Komorowski salutes 'Black Devils' of WWII
PR dla Zagranicy
President Bronisław Komorowski has paid tribute to soldiers of the 1st Armoured Division, the so-called 'Black Devils' who took part in the closing European battles of WWII 70 years ago.
President Bronisław Komorowski speaks to veterans of the 1st Armoured Division. Photo: PAP/Jakub Kamiński
Veterans gathered at the Polish Army Museum in Warsaw for Monday's ceremony, less than a month before the 70th anniversary of VE Day (Victory in Europe Day).
Most of the survivors of the 1st Armoured Division, who battled across Western Europe from Normandy as of August 1944, declined to settle in Poland after the war, owing to the installation of a Moscow-backed communist regime in Warsaw.
''The efforts of Polish soldiers did not mean the full freedom of their homeland;'' Komorowski said on Monday.
''Poland had to wait a long time to participate in the process of European integration,'' he added.
A vintage Centurion tank has been presented to the Polish Army Museum, thanks to the Dutch royal family.
During King Willem-Alexander's visit to Poland with Queen Maxima in 2014 he paid tribute to Poland's role in liberating the Netherlands and Western Europe 70 years ago (the road to Breda along which Poles fought was renamed Poolsche Weg, the Polish Way).
Komorowski thanked the royal couple for their intervention, and noted that a new seat for the Polish Army Museum is in the pipeline.
Poland's 1st Armoured Division, which numbered 16,000 men at its zenith, was commanded by General Stanisław Maczek. There are plans to raise a statue in his honour in Edinburgh, the city where he ended his days. (nh)