We hope that DO YOU KNOW POLAND? booklet will inspire many others to use the resources it contains to begin or continue their pursuit of discovery, learning and appreciation for Poland and its people. In either case, a good starting point is a walk through map images as described below by line-heightthe map designer, Irena Frączek.
► download the description in PDF format here ◄
1. Pilots of No. 306 Polish Fighter Squadron "Torunian" (pl: 306 Dywizjon Myśliwski "Toruński"), one of over a dozen Polish squadrons in the Royal Air Force (RAF) during the WWII. Flight Lieutenants Tadeusz Czerwiński and Stanisław Skalski are photographed with Polish emblem in Churchstanton, Somerset, UK. on January 26-28, 1942.
2. A girl in the Kashubian folk costume photographed during the Polish Fest in Milwaukee. Kashubians (an indigenous Slavic population) live near the Baltic Sea in the eastern part of Pomerania. Kashubian dialect is related to Polish but classified as a distinct language. Almost 90% of Kashubians see themselves as simultaneously Kashubian and Polish.
3. Rare autograph of Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) against a few measures of his widely known Polonaise in A-flat Major "Heroique" Op. 53. A musical celebrity and symbol of the Romantic era, his compositions are permeated with influences from Polish folk music and remain as popular around the world as ever. Polonaise (pl. polonez) is a national dance of Poland.
4. Named after Marshal Józef Piłsudski, the ocean liner MS Piłsudski (an older sister ship to the famous MS Batory) was a tribute to the country's leader and his role in the long struggle for Poland's independence regained in 1918. The ship's home port in Gdynia embodies the achievements and entrepreneurial spirit of the II Polish Republic, while service on the transatlantic route evokes numerous Polish-American connections.
5. The Westerplatte Monument (officially named the Monument to the Defenders of the Coast) commemorates the first battle of WWII that came to symbolize the war outbreak and the heroic Polish resistance against the Nazi Germany. In this battle, lasting for seven days, about 200 Polish soldiers bravely withheld attacks of 3,400 German forces supported by a battleship, torpedo boats and military aircrafts.
6. A true Renaissance man, Nicolaus Copernicus (pl. Mikołaj Kopernik) placed sun in the center of his heliocentric model of the universe. His book ‘On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres’ triggered the Copernican Revolution that gave rise to modern science. Jan Matejko, a painter known for capturing the most profound moments of Polish history, created the painting "Astronomer Copernicus, or Conversations with God" adopted on the map..
7. The Białowieża Forest is the second oldest of 23 Polish national parks, and the only UNESCO-designated natural World Heritage site in Poland. It protects the last remnant of Europe's primeval forests and the largest population of European bison (pl: żubr). Polish kings started to protect the European bison already in the 16th century, but by the 20th century, the species had to be brought back from near extinction by conservation efforts.
8. Skyline of Warsaw, Poland with a good view on the city's seventh tallest building (630 feet, 192 m) - a luxury residential skyscraper located at Złota 44 and nicknamed the "Glass Sail."
9. Irene Sendler was a nurse and social worker who with help of her underground network and at great personal danger rescued about 2,5000 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto. In October 1943, she became a head of children's section of Żegota (the Polish Council to Aid Jews, pl. Rada Pomocy Żydom), the only organization in German-occupied Europe that was established specifically to save Jews. Her wartime activities brought Irene Sendler numerous awards and Yad Vashem's recognition as the "Righteous Among the Nations."
10.The Little Insurrectionist (pl. Mały Powstaniec) monument in Warsaw commemorates the youngest fighters of the Warsaw Uprising (August 1 - October 2, 1944), the single largest military effort taken by any European resistance movement during World War II.
11. A very progressive for its time, the Polish Constitution of May 3, 1791 was the first modern written constitution in Europe, and only the second in the world after the Constitution of the United States. It remained in effect for just one year, becoming later a cherished national symbol that helped to keep alive the aspirations for Poland's independence and social justice.
12.The winged hussars, also called the Polish hussars, were the elite branch of heavy cavalry in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth from the 1570s until 1776. Using a tactic of charge at and through the enemy, they won numerous battles - even against the overwhelming odds. They won some of the most important battles in the history of Poland (the Battle of Chocim, 1673) and Europe (the Battle of Vienna, 1683).
