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A Free Poland?

by 5thkresowa

Contributed by 
5thkresowa
People in story: 
George (Jerzy) Kempik
Location of story: 
OUTSIDE POLAND
Background to story: 
Army
Article ID: 
A2005976
Contributed on: 
09 November 2003

JERZY KEMPIK - HIS JOURNEY TO FREEDOM. This is a painting I had done of my dad in his Polish uniform. I have no pictures, seemed the next best thing. To his right are images of his life before and after the war, to his left are images of the ruins of the Abbey at Cassino and the monument of the 5th Division at Cassino between the two eagles each side of the gate into the Polish cemetery at Monte Cassino.

I have left a copy of the story below as my personal story, it has become my own personal story, I live the life of a son tormented by the aftermath and effects of WW2 almost 60 years after it ended.
I thought it would be worth while adding these extra few words.
I do not know how my father would have felt about his story being laid bare to the world or my feelings on how Poland was treated after the war. It surprises me how many people are ignorant of the simple fact that Poland was betrayed by both Britain and America. I was one of these people up until about three years ago.
Put very simply, my understanding is that WW2 started because Germany invaded Poland. My understanding is that before the end of the war Britain and America got together with Russia and agreed, to hand Poland over to the Russians.
Where was the sense in this? I reeks of corruption, the worst kind, political corruption. Will any one ever be held accountable for this. I don't think so.
I think there is also a little bit of consistency apparent hear if you think about what has happened in Iraq and is probably about to happen after the war. Deals for financial and political gain. I was and still am, all for the overthrow of Sadam.
If you want to understand how most Polish "EXILES" felt and this is exactly what these were. Men who had been through hell and back, thinking that once the war was over they would be able to go back home, please search out a very good book called "An Army in Exile" written by General W Anders.
If you are interested in finding out more, check out he web site below, it pretty well expresses my thoughts a little bit more clearly.


http://www.kasprzyk.demon.co.uk/www/WW2.htmlAbout links

MY FATHERS STORY.

My father died in 1969 when I was 11, we lived in Fife, Scotland. He was working as a Coal Miner then, he had worked in the coal mines in Poland as a very young man and since coming over to Scotland after the war.
When he was alive he never spoke much to anyone about his time during the war, or his life back in Poland, he had kept in contact by letter, with his family but up until 1968 he had never been back to his home to Katowice.
During the summer 1968 he managed to take all of us back to Poland, a holiday of which, I have many fond memories, however sadly, one year later he died. Tragically we never had any more contact with our Polish Relations, which is still something I personally find hard to come to terms with. For the last thirty odd year I have had a yearning to find out more about him, and to contact our Polish family and as I'm not getting any younger and my own children were asking about there grad father, I decided to start my search.
I first tried to contact the M.O.D. records department, Not really expecting to get very far. This day changed my life. The telephone call I made is very clear in my mind. When I got through I spoke to the lady in charge who ask for some very basic details, my fathers name and date of birth. She put the phone down, I heard her footsteps clip clopping across the floor and what sounded like the a massive filling cabinet drawer opening, then closing, clip clop back to the phone, she said yes, there was a file on my father, she was happy to send me a copy but said it would be best if my mother applied for these records. I was overjoyed.
They sent us a copy of his War Record which informed me that he had been conscripted into the German Army when Germany invaded Poland, I do not have any great details except what I am about to tell you, which is also on a record I subsequently received from an army records department in Germany.

