Soldiers, among them, the late President, Mr. Lech Aleksander Kaczyński, the late Andrzej Przewoźnik, and the late Dr. Janusz Kurtyka [all of whom died in the Crash of Polish government Tupolev, TU-154M, on April 10, 2010, in Smoleńsk, Russia].

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, it is only during the presidency of Lech Kaczyński, that the ”Doomed Soldiers” were at last honored by Poland’s highest office. Because of Lech Kaczynski’s policy of bestowing the nation’s highest decorations [for valor] onto the hands of their family members, at last a formal gesture was made to the families of Poland’s murdered heroes as well. It was a gesture of recognition for their suffering, living with the mark of being “bandit families.”

A legal recognition and enactment of the National Doomed Soldiers’ Memorial Day by the late President of Poland, Lech Kaczyński, at least symbolically, closes the period of exclusion of the soldiers of the anti-communist underground by the Polish media-elites: an exclusion of the heroic defenders of freedom, who were destined to live and die during the period of the omnipotent and brutal Communist system.

By Grzegorz Wąsowski, Chairman
Fundacja "Pamiętamy"

About Fundacja "Pamiętamy": The primary goal of the Foundation "Pamietamy" is the restoration of the proper social and historical place for the individuals who, during the second half of the 1940's, and the beginning of the 1950's, undertook armed resistance against the Communist regime in Poland. The goal of the foundation is to commemorate those, who in the name of freedom, and in the name of human dignity, laid on the altar of freedom, their own personal and professional aspirations, their personal freedoms, and above all, their lives.



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