Final farewell for WWII hero begins
PR dla Zagranicy
Two-day funeral ceremonies are being held in the northern towns of Hel and Gdynia on Monday and Tuesday in honour of Polish WWII hero Admiral Józef Unrug and his wife.
Józef Unrug. Photo: Światowid weekly/Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)
The pair are to be reburied on Tuesday after their remains were returned to Poland last week.
Celebrations start on Monday with a Mass and patriotic events at the Monument to Hel Defenders which is located at the site of the first Nazi assault on Poland in WWII.
Unrug and his wife will be buried on Tuesday at a mausoleum of naval heroes in Gdynia.
According to the chief of the Office for Veterans, Jan Józef Kasprzyk, Unrug would have wanted to have been buried in Poland alongside his fallen subordinates.
Some of them, killed after the war by Poland's communist authorities, have since been buried in Gdynia and "are waiting for the admiral," Kasprzyk said.
Unrug, a Prussian-born Pole, helped rebuild Poland’s navy following WWI after leaving the ranks of the German navy to join Polish forces when Poland was restored to the map of Europe in 1918 following more than 120 years of partitions and foreign rule.
He served as the Polish Navy’s commander-in-chief in the opening stages of WWII, defending the coastal towns of Hel and Gdynia from attacks by German Nazis in 1939.
After Hel and Gdynia fell, he was a prisoner of war in a number of German-run camps and was treated well because he was a former German officer; but he refused to speak in his native German, saying he forgot the language in September 1939, when WWII broke out, according to reports.
After the war, he fled from persecution by the communists, heading to the UK before moving to France, where he died in 1973. (vb/pk)