Posts Tagged ‘Piotr Markowicz’

In the shadow of D-Day anniversary, a quieter memorial for fallen soldiers in Italy…

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

Prime Minister Donald Tusk is second from right.

This weekend, the world has been awash with memorials for the anniversary of the June 6, 1944, Normandy Invasion. Meanwhile, a quieter event took place a couple weeks ago in Monte Cassino, Italy, inaugurating a new museum for the fallen Polish soldiers in that terrible battle – we wrote about it a little here.

Since then, Piotr Markowicz wrote to give us details about the May 17 ceremony for the 2nd Corps Memorial, which included the Poland’s prime minister, Donald Tusk. Also attending the inauguration, which took place on the eve of the major celebrations of the 70th anniversary of Monte Cassino: General Władysław Anders‘s daughter, Anna Maria Anders; Karolina Kaczorowska, the widow of the last president of Poland in exile, Ryszard Kaczorowski; as well as veterans of battle in Monte Cassino and other visitors.  Poles have also created a website for Polish soldiers in other Italian battles at Bologne, Loreto, and Casamassima  here.

The exhibition panel, part of the permanent display, is in English, Italian, and Polish below – I know, I know. The image is tiny, tiny – but if you click the image and squint a bit, you should be able to read it. The only spot of color on the panel was provided by Humble Moi. It portrays the Kultura offices in Maisons-Laffitte – I wrote about that visit here..


Book Haven at the opening of new Monte Cassino museum

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014


Many visitors who see the Polish War Cemetery in Monte Cassino don’t know why over a thousand Polish soldiers are buried there, how they came to be at this place about 80 miles southeast of Rome, and what they fought for when they were there. Indeed, one of the most important battles of one of the fiercest campaigns of World War II is often overlooked by tourists and pilgrims, who often pass en route to the nearby 6th century Benedictine monastery. As the years go by, the memory of the Monte Cassino battle fades away, even among the people who live nearby.


Monte Cassino after the battle

So what does that have to do with the photo above? You may recall the photo above from my post about my visit to Kultura, in Maisons-Laffitte outside Paris. Kultura was in many ways the cultural center of Poland during the Cold War years – it ran a publishing house, a literary journal, and even provided shelter to émigré writers and artists, including Polish poet and diplomat Czesław Miłosz after his defection (read about that here).

And now many more people will be seeing the photo in Italy. Six weeks ago I received an email from Piotr Markowicz at the Polish Embassy in Rome: “Since this year marks the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Monte Cassino, Polish veterans’ associations and the Embassy of Poland in Rome are preparing a permanent exhibition in newly built museum memorial situated within the premises of the Polish War Cemetery at Monte Cassino, Italy. The exhibition will be permanent and free of charge for public.” He asked if the Kultura photo could be included in the exhibition for this week’s opening of the museum memorial. We’re honored, of course.

The beautiful new building (you can see it in the video below) was designed by Pietro Rogacień – the son of a Polish soldier of the 2nd Polish Corps who fought at Monte Cassino. The rotunda-shaped building is made in local stone and situated next to the entrance of the cemetery. Such a location fits well with the surroundings and the architecture of the cemetery. It will host a permanent exhibition illustrating the history of the 2nd Polish Corps: the deportation of thousands of Poles to Siberia, the formation of General Władysław Anders’ army and its odyssey through the Middle East to Italy.  And my photo.