THE LAST LEGIONARIES
On the Day before the Independence Day there reappeared lively comments in media, as well as street marches, slogans, speeches, often people do not even know when and what happened on 11 November (it is proved by an entry online by the chief of the Democracy Defence Committee, I will not quote, not to waste ‘time or wine’ as my professor of Polish used to say).
On those November feast days I return to heroes of one of my first documentaries entitled: ‘The last legionaries’. In the beginning of the 90s I decided to find still alive soldiers of the Second Republic of Poland, who began their road of life from the Legions bringing back Poland to life after 123 years of captivity. As young boys, they used to get organized, join shooters’ teams, various scouting organizations, take part in a fight about Poland, which did not exist on the maps of the world, but it was loved more, and was alive in Polish hearts, families, schools – patriotism was strong.
‘Nobody doubted that Poland would arise’ – it was repeated by all legionaries. Travelling across Poland at that time, I managed to reach to 5 legionaries from the First Brigade of Józef Piłsudski and one from the Second Brigade of Karpaty. Today, when I am watching this film, I am surprised by one common feature for all characters appearing in it – authenticity, modesty in their love for Poland. ‘I come from Lvov, at the age of 16 I joined Legions with my father. It was the atmosphere of school, family home and I remained so forever. – says the colonel Stanisław Rutkowski (born in 1987). – In our hearts we had great love for Homeland, we were sure that Poland would exist. On 11 November 1918 we set off from Styr, after fights, in the early morning I heard a song ‘Buds of white roses bloomed’ and it was the first breath of my Homeland’. – here the voice of a strict legionary broke slightly….Being brought up on stories by Sienkiewicz, history of Napoleon’ wars, the young, mostly from highly educated families, created this first frontier of a fight about Poland. One would like to ask a question what happened with today’s highly educated people in current Poland? ‘It was a patriotic sequence, my grandfather was an insurgent in the January Uprising, we were in legions, and we were brought up in this way – says the colonel Władysław Kamirski (born in 1899). ‘Józef Piłsudski was everything for us. He was like god for us, had a great influence on us, and only his look was enough – we understood it – if the Commander thought so, it had to be done so, as he thought well’ – adds the colonel Stefaln Jelelnta (born in 1989). ‘Father used to tell me that we would fight and he was right. – the colonel Stefan Sołtysik (born in 1986) says with tears in his eyes. ‘When it was necessary, divisions disappeared, all Brigades stood together for fight, and we, soldiers from the Second Brigade wore little medallions with the image of Józef Piłsudski, as we all knew that he was the creator of Legions and our whole independence’ – these were words of the colonel Władysław Tracz from the Second Brigade, often being in the opposition to Józef Piłsudski.
Characters of the film ‘The last legionaries’ are already deceased and are only on the film tape, their voices, family souvenirs, photos, emotion tears and truth about those people and time. I remember how emotional was work on this film for the whole team. When photo-shooting ended, an operator Ryszard Janowski, a great professional, came up to me and said a surprising sentence – ‘I am kneeling in front of you, Polish nationalist, I am a Polish Jew, thank you that I could live in those unusual Polish homes. It was more than school, studies….for me, thank you for that’. And, finally, I will quote words which Józef Piłsudski said to soldiers after fights in 1920: ‘The country which can create such a soldier as you are in two years’ time, can look at the future calmly’.