Translation of German document information.
He was in The Grenadier Regiment 15 (Motorised) 3rd Company, I believe part of the 29th Tank Infantry Division
I believe that he had been in Africa, and as the german army was pushed out of Africa my father ended up eventually in Italy, I dred to think what he had been through, but from this account on his German records, enough was enough.
The Infantryman Kempik had at the 21,12.43 orders to get food, rations for his section. He delivered the rations at about 9.15pm.
after that Kempik (K) got the order to go back to his trench and to hold fort. Instead of filling this order, K was lying down to sleep in an empty bunker/shelter. Here he was found by a platoon messenger at the 22.12.43 at 2.00am. This person gave K the order to go to his trench immediately. At the next control at 5.00am. K was still sleeping in his bunker. Kempik got for the 3rd. time the order to go to his trench. He left the bunker and went in the direction of his trench. Since that point of time Kempik was never seen.
Because of the testimony of a witness one assumes, that Kempik is deserted to the enemy. This assumption is confirmed by the ascertainment that at his delivery of the food, two rations of sausage and two rations of chocolate were missing. K had the apparently the intent to desert and he used this opportunity to get food because there might have passed a longer time till he was captured.

I obviously have mixed feeling regards this information, I know what kind of a fighter in life my dad was. I feel he was in such a state then he was past caring, but he was obviously clever enough to know that his next warning would have probably meant the firing squad, so he had nothing to lose but how must he have felt deserting the Germans with them after him heading in the direction of the then enemy, us.

He was taken prisoner at a place called San Vittori in Italy by the American Army (I have actually managed to find a copy of a documentary film made at the time by John Houston, of the Battle at San Vittori ). His war could have been over, as I have been told by many people including members of his division. He was held prisoner till about May 1944. He joined the Polish 2nd Corps. 5th Kresowa Division 18th Lwowski Battalion who had just completed one of the bloodiest battles in WW2 at Monte Cassino, where very many Polish soldiers lost there lives. He saw his first action at Anconna and fought for the remainder of the war up to Bologna, May 1945.
His record also told us that he was entitled to some medals one of which was the Cross of Valour which totally took us by surprise, and so far we have not been able to find out how, where or when this was won.
Although I was sent loads of great information, there was nothing about what happened to him when he was resettled in Scotland and I am also trying to find out more about this.
Since receiving all this information I have been down to London, first for the 60th Anniversary of his Division being formed, where I met loads of old soldiers, sadly non that knew him, I have been down two more times and have now become very friendly with most of the men and women who attend.
I had also managed to go back to Katowice, for the first time since my dad died, Easter, 2001. We stayed in Krakow, this is approx. 30 miles from Katowice and due to the fact we had not been able to contact our family before we left Scotland, we were not able to spend a lot of time with them. While we were there we went to Auswitch Concentration camp which is only 15 miles from where my family live, this sent a chill through my bones not only because of the huge scale of the place and organised killing that took place in the camp but also because it was so close to my fathers home in Katowice.
As I said we managed to trace our family and found out my fathers sister is still alive, she is 82years old this year and been through an awful lot, her story is probably one that I will never know. She was a very beautiful young girl suffering first, invasion by Germany then supposed "liberation" by Russia.
I returned to Poland again this year and I had much more contact with my family, I managed to spend a whole week with them and was very lucky to have the services of a translator most days.
I am still trying to find out more about what my dad went through and to find out the circumstance in which he was awarded The Cross of Valour.
I think I will try and find out more about his German army history next. For the short term, I intend going over to Italy next May for the 60th anniversary of the fall of Monte Cassino, when there, I intend to visit also the place where my father was captured, probably a place most important to the family here in Scotland, if he had not deserted it is most likely we would not be here.
I feel I am on a journey started on the outbreak of WW2 that maybe I will not complete but may only be finished by the Grand children and Great Grand children of Jerzy Kempik.
This is my fathers still uncompleted story.

