POZNAN, Poland (Oct. 25, 2022) - For the first time in history, the city of Poznań invited U.S. Army Soldiers to attend and participate in a memorial ceremony for the 66th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution and the 1956 Poznań protests, also known as Poznań June, in the Jeżyce district of Poznań, Poland, Saturday.
Senior leaders from U.S. Army V Corps and Area Support Group Poland, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, stood shoulder-to-shoulder with local leaders and citizens of Poznań to honor the lives lost in 1956 and lay wreaths near the plaques of Péter Mansfeld and Romek Strzałkowski, two teenage boys who found themselves in the turmoil of the dramatic events that took place in Hungary and Poznań.
Mansfeld, a 16-year-old freedom fighter from Budapest who was hanged for stealing ammunitions and disseminating anti-communist leaflets, and Strzałkowski, one of 18 children that died during the Poznań Protests, are both legendary figures of Poznań and Budapest 1956.
“Remembering Romek Strzałkowski and Péter Mansfeld gives us strength never to give up the fight for our freedom,” said László Kövér, Speaker of the Hungarian Parliament. “And us, Hungarians, and the Polish never to let each other down.”
V Corps’ Forward Deputy Chief of Staff Col. Scott Daulton echoed Kövér’s sentiments. He stated V Corps respects and understands the historical significance of both events and the strength and will of the people to endure hardships for the sake of freedom against the Soviets. He went on to say the U.S. stands in solidarity with Poland and Hungary.
“We are one team,” said Daulton.
In addition to the wreath laying, the event also included a speech from the Mayor of Poznań, Jacek Jaśkowiak, and a poem read by the students from the Poznań school. After the ceremony, the Institute of National Remembrance held a lecture.
Poznań June was the first of several massive protests against the communist government of the Polish People’s Republic. Demonstrations began on June 28, 1956, at Poznań's Cegielski Factories and were met with violent repression. The death toll was estimated from 57 to over a hundred people, including Strzałkowski.
The Hungarian Revolution, Oct. 23– Nov. 10, 1956, was a countrywide revolution against the Hungarian People's Republic and the Hungarian domestic policies imposed by the Soviet Union. Suppression of the Hungarian Uprising killed 2,500 Hungarians, including Mansfeld.
“No matter if it happened 50, 60, 70 years ago, I think it’s important to remember the people that have stood up against communism,’’ said Col. Jorge Fonseca, commander, Army Area Support Group Poland. “By remembering Strzałkowski and Mansfeld, I think it shows the significance and importance of the United States’ partnership that it has sworn to Poland. And by just inviting the [U.S.] military to these events, [it] shows the community that we are united, and here to protect our allies and partners.”
Leaders of Poznan continue to express support for V Corps and the continued presence of U.S. Soldiers in and around Camp Kosciuszko.