2 March 2016
The Memorial Day is commemorated on 1 March, the anniversary of carrying out the death sentences on the last commanders of the "Wolność i Niezawisłość" (Freedom and Sovereignty) Association. The National Patronage over the commemorations was assumed by the President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda.
The legislative initiative to establish a new national day was undertaken by President Lech Kaczyński in 2010. Honouring the memory of the “doomed soldiers” is a “manifestation of tribute (…) to the testimony of valour, indomitable patriotism and allegiance to patriotic traditions, to the blood shed for the Fatherland,” read the grounds of his decision.
“Doomed” or “indomitable” soldiers is a name that refers to units, which in 1944–56 made up the anti-communist underground. “Doomed soldiers” refused to accept the political system established in Poland as a result of World War Two. When Poland was drawn into the Soviet sphere of influence, and the communist-dominated Provisional Government of National Unity seized power in the country, a significant part of the units that had fought against Nazi Germany during the war decided to remain underground and to stand up to Soviet troops and special forces and the Polish units subordinated to them.
During the Stalinist period, communist authorities started a wide-scale campaign of repression against the “indomitable soldiers,” as a result of which many of them were sentenced to death or long-term prison. Military units, the militia, and the communist security service ruthlessly stifled any show of support for anti-communist civilian population. During the Polish People’s Republic a false image of soldiers from underground organisations was officially propagated and the patriotic behaviour of part of the units was ignored.
The process of restoring the memory of people who fought against communist authorities and of their due place in history could only be initiated after Poland regained independence in 1989. Persons sentenced to prison during the Stalinist period and victims of the so-called court murders began to be rehabilitated. An initiative was also taken to find the places where victims of Stalinist-era crimes were secretly buried and to ensure their worthy commemoration at cemeteries; this initiative has also led to a number of research projects concerning the 1944-1956 period.
“The Polish State has an obligation to honour its true heroes” emphasized President Andrzej Duda in a letter read out last year during funeral ceremonies for the victims of communist terror.
On the eve of this year’s commemorations of the Doomed Soldiers National Remembrance Day, Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro and Chairman of the Law and Justice Party Jarosław Kaczyński signed an act to establish a museum commemorating the “doomed soldiers” and political prisoners of the Polish People’s Republic that will be housed in Warsaw’s Mokotów Detention Centre.
MFA Press Office
Written by Piotr Długołęcki, MFA HistorianSee more