UPDATE. AUGUST 14TH. 2005

It's been some time since I left my entry, many bad things have happened in the world but may good things also.
Last year, May 2004 I went to Italy for this first time in my life. Before I started to find out about my dad I had a strange aversion to Italy, maybe the story about my dad explains this even though I had no knowledge then.
I went with a group of Polish veterans to remember the men who died and commemorate the end of the battle at Monte Cassino, May 18th. 1944.
This journey was one of my dreams since I first started to look into my dads life during WW2.
One of my main aims was to visit the place where he was capture while in the German army. I don't know if anyone understood my wish to do this, but I am glad I did.
The ceremonies at Monte Cassino were also most moving, brought to a climax by a visit to Rome and ceremony in St. Peter's Square in the presance of Pope John Paul, the Polish pope. We all felt very honoured and special.
I had the opportunity to hear comments first hand from veterans about what they went through and also hear there thoughts about boys like my dad. The overwhelming evidence was that they accepted them as fellow Poles, fighting for the freedom of their country.
All except one man, who and this is most upsetting, as he knew my story and about my father. He said that his personal position was that when, and not if, he came across boys like my dad who had been first in the German army, he waited his time then very quietly and secretly killed these boys, sometimes in the heat of battle, I try to believe he was maybe talking through drink or maybe he was a bit mad. I have only told this to one other person, a Polish veteran, he was very upset and angry about this and told me this guy was an animal who even today should be held responsible for these acts of inhumanity. He has to live with these memories, that's his punishment.
I put this last statement into this journal entry even though it appears in a reply I sent to a man who offered me some reassurance last year regards my dads German war record, it seemed relevant to how I feel I have moved on since I left my story on this site.
I have moved on, I know much more about my dad, I have been to and met more people who were an important part of my dads life and I feel I am that little bit closer to knowing my dad.

"JUST AS A WEE SEPARATE COMMENT"
Does anyone else feel like the dropping of the Atomic bombs on Japan were not properly acknowledged of commemorated this year?

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These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

Message 1 - Re: A free Poland?

Posted on: 16 August 2005 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Dear Mr Kempik

I read your account of your father's life with great interest, particularly the details you give of his service in the German army prior to 1944. Slavs, mainly volunteer Russian (Ukranian) Pows, who served with the German Wehrmacht were not allowed to bear arms and were known as "Hiwi". For your father to be in a crack unit such as the 15th Grenadier Regiment of the 29th Tank Infantry Division, he must have been considered to be 'racially pure', thus of Germanic stock, moreover, all soldiers of the Wehrmacht had to swear a personal oath of allegiance to Hitler. If he served in the Afrika Korps he must have been in the very last German contingents to get out of Tunis. The 29th Panzer Grenadier Division, commanded by Generalmajor Walter Fries, was in XIV Panzer Corps and fought in Sicily from about the third week of July 1943.

You preface your father's story by saying "It surprises me how many people are ignorant of the simple fact that Poland was betrayed by both Britain and America. I was one of these people up until about three years ago. ... My understanding is that before the end of the war Britain and America got together with Russia and agreed, to hand Poland over to the Russians. ... It reeks of corruption, the worst kind, political corruption. Will any one ever be held accountable for this. I don't think so". The flaw in this is that you take it as axiomatic that Poland was betrayed by Britain and America.

You are looking at history through the narrow prism of nationalism and seeing Poland in isolation. The Baltic States, Hungary, Romania, Czechoslovakia, and what became Eastern Germany were all absorbed into the Soviet system as well as Poland. You should read the great Fulton speech of Churchill in 1946. He warned that "From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste on the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent. Behind that line line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe". It was utterly inconceivable that in 1946 the Western Allies, could or would attack the Red Army and precipitate a Third World War, although in 1948 we came perilously close to it with the Berlin Airlift and again with the Korean War, and the highly dangerous Cuba Crisis of 1962 when the world stood on the precipice of nuclear war.

As for Poland you also appear to forget that unlike the Nazi occupation, during which Poles were treated as sub-humans (apart from those of Germanic descent, considered racially pure), the Russians installed a Polish communist government and there were many Polish communists; not all Poles were anti-communist - especially in 1945 when the Red Army was greeted as a liberating force. The leadership of post-war Poland was claimed by two rival groups, the Soviet sponsored provisional government at Lublin and the Polish government-in-exile in London, it was only after acrimonious and bitter negotiations that a government of 'national unity' under the socialist Eduard Osobka-Morawski was formed on 28 June 1945. It was recognised by the western powers, though its leanings turned out to be completely pro-Soviet and it was for this reason that many Polish citizens, members of Polish armed forces, refused to be repatriated - but what is now utterly forgotten is that a popular referendum on 30 June 1946, conducted openly, approved a program of nationalisation and land reform, and the establishment of a one-house parliament advocated by the communists. Polish popular disenchantment with communism came later.

