The celebrations for the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Montecassino

28/05/24

The ceremonies commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Monte Cassino fought by the 2nd Polish Army Corps under the command of General Władysław Anders have concluded.

On Saturday 18 May at the Polish military cemetery of Montecassino, the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella, his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda and the Polish ambassador to Italy Anna Maria Anders took part in the commemoration. Representatives of the highest Polish authorities also participated, including the President of the Senate Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska, the Chief of Staff of the Polish Army General Wiesław Kukuła, the veterans of the 2nd Polish Army Corps still alive and their families , the Polish community in Italy and around 2.000 scout. Also present were representatives of the Italian authorities, the Italian armed forces, the mayors of the surrounding cities liberated by Polish soldiers, the inhabitants of Cassino, diplomats from the allied states and representatives of the veteran communities.

President Mattarella in his speech underlined how the battle of Montecassino “due to the ferocity and intensity of the fighting, it is remembered as the most important battle of the Italian campaign”. He then continued by addressing President Duda “The past eighty years have not erased the gratitude of the Italian people. The friendship between our peoples, born first from the common vicissitudes of the Risorgimento, and cemented on these slopes of Montecassino, has grown over the years, leading to increasingly intense collaboration, culminating in common belonging to the European Union and the Atlantic Alliance. Areas in which we intend to defend the values ​​of freedom and democracy. The international geopolitical situation, unfortunately upset by the aggression against Ukraine by the Russian Federation, has brought back to Europe what we fought together". Mattarella concluded by expressing a thought on the current situation in Eastern Europe “The horror of the war, the inhuman tragedy of the Ukrainian people, brings to mind the devastation that struck European countries and calls us to a renewed commitment in the defense of peace, freedom, the rule of law - against dictatorships - values ​​for who the fallen honored in this cemetery gave their lives."

Pope Francis also wanted to remember the war event with a letter read during the commemoration: “Let peace reign! Look at the writing engraved above the entrance to the Abbey of Montecassino: Pax! May this be the main intention of your prayer today, which I also wish to join. While I pray for the fallen, I pray even more fervently for peace. May Divine Providence grant Poland, Europe and the world peace!"

The celebrations at the Polish war cemetery in Montecassino were officiated by Polish and Italian priests. Monsignor Wieslaw Lechowicz, military ordinary of the Polish Army, stated during the homily ”we gathered in gratitude for the heroic attitude of the soldiers of the Polish corps under the command of General Władysław Anders. He also brought together the conviction that cultivating memory serves our personal and national memory and therefore our identity. This determines our present and our future." Addressing the veterans still alive, however, he underlined: “You have the right to be proud and we have the duty to learn from your example and to be ready to do everything in our power to preserve the freedom and independence of our homeland for present and future generations!”.

In the historic center of Cassino, a bronze statue of General Ladislao Anders was also inaugurated in the presence of the mayor Enzo Salera, the Polish minister Lech Parell, the general's daughter, the ambassador Anna Maria Anders, the mayor Mateusz Bobek of the Polish municipality of Micdzyzdroje .

Also in Piedimonte San Germano there was the inauguration of the monument and the naming of the square after Corporal Antoni Benc and his comrades of the 12th regiment Lancers of the 2nd Army Corps.

AL