“Let the sacrifice of Polish soldiers in Breda be a foundation of a new Europe, where free nations will live in the spirit of friendship and peace,” President Andrzej Duda said during commemorations of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Breda in the Netherlands.
Tuesday saw an official military parade march through Breda in honor of the 1st Polish Tank Division led by General Stanisław Maczek, who liberated the town on October 29, 1944. The celebrations were watched by the Polish president and First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda, who were accompanied by Dutch King Wilhelm-Alexander.
President Duda emphasized the tremendous effort and suffering of the Polish people under German occupation:
“Hundreds of thousands of Poles engaged in partisan war, sabotage and espionage against the occupier,” said Duda. “We paid a huge price for that. Close to 6 million Polish citizens, 3 million being of Jewish origin, lost their lives in German death camps built on our soil due to genocide and execution, disease and starvation, slave labor, and fighting on the front.”
The president emphasized that Poles never surrendered and fought against Germans for freedom throughout Europe. Duda referred to General Maczek’s insistence of preserving as many lives and homes as possible during the liberation of Breda, which led to severe casualties for his division.
King Wilhelm-Alexander declared that “Breda loves you. Holland loves you. We carry the memory of our liberators in our hearts. These bonds cannot be broken. You will always be welcome here.”
The monarch added that Poland had to wait for freedom from Soviet oppression until 1989, but it is important that now the Netherlands can celebrate this anniversary together with Poland.