Polish Resistance Fighter Who Fought Against Nazis & Soviets Finally Given State Funeral

The prime minister and other Polish government ministers attended the state burial of Col. Zygmunt Szendzielarz, a World War II resistance commander and victim of the communist regime. His remains were found in a hidden mass grave. The Colonel and other Polish patriots had been executed at the notorious Mokotow Prison.  These are known as the 1951 Mokotow prison executions.

The Colonel and other Polish patriots had been executed at the notorious Mokotow Prison.  These are known as the 1951 Mokotow prison executions.

The Colonel’s funeral was held at the Powazki military cemetery in Warsaw. It was held to remind the Polish people of facts and figures from the past that would have been taboo under communist rule – things like resistance against the regime and the persecution those resistance fighters encountered from the communist government.

The current government of the Law and Justice Party is focused on honoring wartime and communist-era resistance fighters who were imprisoned, executed, and dumped in unmarked mass graves. Only of few such graves have been found.

There had been an extensive Polish resistance to the Nazi occupation. Many Poles gave their lives to free their country of the German tyranny. In 1944, the Polish Resistance launched a full-scale revolt in Warsaw, that led to the destruction of the city.

Not many people know, that after the war, that many Poles continued to resist. This time, they resisted the Soviet-installed puppet  communist government. Many Poles fought against this regime. They fought a guerrilla war against Soviet troops and Communist Polish forces. The Communists reacted brutally and executed many Polish resistance fighters.

Szendzielarz was executed at the age of 41. He has been an officer in a mounted regiment. He fought against both the Nazi and Soviet invasions and led an underground resistance movement. He continued fighting for Polish independence after communism was imposed in 1945. Secret security agents arrested him in 1948 and he was sentenced to death.

“Today, 65 years later, as we honor Col. Szendzielarz with these ceremonies, we are giving Poland its dignity back,” President Andrzej Duda said during a funeral Mass at the Powazki church. “Dignity that was trampled by those who tortured and murdered,” added Duda. “Today, Poland has top authorities who remember, honor, and appreciate such fighters.”

Szendzielarz’s remains were discovered in 2013, with dozens of others, in sand under wild grass in a corner of Powazki. DNA tests identified Szendzielarz and others, and a white stone memorial has been added to the site.

For many years the Polish Communist regime tried to suppress any memories of the Poles who fought for their countries independence and to end Soviet influence in the country. This is no longer the case.


Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE