Tuesday, April 25, 2017
   
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History and People

History of Siberian Exiles

The first Poles sent to Siberia were prisoners of war from various battles fought against Russia in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. After the partitions in the late 1700s, Poles were exiled to Siberia in large numbers following the anti-Russian insurrections of 1794, 1830-1 and 1863, as well as during the Napoleonic wars when Poles who fought with the French were captured. But all during the 1800s thousands of Poles were sent to Siberia for various anti-Russian activities and plots, real or imagined, along with Polish common criminals.

Read more: History of Siberian Exiles

 

Lincoln Ignored Poles, Feted The Czar (Tsar)

Historians routinely rate Abraham Lincoln our greatest president, a secular saint who could do no wrong. But like most politicians, he did what was politically expedient. Such was the case involving the Polish insurrection of 1863 against Russia.

Lincoln, of course, was president during the American Civil War and one area of importance to him was that of foreign relations. Regarding countries that mattered, Britain and France favored the South, and Russia was considered a staunch supporter of the North. These alliances were critical, for if any one of those countries overtly supported the Confederacy with supplies and money the Union might be doomed.

In Europe at the time, Britain and France were aligned against Russia and the latter enjoyed excellent relations with the U.S., a far cry from the 1830s when Russia was excoriated by the American press and public for its treatment of the Polish insurrectionists. In the 1860s Russia was looked upon by Americans as comparable to the U.S., largely because Czar Alexander II was considered to be a liberal reformer. He had freed the Russian serfs in 1861 (but not Polish serfs) and made other progressive reforms. Both countries were also thought of as vibrant, expanding empires.

Read more: Lincoln Ignored Poles, Feted The Czar (Tsar)

   

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.

Read more: Contribution of Poles into Astronomy

   

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

   

Richard Nixon in Poland

Nixon PolandRichard M. Nixon was one of the most controversial and divisive men ever to occupy the White House. But love him or hate him, he made history by becoming the first sitting American president to visit Poland, in 1972.

It was not Nixon’s first visit to Poland. He had also visited the country as vice president in 1959. In both instances the stops were made after strategically important visits to the Soviet Union and were restricted to Warsaw.

Read more: Richard Nixon in Poland

   

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