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, 72 years ago
Driel, 17 September 2016

Szanowni Weterani,
Mister Mayor,
Dames en Heren,
Szanowni Państwo!
Today we are celebrating the seventy-second anniversary of the Battle of Arnhem. I am particularly honored to come to Driel for the fifth time during my term as the Ambassador of Poland to the Netherlands, to pay tribute to General Sosabowski and his soldiers.

We have also another particular occasion to celebrate today – ten years ago Queen Beatrix awarded, posthumously, the Bronze Lion to General Sosabowski for his actions in Operation Market Garden. This rare decoration is awarded to servicemen who have shown extreme bravery and leadership in the battle. This way, General Sosabowski got the recognition he deserved.

I am mentioning this because I wish once again to underline our gratefulness to Queen Beatrix for her recognition of General Sosabowski ten years ago. We are equally grateful to all Dutch friends who made this restitution of memory possible. The Dutch set an example for every country how we should commonly cherish the heritage of our common history.

Chciałbym się teraz zwrócić do Polaków, moich rodaków, tu zgromadzonych na Placu Polskim w Driel. Szanowni Państwo! Dzisiaj jest z nami trzech weteranów, panowie Kubinski, Staszkiewicz i Wojciechowski. Oni są głównymi bohaterami dzisiejszej uroczystości i to dzięki nim Polska należy do rodziny wolnych narodów europejskich.

Drodzy Weterani! Zwracam się do Was w imieniu Rzeczypospolitej. Dzisiejsza uroczystość jest przede wszystkim Waszym świętem. To Wy pozbawieni możliwości walki w Powstaniu Warszawskim skierowani zostaliście do walki o wolność Holandii. Pomimo, że Operacja Market Garden nie osiągnęła zamierzonego celu, to wojna po kilku miesiącach zakończyła się zwycięstwem, również dzięki Wam. W imieniu władz polskich i polskiego społeczeństwa serdecznie Wam dziękuję za dzisiejszą wolność i życzę wielu lat w zdrowiu i pomyślności.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to also pay special tribute to all Dutch friends who have cultivated the memory of General Sosabowski’s soldiers in the Netherlands. As this is perhaps the last time I am here in Driel in my official capacity as the Ambassador of Poland, let me mention how grateful I am to Mr. Arno Baltussen, the honorary consul of Poland in Gelderland, and all the persons actively involved in the activities of the Foundation Driel-Polen, for all these years of promoting remembrance of Polish troops here in Gelderland. My warm thankfulness goes also to the authorities of Driel and Overbetuwe as well as to regional authorities of Gelderland together with the Commissioner of the King, Mr. Cornielje.

Dear Dutch Friends,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Every year in September we meet here in Driel at the Polish Square to commemorate those who sacrificed their lives so that we could live today in a free and democratic Europe. Of course, since 1944 many aspects of our lives have changed significantly. We are faced with new challenges and dangers. But one thing has remained the same. It is the bonds which were then established and which have evolved into Polish-Dutch friendship. Between ordinary people and between the two states.

That is why, as I look back on my more than four years in the Netherland, I see clearly that celebrations of the Second World War events were not only ceremonies connected with the past. They were perfectly rooted in the present times. Many groups of visitors coming to this country – soldiers, policemen, musicians, school children – they were all coming on the occasion of commemorations in Driel and in Breda. This is of huge importance, because despite the fact that Poland and the Netherlands are bound by a close political and cultural relationship, they still need further discovering.

We live in challenging times, with the challenges like the migration waves and Brexit. But how are we able to understand migrants from Africa if we do not often know other nations from Europe? Europe still has a homework to do in discovering itself. Then we will be stronger and more prosperous. This is what soldiers of general Sosabowski teach us today.

Ladies and Gentleman, Dames en Heren!
I wish you yet many years of keeping Polish-Dutch friendship alive.

Thank you for your attention.