President says Polish soldiers changed course of history in 1920

Duda was speaking during ceremonies to mark Armed Forces Day, celebrated every year on August 15, the Battle of Warsaw anniversary. Radek Pietruszka/PAP

Andrzej Duda, Poland's president, said on Tuesday that the heroism of Polish soldiers in the country's 1920 victory over the Red Army in the Battle of Warsaw changed the course of history and protected the whole of Europe from the Bolsheviks.

Duda was speaking during ceremonies to mark Armed Forces Day, celebrated every year on August 15, the battle's anniversary.

He said that on this day Poland "pays tribute to Polish soldiers who spilled their blood in defence of our motherland on various battlefields," in order for Poland to be free, independent and secure.

"This is a day on which we remember the great victory achieved over Soviet Russia in 1920, when the (Polish) Republic was just being reborn," Duda said. "The heroism of Polish soldiers at the Battle of Warsaw decided a victory that had great significance both for the security of our motherland and the whole of Europe."

Duda went on to say that the Bolsheviks' expansionism had been halted and the spread of the Russian communist revolution across Europe prevented.

"Polish soldiers changed the course of history," he said. "They defended the whole of Europe."

The president added that thanks to Ukraine currently holding back another Russian onslaught, Poland is safer today.

He said that not for the first time in its history, Poland was living through a dangerous period.

"Beyond our eastern border, for a year and a half, a full-scale war has been in progress," Duda said. "The brutal Russian aggression on an independent Ukraine has brought death, pain and suffering. It is a war to which unfortunately no end can be seen."

On Tuesday, Poland held its biggest ever celebratory march in Warsaw to flex the new modern look of the Polish army.

The parade saw 2,000 soldiers from Poland and other Nato countries march through the capital accompanied by 200 items of military equipment and 92 aircraft. Mariusz Błaszczak, the defence minister, said the parade featured Poland's most advanced weaponry, including US-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and Abrams M1A1 tanks, K2 battle tanks bought from South Korea and the American-made F-16 fighter jets, as well as domestic equipment such as Baobab-K mine-laying vehicles.

The day's main events took place on Piłsudskiego Square in central Warsaw where leading figures, including Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak, attended a ceremonial changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, in the presence of President Andrzej Duda.

As part of the observances, the presidential couple laid wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and at the Monument to Marshal Józef Piłsudski as well as the Monuments to the victims of the Smolensk air disaster and President Lech Kaczyński, who perished in 2010 when the presidential plane crashed in western Russia killing all 96 people on board.

August 15 was Polish Army Day between 1923 and 1947, and has been again from 1992 to the present, as it is the date of Poland's unexpected but important victory over the Red Army in the Battle of Warsaw, also referred to as 'the Miracle on the Vistula.' In the wake of the following Polish advance eastward, the Soviets sued for peace and a ceasefire was sealed in October 1920. The Battle of Warsaw helped defend Poland's newly regained independence. The battle, headed by Marshal Józef Piłsudski, defended the democratic order of the whole of Europe.

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