Repressive measures really started in 1947, when the Deputy Prime Minister Stanislaw Mikolajczyk's Peasant Party was supressed. This led to Mikolajczyk's flight to Britain and both America and Britain charging that the Yalta provisions for free elections had been violated. But it wasn't until 1948 that Poland was transformed into a Communist-dominated Soviet satellite, with the secretary general of the Communist Polish Workers' Party, Wladyslaw Goumulka forced to resign. You also seem to be unaware that Poland was part of the Warsaw Pact of 1955 when Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Eastern Germany, Poland, Romania, and the USSR formed a formidable military block where an attack on one was an attack on all. But Poland was still run by Poles, albeit communist Poles. You yourself say that "During the summer 1968 [my father] managed to take all of us back to Poland, a holiday of which, I have many fond memories ...".

At the end of the war Britain behaved honourably offering unconditional asylum and settlement to any Poles who did not wish to return to Poland. Britain did the same again with Hungarian and Czech nationals after their bloody and ineffective uprisings. Nor earlier had America and Britain shown any hesitation in countering the communist invasion of South Korea. As for western Europe, NATO was a bastion until the collapse of the Soviet Union and a champion of freedom everywhere.

The site you recommend and from which you appear to have gathered your 'facts' is a Polish nationalist site. It says there that "Secretly, at Tehran, the British and Americans agreed to letting the Russians profit from their invasion of Poland in 1939 and allowing them to keep the lands that had been absorbed. The "accidental" death of General Sikorski at this time helped keep protests at a minimum. " There were no secret deals at Tehran. Further is is claimed that "At Yalta, in February 1945, the Allies put Poland within the Russian zone of influence in a post-war Europe." There is an anachronistic mistake here: in WW2 the Allies were America, Britain, and the USSR, what is meant here are the Western Allies. The western Allies did not 'put Poland within the Soviet zone, the Red army did that and there was nothing either America or Britain could do about it, moreover, at the time the USSR were the west's fighting allies and the danger that the USSR posed was not fully appreciated by anyone., except Churchill. As to the "accidental" death of General Sikorski, the implication that he was murdered on Churchill's orders, or by the Americans, is both repugnant and outrageous. He was killed in a plane crash at Gibraltar on 4 July 1943. The plane was a converted Liberator bomber from RAF Transport Command and to suggest that he was murdered implies that the plane crew was also murdered along with all passengers, fifteen in all including Sikorski's daughter.

Regards,

Peter

 

Message 2 - A free Poland?

Posted on: 17 August 2005 by 5thkresowa

Hello Peter.

Thank you for your interest.
I have read over your comments and maybe this is a bit wimpy of me, but for now, I bow to your obvious superior knowledge, very impressive.
I will how ever try to have a good look into your input, as most of this is new information to me. This will involve speaking to a few friends who went through the war as Polish soldiers.
I am sure most, if not all of the points you have put to me are valid, certainly, from one point of view, but I say again I am very interested.
I have never tried to hide or fabricate anything in my writing's, my main reason for putting my dads story on this site was to gain knowledge, you seem very knowledgeable and I am always keen to communicate with people like you. I hope my lack of education does not bore you.
I also hope there was no bitterness in your comments, the opinions I put in my dads story were/are only my opinions gained from a very poor education in this subject, every thing I have learned has been hard graft over the past 5 years.
I did detect some, shall we say strong "point making" regards my fathers status as a Pole. I have over the past 3 three years had the enormous pleasure to find some family in Germany which confirms to me that my family did indeed have German connections, I will not say roots as I am sure you know the borders of Poland changes so often, I think it would be stupid to try and claim our family were Polish or German. I do not think this was the reason my father joined the German army. What I have been told was, when Germany took back the is particular part of Poland which they considered German the families which had in history once been German were given the option to become Germans again, one of the main benefits they could expect was an increased allocation of calories, however on the down side, it also meant any boy eligible to be conscripted into the army was taken into the German army. While he was in the German army, any sign that my father was not "doing his duty" would have meant massive repercussion to his family in Poland. I am sure this was heavy on his mind when he deserted. No doubt conscription was not the only option but I think most of the others would have ended in death. Maybe an honourable death, but I for one am happy with the decision they made and I am not in the position where I think I should apologies for them. To me, my dad was Polish, his father was Polish and his mother was Polish, just as I am Scottish.
I know we are rubbish at football.

