Sunday, April 30, 2017
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History and People

On the Wrong Site of the Frontline

This is the third article devoted to World War II in Poland for a series started in the September edition on the anniversary of the war. Read the first article Long Shadows of War - Poland and World War II . This is also a first part of mu Uncle Franek memoirs.

wujek FranekAs I already pointed out in the previous article, the majority of Poles in the regions annexed to Germany during World War II, especially in Upper Silesia, were treated like second-class German citizens. The whole Silesian population was divided into four categories - the first two included people who were members of German political, cultural or sport organizations or had pure German blood. The third category, so-called "volksdeutch" (folk Germans or country Germans) were people of mixed blood and mixed culture who spoke either German or Silesian at home. The Silesian language is just a Polish dialect, mixed with some German and Czech words. These people, according to Nazi standards, were not completely germanized but had lived in the region of Silesia for generations. Originally, there was an idea that all of these people should be sent to the Reich in order to germanize them, but this task was simply impossible since there were so many people who would need "germanization." They therefore received temporary German citizenship for a period of ten years. Commonly, people who belonged to this group had all the duties of the first and the second categories: they were required to send their men to Wehrmacht, but they were denied the special privileges of the two higher class.

Read more: On the Wrong Site of the Frontline


Lenin in Poland

Vladimir Lenin led the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. For the next 70 years the U.S. would spend billions of dollars and sacrifice the lives of thousands of young men to contain the USSR and communism.

Lenin wanted his system to dominate the world. He tried to push westward, but Polish forces turned him back in 1920. Then the Allies after World War II handed Poland to Stalin, Lenin's successor. But in the 1980s Poland again saved Europe from communism, this time led by a shipyard worker's peaceful opposition. How ironic, then, that Polish soil had once given Lenin refuge and solace, if only for a brief time.

Under the czar in Russia, Lenin was a known agitator and he was kept under surveillance by the authorities. So in 1907 he and his wife moved to Switzerland, then Paris, home to many Russian socialist exiles. These men plotted revolution, spread propaganda and bickered. Though he emerged as leader of the communist movement, Lenin had enough of the infighting, so he and Mrs. Lenin moved to Kraków in June 1912 to be closer to Russia.

Read more: Lenin in Poland


“The Peasant Prince” Author - Alex Storozynski - Arrives at Polish Embassy

     Washington, D.C. // The intriguing question of "So just who was Thaddeus Kosciuszko anyway?" has now been definitively answered by author Alex Storozynski into the foreseeable future. He rediscovered the heroic and tragic story of a great Polish and American revolutionary patriot who bravely answered the clarion call to arms for freedoms' fight on two continents.

Storozynski - polish prince

 Kosciuszko Book Generates Great Interest. Alex Storozynski (pictured above seated at right) is the author of a new book entitled "The Peasant Prince: Thaddeus Kosciuszko and the Age of Revolution." Storozynski is speaking to, and signing his book for, Zuzanna Falzmann - Washington Correspondent for Poland's POLSAT News TV.   

   Storozynski's book - The Peasant Prince: Thaddeus Kosciuszko and The Age of Revolution - unearths many previously unknown important details and historical facts that enlightens, and even delights, the reader delving into Kosciuszko's amazing life.

Read more: “The Peasant Prince” Author - Alex Storozynski - Arrives at Polish Embassy


Charles Lee of Britain, Poland & America

Charles Lee    When Englishman Charles Lee was denied a military appointment by King George III in 1773, he left for America to seek adventure. Lee was not a stranger to the 13 colonies, having fought alongside Washington in the French and Indian War, and having accumulated vast land holdings in North America.

    When he arrived here, he immediately began courting and schmoozing the leaders of the independence movement, eager for action. Lee had always been an advocate for personal liberty and he greatly admired the American leaders and their ideas. When the Revolutionary War broke out, he became second in command to Washington. But the two men did not get along. Eventually, Lee was relieved of his command for insubordination, courtmartialed and released from duty in 1780.

Read more: Charles Lee of Britain, Poland & America


Polish Courland

The territory of today's Baltic States - Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - played an important role in the history of Poland. In the fourteenth century Poland and Lithuania united in a commonwealth, with Poland the dominant partner. Eventually, this extended Polish territory to the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea. North of Lithuania along the Baltic lay a collection of principalities and duchies with names such as Esthonia, Livonia, Semigallia, Samogitia and Kurlandia.

The Balts who originally settled these lands were caught in the middle of rivalries among strong area powers: Prussia, Sweden, Russia, Poland and to a lesser extent Denmark. The German Prussians settled in cities along the coast and in manors inland, subjugating the native peasants. Russia pushed from the east, eager for a window on the Baltic. Sweden wanted to expand southward and Poland northward. The prizes were excellent ports and harbors, great natural resources, and control of the Baltic Sea.

Livonia, ruled by ethnic Germans of the Livonian Order of Knights and comprising what is now Latvia and southern Estonia, was constantly threatened by invading barbarous Muscovites. Grand Master Gothard Kettler secured the protection of Poland against the Russians by agreeing to become a vassal under the Polish crown in 1561. King Zygmunt promised Kettler autonomous control of the southern third of Livonia, creating the Duchy of Courland (Polish: Kurlandia). It was to remain a part of the Kingdom of Poland until the latter's final partition in 1795. At one point, it would count among its military guards a young Kazimierz Pułaski.

CourlandWhile nominally a part of Poland, the Duchy's ties to the Kingdom were very loose. The Poles wrote and imposed a constitution and a set of statutes on Courland. But the Duchy retained the right of neutrality. It was not forced to supply soldiers for Polish wars. It did not pay taxes to the crown. And the Duke was not personally subordinated to the Polish King.

Read more: Polish Courland


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