Many laud the Americans, the British, and the Canadians for the Dutch liberation during the Second World War. What a lot of people still don’t know is that Poland contributed significantly to Dutch freedom. In spite of the hardships it experienced at the time.
The First Polish Armoured Division, led by General Stanislaw Maczek, took part in the Allied invasion of Normandy. After victory in France, the division charged through Belgium and the Netherlands, ending with the capture of Wilhelmshaven in Germany on May 5, 1945.
The First Polish Armoured Division was formed in Great Britain, in 1942, by those who fed Poland. These were fiery emigrants, refugee war prisoners, and soldiers who escaped Poland during its fall in 1939.
Liberation of Breda
On 29th October 1944, the people of Breda cheered. After years of suffering under the brutal Nazi regime, they were free. Their liberators — the Poles.
The Polish Division was on its way to wreak havoc in Germany, and Breda was a stop along the way. The army drove the Nazis out of the area, liberating Breda. This is something that locals remember and celebrate to this day.
More than 160 soldiers of the Division, as well as troops from the first Independent Parachute Brigade, lie in a Breda cemetery at the Pools Militair Ereveld.
Before his death in 1994, Stanislaw Maczek requested that he be buried in the cemetery, wishing to be with his soldiers.
Not only Breda
However, Breda was not the only city the Polish soldiers liberated. The division made its way to East Groningen (Germany), liberating other cities along the way.
Polish paratroopers also fought bravely in operation Market Garden under general Sosabowski and, of course, there are many other liberators that deserve their own tribute.
Tragically, the soldiers could not return to Poland as it had been taken over by the Communist party. They supported the Government in Exile which was in direct opposition to Stalin’s puppets.
As Liberation Day festivities continue to this day, we hope you pay tribute to all the heroes that made the liberation of the Netherlands possible.
What will you be doing this year to commemorate the occasion? let us know in the comments.
Feature Image: Keystone Photographer/Wikimedia Commons/Public domain
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in May 2020, and was fully updated in May 2022 for your reading pleasure.