On Monday 1st March, Poland marks the National Day of Remembrance of the ‘Cursed Soldiers’, (Narodowym Dniu Pamięci Żołnierzy Wyklętych).
The National Day of Remembrance of the Cursed Soldiers is a relatively recent holiday established by the Sejm of the Republic of Poland in 2011 to commemorate the soldiers of the anti-communist resistance movements.
The Krakow celebrations include:
- 11.00 – Holy Mass at the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, (Najświętszego Serca Pana Jezusa)
ul. Garncarska 24-26
- After the service, the celebration continues at the Great Poles Gallery (Galerii Wielkich Polaków) in Park Jordana.
- Flags will be flown from official buildings and at key locations in the city.
- Tauron Arena, the Krzemionki TV tower, and the Lipska – Wielicka flyover, will be illuminated in the red & white national colours.
Who were the ‘Cursed Soldiers’?
The ‘Cursed soldiers’ were members of various Polish resistance and covert underground groups, many of whom had fought against the Nazi German occupiers, Towards the end of the war, they went on to form Anti-Communist resistance groups, which fought against the Soviet occupation, targeting security units such as the NKVD etc.
Their covert armed resistance continued into the 1950’s and beyond. In 1963, almost 20 years after the Soviet occupation of Poland, the last known ‘Cursed Soldier’ Józef Franczak, was betrayed and killed in an ambush. Franczak is considered a hero of the anti-communist resistance.
The cursed soldiers were hunted by the feared Soviet security agencies, and if caught were generally sentenced to death, executed and buried in unmarked graves, despite many having previously been heroes of the resistance against the Nazi occupation.
You can read more about the fascinating and complex network of resistance groups and actions of the ‘Cursed Soldiers’ at the link below.
The “cursed soldiers“ (also known as “doomed soldiers“,“accursed soldiers” or “damned soldiers“; Polish: Żołnierze wyklęci) or “indomitable soldiers“ (Polish: Żołnierze niezłomni) is a term applied to a variety of anti-Soviet and anti-communist Polish resistance movements formed in the later stages of World War II and its aftermath by members of the Polish Underground State. The clandestine organisations continued their armed struggle against the communist regime of Poland well into the 1950s. – Extract from (military.wiki.org)
Search, Exhumation & Identification of “Cursed Soldiers’
The Institute of National Remembrance, (IPN) continue to search for the hidden, unmarked graves of ‘Cursed Soldiers’ executed by the Soviet Authorities. As recently as 2020, the IPN were still actively searching burial sites, and successfully recovered and identified the remains of 14 ‘Cursed Soldiers’.
David fell in love with Kraków 24 years ago, making it his home in 2011.
In 2020 he was awarded the title of Kraków’s Ambassador of Multiculturalism, by the President of Kraków, and is also a member of the GlobalScot network, representing Scottish culture and business abroad.
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