"We must remember" - President Duda's address on WWII outbreak anniversary

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Poland's President Andrzej Duda was the first to speak at the Piłsudski SquareTVN24 News in English
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Poland's President Andrzej Duda was the first one to speak at the Piłsudski Square in Warsaw, during the commemorations of the 80th anniversary of the World War Two outbreak. "The terrifying military conflict began 80 years ago. Today, it's hard to even imagine this cataclysm, the worst one in the history of mankind. We remember. We must remember, that's why we're here today," said Duda.

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The president underscored that the Second World War had consumed the lives of 50 million people, and even 80 million, if counted using different method. "Eighty million if we count not only those who were killed and murdered, but also those who died of hunger, diseases and poverty. Three percent of the world's population of that time died. Looking at Europe we could say - population of a big European country vanished in six years, leaving behind empty land," Andrzej Duda said.

"The terrifying military conflict began 80 years ago. Today, it's hard to even imagine this cataclysm, the worst one in the history of mankind. We remember. We must remember, that's why we're here today," the president said. "We remember and we shall remember out of gratitude to all those who fought and sacrificed their lives for the free world," he added.

"We honour and pay our tribute to all victims of the WWII, we bow our heads low and kiss the hands of the veterans, the beloved defenders of our homelands, those who fought for our freedom and yours on all fronts of the world of that time," said the president.

"Dear veterans, dear soldiers of our freedom, we thank you with all our hearts, we thank you wherever you are now in the world," he added.

President Duda stressed that the Nazi Germany had built death camps on Poland's ethnic territories. "The best-known camp of this sort was Auschwitz-Birkenau, a place where 1.1 million European Jews were murdered, mostly from Poland. A camp where 140.000 Poles were killed, 23.000 Roma and Sinti, 20.000 Red Army POWs and 15.000 people of various ethnicities, who were brought to this camp from many countries occupied by the Germans," he listed.

"It's been left here. We might say that the Germans humiliated us, the Poles, by leaving behind this machine of annihilation on our soil. Today, we are its depositaries, we keep it here as a symbol for the people, especially younger ones who come here, to let them understand what human beings were capable of doing to others, and what totalitarian regimes can cause. What cruelty and lack of respect for basic human rights, for human dignity, mean," President Duda said.

Polish President reminded in his speech that the Soviets had murdered 22.000 Polish officers by shooting them in the back of their heads, among other places, in Katyń. "That was a gruesome massacre of Polish intelligentsia, a gruesome massacre of the Polish nation, the nation's best sons had been removed, and I mean it in the broadest sense, as those were the citizens of the Polish state of various nationalities: Poles, Jews, Ukrainians, Ruthenians - they were all officers of the Polish Army, and they were all brutally murdered," Duda said.

He also reminded that many people, including Polish soldiers, had been deported deep inside Russia, to Syberia. "In dramatic conditions, they were dying in the Gulag camps, doing backbreaking work. It's hard to decribe all these horrors today, but it was simply horrific," he said.

"The country vanquished, German occupation began, the General Government was established and the whole nation was subjected to absolute terror, anyone could die any minute," the president said. "There were round-ups in the streets, innocent people were being taken to concentration camps, to prisons, to forced-labour in Germany, they were tortured and persecuted, families were torn, children taken away. Polish Jews were closed in the ghettoes, they got labelled, treated like non-humans, murdered, subjected to hunger, and finally led to mass extermination in the concentration camps, death camps, built by the Nazi Germany also on lands ethnically Polish, where once, before the occupation, there was the Polish state," he stressed.

Andrzej Duda also mentioned Polish participation in the war. He reminded that 200.000 civilians had died in the Warsaw Uprising alone and that were "a part of this terrible aftermath of 80 million victims of the WWII, including 50 million civilians".

"This is our great legacy, but also a great trauma. But Poles fought on all fronts, next to the allies in the West. They defended the skies over the Great Britain when the Germans were bombing London, they fought in the Battle of Britain. They were among the few who did so much for so many. The wonderful Polish pilots displayed class and heroism. We will always remember them," said the president.

He underscored that "Polish soldiers fought also at the Monte Cassino, and later on, they liberated cities in France, Holland and Belgium".

Official ceremony in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsawtvn24

"What's the point of talking about the end of war and the victory if you don't live in a truly free country, when you don't live in a sovereign state, when you don't live a truly independent country, when you're not fully free? But we are grateful to our allies from the free West, across the Atlantic, for their support in those difficult times, also for their attitude and help that made it possible for the people from the Solidarity, the great freedom movement, to triumph," Duda said.

He stressed that "it was to our great satisfaction that also due to our determination, thanks to our struggle for freedom, the Berlin Wall collapsed later on". "Also the Germans could see their unifacation as a part of the great community of the free West, democratic community," he added.

"Today we are together in the European Union, we are together in the North-Atlantic Alliance, today we are together bound with all the best ties of the free world," Duda said.

Pamiętamy i będziemy pamiętać z wdzięczności dla wszystkich tych, którzy walczyli, którzy oddali swe życie dla wolnego świata, dla obrony świata przez totalitaryzmem hitlerowskim, przed faszyzmem, przed terrorem. (http://www.tvn24.pl)

Pamiętamy i będziemy pamiętać z wdzięczności dla wszystkich tych, którzy walczyli, którzy oddali swe życie dla wolnego świata, dla obrony świata przez totalitaryzmem hitlerowskim, przed faszyzmem, przed terrorem. (http://www.tvn24.pl)Pamiętamy i będziemy pamiętać z wdzięczności dla wszystkich tych, którzy walczyli, którzy oddali swe życie dla wolnego świata, dla obrony świata przez totalitaryzmem hitlerowskim, przed faszyzmem, przed terrorem. (http://www.tvn24.pl)

Pamiętamy i będziemy pamiętać z wdzięczności dla wszystkich tych, którzy walczyli, którzy oddali swe życie dla wolnego świata, dla obrony świata przez totalitaryzmem hitlerowskim, przed faszyzmem, przed terrorem. (http://www.tvn24.pl)

Autor: gf / Źródło: TVN24 News in English, PAP