I maybe thought my dad had been in Africa at one point due to a comment by his sister on my first visit to Poland. I think she was a bit mixed up. Recently I had another pretty detailed German document translated, which seems to have had my dad in Germany then France then Italy with numerous visits to hospitals in-between, I have no idea what for.

I am also most interested in your story, I started to read it but thought I had best leave it till I have more time, but I got the gist of it, you have lived a very interesting life. If you don't mind I will get back to you when I have read it in full and had time to look into the information you have given me.

Best wishes, George.

 

Message 3 - A free Poland?

Posted on: 17 August 2005 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Dear George

Let me first assure you that there is no bitterness in my comments or personal animosity. Text lacks the tones of speech and we cannot readily judge either warmth or hostility.

I am sure your father did what he thought was best at the time, given the circumstances he was in, whether he was called up or volunteered. My father served in the Italian infantry until either 1942 or 1943 (strangely I can remember the exact monthly date but not the year). The level of your education is totally irrelevant, what matters are the grounds on which your opinions are based.

The point I was making in the rest of my reply was that short of attacking the Red Army in 1945 (when there seemed to be no reason) or in 1948 (when it became patently obvious that Poland had been swallowed up), there was nothing either Britain or America could do, without triggering a third world war.

Best wishes,

Peter

 

Message 4 - A free Poland?

Posted on: 18 October 2005 by Pkmink

Hello Peter,

I'm the grandson of a Polish naval veteran who had to stay in the West after WW2, in Holland. The reason why members of the Polish armed forces refused to be repatriated is because many of them were in serious risk of persecution by the communist government. By no means did the majority of the Poles want to stay abroad: very often they simply had no choice.

The wording in the popular referendum of 30 june 1946 was highly biased, so most people gave the "logical" answer. By democratic standards that referendum was seriously flawed.

Popular disenchantment came later, yes, but popular "enchantment" with the communists in Poland there never was, far from it. Under Bierut's heavy-handed methods, thousands of people were imprisoned and hundreds executed.

Finally, Great Britain and Poland were great allies, indeed and the Poles contributed significantly to the allied war effort. I accept that the Western allies had no choice but to leave Poland in the Soviet sphere of influence. However I think it was quite shameful not to invite the "Western" Poles to the Victory Parade in London after the war (only the pilots of 303 Sqn, but they refused to march without their comrades of the army and navy). They had become a nuisance, instead of worthy comrades-in-arms.

Best regards,
Patryk

 

Message 5 - A free Poland?

Posted on: 18 October 2005 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Dear Patryk

I fail to understand how any Polish soldier could possibly have been invited to the 1946 Victory Parade. To say that "it was quite shameful not to invite the "Western" Poles to the Victory Parade in London after the war. [because] They had become a nuisance, instead of worthy comrades-in-arms" is itself quite unworthy and a complete distortion.

The Poles certainly were not invited, neither were the Americans, the Russians, the French, the Dutch, the Brazilians, or any other foreign land troops or navies. It was an entirely British parade for the forces of the then British Empire: United Kindom, the Dominions, and the Colonies. The only exception was representatives of foreign air forces.

