Polish president marks anniversary in Italy of key WWII battle
PR dla Zagranicy
President of Poland Andrzej Duda and First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda took part in ceremonies on Wednesday marking the Battle of Monte Cassino, a watershed Allied victory that opened the road to Rome.
President Andrzej Duda (C) at Monte Cassino. Photo: PAP/Jacek Turczyk
The battle was finally won on 18 May 1944, following four months of heavy fighting.
A series of offensives against Nazi German positions at the hilltop abbey of Monte Cassino cost over 50,000 Allied lives, while the Germans lost about 20,000.
Polish troops serving as part of the British 8th Army were instrumental in the final assault, in cooperation with British, American, New Zealand, South African, French (including Moroccan) troops.
“The Polish flag is flying over the ruins of the ancient Italian monastery which has been a symbol of German resistance since the beginning of the year,” the BBC reported on this day 72 years ago.
“Polish troops entered the hill-top abbey this morning, six days after the latest attacks began on this strategic stronghold at the western end of the German defensive position known as the Gustav Line.”
A number of veterans attended today's ceremonies, including Poles who served under General Wladysław Anders as part of the so-called Second Polish Corps (commonly referred to as 'the Anders Army').
The abbey - decimated during the battle - was painstakingly rebuilt after the war.
Wednesday marks the final part of the presidential couple's three-day visit to Italy. On Tuesday, President Duda made a speech at the NATO Defense College in Rome, in the lead-up to the July NATO summit in Warsaw. (nh)