Last week my dad and I flew to Munich, Germany. The main purpose of the trip was to travel to Murnau, a city about an hour’s train ride south of Munich. The picturesque, Bavarian town of about 15,000 residents lies not far from the Swiss border and has a beautiful view of the Alps.
During World War II, the German army barracks (constructed before the war), served as a prison camp for Polish officers taken prisoner after the invasion of Poland in 1939. Among the initial wave of 1,000 prisoners were both of my grandfathers, Konrad Siekierski and Kazimierz Bendisz. As time went on, more men were sent to the camp and at its height over 5,000 prisoners were kept there.
The commemoration events that I attended marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the camp (April 29, 1945) and were organized by a local high school teacher, Martin L., who spent the past several years organizing the day.
The days events included mass at St. Nicholas’s Church, a wreath-laying ceremony at the monument to the Polish soldiers who died in captivity in the adjoining cemetery, a tour of the former camp (now a German army barracks), an exhibit and ceremony at the high school, organized by Martin’s students.
The text on the monument reads: In memory of the Polish soldiers who died in captivity from 1939-1945 as well as 1945-1947. They didn’t arrive + they rested + they will rise.