A oto krót­ki tekst  prze­sła­ny do pra­sy, radia i tv w nadziei, że wia­do­mość ta dotrze tak­że do anglo­ję­zycz­nych Kanadyjczyków.

Foto­gra­fo­wał Witek Stepczynski.


Today Polish com­mu­ni­ties aro­und the world com­me­mo­ra­ted yet ano­ther anni­ver­sa­ry of one of the seve­ral bat­tles that chan­ged the histo­ry of Euro­pe. It was on Sep­tem­ber the 12th, 1683 that the Polish army saved the capi­tal of Austria, Vien­na from a mas­si­ve Tur­kish Otto­man invasion.

Kara Musta­fa, leader of the army of Turks and the­ir allies num­be­ring abo­ut 200 000 (some say 300 000) sol­diers had Vien­na tigh­tly sur­ro­un­ded. The city had 5000 defen­ders left after 2 mon­ths’ sie­ge and loss of the 6000 sol­diers. Polish king Sobie­ski who set off with Polish (and some allied) armies to save Vien­na – and Euro­pe – from the Otto­man sla­ve­ry, had abo­ut 70 000 sol­diers, half of them caval­ry, inc­lu­ding famo­us Polish” husars”, win­ged heavy caval­ry­man, human tanks of that age.

Once the rescue army arri­ved at Vien­na, Polish caval­ry clim­bed a heavi­ly wooded hill over­ni­ght and attac­ked the main camp of the Turks, who did not pre­pa­re for any pro­blem from this side. The camp was taken and by the end of the day the Tur­kish army was routed. Kara Musta­fa was sent a silk rope by the Sul­tan and his death mar­ked the end of the Tur­kish advan­ce into cen­tral and western Europe.

If not for that one bat­tle, the Euro­pe would have beco­me a Muslim dominion.

Why did king Sobie­ski go to the aid of Vien­na? Poland had no poli­ti­cal inte­rest in deepe­ning its con­flict with the Turks who had attac­ked the coun­try in the past. The Otto­man dyna­sty pro­ved to be a for­mi­da­ble foe and until the moment the Tur­kish army reached Hun­ga­rian ter­ri­to­ry it was unc­le­ar which coun­try it would attack – Austria and Vien­na, or Poland and Kra­kow. To gre­at relief of the war-weary Poles, no doubt, the Otto­mans tur­ned aga­inst Vien­na. It would have been eno­ugh just to stay home, pre­tend that this was not hap­pe­ning. Polish sup­port for Austria had an addi­tio­nal disa­dvan­ta­ge – Fran­ce defi­ni­te­ly wan­ted Austria down on its kne­es at that point of history.

King Sobie­ski, howe­ver, a good son of Catho­lic Church as he was, liste­ned to the ple­ading of the Pope and signed a mutu­al tre­aty with Austria – each coun­try would help the other, sho­uld it come to the Otto­man inva­sion. And being a man not only of coura­ge, but also of honor, he rushed to help the hel­pless Vienna.

Howe­ver, had he slo­wed down his pre­pa­ra­tions for this war.. and also had he slo­wed the march of his army, no one could have said that he bro­ke his word, the writ­ten agre­ement.. and the Otto­mans would have ruled Euro­pe. Chri­stian Euro­pe would have been annihilated.

This is why we Poles remem­ber both King Sobie­ski and the need to be tru­th­ful to our allegiances.

Maria Koza­kie­wicz