Restoring the dignity of Poland. Honor and glory to the heroes!
The funeral of Major Zygmunt Szendzielarz “Łupaszka” was held on May 24th, 2016, in Warsaw with full military honors. The President of Poland, Andrzej Duda, attended along with government officials, e.g. the defense minister and deputy prime minister; soldiers, veterans, re-enactors and thousands of patriots who came from all over Poland to celebrate the indomitable hero.
Today, the Polish state honors and pays tribute to Colonel Zygmunt Szendzielarz and all those who fought for Poland independence, because without them there would not be free Poland. That’s why the Polish Army and Polish President are here.
Zygmunt Szendzielarz’s remains were excavated from the death hole in Warsaw’s “Meadow” in 2013 by the team led by Professor Christopher Szwagrzyk.
Crowds of people gathered in front of St. Karol Boromeusz church at Powązki Cementary.
“We must do everything to set into universal consciousness the truth that actions of Indomitable Soldiers deserve the remembrance and gratitude of entire nation. It is our duty to restore the memory of the anti-communist uprising heroes in the post-war Poland” – said Bishop Jozef Guzdek during the Field Mass.
The Minister Antoni Macierewicz’s order to posthumously promote Zygmunt Szendzielarz to the rank of colonel was read.
President Andrzej Duda said:
“Venerable Family of Colonel, Venerable veterans – last surviving Indomitable Soldiers, Dear Marshals, Dear Prime Ministers, Mr. Minister, Dear Ladies and Gentlemen Ministers, Dear Ladies and Gentlemen MPs, Senators, Your Excellency, Reverend Bishop General, Venerable priests, all gathered here Dear Compatriots,
65 years to restore dignity. But not to restore the dignity of Major Zygmunt Szendzielarz “Łupaszka”, who became Colonel today. The Colonel always had this dignity, never lost it, and through his heroic death and suffering for the homeland, will have this dignity forever. So he and his fallen comrades.
Today, after 65 years, by finding the mortal remains of Colonel, by remembering the heroism of the Indomitable Soldiers, by this state funeral, we restore the dignity of Poland. The dignity, trampled by those who once tortured and murdered then Major Zygmunt Szendzielarz “Łupaszka”, the dignity, which those blurring the memory had thrown into nameless pits together with the Indomitable Soldiers.
Today, this dignity comes back with the proud Republic, proud Poland, which bends her head low and pays tribute to her great son, a hero, indomitable to the end.
And that’s why I wanted to thank from this place the family of Colonel, families of all fallen Indomitable Soldiers, but also scouts, riflemen, sports fans and all young people who have been for years worshiping the memory of Indomitable Soldiers. I wanted to thank the families for always preserving dignity and always remembering about your loved ones. For always worshiping what was important: the truth, memory of heroism, indomitability, through the attitude of your loved ones, despite all the difficulties and persecution for several years by the communist authorities. For all this, for keeping the memory I wanted to immensely thank you.
I also wanted to thank the Minister for promoting today the Major to a higher officer rank, Colonel. Posthumously, but it is important to show that today we have Poland, that through her highest authorities remembers and honors, and especially appreciates. It is not just to remember the past, but primarily because of who they were, what kind of men, what kind of Poles the Colonel and his troops were.
Today we all know that they were great, but it must be told why. Because they grew up on the myth of the great heroic Poland, the myth of the January Uprising, myth of those who fought for and won independence in 1918, those who defended Warsaw and Poland against the Bolsheviks in 1920. That was what built attitudes of these people, that’s why they rose to defend Poland in 1939, fought in the underground and when the Soviet army came did not want to leave Poland, did not agree to Poland, which was not free, not independent and not sovereign .
Did they count on another war between the East and the West which would liberate Poland? Maybe at first they believed, later certainly they have not, but they did not abscond. They fought to the end. Today, by their example, their heroism we educate the next generation to be like them – faithful to the Motherland, faithful to the soldier’s oath, faithful to all that was implanted in their souls, faithful to independent and free Poland. This is the most important message today. It is not only the memory of the past, but mainly to build the future. Because “the Republic will only be what her youth will learn.”
Mr. Colonel, leaving the cell on your last walk, you said to your fellow prisoners: “God be with you, Gentlemen.” We were with God, Sir, and we are with God all the time. But I want to say one thing bowing my head before You. Poles, and especially the young generation today knows very well that in those days, hard, hopeless days, it was you who did the right thing.
Honor and glory to the heroes, the eternal glory to the fallen! Mr. Colonel, rest in peace, at last in the family tomb, and dream of Poland… the beautiful.”
Next, Bogdan Kasprowicz, nephew of Zbigniew Szendzielarz delivered beautiful eulogy:
“Colonel Szendzielarz, Sir! For God’s sake “Te Deum” is playing. Truly, a joyful day came to us. Christus resurexit est, Polonia resurexit est. And out of the shadows the real heroes of the Republic come. Look, look Łupaszko on us from heaven, as in thy glory we shall wade. Your spirit was needed to free our Motherland. To free her from wickedness, evil servitude, anxiousness. To get rid of false friends and remove alien heroes from the pedestals. Look, look Łupaszko on us from heaven. You, disgraced, spat on, killed, thrown into pits of death, which we were to forget for eternity. Look, today by thy coffin, with meticulously and lovingly picked up your tiniest bones, dressed in the uniform of an officer of the 4th Cavalry Zaniemeński Regiment, the majesty of the Republic – President Andrzej Duda, representatives of government, parliament, army, flags … The Republic here at your coffin says: “I remember, I will always remember.”
After the end of the Mass the funeral procession set out from the church. The coffin with the remains of “Łupaszka” was put on a gun carriage pulled by horses. It was preceded by cavalry troops, including some in the colors of the 4th Cavalry Zaniemeński Regiment, a military band, honor guard of the Polish Army and a group of re-enactors in uniforms from different historical periods, including cadets from November Uprising, Pilsudski men, Polish soldiers from the inter-war period and underground fighters for independence.
In front of the gun carriage soldiers carried Colonel Szendzielarz decorations on red cushions; Order of Military Virtue, Cross of Valor and the Order of the Rebirth of Poland.
In the funeral procession the family of Colonel was followed by the President and official guests. The march to the Military Powązki Cemetery turned into patriotic demonstration. Thousands of people accompanied Colonel Szendzielarz on his way to Powazki. Banners and red and white flags were waving above the participants heads. People were chanting slogans including “Honor and glory to the heroes”.
When the procession reached the Military Powazki Cemetery, the Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz gave a speech:
“Today, the Polish state honors and pays tribute to Colonel Zygmunt Szendzielarz and all those who fought for Poland’s independence, because without them there would not be a free Poland. That’s why the Polish Army and the Polish President are here.”
In accordance with family wishes, Zygmunt Szendzielarz’s body rested in the family grave, where his daughter Barbara was buried. He was buried with military honors. The soil from Vilnius and Stryj where “Łupaszko” came from, was put to the grave.