Thursday, March 30, 2017
   
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People in History

Contribution of Poles into Astronomy

Poles and Polish Americans have been pious Christians for centuries, but their fascination with the heavens has also extended beyond the religious sphere. Of course, one of the most outstanding astronomers in history was the Pole Mikołaj Kopernik, commonly known by his Latinized name, Nicholas Copernicus. It was he who in the sixteenth century put forth the idea that the Earth was not the center of the universe but that it and the other planets revolved around the Sun. This was a revolutionary concept at the time which totally changed the study of the heavens.

But even before Copernicus came the astronomer and mathematician Wojciech of Brudzewo (1445-1495). A professor at Jagiellonian University in Kraków, one of his students was Copernicus. Wojciech had doubts about the Earth being the center of the universe and no doubt influenced his famous pupil. He was the first person to state that the Moon always shows the same side to the Earth. There was also Marcin Bylica (1433-1493), a teacher who developed astronomical tables and donated instruments to the university, still on display today, including one of the earliest known celestial globes. And Jan of Głogów (1445-1507), another teacher of Copernicus, was another noted professor of astrology and astronomy in Kraków who wrote extensively on those subjects.

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Poles in the Space

Into The Heavens

HermaszewskiOne Pole and a few Polish Americans have traveled into space. The first and only Polish citizen to go into outer space was General Mirosław Hermaszewski (shown on the left), who participated in the Soviet space program. In 1978 he was launched into space along with a Russian cosmonaut and spent eight days circling the globe in the Soviet space station Salyut. Polish Americans who have traveled into space as part of the U.S. space shuttle program have been first Karol J. Bobko in 1983, followed in subsequent years by Scott E. Parazynski, George D. Zamka and James A. Pawelczyk.

Read more: Poles in the Space

   

Poland’s Influence on Thomas Jefferson

The political genius of Thomas Jefferson was undoubtedly inborn, but throughout his life he was influenced by the thinking of many individuals and the experiences of various countries and societies. Jefferson used this knowledge when he wrote the American Declaration of Independence.

It is known that Jefferson was greatly influenced by the writings of the Englishman John Locke. But Locke’s writings were deeply imbued with the thoughts and ideas of the Polish Brethren, also known as the Socinians, a religious sect in Poland in the late 1600s that espoused freedom of religion and personal liberty. Locke’s political thoughts were more specifically influenced by the Poles Wawrzyniec Goślicki and Samuel Przypkowski.

Read more: Poland’s Influence on Thomas Jefferson

   

Booker T. Washington Travel to Poland

Booker T. Washington was the most prominent African American leader in the decades surrounding the turn of the twentieth century. An educator and author, he took a conservative stance toward civil rights, believing that education and industry were the way for blacks to advance themselves.

Galicia PovertyIn 1910, Washington and a white colleague, Robert E. Park, undertook a six week tour of Europe to observe the lower classes and to try to find "the man farthest down," as Washington put it, and to compare the plight of the European peasant to that of the black American.

Washington's journey took him to Britain, Denmark, Italy and the German, Russian and Austrian empires. Poland had not yet regained its independence, but he visited the Polish provinces of the three occupying powers.

Washington spent several days in Austrian-controlled Kraków and its environs, visiting small villages and even crossing the nearby Russian frontier to visit a Polish village under control of the czar. He gave vivid and informative descriptions of the living conditions and hard working lives of the rural Poles, describing the typical peasant's small two room cottage, one for the animals, one for the family. He indeed based a great deal of his conclusions about this European journey on his observations of the Poles, writing that "it would not be difficult to compare the Negro in the South with the Polish peasant, for example, because the masses of the Poles are, like the masses of the Negroes, an agricultural people." And in those days, a life on the farm was very hard, no matter where.

Read more: Booker T. Washington Travel to Poland

   

Premier Gomulka’s U.S. Connection

Praised and vilified both at home and abroad, Władysław Gomułka had a tumultuous political career that twice saw him rise to the pinnacle of power in Communist Poland.

Born in 1905 in Krosno, Poland to working class parents, he embraced socialism during his teens. His personal textbooks were the writings of Marx and Lenin. Working as a locksmith from age fourteen, young Władysław was soon organizing communist labor groups. He joined the Polish Socialist Party at sixteen, soon after the Communist Party, and studied at the Lenin Institute in Moscow in 1934. Gomułka was jailed for his communist activities in Poland in 1926, 1932 and 1936. Upon the outbreak of World War II in 1939, he was released to help in the defense of Poland. As his country was overwhelmed by the German invasion, Gomułka fled east to the USSR. There, he met with Soviet dictator Stalin and made part of the nascent Polish communist government, set to take over Poland as Soviet forces pushed the Germans out.

Read more: Premier Gomulka’s U.S. Connection

   

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