WARSAW, Poland. – 24/08/2021 – Visitors to Warsaw cannot escape immersing themselves in the city’s history. A stroll through the old town is a treat for lovers of architecture, art, and science. The Presidential Palace, Chopin, and Copernicus are all featured along the Royal Route.
It’s hard to believe, the Old Town Market Place Square fringed with muted-coloured medieval buildings and outdoor restaurants, was reduced to rubble by the German Luftwaffe during the invasion of Poland merely 82 years ago. The current buildings were reconstructed between 1948-1953 to look as they did in the 17th century.
Both Germany and Russia invaded Poland in 1939 over its eastern and western borders at the start of a bitter and tragic period of the country’s history, the Second World War.
Although a relative period of peace has existed throughout the country and Europe since; the war ended in 1945 and Communist ideology crumbled when the Iron Curtain was ripped apart in 1989, the threat of another invasion can never be ruled out.
This explained why British soldiers from the 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment based at Kendrew Barracks, Oakham, near Leicester, were gathered around their commanding officer in front of The Royal Castle in plac Zamkowy on a grey August afternoon.
Chief Instructor, Col. Matthew Whitchurch of the Royal Engineers explained the British Army, along with troops from the U.S., Croatia, and Romania are in Poland as what NATO calls Enhanced Forward Presence (EFP.)
Whitchurch said, “The idea is to make it clear there is no question of bad form from Mr. Putin,” referencing the Russian Federations’ President’s annexing of The Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
“The Baltic States and Poland were alarmed about 2014, and with their very unfortunate history, they have a point. To reassure them, several countries agreed to send troops. Prevention is better than cure.”
The colonel spoke of past examples in recent history, such as The Rhineland in 1936 and Poland in 1939, where the placement of troops in strategic corridors may have prevented invasion, and as such changed the course of history.
Along with regular military maneuvers, the soldiers are also trained by means of a Battlefield Study. Whitchurch said this is an army method of learning history in-situ and a clever way of teaching the soldiers to better understand the good and bad practices, as well as to see Poland.
The battalion’s program today included a tour of the Warsaw Uprising Museum, a Battlefield Tour, and a demonstration of fighting in the Warsaw Uprising to understand and draw lessons from the practice of urban close combat in 1944. The troops also laid a wreath at the 1944 Warsaw Uprising memorial.
In the light of the ongoing tragedies in Kabul, Afghanistan, it is still important we teach and learn from history. As otherwise as George Santayana said,
“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Canada and other European NATO countries have troops based in Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania.