Poland: Past and Present Poland is located in Europe’s Center Note: in the east Europe stretches to the Ural mountains, which are off the map
• Notes: “located in Europe’s Center“ is literally true. If one draws one straight line from the Norway’s North Shore (Europe’ furthest northern point) – to Cyprus, (its farthest point south) and a second straight line from Portugal’s to the Ural Mountains that separate Europe from Asia (not shown on this map) the two lines cross in Poland.
The country is bordered bythe Baltic Sea to the North and the Carpathian Mountains to the South
The highest Carpathian Mountains, the Tatras, rise above the resort town of Zakopane and are belowed by the Poles.
Warsaw, the country’s capital for the last 500years, is a bustling modern metoropolis studded with skyscrapers but also possessing many palaces and an Old Town.
• THE ROYAL CASTLE Zamek Krolewski• Built by royal order of the king, then rebuilt by the efforts of the nation, the Royal Castle in Warsaw was the seat of kings from the 17th century on. Totally destroyed during World War II, it has been restored to its former beauty during the 1970s, thanks to the generous donations of Poles and numerous Polish communities abroad. Now, as a splendid museum, it is open to the public.
• THE WILANOW PALACE• Wilanow is a Baroque palace and park complex situated in the outskirts of Warsaw. Formerly it was a residence of King John III Sobieski. The Baroque palace and garden complex is one of the finest in Poland. Unfortunately, the Nazis plundered the palace during World War II, carrying off most of its treasures. Nevertheless, thanks to a successful campaign to reclaim the looted property, the palace that can be seen at Wilanow today is no less rich and beautiful than it was in the days of John III. The palace has been converted into a museum of interior decorations, while its former carriage house shelters the Poster Museum.
• THE ROYAL LAZIENKI PALACE AND GARDENS• In the second half of the 17th century, the Kings Prime Minister commissioned a celebrated master builder to construct two buildings (baths and an hermitage) in the old river bed of the Vistula. The property was purchased in 1794 by King Stanislaus Augustus Poniatowski. Over the next thirty years, the King developed the site into his summer residence. An admirer of beauty and a lover of the Arts, the King transformed the property into one of Europes most beautiful palace and garden complexes, covering a total of 73 hectares.• To the inhabitants of Warsaw, the Lazienki Park is nowadays a favorite place for walks. Most of the palace buildings are open to the public as museum facilities, and also provide a splendid background for theatrical performances, which are staged in the park amphitheater during the summer months. Sunday concerts of music are given at the foot of the monument to Frederic Chopin, the famous Polish composer and pianist.
During WWII Warsaw was 98% destroyed, but it has since been completelyrebuilt An exception is the monument to the unknown soldier which is located in a piece of a collonade that had formed part of a royal palace.
WORLD WAR II• The German onslaught on Poland on September 1, 1939, started the Second World War. On September 3, Britain and France declared war on Germany. On September 17, the Soviet Union invaded Poland.
• Poland was under occupation by two cruel and totalitarian states. The Soviet Union snatched 50% of Polands territory, inhabited by 14.3 million people, including 6.5 million Poles. During eighteen months of occupation the most active individuals from all walks and domains of life were murdered. Hundreds of thousands of people were arrested and sent to Soviet concentration camps. Together with members of their families, upwards of 1.5 million Poles were imprisoned in the Gulag system. Most of them died of exhaustion and famine. In the spring of 1940, 15.000 Polish officers, who had been taken prisoners of war, were murdered at Katyn, Kharkov and Miednoie. Among them were commissioned officers and doctors, scientists, lawyers, engineers, chaplains and teachers called up for service at the outbreak of war.