13. "Zbójnicki," a traditional dance of Gorals (pl. górale), highlanders from the mountainous Podhale region in Southern Poland, performed by Śląsk Song and Dance Ensemble..
14. Pope John Paul II during his first papal visit to Poland in 1979. The red stole was a gift from the Pauline Friars taking care of the Jasna Góra Monastery, one of the most important Marian shrines in the world. The painting of Black Madonna held in the monastery and portrayed on the stole has been an important part of Poland's history for over six hundred years.
15.Tadeusz Kościuszko is the national hero of the United States (the Revolutionary War), Poland and Lithuania. The 1938 painting by Arthur Szyk recalls Kosciuszko's legacy as defender of freedom, justice and equality for all. It also revisits his unfulfilled wish for Thomas Jefferson to execute his last will stipulating the use of all Kosciuszko's assets to buy out black slaves and provide them with education needed to make a fresh start in life..
16. Ignacy Jan Paderewski was a virtuoso pianists and composer admired in concert halls all over the world. He used his fame to advance the cause of restoring Poland's independence - especially when having an ear of the US President Woodrow Wilson. The power of his word was so great that the victorious Greater Poland uprising (1918–1919) broke out just one day after his patriotic speech in Poznań. What a joy it must have been for him to place his signature on the Versailles Treaty recognizing the Poland's hard-won independence in 1918..
17. Most people have seen Zofia Stryjeńska's art but not many know her name. Yet she earned the title of the "princess of Polish art" in interwar Poland (and fame in Europe) for her art deco designs and effervescent images. Her work revolved around pagan rituals, pre-Christian Slavic deities, historic themes, as well as Polish folk costumes, dances & traditions - just like the Polish custom of floating wreaths and candles on St. John’s Eve (pl. Noc Świętojańska). Zofia Stryjeńska was among the artists invited to work on the MS Piłsudski interior design.
18. Sierpiński triangle became my choice of an eye catching and hard to forget symbol of the astounding achievements of the Polish School of Mathematics to put on the map. Growing rapidly in the interwar period, its three branches bloomed simultaneously in Warsaw, Lwów and Kraków. Interestingly enough, Wacław Sierpiński applied his math genius to breaking Soviet codes, thus contributing to Poland's victory in the Polish-Soviet war (1919-21).
19. Another triumph of Polish cryptologists came when Marian Rejewski, Henryk Zygalski, and Jerzy Różycki developed a method for breaking German codes generated by the Enigma machine in December 1932. After Poles disclosed their secrets to the Allies in 1939, British code-breakers gradually started deciphering German communications. But only after Poland joined NATO in 1999, they began acknowledge the Polish role in those successes.
20. One of the greatest scientists of all times, Marie Skłodowska Curie, she developed the theory of radioactivity and discovered new elements: polonium (named after Poland) and radium. Despite multiple barriers on her path (poverty, misogyny and xenophobia), she became the first women ever to win a Nobel Prize, the first person to win it twice and the first in two separate disciplines (Physics in 1903 and Chemistry in 1911).
21. Red poppy might be a national flower of Poland but on this map, it represent the blood of Polish soldiers shed on the slopes of Monte Cassino in one of the fiercest battles of WWII. The Polish II Corps ended it launching one of the final assaults in the four month long struggle. On May 18, 1944, Polish flag was raised over the ruins of Monte Cassino Abbey (seen on the map behind the poppies), followed by the British Union Jack. "The Red Poppies on Monte Cassino" (pl. Czerwone maki na Monte Cassino) is one of the best-known songs in Poland.
22. Straight from the 1952 film “High Noon," Gary Cooper walks in this poster with the Solidarity badge on his chest and a ballot in his right hand. Used to put the Solidarity movement on the map, the poster urged people to vote in the pivotal 1989 election. The result was a landslide victory for Solidarity and a major step in the collapse of communism.
23. Robert Lewandowski is a captain of the Polish National Soccer team and one of the best players in the Bundesliga history (where he plays for Bayern Munich). Widely considered to be one of the best strikers in the world, he recently won the 2020 Best FIFA Men's Player Award and the 2020 UEFA Men's Player of the Year Award. On March 22, 2021, Polish President Andrzej Duda awarded Lewandowski the Commander's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta for his professional achievements and promotion of Poland abroad.