Address by the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland in the Netherlands, H.E. Dr. Jan Borkowski,
at the Commemoration of the contribution of the
1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade
to Operation Market Garden, 71 years ago
Driel, 19 September 2015

Dear Veterans
Mister Mayor,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are gathered here today in Driel to celebrate the seventy-first anniversary of Market Garden operation. An operation which cost the lives of thousands of brave allied soldiers who fought not only for the freedom of the Netherlands but also for the freedom of Poland and the whole European continent. During those dramatic events of September 1944 the soldiers of the First Independent Parachute Brigade commanded by General Sosabowski and ordinary Dutch Citizens laid the foundation for Polish-Dutch friendship between ordinary citizens and between our two states. The latter evidenced by the participation of His Excellency the Polish President Bronisław Komorowski and His Majesty Willem-Alexander in last year’s ceremony.

Dear and respected Veterans,
I wish you a warm welcome in Driel. For me it’s always extremely rewarding and a great honor to meet you. The celebration today is above all your celebration and we owe you our gratitude. We are grateful that thanks to your commitment and at the risk of your own lives we now live in a free and democratic Europe. Unfortunately, I have learned with deep regret that the last Operation Market Garden Polish veteran living in the Netherlands, Mr. Dembiński, passed away in June of this year. We will always keep the memory of this brave soldier and his comrades alive. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all veterans where ever they may be in the world and wish them good health and good fortune.
Dear Dutch Friends,

Like every year, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have cultivated the memory of General Sosabowski and his soldiers in the Netherlands. It is thanks to you, dear friends, that today I am able to bow my head before the flag with the orange sash of the Military Order of King Williem, in honor of the heroes of Arnhem and other Dutch battlefields and in gratitude to the inhabitants of this land, who have persistently campaigned for memory and truth. It is thanks to you that the General has been justly honored. It is a great nation that cherishes memory and justice.
Poles have fought “for your freedom and ours”. You responded with heartfelt gratitude and unflinching memory. I thank you for this on behalf of the Polish Government and the people of Poland.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The history of our friendship has its heroic dimension. It should never be forgotten, it should be cherished and passed to the new generations. In fact, these new generations seemed to be more interested in history that we have ever expected and hoped for. We witness this also here, at the Polish square in Driel, where so many young faces appear and, in fact, reappear every year during the ceremonies. I would like to thank them for that. You are our hope for the future, our capital that we should cherish and invest in it in the most proper and sophisticated way. Young people interested in history of the II World War, history of its own village, town, country, continent are the future citizens of Europe that can make sure that the atrocities of II World War never happen again, make sure that our freedom is preserved and passed also to generations to come.

This freedom should never be taken for granted. Like every year we repeat that we must learn from history and do everything in our power to prevent war from ever happening again. This year it is especially true when current military conflicts in Ukraine, the Middle East and North Africa pose a direct security threat to the whole Europe and have created the most serious humanitarian crisis since the end of the second world war. The unprecedented influx of migrants to Europe is a challenge that must not be ignored and has to be resolved in the spirit of humanism and European solidarity. In today’s interconnected world a conflict in one region has a direct impact on the other. Poland and the Netherlands must and, I am convinced, will work together within the European Union, the NATO and the United Nations to address the root causes of all of these conflicts. To secure a prosperous and just future for generations to come.

Thank you for your attention.