General Maczek & the 1st Polish Armoured Division

Start Caen, France
End Wilhelmshaven, Germany
Duration 4 Days
Developed By
Name Liberation Route Europe Foundation
Country Netherlands

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General Stanisław Maczeck and the 1st Polish Armoured Division played an important role in the liberation of France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. The ‘Black Division’ was feared by its enemies, yet praised by the newly liberated peoples of the occupied nations. In the course of the Second World War, the Division lost 975 soldiers. After Germany’s capitulation, General Maczek took command of the Polish I Corps in Scotland.

This itinerary crosses Normandy, France; Flanders, Belgium; the Netherlands; and Germany, taking you to some of the most significant milestones in Maczek’s journey during the war. You will explore the towns and cities liberated by Maczek and the 1st Polish Armoured Division, visit a series of museums, memorials, and military cemeteries to learn about their experiences and commemorate their sacrifices.

General Maczek & the 1st Polish Armoured Division
Day 1

Normandy, France

Upon arrival in Normandy, explore the area around Caen and Falaise. Here General Maczek’s Division broke through the German defences. In August 1944, the division helped close the Falaise pocket. Today you can visit the Memorial Museum in Caen as well as the memorials in Falaise and Mont Ormel.

Day 2

Flanders, Belgium

Travel along the coast of the English Channel to Belgium as Maczek and the 1st Armoured Division did on 6 September 1944 while pursuing the Germans. In Flanders region visit the cities of Ypres, Tielt and Ghent that were liberated by the Polish Division. In Sint-Niklaas, check out the memorial built in honour of Maczek’s Division. In Beveren stand before the statue of General Maczek. End the day at Lommel Polish military cemetery where 257 Polish soldiers are buried.

Day 3

North Brabant, The Netherlands

Maczek’s troops entered the Netherlands and liberated the city of Breda in October 1944. After your arrival in Breda, visit the Polish military cemetery and the General Maczek Museum. Please note that the Maczek Museum is currently closed – it is expected to reopen in new premises on October 29, 2019 for the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Breda. Continue towards the village of Capelle to see the Memorial for the Battle of Kapelsche Veer. The Polish 1st Armoured Division played a huge role in this battle that was fought during the harsh winter of 1944-1945.

Day 4

East Groningen, The Netherlands & Lower Saxony, Germany

On the last day of this itinerary, travel via East Groningen to the Emsland district in Lower Saxony, Germany. General Maczek and the 1st Armoured Division entered the area in April 1945. On 6 May 1945, they seized the Kriegsmarine naval base in Wilhelmshaven. To learn about the history of Wilhelmshaven, head to the German Naval Museum. End of the tour.