The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage is embarking on a mission to care for Polish cemeteries and war graves in 58 countries worldwide. These sites, each with its unique historical significance, are meticulously maintained, restored, and protected to honour the memory of Polish soldiers and civilians who have played a role in the country’s rich history.
A Global Commitment
The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage is the driving force behind this monumental initiative, dedicating resources to oversee Polish graves and war cemeteries in nearly every corner of the world. The care provided includes a wide range of activities, from inventory-taking to maintenance, conservation, and restoration work. Additionally, the Ministry conducts archival research and historical inquiries to ensure the accuracy of each site’s historical record.
All these efforts are funded by the Ministry’s budget and the Minister’s Program, “National Memory Places Abroad,” which aims to safeguard and commemorate Poland’s history beyond its borders.
Continuous Care for National Memory Places
The Ministry’s commitment extends to year-round care for nearly 100 Polish cemeteries and war graves worldwide. In 2023, over 2 million Polish zlotys were allocated for this purpose. These funds are used to maintain the sites, ensure vegetation thrives, conserve commemorative elements, and carry out repairs.
Ukraine: A Testament to Endurance
The majority of sites under the Ministry’s care can be found in Ukraine, where over 70 sites are preserved. Notable examples include the Cemetery of the Eaglets (Cmentarz Orląt Lwowskich) in Lviv, as well as sites connected to the November and January Uprisings. Recognizable locations also include the Polish War Cemetery in Kyiv-Bykivnia and the graves of Polish soldiers who lost their lives during the September Campaign.
Moreover, numerous burial places of soldiers from the Polish Legions and eight resting places of Polish Army soldiers who perished during the Polish-Bolshevik War are cared for.
Cemeteries in Central Asia and the Middle East
The Ministry supports Polish cemeteries in Central Asia and the Middle East, connected to General Władysław Anders’ Army and the civilian population deported to the USSR. A contractor oversees 22 Polish war cemeteries in countries like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, along with eight cemeteries in the Middle East.
Italy: Nurturing a Historical Connection
In Italy, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage has coordinated the continuous conservation of three Polish war cemeteries associated with General Władysław Anders’ II Corps. These cemeteries, located in Monte Cassino, Loreto, and Bologna, have received special attention over the years. Additionally, the Ministry extended its care to a section at the cemetery in Santa Maria Capua Vetere near Naples.
Restoring Memory: Names Remembered
The Ministry annually allocates financial resources for the renovation of graves and war cemeteries in 17 countries. Notably, the “Missing but Not Forgotten: Soldiers of the Polish Armed Forces in the West” project identifies the names of buried soldiers.
Honouring the Unforgotten
In Germany, the restoration of the section dedicated to forced labourers at the Stuttgart Main Cemetery was completed. In Norway, collaboration with the Norwegian Ministry of Culture led to identifying a Polish man who died during World War II. In Romania, ongoing renovation work ensures that the resting places of interned Polish soldiers and civilian refugees from September 1939 are renewed.