Poland: Past and Present Poland is a fertile land and agriculture dominates much of the countryside
Poland: Past and Present Historical timelines966 – Mieszko I accepts Christianity on behalf of the Nation: History begins1374, September 17 – In Kosice, King Louis I pledges to the Polish Nobility noRoyal imposition of taxes without consent; integrity of the Nation’s territory ...1505, May 3 – In Radom, the Nihil Novi Constitution adopted by Sejm andSenate. No introduction of new laws without consent of both Seim and Senate
Poland: Past and Present Jagiellonian Poland-Lithuania In 1466
1573, 28 February – The Seym (parliament) meeting as the Confederation ofWarsaw assures the practice of any religion without discrimination or penalty1573, 4 April to 20 May – Election of King and his signing the Pacta Conventapromising not to declare war, raise an army, levy taxes without consent of Seym1791, 3 May – Enactment of Europe’s first written Constitution
Poland: Past and Present Poland in 1772 Poland 1918 - 1939 Poland since 1945
Poland: Past and PresentConfederation of Bar – 29 February 1768 – aimed at Russian garrisons (Pulaski)Kosciuszko Uprising – March 24, 1794 – Krakow - For liberty, integrity, and sovereigntyNovember Uprising – November 30, 1930 – Warsaw - For independenceJanuary Uprising – January 22, 1863 – Warsaw -For independenceWielkopolskie Uprising – December 27, 1918 – Poznan – to free WielkoposkaWarsaw Ghetto Uprising – April 1943 – To perish with dignityWarsaw Uprising – August 1, 1944 – To liberate city in advance of Red ArmyPoznan Demonstration – June 28, 1956 – For truth, freedom and breadGdansk Events – December 12-22, 1970 – For bread …
Poland: Past and PresentWarsaw Ghetto Uprising – April 1943 – To perish with dignityWarsaw Uprising – August 1, 1944 – To liberate city in advance of Red ArmyPoznan Demonstration – June 28, 1956 – For truth, freedom and breadGdansk Events – December 12-22, 1970 – For bread …
Solidarity• In the summer of 1980, Poland was swept by a wave of strikes. Lech Walesa assumed leadership of the strike committee at the Gdansk Shipyard. The most outstanding Polish intellectuals became the workers advisers. The authorities had to institute negotiations on the a list of 21 demands, which, together with pay raises and many other things, called for an end to censorship and the establishment of free trade unions. Devoid of any program, the ruling group agreed to make concessions. Within two months, the enormous, ten-million-strong Solidarity trade union [Solidarnosc] came into being. It was a union and, at the same time, a reform and independence-oriented social movement, resorting to peaceful methods only.
20 years of liberty 2009 Anniversaries• Ladies and Gentleman,• This year marks a series of anniversaries that encourage debate on the place and role of Poland in Europe and the nature and directions of European integration. The twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Communist regime bears particular significance for Poland and its people.• Solidarity, bravery and responsibility: these are the virtues that brought freedom to nations oppressed by totalitarian rule and paved the way for a new order in Europe. These principles inspired people to persevere in their determination to struggle for a Europe of fundamental social values: human and civil rights, freedom, right to a life of dignity and right to work. Indeed, the values of solidarity, bravery and responsibility were what ensured that this struggle – which reached its peak in 1980s – was waged using the force of argument rather than the argument of force.• Resistance against Communism in Europe would not have been possible without the combined efforts of many nations. Yet it was the bravery of Polish people in championing freedom, sovereignty, openness of mind and heart to another human being – as personified by the Solidarity movement and a sense of civic responsibility for future generations – that fuelled the collapse of Communism on the Old Continent in 1980s.
• The Round Table Talks and the region’s first democratic election on 4 June 1989 marked the birth of a new democratic Post-Cold War Europe, the end of totalitarian rule and the arrival of long-awaited freedom in Central Europe.• The anniversary celebrations and the political and cultural events accompanying them will provide an opportunity to promote our country. Poland is proud of its image of a country which loves, and wants to share, freedom. We believe that freedom and its underpinning values, namely solidarity, bravery and responsibility, are a quality mark of a united Europe, a stepping stone towards a common European identity.• Let us therefore manifest our joy and pride across the world in 2009 in keeping with the slogan “Freedom’89. Made in Poland”. ”.• Radosław Sikorski
At the end of WWII Polandfound itself consigned to theSoviet zone of influence anda was imposed a communistgovernment. The elevationof Cardinal Wojtyla ofKrakow in 1978 to thePapacy as John Paul II andhis pastoral visits to Polandgave the nation courage
In 1980, the workers at the shipyards inGdansk, led by an electrician by nameLech Walesa, went on strike and wonthe right to form a independent (non-communist) union: “Solidarity”
Soon the Soldarnosc had over10 million members and thecommunist government feltthreatened.On December 13, 1981, Gen.Jaruzelski, the head of thegovernment declared matriallaw and interned Lech Walesaand thousands of otherSolidarity members.
The Tables are turned: December 22, 1990 Lech Walesa havingwon a landslide electionis sworn is as Poland’s first post WWII non communist President
March 12, 1999: Poland accedes to NATO May 1, 2004: Poland accedes to the European Union Aleksander KwasniewskiPoland’s President 1995 - 2005
Poland - PresentDonald Tusk and Lech Kaczynski, respectivelyPoland’s current Prime minister and President