Celebrate 100 years of Poland regaining its independence

Poland’s National Independence Day or Narodowe Święto Niepodległości  is celebrated on November 11 to commemorate the anniversary of the restoration of a Polish state—Second Polish Republic—in 1918 after 124 years of partition by the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia and the Habsburg Empire. To understand the importance of this event, YSU’s Dr. Ewelina Boczkowska once explained to us in Historia class that you need to think about suddenly being told you weren’t American, or a Buckeye or even a Youngstowner…your language, money and loyalties were all supposed to change. Now imagine that happening to your great-grandfather. Would you be motivated to do something about it? Well, our ancestors were and spent years struggling to make it happen. This year, Polish people all over the world are commemorating this very significant milestone in Poland’s 1000 years long history. The following piece published by the Miami-based American Institute of Polish Culture does an excellent job of explaining why with a brief summary of Polish history.
Our Veterans Day on November 11 invokes the end of World War I. For the Poles, November 11 is their Independence Day.
In 2018, Poland celebrates its centennial. No, Poland is not 100 years old. On November 11, 1918, Poland proclaimed its return to the world scene as an independent state. It also affirmed the continuity of its history: almost 900 years of its statehood, nearly a millennium of Christianity, and several thousands of years marking the presence of its people in the area around the Vistula River.
To tell the story chronologically, DNA research suggests that the denizens of contemporary Poland descend from Eurasian settlers who originated in the Iranian plateau but put their roots down between the Vistula and Bug rivers some 3,000 years ago or more. A seminal watershed in Poland’s history was its Christianization in 966. That year also marks the official entry of the Polish state into the ranks of bona fide Christian European duchies.
It became a kingdom in 1025.
The medieval Crown of Poland eventually grew into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (14th to 18th centuries), which was the largest, most powerful, and freest nation in Europe. Kings and parliaments were elective. Over one million citizens had a vote and it was pre-modern times. It exceeded in number and freedom both Greek democracy and Roman Republic.
Habeus corpus applied since 1436; no taxation without representation was enshrined in the constitution since 1505; and freedom of conscience, not only for Christians but also for Jews and Muslims from 1573. The Commonwealth of Poland-Lithuania, the Rzeczpospolita, was partitioned by its predatory neighbors: Russia, Prussia, and Austria (1772, 1793, and, finally, 1795.) The Poles never reconciled themselves with the loss of freedom. They rose up in arms multiple times at home and they fought abroad from Europe through North and Latin America. From 1918 to 1921, they fought seven border wars, including defeating the Red Army to stop the spread of Communism.
Unfortunately, in September 1939, after a brief interlude of twenty years,
Hitler and Stalin destroyed the Polish state as World War II broke out. Poland was driven under-ground, where its resistance units fought against both the Nazis and Communists. Abroad, the Polish army-in-exile never wavered in the service of the Allied cause.
In 1944-1945, the Red Army pushed the Wehrmacht out of Poland. There was no liberation: red totalitarianism replaced the brown one, Stalin substituted for Hitler. An anti-Communist insurgency persisted into the 1950s. Later, the Poles turned largely to non-violent struggle. From 1980 to 1989, “Solidarity” led the greatest charge for freedom. It prevailed and, eventually, Poland became a sovereign state and a parliamentary democracy once more.
Thus, November 11, 2018, Poland’s Independence Day, encapsulates the effort of Polish generations to be free. By Marek Jan Chodakiewicz

Annual Sękacz cake sale underway
Sękacz (seng-kach) cake is a popular event cake from eastern Poland that is incredible in taste and shape. Its thick, rich batter contains 40 or 50 eggs, and it is baked by pouring ladles full of batter onto a rotary spit in open oven or over a very hot wood-burning fire. As the batter bakes, it forms what look like branches. It is rotated over and over again for 10 hours. When it’s done, you stand it up vertically so that all the “branches” stick out and slice it horizontally to see the “tree rings.” In the old days, sękacz was only baked for holidays and weddings because of the time and expense to make. Get your own tasty cake! We bring it in from one of only a handful of such bakeries in the America just in time for the  holidays. Learn more and place your order HERE. For more info call 330-333-9724.

ZAPRASZAMY –You’re Invited to Polish Kids Corner
Polish kids, families and friends, we are excited to be gathering to share our heritage in stories, language, song and dance. Built around seasonal themes, each session will offer children 4-12 years old the chance to learn a little more about their Polish heritage. Parents can drop their children off and know that there are in good hands for an informative fun time spent learning and getting to know others who share their family history.
Mark your calendars for the following Saturdays sessions at the Poland Library from at 10:30 - 11:30 on November 17, December 1 and December 15. For more information call Agi Lyda Khoury at 704-806-1591 or email

News from Poland by Ted Mirercki We are excited to welcome back this contributor!
Polish president seeks WWII reparations from Germany
Germany should consider paying Poland as much as $1 trillion in World War II reparations, according to the Polish foreign minister. Poland’s foreign minister Witold Waszczykowski said that “serious talks” were needed with Germany to "find a way to deal with the fact that German-Polish relations are overshadowed by the German aggression of 1939 and unresolved post-war issues." He said Poland’s material losses were about $1 trillion, or higher. This feud will come to the fore as Polish leaders hold talks with German Chancellor Merkel's government. Germany has said the issue is settled, but a Polish parliamentary inquiry disagreed. Read more about this and other stories in the most recent edition of Polish Media Watch. 

Calendar Highlights
November 12-30 Annual Sękacz cake sale... November 15-21 Polish Film Festival... Saturday, Nov 17 Polish Kids Corner... Saturday, Dec 1 Polish Kids Corner... Sunday, Dec 2 Polish Arts Club of Youngstown Wigilia... Saturday, Dec 15 Polish Kids Corner... And you know there will be more to come!



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