Poland honours anti-communist Indomitable Soldiers

The Indomitable Soldiers who formed the anti-communist post-WWII resistance movement “set the path towards freedom for us,” said PM Mateusz Morawiecki on Sunday, March 1, the National Day of the Indomitable Soldiers when Poles commemorate these national heroes.

“As they set the path for us towards freedom, so we on this day are obligated to look after this freedom,” said Mr Morawiecki at the former prison’s courtyard on Rakowiecka Street, transformed into the Museum of the Indomitable Soldiers and Political Prisoners of the Polish People’s Republic.

It was in this prison that on March 1, 1951, the communist authorities shot seven members of the leadership of the “Freedom and Independence Union”, one of the major organisations of the anti-communist underground, whose members are also recognised as the Indomitable Soldiers. They were sentenced to death after a show trial.

The anniversary of their execution has been commemorated as National Indomitable Soldiers Remembrance Day since 2011.

“We are obligated to develop this freedom, to build prosperity on the foundation of this freedom – the prosperity of Poles and a better one, a stronger one and a happier Poland,” said PM Morawiecki.

The ceremony was accompanied by the national anthem and a prayer for those murdered in the former prison. A movie on the Indomitable Soldiers was screened and letters from President Andrzej Duda and Lower House Speaker Elżbieta Witek were read out.

‘They lived by the law of the wolf’

“They lived by the law of the wolf” is a phrase commonly used to describe the life of the Indomitable Soldiers, who often hid in the forests and for most of the time operated in small groups, as they were being constantly chased.

The “Indomitable Soldiers are remembered as anti-communist freedom fighters who did not stop fighting after the turmoil of WWII ceased. Following Nazi Germany’s defeat and the withdrawal of its forces from Polish territory, the Soviet Red Army and People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD), as well as Polish communists who took over power and introduced a totalitarian regime in Poland, became the new enemies for those disinclined to accept the communist reign of terror.

During communist rule, it was forbidden to commemorate both the Home Army (AK) soldiers who fought, among other battles, in the Warsaw Uprising, and the Indomitable Soldiers. Knowledge about the latter was erased from public sources and nearly entirely forgotten.

Many of those murdered by the communists were buried in unmarked graves and the location of their remains is still unknown.

Communists struggled to subdue these soldiers who in many cases were very well organised. They were often called “bandits” by the ruling regime and treated as “national traitors” and “agents of foreign powers.” Many of them were heroes of WWII, to exemplify, Captain Witold Pilecki and General August Emil “Nil” Fieldorf.

The fate of a young nurse Danuta “Inka” Siedzikówna of the Home Army 5th Vilnius Brigade became one of the tragic symbols of the Indomitable Soldiers. Accused by communists of being a member of an illegal organisation, possession of weapons and inciting murder, she was imprisoned and tortured but refused to denounce her brothers and sisters-in-arms.

“Inka” was sentenced to death and shot in August 1946. At the final moment, she called out “Long Live Poland!” Before her execution, in a letter smuggled to her friends, she wrote: “Tell my grandmother that I did the right thing.”

However, there were some controversial characters among the Indomitable Soldiers who are accused of crimes even by modern historians. The most often discussed examples are the stories of Romuald “Bury” Rajs, who was, according to reports, responsible for murdering Orthodox civilians in eastern Poland, and Józef “Ogień” Kuraś accused of murdering Jews and Slovaks in southern areas of Poland.