Polish Liberator’s Uniform
From the collection of the General Maczek Museum, Breda
h 60 cm x w 70 cm
Shouting with joy, the population of Breda welcomed their liberators on 29 October 1944. Surprisingly enough those troops turned out to be Polish. After fierce fighting under the leadership of General Maczek, the 1st Polish Armoured Division had managed to liberate the Dutch city from the Germans.
A Polish soldier named Otoka wore this uniform jacket during that battle. He had come a long way. His division had landed on the beaches of Normandy in France together with the Allies in the summer of 1944 and made its way north via Belgium to the Netherlands. For five months the 1st Armoured Division stayed in the city and the surrounding area to secure the frontline along the River Maas. That led to a strong bond between the Polish liberators and the city of Breda. In 1949 Otaka married a Dutch woman and chose the Netherlands over Poland – by then communist. Poles who wanted to return home at that time had a problem: in most cases even Poland’s own citizens were denied entry to their country.