Air bombardment is in progress, tanks are approaching. Sand is showering upon Polish-uniformed soldiers from Belarus. The Twentieth Division is hanging on like grim death, some 70,000 spectators being around: last weekend a mega re-enactment for the beginning of the Second World War took place in the Polish town of Mława.
In 1939 even enemies gave a high rating to the 20th Division where a lot of Belarusians were serving: it was named ‘an iron division’. That is exactly why our nationals, i.e. historic re-enactment group ‘Belarusians in the Polish Army’ took the decision to participate in the event.
Belarusians did enter the Second World War in 1939, not in 1941, historian Ihar Melnikau stresses. Founding the group of re-enactors and taking part in such battles aim at bringing our people’s significant contribution in focus, he says.
In 1939 the 20th Division of the Polish Army was located in the towns of Baranavichi, Slonim and Navagradak, which were part of the Second Commonwealth of Poland; a lot of its soldiers being Belarusians.
Five Belarusian participants were involved in the one-hour-long re-enactment of the battle of Mława; in general, as many as 300 persons put 70-year-old uniform on.
After watching the battle action the Polish President had a talk to Belarusian admirers of history: Bronisław Komorowski welcomed their participation in the event and told them about his relatives from Baranavichi.
Ihar Melnikau has a collection of 20 uniform coats. Apart from re-enactment activities, the historian is engaged in producing military documentaries.
The battle of Mława, also known as the Defence of the Mława position, took place to the north of the town of Mława in northern Poland in the period of September 1-3, 1939.