Poland honors WWII resistance fighters

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Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski, center, helps Brig. Stefan Baluk, 99, on a wheelchair, the last living WW II airborne fighter to unveil a monument dedicated to 316 resistance soldiers who parachuted into Nazi occupied Poland, in Warsaw, Poland, Monday, Oct. 7, 2013. The fighters, called "Dark and Silent", after training in England were parachuted at night between 1941 and 1944 to organize resistance against the German Nazis. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A 99-year-old military veteran and Poland's president unveiled a new monument on Monday that honors the hundreds of Polish resistance fighters who parachuted into their Nazi-occupied country to fight German forces during World War II.

Families of the fighters and state officials gathered by the black granite monument, which contains the names and pseudonyms of all 316 "Dark and Silent" resistance fighters. They entered their country between February 1941 and December 1944 by parachuting from night flights that originated in Britain and Italy.

Volunteers who trained in the West, they organized resistance and sabotage operations and brought messages and money from Poland's London-based government-in-exile.

Some of them died while fighting or in Nazi roundups during the war. Others were imprisoned, prosecuted in show trials and executed under Poland's subsequent communist regime, which considered them enemies. These veterans could not be honored under decades of communism, despite their heroic status among most Poles.

Monday's ceremony was overseen by President Bronislaw Komorowski and Brig. Gen. Stefan Baluk, the oldest living member of that resistance force. He had proposed the monument, which is located near the Parliament building in downtown Warsaw.