Poland Gets Rights from Germany to Iconic WWII Song Music


WARSAW, Poland (AP) — In a strange twist of history, Poland on Tuesday obtained rights from Germany to the music of an iconic Polish army song that was written during a key 1944 victory against the Nazis.

The song "Red Poppies on Monte Cassino" commemorates the dedication and sacrifice of Polish troops, who along with the Allies, fought in the battle of Monte Cassino, one of the most fierce and deadly during World War II. The battle opened the way to Rome for the Allies.

The song was written on the night before the key Allied attack on May 18 that crushed the German defense. Polish, French and British troops fought in it.

Because of its link to Polish troops that fought in the West, the song was banned under communism, but preserved in family tradition. After 1989, under democracy, it became symbolic of Poland's pride in contributing to the victory in the war, but also of communist-era persecution.

The author of the music, Alfred Schutz, died in Munich, Germany, in 1999 and following his wife's death in 2004, the rights to his work were transferred by law to local authorities. Poland took steps to acquire them.

On Tuesday, Polish Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna officially returned them to Culture Minister Malgorzata Omilanowska.

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