Anti-communist soldiers, witnesses of history and supporters of independence and the solidarity underground were honoured during the 10th ‘Defiant, Indomitable, Disowned’ Soldiers Film Festival (NNW) in Gdynia.
The festival is dedicated to the memory of the anti-communist underground resistance movement whose members are referred to as “the cursed soldiers” due to the fact that they were disowned by the post-WWII communist government of the Polish People’s Republic (PRL).
The movement continued to operate until 1963 when the last “cursed soldier” Józef Franczak nom de guerre “Laluś” was ambushed by 35 ZOMO paramilitary riot militia and killed on the spot. The regime returned his decapitated body to his family.
It is precisely Józef Franczak nom de guerre “Laluś” and the one of the longest living “cursed soldiers” corporal Józef Zawitkowski nom de guerre “Wierny”, aged 96 and who passed away September 15, 2018 in Buffalo, NY, USA, who were posthumously awarded the Independence Signet awarded to “witnesses of history fighting heroically for freedom and independence of the country.”
The Signet was also awarded to two WWII paramedics who fought in the Warsaw Uprising Janina Różecka nom de guerre Dora and Stanisława Makara.
The “Doors to Freedom” – another NNW award – was given to, among others, 91-year-old Jerzy Stawski nom de guerre “Lubicz”, a captain of the Polish Army, a soldier of the underground Home Army (AK) and the Underground Polish Army (KWP).
“I shall speak loud enough, so that my voice may reach not only your consciousness but also your hearts… How did it happen that I have become a defender of my fatherland starting from the age of 14? It happened because the fatherland is the most important matter for Poles,” captain Stawski told the people gathered at the Musical Theatre New Scene at the seafront in Gdynia.
Officials mark their presence and consideration
Ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party senator Jan Żaryn and his wife Małgorzata Żaryn were also given the Friends of NNW Festival award for their years-long contribution to the event. Senator Żaryn is a historian and a leading authority in Polish historical policy.
The NNW opening gala was attended by governmental officials – the head of the Constitutional Court Julia Przyłębska and finance minister Teresa Czerwińska. The whole festival is organised under the honorary patronage of president Andrzej Duda and is also noted for its patriotic values by Hungary’s president Viktor Orban.
“Our visions of democracy and freedom are born from thoughts and deeds of patriots who never gave in to any ideology nor dictator under any influence, nor for self-interest nor for peace of mind,” wrote Viktor Orban in his letter read by the Hungarian ambassador to Poland Orsolya Zsuzsanna Kovacs.
The NNW Film Festival is organised by Arkadiusz Gołębiewski, a seasoned filmmaker, a documentary director and a camera operator. The event consists of feature movies and documentary screenings that revolve around Polish history from 1945-1989. In addition, festival-goers may listen to lectures and discussion polls, listen to live rock and traditional music and also behold historical re-enactment fashion shows.
The festival will last until Tuesday October 2 – a symbolic date that will see the burial of WWII hero admiral Józef Unrug, and his wife Zofia Unrug, in Gdynia and thus the fulfilment of the officer’s will, in which he asked to be laid to rest in Poland, next to his fellow soldiers.