Funeral in Poland for WWII hero
PR dla Zagranicy
Funeral ceremonies were held in the northern port of Gdynia on Tuesday in a final farewell to Admiral Józef Unrug, who defended the Polish coast from German attack in WWII.
Funeral ceremonies for Admiral Józef Unrug. Photo: PAP/Adam Warżawa
Unrug and his wife were to be reburied later in the day at a mausoleum in Gdynia. Their remains were returned to Poland last week.
Unrug, a Prussian-born Pole, helped rebuild Poland’s navy following WWI after leaving the ranks of the German navy.
He joined Polish forces when the country was restored to the map of Europe in 1918 following more than 120 years of foreign rule.
In a letter read out on Tuesday during the funeral service, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that in the year Poland celebrates the 100th anniversary of regaining its independence, “we are entrusting the remains of a great patriot to his homeland, [a patriot] who, with his life and service, jointly created a reborn Poland and defended it with all his strength."
Unrug served as the Polish navy’s commander-in-chief in the opening stages of World War II, defending the coastal towns of Hel and Gdynia from attacks by Germany 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 German, saying he had forgotten 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.