In Warsaw, the imposing Monument to the Dead and Murdered in the East presents a heap of religious symbols – Catholic and Orthodox crosses as well as Jewish and Muslim symbols – on a flat wagon resting on rails.
“The (Muslim) crescent is there with the (Jewish) Star of David to reflect the multi-ethnic and multi-religious landscape of the eastern border,” Katarzyna Gorak-Sosnowska, associate professor at the SGH Warsaw School of Science, told Anadolu Agency. Economics. .
The monument was erected in honor of Poles killed and murdered in the East, especially those deported to labor camps in Siberia after the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939 and the victims of the Katyn massacre in 1940.
Each railroad tie in the monument displays the names of the places from which Polish citizens were deported to be used as slaves in the USSR, as well as the names of the camps, collective farms and gulag outposts that were their destinations.
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The monument, designed by Maksymilian Biskupski, is located at the intersection of Muranowska and General Wladyslaw Anders streets in the Polish capital.
Biskupski designed the bronze monument, which stands about 7 meters tall, in 1991, and it was officially unveiled on September 17, 1995 – the 56th anniversary of the Soviet invasion.
In 2020, the Tatars erected a plaque on the wall of the Tatar Muslim cemetery in Warsaw, on the initiative of the Supreme Muslim Collegium of the Muslim Religious Union of the Republic of Poland and the Union of Tatars of the Republic of Poland . The plaque commemorates their ancestors who fought in the defense of Poland.
Unveiled on the 100th anniversary of the 1920 Battle of Warsaw, the Muslim community was represented by the Mufti of the Republic of Poland, Tomasz Miskiewicz.
— Marcin Zaborowski (@MaZaborowski) July 2, 2021
During the Polish-Bolshevik War of 1920, this regiment took part in the battles along the Vistula near Plock and suffered heavy losses there. After its disbandment, many soldiers were transferred to the 13th Vilnius Uhlans, where a Tatar squadron was created. The regiment participated in the September 1939 campaign, repelling the invasion.
Muslims in Poland
The Muslim Religious Union of Poland (MZR), founded in 1925, is the oldest Muslim organization in Poland. He particularly represents the Lipka Tatars, who have lived on the border between what is now Poland, Lithuania and Belarus since the 14th century, making them one of the oldest Muslim communities in Europe.
Historically, the community served Poland in various wars, most notably in the army of King John III Sobieski, who defeated the Ottoman Empire in the Battle of Vienna in 1683.
The majority of Muslims in Poland – now estimated to number between 20,000 and 25,000 – today are not of Lipka Tatar descent. Today, most Muslim immigrants arrive from Syria, Chechnya, Iraq, Tajikistan or Bangladesh. There are about 5,000 Lipka Tatars.
In the early Middle Ages, the first Muslims to reach Poland were Arab merchants and travellers. One of them, Ibrahim ibn Jakub, an ethnic Jew working in the diplomatic service of the Caliph of Spain, left the earliest description of the Duchy of Poland, ruled by Mieszko I as the first independent Polish state.
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However, the history of Islam in Poland begins in the 14th century, with Muslim settlement in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, then linked to the Polish union. The first Muslims were the Tatars of the Golden Horde, often prisoners of war.
During the Battle of Grunwald in 1410, the Polish-Lithuanian army was supported by the pretender to the Chan throne in the Golden Horde, Jalal al-Din. After the battle, many of his warriors remained in Lithuania.
Later, the Tatars arrived in Lithuania in the 15th, 16th and, to a lesser extent, in the 17th century. The number of Tatars in the 17th century in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Crown is estimated at 15,000.
The Tatars received land in exchange for military service. Early Tatar settlements include Kolnolary, Kozaklary, Mereszlany, Prudziany and Sorok Tatary.
19th century and beyond
It will be necessary to wait for the Constitution of May 3, 1791 for Muslims to obtain freedom of religion, but without political rights. Only the Constitution of the Duchy of Warsaw in 1807, then of the Kingdom of Poland in 1815, granted Muslims full political rights.
During the time of the last king of the Republic of Poland, Stanislaw August Poniatowski, the Tatars took part in the Confederation of the Bar, and many took part in the war with Russia in 1792, and the Polish army corps was commanded by Tatar General Jozef Bielak. Tatars took part in many fights during Kosciuszko’s uprising in 1794. After Poland lost its independence, Muslims took part in uprisings.
After Polish independence, around 5,500 Muslims lived within Polish borders, mostly in the voivodships (governorates) of Nowogrodek, Vilnius and Bialystok, and a small Muslim community lived in Warsaw.
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World War II and the post-war period significantly changed the situation of Muslims in Poland. Polish Tatars were displaced and moved to Siberian territories. Some ended up in German concentration camps.
Many Tatars fought on the Western Front as soldiers of the Polish 2nd Corps and on the Eastern Front in the 1st and 2nd Polish Armies.
After World War II, many Tatars settled in Britain, expanded their colony in New York and traveled to Australia. Several families have settled in Türkiye.
Anadolu with additional input from GVS News Desk