Opening of the exhibition "Polish Paratroopers in Operation Market Garden" in Oosterbeek, the Netherlands - Instytut Pileckiego

Opening of the exhibition "Polish Paratroopers in Operation Market Garden" in Oosterbeek, the Netherlands

An outdoor exhibition about Polish paratroopers in Operation Market Garden, the 80th anniversary of which falls in September, opened today at the Airborne Museum at Hartenstein in Oosterbeek, the Netherlands.

July 6, 2024

The exhibition was developed jointly by the Pilecki Institute, the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in the Netherlands, and the Airborne Museum. The Driel-Polen Foundation, which has been cultivating the memory of the 1st Independent Parachute Brigade and its fight in the Battle of Arnhem, also contributed significantly to the project.

The exhibition, presented in English and Dutch language versions, gives a lucid overview of the key events in the history of the 1st Independent Parachute Brigade, and at the same time explains the tragic fate of Poland in the Second World War, which led among other things to Polish paratroopers finding themselves in the Netherlands in 1944.

The Airborne Museum, where the exhibition will be on view until 27 October 2024, is located in Oosterbeek near Arnhem. The museum has its seat at the former Hartenstein Hotel, which served as the headquarters of the British 1st Airborne Division during the Battle of Arnhem. Soldiers from the Polish brigade also fought in the vicinity.

The history of the 1st Independent Parachute Brigade aptly illustrates the Poles’ dramatic clash with totalitarian regimes during the Second World War. The brigade’s soldiers, including the commander, Brigadier General Stanisław Sosabowski, were either former prisoners of German POW camps and Soviet gulags or wanted fugitives from the occupied country. Many of them were in Anders’ Army before volunteering for risky service with the elite airborne unit. None of them had a chance to go back to Poland and take part in liberating the country. Some never returned to their homeland, and as emigrants suffered numerous injustices from their former allies after the war. Meanwhile, those who did return to Poland were harassed and persecuted by the communist authorities.

Texts and selection of illustrations: Wojciech Markert
Graphic design: Damian Makowski

Special thanks:
Piotr Samerek and Natalia Zweekhorst from the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in The Hague
Ronnie Weijers – Director of the Airborne Museum at Hartenstein
Arno Baltussen – Chairman of the Driel-Polen Foundation

Photos: Arjan Vrieze Photography

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