Category Archives: History

History

Henryk Sienkiewicz Nobel Acceptance speech

I recently read a 2006 article about Polish troops in Iraq wherein an American General quotes Polish Nobel laureate Henryk Sienkiewicz:

“General Chiarelli also cited the acceptance speech Henryk Sienkiewicz gave in 1905 when he received the Nobel Prize for Literature: “‘She was pronounced dead, yet here is proof that she lives on. She was declared incapable to think and to work, and here is proof to the contrary. She was pronounced defeated, yet here is proof that she was victorious.’ Of course, in 1905, he was talking about his native Poland. But his words ring true of Iraq today.'”

This is from an article in the New York Sun written by Alex Storozynski, who runs the Kosciuszko Foundation.  Sienkiewicz won the 1905 Nobel Prize for Literature because of his “outstanding merits as an epic writer.” Read more here.

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Mainstream Media Adds to Misconceptions About Poland During WWII

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Alex Storozynski penned a passionate piece about why it’s dangerous to play fast and loose when identifying who exactly was responsible for what during World War II. He is responding to several recent incidents in which mainstream media outlets (including NY Times, WSJ, LA Times) referred to Nazi concentration camps as “Polish”:

“The Nazi concentration camps were built by Germans, run by Germans, and guarded by Germans. The victims of those camps were Polish. Newspaper editors justify use of the term “Polish concentration camp” as geographical shorthand for “a German concentration camp in occupied Poland.” But this shorthand is Orwellian doublespeak that turns victim into perpetrator and distorts history. It perpetuates ignorance about the Holocaust and gives impressionable readers the idea that Poles built the camps. The Auschwitz killing factory was a product of German engineering, and both Polish Jews and Catholics were murdered there.
….
While there were Poles who committed atrocities against Jews during and after World War II, the Polish government convicted and executed those who killed Jews. The Polish underground established the Council to Aid Jews, Zegota, which rescued thousands of Jews. Irena Sendler saved 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw ghetto. Jan Karski sneaked through enemy lines to beg Churchill & Roosevelt to stop the Holocaust. They did nothing. Polish Army Captain Witold Pilecki volunteered to be arrested by the Germans and sent to Auschwitz to try to organize a prison break. The Germans executed thousands of Poles who tried to save Jews. The phrase “Polish concentration camp” desecrates their memory.”

Read the full story at the Huffington Post.

New Movie about Polish Fighter Pilots in Battle of Britain

A new movie about an aging Polish fighter pilot who defended London in the Battle of Britain is coming out. The trailer looks promising. http://battleforbritain.net

“Mr. Rogulski (Julian Glover) lives in Oxford in a house that time forgot, alone since his beloved wife’s death. One morning, he sets off for a walk to go and feed the pigeons in Oriel Square.   An encounter with the helpful young Steven (Max Fowler) leads to the scooter ride of his life.

The film pays tribute to the extraordinary history of the many Polish pilots that defended the skies of Britain from the Nazis, 70 years ago today.”

And from elsewhere on their site:

“Few of the Polish veterans who remained in Britain after the War ever got the recognition they deserved: Polish soldiers were not even allowed to march alongside their allied troops in the London Victory parade of 1946.

Battle for Britain demonstrates the strong socio-historical link between the UK and Poland.”

Warsaw in Ruins

The Warsaw Uprising Museum has created a high-definition digital reconstruction of the city in ruins after the 1944 battle in which the Polish underground army tried to fight off the Nazis. The trailer is heartbreaking.

The full video can be viewed at the museum in Warsaw.

Presidential Proclamation: General Pulaski Memorial Day

The White House just issued this statement about General Pulaski:

“Casimir Pulaski was a Polish patriot, yet he laid down his life in defense of American independence during the Revolutionary War. Each year, on October 11, Americans pause to remember this champion of liberty who fought valiantly for the freedom of Poland and the United States, and we proudly reflect upon our rich Polish-American heritage.

As a young man, Brigadier General Casimir Pulaski witnessed the occupation of Poland by foreign troops and fought for his homeland’s freedom, determined to resist subjugation. During his subsequent exile to France, he learned of our nascent struggle for independence, and volunteered his service to our cause. Pulaski arrived in America in 1777 and served in the American Cavalry under the command of General George Washington. Valued for his vast military experience, General Pulaski led colonists on horseback with admirable skill, earning a reputation as the “father of American Cavalry.” Pulaski was mortally wounded during the siege of Savannah, and he died from his wounds on October 11, 1779.

Polish Americans have carried with them values and traditions that have shaped our society, and their immeasurable contributions have strengthened our country. This proud community has been integral to our success as a Nation, and will play a prominent leadership role in the years ahead.

General Pulaski wrote to our first President, “I came here, where freedom is being defended, to serve it, and to live or die for it.” We have never forgotten his sacrifice for our independence or his patriotism in defending freedom across two continents. Today, the people of the United States and Poland are bound by our solemn obligations to each other’s security and our shared values, including a deep and abiding commitment to liberty, democracy, and human rights. On General Pulaski Memorial Day, we celebrate the early beginnings of our strong friendship, our lasting ties to the people of Poland, and our enduring commitment to a safer, freer, and more prosperous world.”

Animated History of Poland

This charming eight-minute video portrays 1,000 years of Polish history, and in effect captures the historical reasons for Poland’s sensitivity about its borders. In a nutshell: the tumultuous expansions and invasions through the middle-ages, Hilter and Stalin’s secret pact to divide up Poland, occupation and resistance repeat throughout. The video brings some famous Polish paintings to life, shows a 17th century rendition of the traditional Polish Polonez dance, and includes some of Chopin’s most famous notes. Worth watching.