Our Truly Gallant Allies
To be sure, I'm proud to be an American. But I'm also proud to be an American of Polish descent. I'm filled with pride to live in country that can produce men like Ronald Reagan, but I'm also filled with pride when our President mentions all the nations who together invaded the Normandy beaches 60 years ago today and one of them is Poland.
On D-Day according to Stephen Ambrose's D-Day, "the lead destroyer for the lead flotilla on minesweepers came from the first nation Hitler had overrun; it was Polish, named Slazak, commanded by Capt. Romuald Nalecz-Tyminski". Over half a million Poles contribute to the liberation of Western Europe.
Think for a moment about the gallantry of the Poles. Their country was overrun in 1939 by both Germans & Russians. The Russians murdered over 4,500 Polish officers in the Katyn Forest. The Polish soldiers that could fled east and eventually fought in North Africa, Italy, Russia, France and the Netherlands. Additionally, Polish pilots fought as part of the RAF in the Battle of Britain and more.
But after all of these sacrifices, what did they gain? Their country was controlled by the Russians, and heroes like Stanislaw Skalski faced a grim fate when (and in many cases, if) they returned home.
Stanislaw Skalski was the most successful Polish ace of WW II, with a record of 22 confirmed victories, 1 probable, and 1 damaged enemy aircraft. Three times he was awarded the British DFC, and he received many other medals. Following his return to Poland after the war, he was imprisoned by the Communist regime in 1949, on a charge of espionage for the West. He spent 6 long years in a jail, waiting for execution. That was his "reward" from the communists, a fate he shared with many other Polish soldiers returning from the West for their heroic and sacrificing duty. In 1956, Skalski was finally released from prison.
Even in the waning days of WWII, the Poles continued to get screwed. As the Russians approached Warsaw, Poles rose up against the Germans.
During the sixty-three days of fighting the Red Army, encamped within sight across the Vistula, never attempted assistance. The Soviets refused permission to the Americans and British to use their airfields to drop ammunition and relief supplies. In September, when a German victory seemed certain, the Russians allowed a small amount of ammunition to be dropped in, but it was useless: it was made for Soviet armaments and did not fit the Poles' weapons.
When hostilities ceased, eighty-five percent of the city was razed, and the Polish Home Army annihilated . The Germans deported the remaining population. When the Germans were eventually defeated there were no forces left to oppose Soviet political domination in Poland.
But future generations of Poles were just as gallant. In the 80s they started the Solidarity movement and endured martial law under the Soviet's thumb. With the raising of the Iron Curtain, Poland has become both a member of the EU and NATO. But, more importantly, she's continued her committment to freedom all over the world. Polish troops number around 2,500 in Iraq and command a force in South-Central Iraq.
Today we heard a lot of talk about the importance of allies and the alleged eternal alliance between America & France. The French are fond of reminding Americans that they fought on our side in the Revolutionary War. But so did the Poles as members of the Pulaski Legion. Perhaps we need to spend less time wringing our hands over outdated alliances and more time honoring and cultivating true alliances like the ones we've forged with Poland and other Eastern European nations.
Posted by at June 6, 2004 07:14 PM
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|# March 7th, 2005 6:48 PM Converted_Comment|
Very good article! I too am of Polish decent and grew up in Milwaukee...my granny lived in the heart of little Poland, 16th and Lincoln till the day she died. I remeber swimming at Kozzie pool and watching the baseball games in Pulski park. After getting married and moving to Waukesha I passed my granny's house years after she passed...gone were her flowers and her clean and neat Polish flat, it was not so clean and neat any more....I moved to Florida 2 years ago and I agree with you....I will always take great pride of being a Wisconsinite (and a Packer fan.) Coming up for a vist in Aug....LOL don't want to catch the Terrorist at Summerfest...LOL