Former PM-in-exile Sikorski commemorated on death anniversary

Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak called General Władysław Sikorski one of Poland's heroes at Sunday observances of the 75th anniversary of the general's death in his birthplace Tuszów Narodowy in southeastern Poland.

Błaszczak thanked the local authorities for preserving the general's memory and the message that he left.

Citing the words of Saint Pope John Paul II, the defence minister said that freedom is not granted but a task. "We must strive to attain it," he added.

"Today we can say that Poland is a free country, that Poland is a country that alone decides about its present and future, that we Poles decide who rules in Poland, what order prevails in Poland, that we Poles decide, what is most important for us," Błaszczak argued.

As noted by Polish President Andrzej Duda in a letter addressed to the participants of the commemorative events, the 75th anniversary of the general's death falls in the year of the great national jubilee of the centenary of regaining independence, of which General Sikorski was one of the architects.

Recalling the figure of the tragically killed general, Duda assessed that he was not only a courageous and capable politician, but also an outstanding strategist and a great diplomat who saw important historical moments and could use them for the good of Poland and Poles. The president also pointed out that it was thanks to Sikorski's efforts that the eastern borders of Poland were finally recognised.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki also sent a letter expressing gratitude and respect for General Sikorski. As the prime minister wrote, contemporary Poles derive from the fruits of Sikorski's struggle and his service to the homeland. "We who, thanks to such heroes and patriots, live in a free Poland, owe the general our highest respect," Morawiecki stressed.

Addressing participants of the anniversary events, Sejm (lower house) Speaker Marek Kuchciński pointed out that General Sikorski was always faithful to the highest principles of patriotism and honour, and during the Second World War became the personification of Polish hopes of victory and freedom.

The ceremonies, which took place in front of the house in which General Sikorski was born and where his monument now stands, were attended by representatives of the army, uniformed services, parliamentarians, regional authorities as well as local residents.

General Sikorski was born in 1881 in Tuszów Narodowy near Mielec, he lived and studied in Hyżne and Rzeszów, southeastern Poland. He was a co-founder of the Union of Active Struggle in 1908 and played an important role in Poland's independence struggle in 1918.

He was Prime Minister of the Polish Government in Exile in 1939-1943 and the commander-in-chief of the Polish armed forces.

Sikorski died on July 4, 1943 in a plane crash near Gibraltar. The circumstances of his death still remain murky.

The general was buried at the Polish War Cemetery in Newark-on-Trent, England. On September 17, 1993, his ashes were moved to the Wawel Cathedral in Kraków, southern Poland.