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History and People

Famous Polish Officers

PulaskiPolish-born Count Casimir Pulaski was one of many foreign officers to serve under the command of General George Washington during the American Revolution. Other Polish officers also came to America and sought to join General Pulaski's command. Pulaski's reputation was well known to them, and being a fellow countryman, they naturally were drawn to him, for their language, customs and habits were the same. And Pulaski was rather free to recruit his own staff of officers as well as enlisted men, especially after he formed the Pulaski Legion in 1778.
The Pulaski Legion was comprised of mostly foreigners, especially Germans. Among the officers were several Frenchmen, Germans and Poles. A famous American officer in the Legion was General Lighthorse Harry Lee, the father of Robert E. Lee. Of the Poles, the following notable officers served with the great Pulaski:

Captain Joseph Baldeski - Served as paymaster of the Legion. Auditors of the Continental Congress questioned and investigated his accounting practices, but cleared him of any wrongdoing. Nevertheless, he resigned his commission in late 1779. He apparently lived out his last years in Germantown, Pa. and was a starchmaker.

Read more: Famous Polish Officers


The Mormons in Poland

    In 1892 missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), based in Salt Lake City and commonly known as the Mormons, proselytized in the eastern German Empire. They established congregations in Breslau and the town of Selbongen in East Prussia. Following World War II, border shifts brought Breslau and Selbongen within the new Poland. Germans were expelled westward to make way for Poles to populate the areas. But some Germans managed to stay behind. The Breslau congregations were depopulated and dissolved, but several Selbongen Mormons remained and continued to operate their branch in their little chapel.

    The town, now in northeast Poland, was renamed Zelwągi, and in 1947 the communist authorities stopped the congregation's meetings, saying such gatherings had to use the Polish language. Undeterred, the members learned Polish and resumed services three years later. A 1958 Polish magazine article about the Zelwągi Mormons brought in a few new members, but by 1978 all of the congregants had reportedly immigrated to West Germany and the branch ceased to exist.

Read more: The Mormons in Poland


Old Country Photos

Richard Poremski, a journalist and activist of Polish-American community visited Poland in 1976. He traveled through Polish cities and villages. He captured images of Poland which could not be captured now, since there is so much development and change.


Poles Developed Early Television

It has recently become fashionable to credit the invention of television to the American Philo T. Farnsworth. But the truth is, modern television was not so much a single invention by a single person, but a long process of interdependent discoveries. Many scientists from different countries and backgrounds contributed to its development. Among them were Poles.

Paul Gottlieb Nipkow (1860-1940) is usually called a German inventor. But more detailed sources identify him as a Kaszubian Pole. He was born in Lębork in the Kaszub region of Poland west of Gdańsk, and schooled in nearby Wejherowo. These were lands taken by Germany (Prussia) in the 17th and 18th centuries. Since they were part of Germany, Nipkow was legally a German citizen, and pursued his career in Berlin.

Read more: Poles Developed Early Television


Reflections from the Great Depression in Poland (1930-1936)

Current economic crisis encourages us to reflect on economic depression of the 30s. In Poland the economic crisis started slightly later than in the US, but it lasted longer: 1930-1935.  From the perspective of the World War II which followed Poles tend to see thirties as good years. But the big economic crisis brought lots of misery and poverty, especially in the regions which were poor already, mainly in Southeastern Poland. 

Both of my parents were born in 1930. They were still children in the pre-war times.

My father came from relatively rich family, he was the only child. He grew up partly in the country. He still remembers that the cheap food products made farmers very poor.  But the real misfortune did not affect his family until the WW II when his mother died on tuberculosis, which was accelerated due to the poor diet. They ate mainly rapeseed soup and rye bread. During the war the medical care was also inadequate.  My father became semi-orphan as 12 years old boy. 

My mother was the youngest from seven children in a miner's family in Katowice, Upper Silesia. When she was born the whole family lived in a house which consisted from a kitchen and two rooms, but they only has the access to one room. Like many Poles they had also a small farm with geese, chicken and goats and a small field and garden. Her father, a miner, was forced for early retirement during the Great Depression. He lost much his savings in a bank bankruptcy. Still, my mother's parents were able to expand the house adding the upper floor. Of course, during this time they had to save on food, so the meat or buttered bread was only served on Sundays.

Read more: Reflections from the Great Depression in Poland (1930-1936)


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