The Red Poppies on Monte Cassino

The Red Poppies on Monte Cassino
Men of the Third Carpathian Rifle Division hear The Red Poppies performed by Alfred Schütz's orchestra, May 1944.

Czerwone maki na Monte Cassino (The Red Poppies on Monte Cassino) is one of the best-known and most beloved Polish military songs of World War II.[1] It was composed in May 1944 in Italy, during the Battle of Monte Cassino, on the eve of the Polish Army's capture of the German stronghold.



In early 1944 a German stronghold, dug in at the ancient Benedictine monastery atop Monte Cassino, had blocked the Allies' advance toward Rome. The forces of several Allied countries had attempted since mid-January to capture the German fortress. For a fourth major assault, which would begin on 11 May 1944, Polish troops were rotated in.

The song's melody was composed during the night of 17–18 May 1944 by Alfred Schütz, a composer, actor and member of the Polish Soldiers' Theater garrisoned at Campobasso in the shadow of Monte Cassino.[2] Two opening stanzas were written at that time by Feliks Konarski ("Ref-ren" — "Refrain"), a poet and song-writer and soldier of the Polish II Corps commanded by Major General Władysław Anders.[2] The third stanza would be written a few days later.[2]

The fourth and final stanza would be written a quarter-century later, in 1969, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the battle.[3] That final stanza is the least known and is sometimes omitted.[3]

On 18 May 1944, the day following the song's composition, the Poles stormed and captured the precincts of the Monte Cassino monastery. Later that day, the song was first performed at General Anders' headquarters to celebrate the Polish victory.[4] The Red Poppies on Monte Cassino won popularity with the troops and was soon published by a Polish-American newspaper in New York. It would later be published in Poland.[5] It was banned, however, during the Stalinist period in the People's Republic of Poland, when the government sought to minimize memory of the wartime Polish Armed Forces in the West.[6]


Czerwone maki na Monte Cassino
The Red Poppies on Monte Cassino
In Polish In English
Czy widzisz te gruzy na szczycie? Do you see the rubble at the top?
Tam wróg twój się kryje jak szczur! There, like a rat, lurks your foe!
Musicie, musicie, musicie! You musn't stop, you musn't stop
Za kark wziąć i strącić go z chmur! But from the clouds the enemy throw!
I poszli szaleni, zażarci, And so, onward and upward they went;
I poszli zabijać i mścić, They went to avenge and to kill,
I poszli jak zawsze uparci, On the enemy's destruction, bent;
Jak zawsze za honor się bić. To their honor they harnessed their will.
Czerwone maki na Monte Cassino The red poppies on Monte Cassino
Zamiast rosy piły polską krew... Drank Polish blood instead of dew...
Po tych makach szedł żołnierz i ginął, O'er the poppies the soldiers did go
Lecz od śmierci silniejszy był gniew! 'Mid death, and to their anger stayed true!
Przejdą lata i wieki przeminą, Years will come and ages will go,
Pozostaną ślady dawnych dni!.. Enshrining their strivings and their toil!...
I tylko maki na Monte Cassino And the poppies on Monte Cassino
Czerwieńsze będą, bo z polskiej wzrosną krwi. Will be redder for Poles' blood in their soil.
Runęli przez ogień, straceńcy! The forlorn hope charged through the fire!
Niejeden z nich dostał i padł... More than one was struck and felled...
Jak ci z Samosierry szaleńcy, Yet like the horsemen at Samosierra,
Jak ci spod Rokitny, sprzed lat. They charged with a force unrepelled,
Runęli impetem szalonym Like those at Rokitna years ago.
I doszli. I udał się szturm. And they made it, and carried the day.
I sztandar swój biało-czerwony And they planted their red-and-white flag
Zatknęli na gruzach wśród chmur. In the rubble amid the clouds.
Czerwone maki na Monte Cassino... The red poppies on Monte Cassino...
Czy widzisz ten rząd białych krzyży? Do you see the white crosses in a row?
To Polak z honorem brał ślub. That's where the Poles pledged their all.
Idź naprzód - im dalej, im wyżej, The farther, the higher you go,
Tym więcej ich znajdziesz u stóp. The more you'll find them fall.
Ta ziemia do Polski należy, This soil belongs to Poland,
Choć Polska daleko jest stąd, Though Poland be far from here,
Bo wolność krzyżami się mierzy - For 'tis crosses measure freedom's span —
Historia ten jeden ma błąd. That is history's lesson dear.
Czerwone maki na Monte Cassino... The red poppies on Monte Cassino...
Ćwierc wieku, koledzy, za nami, A quarter-century has passed,
Bitewny ulotnił się pył The dusts of battle no longer rise,
I klasztor białymi murami And the monastery's walls at last
Na nowo do nieba się wzbił... Once again climb, white, to the skies...
Lecz pamięć tych nocy upiornych But memory of those nights terrible
I krwi, co przelała się tu - And of the blood that once flowed here —
Odzywa się w dzwonach klasztornych, Echoes in the monastery bells
Grających poległym do snu...! That toll the fallen to sleep!...

See also


  1. ^ Brian Murdoch, Fighting Songs and Warring Words: Popular Lyrics of Two World Wars, Routledge, 1990, ISBN 0415031842, Google Print, p. 195.
  2. ^ a b c (Polish) Bogdan Okulski, description of the song in the Wojenko, wojenko album, 1995.
  3. ^ a b (Polish) Jerzy Trzesicki, Cassino-tekst
  4. ^ (Polish) Bogdan Żurek, Czerwone maki, Radio Wolna Europa.
  5. ^ (Polish) Monografia "Czerwonych maków" - hymnu IX LO w Szczecinie
  6. ^ Beyond Glasnost: The Post-Totalitarian Mind, University of Chicago Press, 1992, ISBN 0226300986, Google Print, p. 63.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Battle of Monte Cassino — Part of World War II, Italian Campaign Ruins of Cassino town after the battle …   Wikipedia

  • Polish cemetery at Monte Cassino — The Polish cemetery at Monte Cassino contains graves of more than one thousand Poles who died while storming the abbey in May 1944, during the Battle of Monte Cassino.The religious affiliation of the dead men is marked by each grave having one of …   Wikipedia

  • Feliks Konarski — (pseudonym: Ref Ren) (January 9, 1907 ndash; August 9, 1991) was a Polish poet, songwriter, and cabaret performer.Early lifeKonarski was born in Kiev and attended a Polish school there. In 1921, he was able to get to Poland by foot. He passed his …   Wikipedia

  • Mischa Damjan — (* 4. November 1914 in Skopje; † 29. November 1998) war ein jugoslawisch schweizerischer Kinderbuchautor und unter seinem bürgerlichen Namen Dimitrije Sidjanski Verleger des NordSüd Verlags in der Schweiz. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Leben 2 Werke… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Polish culture during World War II — Part of a series on the Culture of Poland Periods …   Wikipedia

  • Papaver rhoeas — Scientific classification Kingdom: Plantae Division …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”