Wojtek: The Iranian Bear of the Polish Army in World War Two

 

یک خرس ایرانی؛ سربازی برای لهستان در جنگ دوم جهانی

Wojtek (Polish: warrior bear) was originally a bear cub from Hamedan (in northwest Iran) who had been sold by a local Iranian boy to Polish troops in 1942. He was adopted by Polish soldiers who went from Iran to Europe to fight the Nazis.

 

Little Wojtek in Hamedan just after his adoption by Polish troops in Iran.

Wojtek soon became one of Poland’s national symbols.  There is also a BBC Persian report and video on “Wojtek”-یک خرس ایرانی؛ سربازی برای لهستان در جنگ دوم جهانی-Many Poles also associate Wojtek with their positive experiences in Iran during World War Two. Readers are encouraged the read the following book by Aileen Orr published in 2010:

Wojtek-Orr[Click above Book Image to Enlarge]

Wojtek the Bear. Polish War Hero
Author: Aileen Orr – with epilogue by Neal Ascherson
Publisher: Birlinn
Publication date: 2010 – Order on Amazon.

The author of the above book, Aileen Orr, noted the following to Kavehfarrokh.com on Monday, February 7, 2011:

“Wojtek is Iranian and also Iran’s bear.”

Wojtek soon learned to salute the troops, quickly becoming a mascot for the Polish army. He was not only drafted into the Polish army but also became a legend when he delivered ammunition crates to Polish troops in the heat of battle during the Monte Cassino campaign in Italy in 1944 – the book cover by Orr symbolizes Wojtek’s exploits during World War Two.

       

Wojtek engaged in the favorite sport of his native Iran: wrestling (left) and being “spoiled” by Polish troops who give him his favorite treats (right). Interestingly, Wojtek not only liked “bear foods” such as syrup and honey, but also developed a fondness for smoking and drinking beer!

Wojtek was fond of honey, fruits, syrup and marmalade, but he also enjoyed smoking cigarettes and drinking beer! There are plans to erect a statue of him in Edinburgh. Wojtek passed away in 1963 at the age of 22, but he continues to inspire admiration in not only Poland but also many British veterans of the Second World War. For further information, view the video tribute to Wojtek below: