Capt. Władysław Raginis - Polish Army, Sept. 10, 1939

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Władysław Raginis (born on June 27, 1908 ) was a Polish Army officer who graduated from an officer's school in 1930, being promoted to the rank of captain by 1939, when Nazi Germany invaded Poland, starting the Second World War. Raginis was positioned at a series of bunkers near Wizna, Poland, along with 720 men, defending against a force 42,000 Germans with air and armored support. The Poles held out for three days against overwhelming odds, killing at least 900 German infantry and destroying ten tanks and other armored vehicles. The battle has become known as the "Polish Thermopylae", as many, including Raginis, defended the position to the death, Raginis killing himself with a hand grenade rather than be captured.-



On September 7 Raginis' forces (approximately 720 men, out of which roughly 650 were killed) were attacked by more than 42,000 German soldiers. To keep the morale of his men high, Raginis pledged that he would not leave his post alive.-

he defense of Wizna against overwhelming odds lasted for three days. On September 10, 1939, the bunker commanded by Raginis was the last remaining pocket of resistance. Although heavily wounded, Raginis was still commanding his troops. Turning to the rest in the shelter he thanked them for the fact that they were soldiers and did their duty, he then ordered them to surrender themselves and leave the shelter - he would keep his word and not surrender.

Seweryn Biegański, who was the last to leave the shelter, describes the moment; "The captain looked at me warmly and softly urged me to leave. When I was at the exit, I was hit on my back with strong gust and I heard an explosion."

Raginis then decided to end the resistance and committed suicide by throwing himself on a grenade.

In his diaries, Guderian noted that 900 German soldiers were killed in action, although that number is probably a low estimate. It is certain, however, that the Wehrmacht lost at least 10 tanks and several other AFVs in the struggle.

The family of Raginis was officially notified of his death in Wizna three years later in 1943 when his sister, Maria Morawska, received a notice through the Red Cross.

The local primary school is named after him, as well as several streets in Poland, including one in Białystok, Rzeszów and Warsaw,-

On May 13, 1970, Raginis was posthumously awarded, by the Council of State of the Polish People's Republic, with the Virtuti Militari - Gold Cross (IV Class) medal. On August 28, 2009 he was posthumously awarded, by the President of Poland, with the Order of Polonia Restituta (Grand Cross).-

On August 21, 2012 Raginis was posthumously promoted, by the Minister of National Defence Tomasz Siemoniak to the rank of Major.-

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Louis

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His symbolic grave is located next to the ruins of the bunker in which he died.-



The inscription on the tablet says: Przechodniu, powiedz Ojczyźnie, żeśmy walczyli do końca, spełniając swój obowiązek, which translates into english as:
Passerby, tell the Fatherland that we fought to the end, fulfilling our duty.-
 
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