We remember

I’ve been planning to visit the Gunnersbury Cemetery for a long time and finally I did it. The funniest thing is I used to work in Chiswick, 15 minutes walk from the cemetery but never could find time. It was a rainy Thursday afternoon when I got there and I guess that was the reason for only a few visitors apart from me. The main purpose of my visit was Katyn Memorial at the centre of the cemetery. The Memorial is thought to be the first one to be erected in Western Europe (unveiled on 18 September 1976) but the first place to commemorate the Katyn Massacre was the Church of Divine Mercy in Manchester where in 1964 an urn with soil from Katyn and a cross made of a monastery’s wall in Kozielsk appeared. Three years later a plaque was unveiled at St Andrew Bobola Church in London and on 16 November 1975 a Katyn Memorial was unveiled in Stockholm.

The idea of Katyn Memorial faced a lot of opposition in the UK. Moscow and Warsaw were protesting and there was no support from the British Government but despite all that Polish Government-in-exile secured the support of a few British politicians like Winston Churchill, grandson of Sir Winston Churchill. Around 8000 people attended the ceremony on 18 September 1976, including delegations from few embassies. However there was no Western European delegation, the British PM also failed to show up. Who would’ve thought that even 30 years after the WWII Brits would have no balls to oppose the Soviets (a New Year’s resolution – I’ll try to choose words more carefully 🙂 ).

Katyn Memorial

Katyn Memorial

DSCN1957

DSCN1958

Walking towards the Memorial I started noticing a lot of Polish names. I slowed down and started reading the names. I guess at least 20% of people resting there were Polish. Suddenly I realized almost every tombstone had an emblem of Polish Eagle or Poland Fights On. Sometimes it would only say: “Born in Lviv”.

Zygmunt Witymir Bienkowski - 303 Squadron Commander (01.12.1942-04.07.1943)

Zygmunt Witymir Bienkowski – 303 Squadron Commander (01.12.1942-04.07.1943)

General Malinowski fought in Polish Legions and then under Gen Haller.

General Malinowski fought in Polish Legions and then under Gen Haller

Zbigniew Stypulkowski - one of the defendants in the Trial of the Sixteen

Zbigniew Stypulkowski – one of the defendants in the Trial of the Sixteen

Kamil Bogumil Czarnecki - one of General Maczek's officers

Kamil Bogumil Czarnecki – one of General Maczek’s officers

Poland Fights On

Poland Fights On

At the Memorial I had a chat with a Polish woman who belonged to Solidarity and arrived in the UK more than 30 years ago. I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that post-war and new wave of Polish immigrants are not very well connected. Well, there’s a similar situation when it’s about post-Solidarity immigration. I didn’t want to listen to the accusations against the post-war immigration so I quickly asked her to show me the way to some graves. It really takes a war for us, Poles to stop barking at each other… But thanks to her I got a name of a Polish priest who’s involved in taking care of Polish graves in London. She also saved me some time by showing me graves of the second to last Polish President in Exile Kazimierz (Casimir) Sabbat and general Józef (Joseph) Haller who in 1920 seized Pomerania and performed a symbolic “wedding ceremony” of Poland and the Baltic Sea (as the woman described him – “the one who married the sea” 😀 ). She failed to show me the grave of general Bór-Komorowski, the Home Army’s commander – a coincidence? I hope so 🙂

Kazimierz (Casimir) Sabbat - the second to last Polish President in Exile

Kazimierz (Casimir) Sabbat – the second to last Polish President in Exile

General Jozef (Joseph) Haller von Hallenburg (“the one who married the sea” ). I think it was the best looking tombstone at the cemetery

General Jozef (Joseph) Haller von Hallenburg (“the one who married the sea” ). I think it was the best maintained tombstone at the cemetery

General Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski, cavalryman, Olympian, Home Army's Commander, Warsaw Uprising Commander, Commander-in-Chief, Prime Minister

General Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski, cavalryman, Olympian, Home Army’s Commander, Warsaw Uprising Commander, Commander-in-Chief, Prime Minister

Oh, by the way, only 161 days left 🙂

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Categories: Misc | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “We remember

  1. Greetings from Australia Marcin,
    The POlish people have a rich and noble history. Jan Sobieski raised the siege of Vienna from the Ottoman Turks, and thus saved Europe. Poland resisted the Soviet menace bravely during WW2.
    God bless you and peace and prosperity to Poland and indeed all of Europe

    • Wow, thanks Konstantine!!! Let’s not forget about 1920 when Poles saved Europe from Bolshevism 😀 Your pics look amazing!

      • Very true Marcin, Poland was instrumental in 1920.
        In my opinion Bolshevism was the greatest evil of the 20th century. People like to talk about Germany while neglecting the fact that Stalin, murdered 50 million of his own people during a 20 year reign of terror and oppressed every country that he took by force.
        God bless you

      • Also thank you kindly for your lovely remarks regarding my photographs, they are very much appreciated. God willing I’ll be able to visit Poland one day

      • I think I’ll visit Australia before that 🙂 I’m sure you would find plenty of inspirations in Poland. Stay safe!

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