The following attended being members of the British Empire:

All the Dominions
India & Burma
The Colonial Empire:
West Africa
East and Central Africa
followed by:
Aden
Bermuda
Ceylon
CyprusFalkland Islands
Gibraltar
Hong Kong
Malaya
West Indies
Malaya
West Indies
Fiji and Western Pacific
Mauritius
North Borneo, Brunei, Labuan and Sarawak
Palestine
St. Helena
Seychelles
South African High Commission Territories
Malta

As I said above, the only exception to this was that representatives of the following foreign allied air forces were invited to attend:

United States of America (Army Air Force and Naval Air Force)
France
Belgium
Czechoslovakia
Greece
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Yugoslavia

You can see the full programme yourself here: http://www.naval-history.net/WW2VictoryParade1.htmAbout links

Regards,
Peter

 

Message 6 - A free Poland?

Posted on: 18 October 2005 by Pkmink

Dear Peter,

Thank you for clarifying the victory parade bit, however it was (if I remember correctly) a senior British RAF commander who said his own countrymen ought to be ashamed of not inviting the entire PL contingent, that is incl. the army and navy.

I think he had a point, the Poles were fighting alongside the British longer than almost any other ally. Furthermore, there were no representatives invited of the Polish government-in-exile, the one that had actually been that ally since day 1. Instead representatives of the Polish communists were invited. The more than 200,000 Polish veterans in the West were very bitter, with reason, having fought to see their country being made into a Soviet satellite state (the intentions of Stalin were obvious already before 1945). The Americans and almost all of the other allies that you mention could go home quite happily (to free countries) and have their own parades.

Kind regards,
Patryk

 

Message 7 - A free Poland?

Posted on: 19 October 2005 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Dear Patryk

You say that it was "a senior British RAF commander who said his own countrymen ought to be ashamed of not inviting the entire PL contingent, that is incl. the army and navy" and that you agree with him. Who was the senior RAF commander who said this? He seems to have been singularly misinformed. So far as I am aware, the Polish RAF Squadron was invited.

The 1946 Victory Parade was primarily a British Empire parade. No matter what Poland contributed, and no-one disputes for a moment that Polish forces contributed a lot, the fact remains that Poland was never part of the British Empire.

The French Maquis were not invited, neither were Tito's partisans, nor Italian partisans, nor the Dutch Resistance, and so on. This had absolutely nothing to do with snubs or ingratitude. We now use the term 'United Nations' to describe the U.N. organisation, but in WW2 the United Nations were all the countries that were at war with the Axis. It was the name adopted on 1 January 1942 for the coalition of powers fighting against the Axis.

By 1945 the United Nations at war were Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil (indeed, a contingent of Brazilians fought at Monte Cassino), China, Costa Rica, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ethiopia, France, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Iran, Iraq, Liberia, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, the Philippines, Poland, the USA, and the USSR.

But the Victory Parade was not a United Nations victory parade and none of these powers were invited to send ground forces to London for it. Not even the Red Army was invited to take part (in 1946 the USSR was still regarded as a friendly ally), even though it had broken the back of the Wehrmacht at the cost of 20 million dead.

I have not seen any documents relating to the planning of the 1946 Victory Parade nor is it possible to read into the minds of the organisers as to what they thought about Poland. A snub is a deliberately planned insult - from the limited evidence I have seen it verges on the absurd to hold that the free Poles were snubbed at the British Victory parade.

Regards,
Peter

 

Message 8 - A free Poland?

