From Notes from Poland (hat tip: Tom MacMaster):
Symbol of the past, model for the future: the African immigrant who became a Warsaw Uprising hero
By Nicholas Boston (with research assistance by Wojciech Załuski)
Tomorrow marks the 76th anniversary of the beginning of the Warsaw Uprising. It was waged between 1 August and 2 October 1944, by the Home Army, the Polish resistance movement, to liberate Warsaw from Nazi German occupation. Up to 50,000 people took part in the Uprising (sometimes called Rising), approximately 18,000 of whom were killed and another 25,000 wounded. Upwards of 200,000 civilians were also killed. Between 600,000 and 650,000 Varsovians ended up expelled from the city, with a sizeable number sent to Nazi concentration and labour camps.
The veterans, living and deceased, of this 63-day-long operation are among Poland’s most heroised private citizens. As the nation, and Varsovians in particular, publicly commemorate this historic episode, the eyes of some will turn to a minimalist monolith of polished stone erected a year ago at this time in Warsaw’s Old Town.
It is a monument to a man named August Agboola Browne, who, as far as existing records can tell, was the only black insurgent in the Warsaw Uprising.
Arriving in Poland in 1922 from Nigeria, then a British colony, Browne became a celebrated jazz percussionist in 1930s Warsaw, known for his attractiveness and charisma. He joined the resistance movement from the time of the German invasion in 1939, and proceeded to fight in the Uprising under the code name “Ali”.
Until just a decade ago, Browne’s story was completely unknown. But from the moment of his introduction to the Polish public, he has been upheld in some quarters as not only a proud symbol of Poland’s past, but a promising model for its present and future.
Read the whole thing.