Poland commemorates 'Cursed Soldiers' on their momorial day

Andrzej Lange/PAP

The Polish president paid tribute on Monday to the Cursed Soldiers, who fought against the communist authorities for a free and independent state, at a ceremony to mark their memorial day.

"The Cursed Soldiers never accepted a Poland that was not truly independent, and they decided to fight for a free and sovereign country until the very end," President Andrzej Duda said on National Cursed Soldiers Remembrance Day.

Having laid a wreath at a plaque commemorating victims of the communist regime in Warsaw's western district of Wlochy, the president continued that they decided not to lay down their arms and fought for a free and sovereign country until the very end. "Many of them were killed, many of them paid a high price for their desire for a free Poland," the president said.

The Cursed Soldiers were underground partisan units who fought the communist regime after World War II. They fought against Soviet-imposed rule well into the 1950s and were treated as outlaws by the communist authorities.

An estimated 50,000 members of the Cursed Soldiers perished at the hands of the communists between 1944 and 1956. They were mostly buried in unmarked graves, the majority of which cannot be located.

March 1 is Cursed Soldiers National Remembrance Day in Poland, officially established by the Polish parliament in 2011 upon a motion by late Polish President Lech Kaczynski. The March 1 date commemorates the March 1, 1951, executions of seven leaders of the Cursed Soldiers underground in a Warsaw prison.

"The Cursed Soldiers did not accept the fact that, as they put it, Poland was under Soviet occupation," President Duda said, repeating that they decided to fight for an independent Poland until they had won it or got killed.

He added that, according to estimates, the Polish underground state after WWII comprised over 300,000 people. "This was a large movement," Duda said. "Many of its members were killed, many were tortured, many spent years in prison, in Soviet torture chambers. Many of them paid a high price for their desire for a free and independent Poland."

Addressing a gathering at Warsaw's Powazki Military Cemetery, Mateusz Morawiecki, the prime minister, said that the Cursed Soldiers were a representation of good fighting on the right side, while their communist torturers were representatives of an empire of evil.

"We owe them not only remembrance but also the continuation of what they achieved," the prime minister said. "And their goal was a free, independent, democratic, strong, secure and prosperous Poland."