Polish PM marks anniversary of Monte Cassino with Polish WWII veterans
May 19, 2014
Poland's PM Donald Tusk
The Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk appealed to the whole of Europe not to allow any more violence, speaking on Sunday during a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the capture of Monte Cassino, a key World War II battle in which tens of thousands died.
“Let this holy cemetery be a warning for the whole of Europe not to allow violence” Polish PM said during a speech at the Polish War Cemetery near the Abbey of Monte Cassino in Italy where those who paid the ultimate sacrifice are buried.
“Because the memory of what happened here 70 years ago and our common pledge that we will not let violence rule the world are the true guarantee of Poland’s independence, Europe’s strength and safety of its citizens”, Tusk said.
The Battle of Monte Cassino was one of the most important campaigns of the Second World War. It actually consisted of four major assaults by Allied forces in 1944 to remove Nazi forces from a strategically-important rocky outcrop, home to the 1,400 year-old Benedictine monastery of Monte Cassino, some 140 kilometers south-east of Rome.
The battle eventually led to the liberation of the Italian capital and these were troops from the Polish II Corps commanded by General Wladyslaw Anders that finally took the monastery ruins.
The campaign had claimed the lives of 923 Poles, 2,931 were injured and 345 reported missing.
„In Polish language the name of Monte Cassino is associated with the word „heroes”, Polish PM said on Sunday. “A nation can be proud and is proud when it has such heroes”, he added
The Battle of Monte Cassino is an important part of Polish history, seen as a crucial element of the country’s struggle for self determination.
“It was a fight for our freedom and all the successive generations throughout the world,” PM Tusk said.
Thanks to the lesson of Monte Cassino the next generations living in Poland under communist oppression were not idle, we were not helpless, Polish PM said.
He added that Poland “, we were able to prove to the whole world there is no hill that cannot be climbed”.
Apart from more than 50 Polish veterans of the battle, the ceremony was attended by Anna Maria Anders, daughter of Wladyslaw Anders, Karolina Kaczorowska, widow of the last President of Poland in exile Ryszard Kaczorowski and hundreds of scouts in their uniforms who, during a moving service, placed a single large poppy on an individual grave.