Nazdar Memorial and Czechoslovak CemeteryNazdar Memorial and Czechoslovak Cemetery
©Nazdar Memorial and Czechoslovak Cemetery|Isabelle Pilarowski
Memory to the men of the EastNeuville-Saint-Vaast

Nazdar Company Memorial, Czechoslovak Cemetery and Polish Volunteer Monument

Between Neuville-Saint-Vaast and Souchez, two monuments face each other, on each side of the road. Both of them pay tribute to the volunteers of the French army who, by fighting for France, fought against the German and Austro-Hungarian imperialism in their countries of origin: Poland and Czechoslovakia.

Divided nations

At the end of the 18th century, Poland lost its independence and was divided between Russia, Prussia and Austria. For their part, the Czechs and Slovaks were subjected to the authority of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The Nazdar Company

At the outbreak of the war, the Polish Volunteers Committee was formed in Paris, which brought together Polish immigrants from Paris and northern France who were ready to join the Foreign Legion. Similarly, members of the Czech association of popular and physical education Sokol and the social-democratic organization Rovnost left for training in Bayonne, where they would form a company nicknamed “the Nazdar company.”

These volunteers would participate in the French offensive in Artois launched on May 9, 1915, during which many would lose their lives.

"For our freedom and yours

At the entrance to the Czechoslovak cemetery stands a monument commemorating the memory of flag bearer Karel Bezdicek, who was killed on the first day of the battle. He symbolizes the first free Czech soldier to carry the flag with the Czech lion. Alongside the 70 soldiers who died in the Great War, 136 men killed in the Second World War will be buried in this cemetery.

Opposite, the Polish Volunteers Cross, erected thanks to donations from Poles in Pas-de-Calais, pays tribute to those who “fell for the resurrection of Poland and the victory of France.” Destroyed in 1940, damaged in 1967 by the storm, the monument was raised each time. It thus continues to bear the motto of these volunteers: “Za nasza wolnosc i wasza”, “For our freedom and yours”.