Hear all about a brave bear named Wojtek who came to join the army in a time of war.
After being released from Soviet prison camps, exiled Polish soldiers reunited under General Władysław Anders and were informally dubbed ‘Anders Army’. This army, after evacuating the Soviet Union, travelled to the Middle East to join Allied forces. While in Iran, the Anders’ Army added an unlikely member to their ranks who played an important role in the company as he helped to boost morale, carry ammunition, and perform guard duties. Though this soldier may appear to be rather typical, he was far from it. He was, after all, a Syrian brown bear.
In this episode, our hosts John and Nitzan will discuss the unbelievable story of Wojtek the bear and his legendary role in the 22nd Company of Anders’ Army. How did the army find this bear and why did they keep it, even incorporate it? How did Wojtek contribute to the military efforts? And what became of him after the war was over?
- One Photo One Story: Wojtek the Soldier Bear / on Culture.pl
- Trail of Hope / a site chronicling stories from the Anders Army that went into Trail of Hope, Norman Davis' book on the subject
- Wojtek the Bear / on Wikipedia
- Norman Davies on the Trail of Anders’ Army / on Culture.pl
- Battle of Monte Cassino / on Wikipedia
Wojciech Narębski / emeritus professor of the Polish Academy of Sciences and ex-soldier of the Anders' Army, who kindly allowed us to interview him and told the story of the unit Wojtek served in.
Tadeusz Kaleta / professor at the Warsaw University of Life Sciences, who kindly explained how bears behave in their natural habitat.
Songs & sound clips
SFTEW Team: Wojciech Oleksiak, Adam Zulawski, John Beauchamp, Nitzan Reisner, Michael Keller & Barbara Rogala