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    The Red Poppies on Monte Cassino – one of the best-known Polish military songs of World War II

    The Red Poppies on Monte Cassino is one of the best-known Polish military songs of World War II. It warmed the soldiers’ hearts up in May 1944 in Italy, during the Battle of Monte Cassino, on the eve of the Polish Army’s capture of the German stronghold.

    The process of the song-making started on the night of 17-18 May 1944, a few hours before the victory and the end of a series of military assaults. Firstly, a poet and songwriter Feliks Konarski wrote the first two opening stanzas. He was also a soldier of the Polish II Corps commanded by Major General Władysław Anders. When he heard the thunder of guns that announced the second Polish attack his excitement about the Polish soldiers’ advantage over the Germans during the battle arose. He rapidly wrote the lyrics and woke Alfred Schütz up. Then, the song’s melody was composed by Schütz, the Polish composer and pianist of Jewish origin. He was also a member of the Polish Soldiers’ Theater garrisoned at Campobasso in the shadow of Monte Cassino. The third stanza of the military song was written a few days after the capture.

    On 18 May 1944, the day following the song’s composition, the Poles stormed and captured the precincts of the Monte Cassino monastery. Later that day, the song was first performed at General Anders’ headquarters to celebrate the Polish victory. The Red Poppies on Monte Cassino won popularity with the troops and was soon published by a Polish-American newspaper in New York. It was later published in Poland. It was banned, however, during the Stalinist period in the People’s Republic of Poland, when the government sought to minimize the memory of the wartime Polish Armed Forces in the West. It is featured, however, in Andrzej Wajda’s film Ashes and Diamonds, made in 1958, after the death of Stalin. (wikipedia.org)

     

    The full version of the song is also available on the Youtube platform:

     

    This song plays also a significant role during the celebrations of this historical event. Check the video of this year’s performance of the song during the 78th anniversary of the Battle of Monte Cassino:

     

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