Museum of the Polish II Corps / Information Center on Monte Cassino – A short history
The idea of building a Memorial Museum of the Polish II Corps on Monte Cassino was first presented in 2004 by Mieczysław Rasiej, then President of the Association of Poles in Italy. The project was realized by the Association in collaboration with the Embassy of Poland in Italy.
The Polish War Cemetery on Monte Cassino is visited not only by Poles but also by many tourists and pilgrims from Italy and abroad. They come to visit the neighboring Benedictine Monastery, situated just a short walk from the cemetery. Most are surprised to find that more than a thousand Polish soldiers are buried there; they do not know the complex series of events and circumstances that brought the soldiers to Italy to fight and die for its liberation from the Germans. The aim of the Museum is to enable all those who visit the cemetery to discover this little-known but fascinating chapter of Polish – and European – history, and to understand it in the context of Poland’s dramatic fate during the Second World War.
The construction of the Museum and preparation of the exhibition was a lengthy and complex endeavor that required considerable organizational and financial effort. Due to the particular legal status of the Polish War Cemetery, located on Italian soil, close cooperation with numerous institutions both in Italy and Poland was necessary.
The construction works were initiated in 2013, at which time the project’s financial resources only allowed the first stage to be concluded. The project was completed thanks to generous contributions from several donors.
Inauguration of the Museum
The Museum was inaugurated on May 17, 2014, within the framework of the international ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Monte Cassino. These ceremonies were attended by a handful of veterans from Poland, the UK, the US and other countries. Also present were: Poland’s Prime Minister Mr. Donald Tusk with his wife; Ms. Anna Maria Anders – the daughter of General Władysław Anders, who commanded the Polish II Corps; Ms. Karolina Kaczorowska – the widow of the last Polish President in exile; scouts; and many other distinguished guests.
The Museum and its permanent exhibition
The Museum was designed by architect Pietro Rogacien, whose father fought in the ranks of the Polish Corps on Monte Cassino and later supervised the construction of the Polish War Cemetery. Thanks to the use of local stone, the building harmonizes perfectly with the surrounding landscape and the architecture of the cemetery.
The exhibition, composed of pictures, maps and texts in Polish, English and Italian, presents a highly evocative tale
of the epic odyssey of more than a hundred thousand Poles. These men and women, after having suffered deportation to Siberia and the Soviet Gulags, joined the Polish Army organized by General Anders. They then crossed the Middle East to reach Italy, where they fought victoriously against the Nazi occupiers. However, at the end of the war they were banned from returning to their homes in Poland, now under Soviet domination.
The texts were written by Professor Krystyna Jaworska, whose parents were both soldiers in the Polish II Corps, and Paolo Morawski.
The layout, designed by Kłaput Project, was chosen in a competitive selection process from a number of different projects.
Most of the 120+ photos in the exhibition come from the Polish Institute and the Sikorski Museum in London.
The film of the inauguration of the Memorial Museum
Alcune foto della costruzione
Video della visita del Presidente Napolitano al Cimitero di Montecassino il 15 marzo 2014.
Foundation of the Memorial Museum of the 2nd Polish Corps in Italy
Via Piemonte 117 – 00187 Roma – email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Memorial Museum of the 2nd Polish Corps in Montecassino
Cassino (FR) – Monte Cassino – Polish war cemetery