Today is the Polish National Day of the Memory of the Cursed Soldiers, or Damned Soldiers: in Polish, the żołnierze wyklęci. But what does that mean, and what’s it all about.
After the end of World War 2, when Poland was handed over to the Soviet sphere of influence, few Poles were happy with that outcome. Some who had been active in the resistance movement, fighting the Nazis, continued the underground fight to free Poland from the new oppressors, the Soviets. But just having been a member of the anti-Nazi underground movement, in the eyes of the Soviets, made you a traitor. These soldiers were considered “damned” or “cursed” by their own (Soviet puppet) government.
These Cursed Soldiers numbered in the thousands, but some paid the ultimate price for their patriotism. In a staged trial in late 1950, seven of these brave Polish heroes, after having been tortured and beaten and forced to make “confessions,” were sentenced to death in a staged trial, not even allowed to defend themselves.
On March 1, 1951, the were each murdered with a shot to the back of the head on the grounds of Warsaw’s Móktow prison, executed in the same NKVD manner as the 20,000+ Poles where were murdered at Katyń. There bodies have never been located.
In about 1992, after Poland threw off the shackles of Communism, these men had their rightful titles and rights restored, posthumously, and received many awards. And in 2010 the government instituted this day of remembrance.
You can read more about their story here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cursed_soldiers.
You can read more about this National Day of Remembrance here: https://realpoland.eu/polish-national-day-of-memory-of-cursed-soldiers/.
For more information about this year’s remembrance, see this post here.
Hopefully, now, you won’t forget that freedom is rarely free.