Friday, March 24, 2017
   
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People in History

Lenin in Poland

Vladimir Lenin led the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. For the next 70 years the U.S. would spend billions of dollars and sacrifice the lives of thousands of young men to contain the USSR and communism.

Lenin wanted his system to dominate the world. He tried to push westward, but Polish forces turned him back in 1920. Then the Allies after World War II handed Poland to Stalin, Lenin's successor. But in the 1980s Poland again saved Europe from communism, this time led by a shipyard worker's peaceful opposition. How ironic, then, that Polish soil had once given Lenin refuge and solace, if only for a brief time.

Under the czar in Russia, Lenin was a known agitator and he was kept under surveillance by the authorities. So in 1907 he and his wife moved to Switzerland, then Paris, home to many Russian socialist exiles. These men plotted revolution, spread propaganda and bickered. Though he emerged as leader of the communist movement, Lenin had enough of the infighting, so he and Mrs. Lenin moved to Kraków in June 1912 to be closer to Russia.

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Charles Lee of Britain, Poland & America

Charles Lee    When Englishman Charles Lee was denied a military appointment by King George III in 1773, he left for America to seek adventure. Lee was not a stranger to the 13 colonies, having fought alongside Washington in the French and Indian War, and having accumulated vast land holdings in North America.

    When he arrived here, he immediately began courting and schmoozing the leaders of the independence movement, eager for action. Lee had always been an advocate for personal liberty and he greatly admired the American leaders and their ideas. When the Revolutionary War broke out, he became second in command to Washington. But the two men did not get along. Eventually, Lee was relieved of his command for insubordination, courtmartialed and released from duty in 1780.

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Idzikowski's Flight

An interesting chapter in Polish aviation history involves transatlantic flight. By 1928 pilots had successfully flown planes nonstop from North America to continental Europe. But the feat had not been accomplished from Europe to North America, in the east to west direction, either solo or accompanied. It was a more difficult route to fly, going against the prevailing westerly winds.

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Famous Polish Women 1800-1918

OrzeszkowaIn 2006 March edition, we talked about Important Women in Early Polish History. Before XIX century women had to be born in the royal or aristocrat family to become influential. The Enlightenment ideas of XVIII century that postulate the education of lower class citizens and women changed it. Through the XIX century there were so many women who became publicly known, mainly in the fine arts: actresses, painters, pianists, writers, as well as in the social and patriotic activities that I cannot list them all here. Women became famous for what they did rather than where they have been born or whom did they marry.

In the literature of XIX century Poland, women-writers are very prominent. Initially women-writers directed their stories mainly to children and young readers, but soon they influenced Polish society as the whole. Two most prominent names are Maria Konopnicka and Eliza Orzeszkowa; both were friends since they attended a private school for girls in Warsaw run by nuns. Both became known not only for their literary contribution but also for their social and patriotic work.

 

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Joel Barlow - A Connecticut Yankee in Poland

It is strange to find a monument to an American poet in the churchyard cemetery of a small village in southern Poland. What is it doing there and who is this man being commemorated?

Joel Barlow
His name is Joel Barlow, a Revolutionary War veteran born in Connecticut in 1754. His most well known poem is The Hasty Pudding (1793), a light-hearted ode to the New England dish. In addition to being a poet, he was at various times a teacher, publisher, editor, diplomat, lawyer and realtor. With his wife he headed for France in 1788 as the agent of an American land company. Barlow decided to settle there and became an honorary French citizen. He consorted with anti-monarchists and liberals at the time of the French Revolution. He became friends with Thomas Jefferson when the latter was U.S. Minister to France, and with Kościuszko, who lived in Paris for a few years. While in the French capital, the U.S. government hired Barlow as consul to Algiers, where he secured the release of more than 100 hostage American seamen in 1796. He and his wife returned to America in 1805, hoping to live out their lives in their homeland.

Read more: Joel Barlow - A Connecticut Yankee in Poland

   

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