Zonder vrees en zonder verwijt: Poolse militairen in West-Europa tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog

Huiskamp, F., 2015, [S.l.]: [S.n.]. 274 p.

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

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  • Florian Huiskamp

This historical study is a description of the Polish armed forces that moved to Western Europe during the Second World War. These Western Poles fought primarily as an independent unit within the British command structure. While they are often depicted as auxiliary combatants within the British armed forces, it must be noted that the Polish had a mind of their own regarding the course of the war. This adamant attitude led to difficult relationships with, amongst others, Winston Churchill and Bernard Montgomery.

General Sosabowski’s parachute brigade and General Maczek’s armored division were both active in the Netherlands. The latter liberated parts of Zeeuw-Vlaanderen, Noord-Brabant and provinces to the east: Gelderland, Overijssel, Drenthe and Groningen. In spite of this, both historical figures are relatively unknown to the general public of the Netherlands. In 2004, an atonement procedure was started for the forgotten combatants of the Polish armed forces, thanks to a research journalist (and Prince Bernard’s personal wish). As a result, in 2006, the Polish veterans received the highest military decoration in the Netherlands. The successor of Sosabowski’s military unit, the Polish 6th Air Assault Brigade, accepted the Militaire Willemsorde from Queen Beatrix herself, as a symbol of gratitude for their actions during Operation Market Garden at Arnhem.

This dissertation includes an overview of the origin of the Polish state and armed forces during the interwar period, analyses about the Polish military operations in Normandy and the liberation of the Netherlands. Furthermore, it provides insights into the noteworthy differences between the Anglo-Saxon and Polish military culture, the secret about General Maczek’s pension and the role of the Polish gold reserves. In conclusion, one can say that the Polish military culture was rooted in soldiers who were willing to demonstrate initiative and who took ethical aspects into account when making decisions. Their determination to avenge the German invasion of 1939, was negated by the British government’s decision to allow the relationship with the Russian ally to prevail over Polish interests.
Translated title of the contributionWithout fear and beyond reproach
Original languageDutch
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Bosscher, Doeko, Supervisor
  • Renner, Hans, Supervisor
  • Volten, Pieter, Assessment committee
  • Hoen, Herman, Assessment committee
  • Klinkert, W., Assessment committee, External person
Award date13-Apr-2015
Place of Publication[S.l.]
Print ISBNs978-90-367-7659-2
Electronic ISBNs978-90-367-7658-5
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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