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Beauty in everything

Bear Soldier Wojtek

Bear Soldier Wojtek

Bear Soldier Wojtek. bear cub, future Soldier Wojtek

Bear Soldier Wojtek
Every year, World War II, one of the most difficult trials that humanity faced in the twentieth century, becomes the thing of the past. It seems, we know almost everything about its battles, remember its heroes. At the Great War everything happened – joy and pain, happiness and tears. There were heavy losses and unexpected returns, unique military operations and unusual soldiers. One of them was Bear Soldier Wojtek, about whom this post is.

Bear Soldier Wojtek

Bear Soldier Wojtek

In 1942, a local boy found a bear cub near Hamadan, Iran, whose mother had been shot. Wojtek was adopted by the 22nd Artillery Supply Company of the Polish II Corps. As the bear was less than a year old, he initially had problems swallowing and was fed with condensed milk from an emptied vodka bottle.

The bear was fed with fruit, marmalade, honey and syrup, and was often rewarded with beer, which became his favorite drink. He also enjoyed smoking and eating cigarettes. He enjoyed wrestling and was taught to salute when greeted.

The bear became favorite for soldiers, and soon became an unofficial mascot of all units stationed nearby. With the company he moved to Iraq and then through Syria, Palestine and Egypt.

During the Battle of Monte Cassino, Wojtek helped move ammunition. The name “Wojtek” is a diminutive form of “Wojciech”, an old Slavic name that is still common in Poland today and means “he who enjoys war” or “smiling warrior”.

After the war his company was demobbed in Berwickshire, Scotland, while Wojtek was taken to live at Edinburgh Zoo. It was November 15, 1947. At first some of the ex-troops visited him. Then their visits became rare. People say Wojtek was sad in the zoo, he missed badly his Polish brothers of war. He became excited when hearing the Polish speech. Could he understand why he was left in the zoo? Anyway … most of his time Wojtek stayed in his cell.

And Wojtek meanwhile grew older. They say that the bear suffered greatly from the disease, and at the end of 1963 workers of Edinburgh Zoo shot Wojtek – so that he did not suffer. The heroic Soldier Bear, who was enlisted and given a name, rank and serial number, died in 1963.

In October 2010, the newspaper «The Daily Telegraph» and news agencies reported that in Edinburgh will be installed a monument to bear Wojtek. On September 16 2013 the City of Edinburgh Council has approved of the project for a bronze statue of Wojtek to stand in the Princes Street Gardens. The statue is to represent Wojtek and a Polish Army Soldier walking in peace and unity. A 4m long relief will present his journey from Egypt to Scotland alongside the Polish Army

The Wojtek Memorial Trust Fund has raised £200,000 to create two statues. Fund organizers hoped they could erect the statue in 2013 – in time to mark the 50 year anniversary of the bear’s death. Unfortunately their plan hasn’t become reality yet.

Bear Soldier Wojtek

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