Michniów is a symbol of Polish countryside: President Duda

In a moral way, Michniów never ceased to exist, just like the other Polish villages - and there were over 800 of them - which were pacified during World War II, said President Andrzej Duda on Monday in Michniów, central Poland, during the celebration of the Day of Struggle and Martyrdom of Polish Villages.

July 12 marks the Day of the Struggle and Martyrdom of the Polish Villages. It was established on the anniversary of the pacification of the village of Michniów in the Świętokrzyskie province, by the German occupier, which was carried out on July 12 and 13, 1943.

Monday's ceremonies were accompanied by the official opening of the Mausoleum of Martyrdom of Polish Villages, commemorating 817 Polish villages pacified by the Germans.

The president stated that it would not have been possible to save Poland in 1920, during the Soviet Army invasion, without the help of people from Polish villages. He added that there would have been no great history of Polish heroism during World War II, if it had not been for the heroism of Polish villagers who enrolled in the Polish army and later on, in the partisan units.

President Duda pointed out that Michniów was a symbol of the Polish countryside. As he said, "a Polish farmer always knew what was really important and what dignity, honour and fatherland meant.”

"Honour and glory to the heroes. The eternal memory of the murdered inhabitants of Michniów and all Polish villages. Eternal memory of the fallen soldiers of the Home Army, the Polish Peasants' Battalions and all other formations that fought for a free, sovereign and independent Poland," concluded the president.

On July 12, 1943, the Germans began a two-day pacification of Michniów, triggered by the help of the village’s inhabitants for the partisans of the Home Army operating nearby, grouped under the command of Lieutenant Jan Piwnik "Ponury".

As a result of the pacification, 204 people were murdered - 102 men, 54 women and 48 children. It is known that the number of victims of this crime may be higher, as the fate of tenants, servants and people temporarily staying in the village is unknown.