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January 27, 2005 ...


Rzeszow, Poland establishes Lions Club

Through the efforts of Rzeszow citizens, the Lions Clubs immediate past district governor from Poznan, Poland, and the Lions Clubs of Western New York (District 20-N), a Lions Club will be established in Rzeszow.
Lions Clubs are the largest service organization in the world. They exist to help the less fortunate, the handicapped, and needy citizens of their communities.
Christine Jozwiak, Guiding Lion of Multiple District 20 New York State Lions and first lady of the Polish Union of America, spearheaded this effort with help from the district governor of Poland's District 121, Mariusz Szeib.
Polish Union of America National President James P. Jozwiak also assisted in this worthwhile endeavor. Jozwiak is also a past district governor of District 20-N.
The groundwork is complete. The number required to serve as charter members has been met, the club has been approved by the government of Poland, and the necessary papers have been filed with the office of Lions International, headquartered in Oakbrook, Illinois.
All parties are currently waiting for the notice of the approved charter date. Because of the relationship that was developed with the Lions in Poland and since Rzeszow is Buffalo's "Sister-City," the Lions there are honoring this new friendship by naming the new club the "Rzeszow-Buffalo Lions Club."
The citizens of Rzeszow will now be able to access a source of financial help should the need arise. For example, should there be a natural disaster in their city, the district governor would call Lions International and would get financial help immediately. In the case of the tragic flooding in Thailand and Indonesia, Lions International has donated $5 million to date.
It is through the fund-raising efforts of Lions members that the organization is able to help others.
Now, Polonia and its organizations are being asked to be a part of a history-making effort. In order to properly establish a Lions Club in Rzeszow, there are certain resources that should be established to help their community, such as loan closets (filled with walkers, wheel chairs, canes, etc.) and a start-up charitable fund to help the less fortunate in immediate need.
There is also the necessary club paraphernalia that is required to run a proper meeting. The new Lions Club needs to have a good financial start, so that it will have the ability to be more effective in its community.
The Polish Union of America is sponsoring a raffle fund-raiser, along with District 20-N Governor Judy Newman, and the Franklinville-Machias Lions Club. Originally, there were three prizes, but three more prizes have been donated! The winners holding the lucky tickets will win a 4-foot-tall stuffed teddy bear (which can be seen at the Polish Union of America's office); a hand-made quilt; two large baskets filled with collectible stuffed animals; a gift basket from "MadeInBuffalo. com"; and a Polish crystal bowl.
Tickets can be purchased at Polish Union of America, 745 Center Road, West Seneca, New York. A donation of $2 per ticket, $5 for 3 tickets, or a donation in any amount is greatly appreciated. For details or to have tickets sent to you, call Christine Jozwiak at (716) 592-2501 or James P. Jozwiak at (716) 998-2501.


The Courier from Warsaw, Jan Nowak, dies at 91

The "Courier from Warsaw," Jan Nowak-Jezioranski, died late on Jan. 20 at the age of 91. Nowak-Jezioranski was a Polish patriot, World War II hero and fighter for an independent democratic Poland.
This statement from the White House acknowledged Nowak-Jezioranski contribution to freedom:
"President Bush mourns the passing in Warsaw of Jan Nowak-Jezioranski, a great Polish freedom fighter and American patriot. Jan Nowak's life was devoted to freedom's cause. He was a leader in freedom's struggle in the 20th century from Poland's resistance to the Nazis in World War II through the return of democracy to Poland after 1989, in which he played important roles.
"Jan Nowak-Jezioranski pursued his values tenaciously, and contributed greatly to the building of a Europe whole, free, and at peace. A longtime leader in the Polish-American community, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996 in recognition of his achievements on behalf of liberty."
Nicholas Rey, former American ambassador to Poland and president of the American Polish Advisory Council, said in a statement:
"While greatly saddened by the passing of Pana Jana, APAC is deeply thankful that God gave him to Poland, Polonia and the United States for so many years of heroism. Throughout his long life he successfully championed Poland's independence, freedom and security as well as good relations between Poland and the United States. He involved himself in many efforts toward these objectives. The founders of APAC are especially thankful that he gave us some of his very sound advice at our inception.
"In spirit, we join all those who will be mourning and celebrating his life on Wed., Jan. 26 at his funeral and burial in Warsaw."
Former Polish president Lech Walesa told the Polish news agency PAP: "He, together with other great Poles, was an example of how to fight, how to behave, how to perceive the fatherland. We have to ... be thankful we had such a countryman."
Zdislaw Jezioranski had used the name Jan Nowak when he joined the Polish underground in World War II. He took part in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944.
Nowak-Jezioranski was known for making trips from Warsaw to London to deliver news of Polish resistance activites to the Polish government-in-exile and the Allies. His clandestine work earned him the title of Courier from Warsaw.


25th anniversary of Solidarity

Robert Strybel,
Warsaw Correspondent
WARSAW - This year marks the 25th anniversary of the emergence of Solidarity, undoubtedly one of the 20th century's most unique organizations. It not only brought about profound changes in Poland, but led to a major breakthrough on the international scene. The collapse of all of Europe's Soviet satellites and of the Soviet Union itself as well as an end to the iron curtain and the cold war can all be traced back to the Polish workers' movement led by a simple shipyard electrician, Lech Walesa.
It is hard to believe it all started with a price hike on food sold at factory cafeterias. Fearful of possible unrest, the communist regime introduced only partial meat-price increases, but even that triggered strikes which eventually engulfed much of the country. The protesting workers agreed to end their stoppages after the government signed agreements permitting the legalization of the Niezalezy Samorzadny Zwiazek Zawodowy "Solidarnosc" (Solidarity Independent Self-Government Trade Union). Other striker demands included: limitation of censorship, the release of political prisoners, a radio Mass for shut-ins and wage increases.
Various factors contributed to the fact that the demise of the Soviet bloc started in Poland. It was the only Soviet satellite to resist collectivization of agriculture and subordination of the church to the state. Poles rose up against the regime on more occasions than any other eastern bloc country: 1956, 1968, 1970, 1976, 1980 and in sporadic spurts from 1981 to 1989.
Poland was the only Soviet bloc country to have such a large, bold and efficiently organized dissident movement which became particularly active in the mid-1970s. The election of a Polish pope and his visit to Poland a year later (1979) was an event of pivotal importance. "May your spirit descend and renew the land - this land!" John Paul II told his countrymen in Warsaw. A year later, strikes spread across the country, forcing the regime to the negotiating table.
But weeks before the now legendary Gdansk Agreement and similar accords in Szczecin and Jastrzebie were signed, plans to destroy the new movement were already being mulled by the Soviet-backed regime. Poland's communist leaders debated whether the Baltic ports should be captured by army troops or special security forces, and whether a state of emergency or martial law could be imposed. That was 16 months before military strongman General Wojciech Jaruzelski unleashed on Dec. 13, 1981 what his opponents would call the "Polish-Jaruzelian War."
A telling episode exposing the regime's true intentions towards Solidarity was the Narozniak affair. Even before the authorities grudgingly agreed to grant the union legal status (Nov. 10, 1980), Poland's communist attorney general had prepared a document urging Justice Ministry officials to collect and even fabricate evidence of Solidarity's alleged anti-state activities. A duplicating room employee at the prosecutor-general's office passed a copy of the document to Solidarity activist Jan Narozniak who decided to publicize it. Narozniak and the duplicating-room employee were arrested and police searched Warsaw Solidarity offices. Solidarity threatened to bring the whole voivodship to a standstill if the two were not released, and the communist authorities ultimately backed down.
In fact, the entire 16-month Solidarity period was one long series of unkept promises, stalling, ruses and dirty tricks by the old-guard communist regime desperately defending its power and privileges. The communists would agree to concessions and then fail to follow through, provoking strikes and protests. Some of them, especially railway strikes and road blocks, succeeded in paralyzing an entire city, voivodship or even the whole country.
This had never happened before in post-war Poland or any other communist country. The divide and rule tactic had been cleverly employed by the regime's propaganda machine in the past, turning workers against rebelling students and intellectuals in 1968, and keeping the intellectual community largely indifferent to the 1970 food-price protests by Baltic Coast workers. But, by 1980, things had changed.
Solidarity (the name had come from the Gdansk strike bulletin "Solidarnosc") was more than just a slogan. It became a federation attracting people from all walks of life: shipyard workers, coal miners, factory workers, bus drivers, railway employees, health-care workers, lawyers, teachers, college professors, journalists, writers, artists, private farmers and many others. The movement also provided a protective umbrella for formerly banned political-interest groups such as AK war veterans, who had fought in the World War II underground resistance, and the families of those who had perished in Stalin's 1940 Katyn massacre. They all had one thing in common: opposition to the oppressive communist regime that had enslaved Poland for 36 years.
The peaceful Solidarity revolution was enthusiastically supported by Polonia, the AFL-CIO and the governments, media and general public opinion in the U.S. and other Western countries. The awarding of the 1980 Nobel Literary Prize to Polish, anti-communist emigre poet, Czeslaw Milosz, gave the Solidarity-led opposition movement a shot in the arm and inspired increasingly bold and independent views by Poland's intellectual community. For the country's communist leadership, that was yet another proof that worldwide anti-communist forces were stepping up their activities.
"Sooner or later a confrontation must occur, since that is inevitable. We want to be the ones to set the time. We shall have to deploy political and administrative measures. By administrative measures I am referring to arrests. Thirty thousand people [security troops] have been trained to fight in the streets," Polish communist hardliner Stefan Olszowski told East German communist boss Erich Honecker. But within Poland's communist leadership there was a lack of consensus on when and how to crack down. Olszowski and other hawks wanted to strike as soon as possible. Others, including communist party boss Stanislaw Kania, felt such a move required adequate preparation.
Although the communist authorities would go through the motions of negotiating pay issues, work-free Saturdays, union freedoms and many other questions with Solidarity in good faith, behind the scenes the machinery of martial law was already being but into place. Large-scale preparations got under way even before Solidarity was registered. General Boguslaw Stachura issued an order (Nov. 3, 1980) to draw up a list of 12,900 activists to be arrested and to prepare a telecommunications blackout and transport blockade.
A few days later, General Jaruzelski told the Homeland Defense Committee that "a set of indispensable legal acts pertaining to martial law has been prepared. Without the knowledge of Lech Walesa and his movement, in the months that followed, those plans were systematically tested and upgraded.
But that was not enough for the Kremlin's aging leaders who believed the Warsaw regime was stalling and kept pressuring it to crack down on Solidarity. Time and again over the 16-month Solidarity period, Soviet troops would be concentrated along Poland's borders and staged threatening maneuvers in and around the country. Similar moves on a smaller scale occurred in neighboring communist Czechoslovakia and East Germany to show that Poland was literally surrounded by "healthy socialist forces" that could step in should "people's rule" be in jeopardy.
(Part 2 - concluded in the Am-Pol Eagle print edition 1/27/05)

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