Polish Leader Honors Wartime Hero
NEWARK, England (AP) _ Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski of Poland laid a wreath at the grave of one of his country’s war heroes on Sunday and ignored the jeers of anti-communist emigres.
The Polish leader, on the second day of a British visit, was heckled by protesters as he honored Gen. Wladislaw Sikorski, commander of the Free Polish Forces who joined the Allies against the Nazis during World War II.
Police sealed off the Polish war graves section of Newark Cemetery, 125 miles north of London, several hours before Jaruzelski arrived in a 12-car motorcade. He left immediately after the short ceremony for lunch with local officials and a return flight to Poland.
Sikorski, a prime minister of Poland in 1922-23, was killed in an air crash in the British colony of Gibraltar on July 4, 1943. He is buried with other Free Polish veterans, many of whom served at British air bases during the war.
The British visit, preceded by a one-day stop in Belgium, was Jaruzelski’s first trip outside Poland since his communist party suffered a resounding defeat in national elections to the Solidarity-led political opposition.
Several hundred Polish emigres, some holding banners saying ″Jaruzelski, who are you kidding?″ and ″We want 100 percent democracy,″ gathered outside the cemetery entrance and yelled as Jaruzelski arrived.
Several dozen protesters slipped around to the side of the cemetery near the Polish war graves and shouted ″sacrilege 3/8″ at Jaruzelski while he laid the wreath.
″This man (Jaruzelski) is the one who sent tanks against his own people and he is a product of his masters, the Soviet Union,″ said Artur E. Rynkiewicz, president of the Federation of Poles in Great Britain, which sponsored the protest.
Jaruzelski ordered a martial law crackdown to crush Solidarity in December 1981. It was made legal again under an agreement in April that also allowed limited opposition participation in elections.
The emigres also said it was Sikorski’s last wish that his body not be returned to Poland until his homeland was free.
″The Polish government wants the world to think that Poland is free. They want to use Gen. Sikorski’s return as window dressing,″ said Ted Lawrence, 65, of Long Eaton. He served in the Free Polish Forces.
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has refused requests for the return of his body to Poland, where a marble tomb awaits his burial among the last Polish kings.
Press Association, Britain’s domestic news agency, said Jaruzelski did not raise the issue during his meeting with Mrs. Thatcher on Saturday.
During the visit, the British told Jaruzelski they would provide limited economic aid, including a $7.75 million annual contribution to a new fund to train Poles for a more market-oriented economy. Britain also agreed to press for rescheduling of Poland’s $38 billion foreign debt.
Jaruzelski has been stepping up contacts with Western countries, mainly in the hope of getting economic aid after the domestic political reforms.