By: Sandra Thompson
Alabama Veterans Museum & Archive Director, Sandra Thompson, has been chosen to be an honorary juror in the competition to select a design project to build a cemetery and museum at Westerplatte that will give justice to national heroes and commemorate the fallen with dignity they deserve.
Westerplatte, a landmark of great historical significance, is recognized today as a symbol of heroism, perseverance, and resistance. On September 1, 1939, Polish soldiers engaged in an uneven fight against the German invaders, who, despite their colossal advantage, could not weaken the morale of the Poles; instead, they encountered decisive, brave, armed response. Around the world, on many battlefields, soldiers from different countries and historical periods made similarly important sacrifices. In creating a cemetery on Westerplatte, the desire is to build on the experience of those noble museums — such as Verdun, Gettysburg, USS Arizona Memorial, or Waterloo — that have managed to give justice to their national heroes and even, in some cases, honor all those who took part in a battle, recognizing them not as soldiers of the warring sides only, but also as human beings. Embedded in the national collective memory of each country that has fought the war are universal values such as extraordinary courage, patriotism, and unwavering faith in victory.
Director Thompson met with Director of the Museum of the Second World War in Gda?sk, Mr. Karol Nawrocki, who is in charge of the project, on a visit to Poland in August of 2019. They met to exchange ideas on museum design and displays and to discuss tourism as a whole. In a recent invitation letter, Director Nawrocki stated, “I am strongly convinced with your sound historical judgment we can engage in a constructive debate on the symbolism of Westerplatte and reach a decision on the most fitting concept for the new Polish Army War Cemetery at Westerplatte.”
“It is quite an honor to be chosen to be part of this very historical event. We must never forget the sacrifices that were made by all for the freedoms we have today; this was but just one part of that sacrifice in the beginning of World War II,” says Director Thompson. She also recently received an invitation from the Polish Ministry of National Defense to attend the commemoration of the 81st anniversary of the outbreak of World War II. Unfortunately, she was unable to attend due to travel restrictions at this time.
For further information on the competition for the cemetery design concept, go to https://muzeum1939.pl/en/competition-westerplatte-cemetery-concept
By: Sandra Thompson
Director, Alabama Veterans’ Museum