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Wojtek – the Bear that Went to War

"Wojtek The Bear That Went To War" is the story of Wojtek – a magnificent 500lb military bear who fought in World War II alongside a band of Polish soldiers, shared their beer and cigarettes – and eventually their fate. Through understanding the life and death of this unique creature we discover new meanings to the terms immigrant, patriot, and human being.

 

On 30 December 2011, the film "Wojtek The Bear That Went To War", was aired on BBC2 Scotland.

View the full length film here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/bigscreen/tv/episode/b018jhfr/

Wojyek bear was a Syrian brown bear cub found in Iran and adopted by soldiers of the 22nd Artillery Supply Company of the Polish II Corps. He was officially drafted into the Polish Army as a private in order to get him on a British transport ship when the unit sailed from Egypt to fight with the British 8th Army in the Italian campaign.

As one of the officially enlisted "soldiers" of the company, he lived with the other men in their tents or in a special wooden crate, which was transported by truck.

During the Battle of Monte Cassino, near Rome, Wojtek helped move ammunition.  – never dropping a single crate. In recognition of the bear's popularity, the HQ approved an effigy of a bear holding an artillery shell as the official emblem of the 22nd Company.

Following the end of World War II in 1945, the bear was transported to Berwickshire in Scotland, along with parts of the II Corps. Stationed in the village of Hutton, near Duns, Wojtek soon became popular among local civilians and the press. The Polish-Scottish Association made Wojtek one of its honorary members. Following demobilization on November 15, 1947, Wojtek was given to the Edinburgh Zoo. There Wojtek spent the rest of his days, often visited by journalists and former Polish soldiers, some of whom would toss him cigarettes, which he then proceeded to smoke.

Funded by BBC Scotland, Polish Film Institute and MDR, the British-Polish documentary film directed by Will Hood and Adam Lavis premiered in Leipzig, on 22 October 2011. The UK premiere was at Riverside Studios in London, 15 November 2011.

UK/Poland, 59 mins, HD, documentary. dir. Will Hood and Adam Lavis, producers: Kat Mansoor, Kasia Skibinska, executive producers: Monika Braid, Pinny Grylls, DOP: Wojciech Staron, production companies: Animal Monday, Braidmade Films, TVP S.A.
Funding: BBC Scotland, Polish Film Institute, MDR

More info on: www.wojtekfilm.com

Read article on The Polish Observer: Pomnik kosmatego żołnierza

View the Trailer here:

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