Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Tomb of Poland's Unknown Soldier, Warsaw

Photos Contributed by Steve Miller

The establishing of the tomb under the arcades of the Saski (Saxon) Palace was initiated by the Minister of Military Affairs General Wladyslaw Sikorski, the mausoleum project by Stanislaw Ostrowski, the sculptor.

Fifteen battlefields were selected by the military historical office as possible sites for acquiring the remains of the Unknown Soldier.  On 4 April 1925 the site of the Battle of Lwów, which took place in 1918-1919 in the Polish-Ukrainian War, was selected. On 2 November 1925 it was placed in the mausoleum at the Saski Palace. Fourteen urns containing earth from the other 14 Polish battlefields were placed around the covering for the coffin.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Bears Witness to the Bravery and Dedication of All Polish Soldiers Who Died in  Service to the Country

The places and dates of the battles were commemorated on four plates fastened to the pillars.  After the German occupation and Warsaw uprising of 1944 only the arcades of the Saski Palace survived. A post-1945 restoration was made in accordance with the original plan. During the postwar era the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was the place where Polish aspirations for independence and freedom manifested.

Lwów in the now-Ukrainian city of Lviv (German Lemberg)
Note this panel remembers the Polish Contributions Throughout WWII

When Poland regained complete independence in 1990, the original architecture of the mausoleum's interior was restored.  The four original plates were reproduced with 14 new plates added listing sites of martyrdom and the most important battles fought by the Polish Army over the centuries. The dedication of the restored memorial took place on 3 May 1991.


  1. Other heroes. Our bomb formation was sometimes escorted by a Polish Spitfire Squadron.
    They tucked in tight. We knew we were protected by fearless wings.

  2. Probably obvious, but for those who may not know, Saxon Palace is in Warsaw. At some future date, funds permitting, Poland would like to rebuild the palace, whose ruins have been excavated and many historical objects removed. The full list of battles noted on the Monument is here:,_Warsaw. Given Poland's long history in the Bloodlands between Russia and Germany, the battles run chronologically from Cedynia on June 24, 972 (not surprisingly, a battle between Germans and Poles) to Berlin (April May, 1945), also a battle, ah, well, this one we all know.

  3. I am moved to see that the Poles consider their contribution to the Battle of Britain, fighting for another country, as worth listing on their national memorial.