The town of Breda was liberated from the German army by General Stanislaw Maczek’s 1st Polish Armored Division on October 29, 1944, but not everybody made it home.
One of the soldiers who fought under General Maczek was brother of the great-grandfather of 11-year-old Jakub Silezin from Kraków, corporal Wawrzyniec Silezin. He had died during combat a few hours before the town was liberated.
He was one of 42 Polish soldiers killed after German counterattacks and heavy artillery barrages took their toll. Cpl. Silezin was later laid to rest in Ginneken, a town near Breda.
Jakub never forgot his great grand-uncle’s sacrifice.
He wrote a letter to Minister of the Office for War Veterans and Victims of Oppression asking for the possibility to accompany the Polish delegation and posthumously honor his great grand-uncle in Breda.
“My name is Jakub Silezin, I am 11 years old and I am very proud of the heroism of the brother of my great-grandfather, Wawrzyniec Silezin,” Jakub wrote in his letter.
The boy’s dreams came true after Polish authorities invited him to join veterans and a Polish minister on their journey to the Netherlands. In Breda, the boy was finally able to pay his respects to his heroic ancestor as he lit a candle in rememberance.
President Andrzej Duda and his wife will travel to the Netherlands on October 29 and 30 for a state visit. The main theme of their visit will be the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Breda. Duda will also meet with the Dutch Prime Minister Marik Rutte on Wednesday.