Krakow Backs WWII Soldier Bear Statue
02.05.2013 – Krakow councillors have voted in favour of raising a statue of one of the most unlikely Polish heroes of the Second World War, Wojtek the soldier bear.
“This is a natural, friendly way into a gripping historical subject,” historian Professor Norman Davies told our reporter, Nick Hodge.
“Wojtek is not just a nice story about a bear who became a soldier. He’s a symbol of a big group of people – 100,000 strong and more – who came out of Stalin’s Russia,” Davies reflected.
The much-loved bear was adopted by Polish civilians, and then servicemen, who were evacuated together to Iran after being held captive in the Soviet Union.
Wojtek was the only four legged private in Poland’s armed forces, and the only soldier who could count on a double daily ration. He advanced with the Polish troops through Italy as part of General Wladyslaw Anders’ Second Corps, a formation of the British 8th Army.
The audio report also features Professor Wojciech Narebski, the last living veteran in Poland of the 22nd Transport Company, of which the bear became the mascot.
Meanwhile, Richard Lucas, a Krakow-based British entrepreneur and one of the initiators of the project, talks about the next steps in getting the statue realized.
– Polskie Radio