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August 15, Armed Forces Day

15.08.2021 09:15
 August 15 marks Armed Forces Day in Poland, an annual celebration commemorating the victory over the Russian Bolsheviks in the 1920 Battle of Warsaw.
Statue of Józef Piłsudski in front of Belvedere Palace in Warsaw
Statue of Józef Piłsudski in front of Belvedere Palace in Warsaw PAP/Paweł Supernak

 The main celebrations took place at noon at a square in central Warsaw named after Józef Piłsudski, with top officials led by President Andrzej Duda attending a ceremonial changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, after which formations of soldiers marched through Warsaw.

The day was also honoured with a fly-past of a representation of the Polish Air Force.  The annual victory parade, has needed to be cancelled because of COVID-19.

 August 15 was declared Armed Forces Day in 1923 and remained so until 1947. The 1950 observations were moved to October and the anniversary of the 1943 Battle of Lenino, by the communist authorities taken to mark the beginning of the Polish Army's alliance with the Red Army.

 After the collapse of communism in 1989, for two years Armed Forces Day was celebrated on May 3, on the anniversary of the 1791 Constitution. August 15 was restored in 1992 by decision of Parliament.

 The wider Battle of Warsaw, which is believed to have saved Poland’s newly regained independence after the end of World War I and prevented the Bolshevik revolution from spreading into western Europe.

 The Battle has been listed among the most important battles that have decided the fate of the world.

 It was fought from August 12 to 25 in 1920 as Red Army forces commanded by Mikhail Tukhachevsky approached the Polish capital. Polish forces headed by military leader and chief of state Józef Piłsudski counterattacked, forcing the Soviets to withdraw. 

 Speaking at the main celebrations held at noon in Piłsudski Square, Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak spoke of Armed Forces Day being important for the entire military family. "We are gathered here today to honour Polish Army soldiers, who in 1920 resisted the onslaught of Bolshevik Russia, who saved Poland's independence and who also saved Europe's freedom" he said, adding that this day also is to thank today's soldiers of the Polish Army for their daily service.

 In his speech, Polish President Andrzej Duda said that "this was a great victory, in one of the world's most important battles, which changed the course of that war and brought victory to Poland, a country which had seemed weak at that time".

 In his speech before the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw, the Polish President also underlined that "allies can always count on us Poles" and assured that "we certainly shall, on our part, adhere to the provisions of the North Atlantic Treaty, including Article 5 on collective defence". He added also that he "believed deeply, and assured of it as President of Poland" that all obligations would be realized, including those stemming from bilateral agreements, and not only concerning military cooperation and security but also economic and commercial, as well as other kinds. "Pacta sunt servanda" said the Polish President.

 "Poland has kept to its agreements and shall always do so" he stated, saying that it was one of his most important presidential duties to make certain of adherence to obligations, including those to allies, "just as it is my duty to guard the Constitution of the Republic of Poland and our Polish democracy" said President Duda.


Source: IAR/PAP