1st Independent Polish Parachute Brigade
The 1st Independent Polish Parachute Brigade was a truly unique and remarkable military organization. They were much more than a basic military formation. Directly under the command of the Polish government in exile, they were a symbol and hope for Poland's future. Training, both physical and mental was extensive, only the best that the Polish forces had to offer could join this brotherhood. For years they trained for one singlar mission - the liberation of Warsaw, the "Phoenix City". To the Allies, their appearancewas simply that of another part of the Polish Armed Forces assembled to fight Nazi Germany, but to the Polish government, the Brigade was "insurance". Poland knew that Soviet Russia would covet the addition of Warsaw to it's sphere of oppression. Russian and Polish rivalry go back centuries. The Brigade's sole mission was to wait until Warsaw's freedom fighters rose up to liberate the city from the nazis, then parachute in to assist, and then hold the city from those forces who would try to exploit the vacuum left by the nazi retreat. Unfortunately this was to never be. Stalin, as ruthless as his arch-enemy, was still considered as needed by the Allies to defeat Germany. The 1st Independent Polish Parachute Brigade thererfor ended up a victim of politics. Just weeks before the Warsaw Uprising, the Polish Parachute Brigade (now under allied command) ended up jumping into battle in the Netherlands during operation Market Garden. Into fields crawling with German SS the Poles jumped and fought ferociously. Surprisingly, Polish morale was high. Their resolve was astounding to the other Allies. Even as Warsaw burned under the utter ruthlessness of the nazis during the awaited Uprising, not a single Pole refused duty. They fought on. The mission that they had trained for and waited for had come and past, their Phoenix city had not arisen from the ashes as they had hoped - it burned with a death toll even worse than Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. After virually the entire city had been leveled, it then came under the cruel boot of a tyrant that was, by many citizen's accounts, even worse than Hitler's minions. Some Polish Paras tried to return to Warsaw after the war to live in peace and help rebuild. Some were jailed for years as traitors, others were never seen or heard from again. Warsaw and Poland were lost. But it was not all in vain. The Polish character is one of defiance. This is what has enabled the Polish culture and laguage to suvive for 1000+ years through numerous partitions, and persecutions. In a Gdansk shipyard during the 1980's, that defiance once again came to the surface and within a decade or so, it spread throughout the entire Eastern block with Poland at it's hub. The Soviet Union lost it's grip, within years, that defiance spread like a wildfire until even the Soviet Union itself fell to pieces. Poland, through Her defiance, and with help from friends, had won after all.