Posted on: 19 October 2005 by 5thkresowa

Hello Patryk and Peter.
Sorry guys, I think this is a case of too much knowledge is not a bad thing, but it maybe fogs the issue sometimes.
I tried to put across a simple point and only from my own point of view. I kept it simple and I would like to keep it simple.
Taking all your suggestions and words of wisdom to heart, I still come to the conclusion that Poland and the people of Poland were dealt a pretty bad hand after the war.
This was all about country.
The only thing we hold more precious than that is our families.
These men lost a country and in most cases their families.
Other issues like what would have been nice or proper really do not matter.
However I take particular offence to your comment Peter that,
"They had become a nuisance, instead of worthy comrades-in-arms"
IS THAT ALL OF THEM?
I wonder in what way you mean this?
I have spoken to some Polish veterans who get quite emotional about how they were treated when they came to the UK. Second class citizens were above them. I could give examples but I am sure you Peter, have a pretty good knowledge of this treatment.
Very many of them were well educated men, forced to do work well below their abilities and they were happy to do it. I wonder why they became a nuisance?
Anyway friends, I am glad my original comment has created this interest. please keep coming back.

BUT, IN MY OPINION THE 1ST. DIVISION AND THE POLISH SECOND CORPS. SHOULD HAVE BEEN AT THE VICTORY PARADE AND AT THE FRONT.
BUT, WOULD THEY HAVE WANTED TO BE?
WAS IT VICTORY FOR THEM?
I THINK IF THEY HAD BEEN, THEIR HEADS WOULD HAVE HANGED LOW.

 

Message 9 - A free Poland?

Posted on: 20 October 2005 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Dear George (5thkresowa)

You say that you take 'particular offence' at 'my' comment regarding the Polish forces that "They had become a nuisance, instead of worthy comrades-in-arms".

If you look at Message 4, above, last sentence, you will find that it was Patryk who said rhetorically of the polish forces that "They had become a nuisance, instead of worthy comrades-in-arms". From the rest of his message it is clear that that was what he thought was the attitude of the British Labour government in 1946.

If you next read Message 5, by me, you will see that I was responding to this and that I said, in terms, that to attribute such a notion to the British was wrong.

Frankly I can see no point in carrying on this discussion about the Victory Parade. Above I was simply trying to explain what, historically, the Victory Parade held in London in 1946 was all about, wrongly thinking, as it turned out, that an examination of the programme would demonstrate to you who was on that parade and why no Polish troops were there.

After trying to explain why contingents from such places as Kenya and Nigeria, Ceylon and St Helena, were in a British Empire parade and any foreign troops not you blare out "BUT, IN MY OPINION THE 1ST. DIVISION AND THE POLISH SECOND CORPS. SHOULD HAVE BEEN AT THE VICTORY PARADE AND AT THE FRONT." Here you are saying that Polish troops were better than anybody else. There is no arguing with that, as you say it is your opinion, and we must leave it at that.

Your further assertions seems to be no longer about WW2 but of how you perceive Poles were treated in Britain. You say "I have spoken to some Polish veterans who get quite emotional about how they were treated when they came to the UK. Second class citizens were above them. I could give examples but I am sure you Peter, have a pretty good knowledge of this treatment".

No, George, I do not have any knowledge of that treatment. But I do have some knowledge of human nature and I know from bitter experience that ANY foreigner in ANY foreign land is invariably looked down upon by an ignorant minority, or at best tolerated as a bumbling comic; there is a pinch of xenophobia in all of us. No doubt some Poles think they are the best people on earth, but so do Frenchmen of themselves, so do the Siamese, so do the English, so do all - it is called nationalism, which if curbed and channelled properly becomes patriotism. For a while xenophobia stopped in WW2, when all were united in a common effort to defeat Nazism and rampant Nationalism.

We must be thankful for that.

My regards to you and the rest of the contributors to this thread,

Peter

 

Message 10 - A free Poland?

Posted on: 20 October 2005 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

I have examined this further in press archives. There were representatives of foreign forces at the London Victory Parade, but no units of foreign troops marching in the procession. The representatives were from the following allied nations: Belgium, Brazil, China, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Egypt and Anglo-Sudan, Ethiopia, France, Greece (two soldiers in traditional dress), Iran, Iraq, Luxembourg, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Transjordan, the USA, the USSR, and Yugoslavia.

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Poland Category
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