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Zaolzians in Poland

Krzysztof Szelong


If we were to run a survey and ask Poles at random if they knew any Poles from Zaolzie, the answer would probably be negative. Well, some of the most ardent pop music enthusiasts might confirm that Ewa Farna comes from Zaolzie. Others, if prompted by additional questions, might be able to mention Jerzy Buzek, the former Prime Minister and President of the European Parliament. With these two names the repertoire of widely known Zaolzians would have been exhausted. Meanwhile, the list of Zaolzian Poles who were thrown to Poland by fate, or were at least closely tied to it, is not only very long but also abundant in outstanding and amazing personalities. Equally remarkable are the circumstances in which many of them ended up in Poland and thus managed to build their careers here, often impressing a long-lasting mark on the history of the country.

Zaolzians have continuously settled in Poland throughout the existence of the border along the Olza river – be it either voluntarily, encouraged by family reasons, or seeking appropriate possibilities to fulfil their educational or professional aspirations. Nonetheless, massive emigration to Poland took place as a consequence of political turmoil. The first wave of Zaolzians reached Poland due to the Polish-Czechoslovak dispute over Cieszyn Silesia in 1919-1920. During the preparation for the plebiscite, and as a result of escalating terror and anti-Polish riots in the Ostrava-Karviná region, several thousand Poles were forced to abandon the area that would in the future become Zaolzie. Following the decision to divide Cieszyn Silesia, adopted in Paris on 28th July 1920, the number of refugees increased considerably, reaching up to several thousand people. They found shelter in the Polish part of Cieszyn Silesia and beyond its borders, in a refugee camp in Oświęcim, and afterwards also in Bochnia, Brzeszcze, Chrzanów, Jaworzno, Krzeszowice, Libiąż, Limanowa, Nowy Sącz, Tarnów, Trzebinia, and Wieliczka. The majority of Poles leaving Zaolzie consisted of people involved in the plebiscite, who could expect reprisals from the Czech authorities in connection with such activities. Besides the multitude of workers, amongst the refugees there were also many representatives of various professions, officers and non-commissioned officers of the Polish Army, clerical staff, especially industry-related personnel, teachers, students, and even members of the clergy, doctors and lawyers. The latter group, thanks to high qualifications and specific experience, was likely to quickly settle in the country. After 1922, many officials and teachers were directed to the Upper Silesia region, which was included into Poland and devoid of native Polish intelligentsia. Zaolzians – knowing the Silesian culture, dialect and mentality – found it much easier to fill this gap compared to newcomers from other regions, and at the same time guaranteed that their actions would contribute to the Polonization of the region. The term “Gorol”, nowadays commonly used throughout the area, which the Upper Silesians bestow on all Polish incomers from outside of Silesia, was coined at that time and referred to the Cieszyn, and primarily the Zaolzian, “surge” which took place at that time in the area. Considering the geographical perspective of its inhabitants, it could indeed trigger associations with the mountains. During this period, Zaolzian refugees were sent not only to Upper Silesia, but also to... Masuria, and more specifically to a single, small region included in the Second Polish Republic – Działdowo County, in which Zaolzians served, amongst others, as the county starost (Jan Pawlica, 1886-1929), the mayor of Działdowo (Alfred Rzyman, 1895-1969), county physician (Tadeusz Michejda, 1879-1956), county school inspector (Paweł Klimosz, 1879-1953), director of the State Teachers’ Seminary in Działdowo (Karol Banszel, 1890-1941?), and director of Działdowo middle school (Józef Biedrawa, 1878-1944). All of them were Protestants and their confession was a trump card that helped them find common language with the local population. Another large Zaolzian tide came into Poland after World War II as a result of the threat of reprisals against any local Poles in connection with their activities from even before the war, and also due to the many restrictions in fulfilling their educational or professional goals that they encountered in the period between 1945 and 1947 in Czechoslovakia. Like a quarter of a century before, many of them settled in the Polish part of Cieszyn Silesia, but many went to work in the heavy industry in Upper Silesia and the Walbrzych basin, where Polish experts were particularly at value. Some of the Zaolzian immigrants scattered around across the country, were particularly keen to bind their fate with academic centres. The last larger group of Zaolzians, amounting to about 400 people, moved to Poland in the mid-1960s. They were members of the Pentecostal Church (i.e. firm Christians), which was illegal in Czechoslovakia. After leaving Zaolzie they found refuge in the Bieszczady mountains, settling in the abandoned Lemko villages of Wola Piotrowa, Wisłoczek and Puławy. Both after 1920 and 1945, the largest group of Zaolzians who settled in the Polish part of Cieszyn Silesia managed to take over important positions as well. It is worth mentioning that the three pre-war mayors of Cieszyn, namely Jan Michejda (1853-1927) from Olbrachcice/Albrechtice, Władysław Michejda (1876-1937) from Nawsie/Návsí, and Rudolf Halfar (1884-1967) from Lutynia Polska/Polská Lutyně, all hailed from Zaolzie. Many others worked in the field of education, also occupying high-ranking positions, such as Bogusław Heczko (1876-1926) from Piosek/Písek, the inspector of folk and faculty schools in the Cieszyn part of Silesian Voivodeship (1922-1926), and also the president of the Polish Association of Pedagogues in Cieszyn. Alojzy Kołorz (1891-1966) from Datynie Dolne/Dolní Datyně, worked as school inspector in Cieszyn (1945-1959) and historian of education in Cieszyn Silesia. Jan Stonawski (1897-1951) from Bystrzyca, served as pre-war director of the Merchant Junior High School, and post-war organizer and director of the State Trade Education Centre in Cieszyn. Franciszek Wojnar (1881-1942) from Leszna Dolna/Dolní Líštná, was the first director of the Polish middle school in Bielsko. In some schools, Zaolzians even managed to preponderate, as in, for example, in the border towns of Marklowice and Zebrzydowice, where before the war they accounted for an absolute majority amongst local teachers. Zaolzians were also visible throughout the production plants in Cieszyn Silesia, dominating, for example, the executive staff in factories in Cieszyn.

Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek (b. 1940) was not the only Zaolzie-born politician who came into power in Poland. There have been at least a few Zaolzians who managed to occupy important positions in the state administration and diplomacy. Józef Buzek (1873-1936), a distinguished scholar, member of the Parliament, senator, founder and first director of the Central Statistical Office in Warsaw, was from Zaolzie. In 1917, he developed the “Draft of the Constitution of the Polish State and the electoral law” for the Provisional Council of State. Józef Kiedroń (1879-1932), who was the Minister of Industry and Trade for the government of Władysław Grabski (1923-1925) was born in Zaolzie, in Błędowice Dolne/Dolní Bludovice, as well. During World War II, the head of the health resort at the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare for the Polish Government in exile, and also the chief physician of the Polish Merchant Navy in London and a member of the National Council in London (1941-1945), was Bogusław Kożusznik (1910-1996), born in Sucha Dolna/Dolní Suchá. After returning to the country, he was appointed the Chief Sanitary Inspector (1955-1959), among other things. After the war, ministerial functions were performed by Tadeusz Michejda (1879-1956), who – just like Józef Kiedroń in 1918-1920 – was part of the National Council of the Duchy of Cieszyn – and in the period from 1947 to 1951, he served as the head of the Ministry of Health. Furthermore, Józef Kubisz (1885-1940), who carried out diplomatic missions in the years 1919-1933 and served as the Polish consul in New York, was born in Zaolzie just as Jan Andrzej Buzek (1904-1977), who permanently settled in Canada before 1948 and held important positions in the Polish diplomatic posts in Czechoslovakia, Romania, and during the war – in Tehran. After World War I, the Polish vice-consul in Copenhagen was Doman Wieluch (1887-1967) from Jabłonków/Jablunkov, a specialist in the field of carbon chemistry. He gained renown as the author of an innovative method of teaching Chinese, which was afterward implemented in several countries, as well as an author of the Sino-Polish dictionary and many translations to this language.

Zaolzians could also be found in the ranks of the Polish Army, where they fought both for the borders of the reborn Second Polish Republic in the period between 1918 and 1922, and later on all fronts of World War II, including in the underground structures. Many of them died in battle, others gave their lives in sacrifice, murdered either by the Germans or the Soviets. The highest military ranks were achieved by Colonel Bernard Adamecki (1897-1952), born in Marklowice Dolne/Dolní Marklovice, aviator, participant in the battles for the Polish border in 1918-1920, who stood at the head of the Department of Aviation of the III Operations and Training KG ZWZ-AK Centre. He both organized and supervised 483 airdrops into occupied Poland. Wounded in the Warsaw Uprising and imprisoned in a POW camp, he returned to the country and joined the LWP. He was arrested in 1950 and two years later sentenced to death on charges of espionage. Lt.-Col. Ludwik Zych (1894-1964), born in Rychwałd, spent many years in a communist prison, during which he was led out for execution seven times. He was a legionnaire and fighter of the Secret Military Organization in Cieszyn Silesia, a participant of battles with Ukrainians and Bolsheviks, graduate of the Military Academy in Warsaw, the chief of staff of the 6th Infantry Division in Kraków, chief of staff of the Border Guard in Warsaw and in 1938 – Commander of the Voluntary Zaolzie Legion. Frysztat/Fryštát was the birthplace of Colonel Dipl. Witold Wartha (1889-1967), veteran of the war against the Bolsheviks, Knight of the Virtuti Militari Order, commander of the 1st Regiment of Riflemen, head of the Department of the General Command of the Ministry of Military Affairs in Warsaw, member of a close circle of officers responsible for the safety of Marshal Józef Piłsudski, and participant of the September campaign, who, after evacuation to France and England was, among other things, the commander of the Infantry Training Center in Dunfermline. Among the Zaolzian participants of the resistance movement – but operating outside their home region - the most well-known names belong to the AK industrial and military intelligence network “Lido” and the AK network of far intelligence “Stragan” (including Karol Emeryk Błaszczyk from Bogumin/Bohumín, Władysław Gojniczek from Łyżbice/Lyžbice, Jan Mrózek from Wędrynia/Vendryně, and many others), wherein Zaolzian conspirators were able to gather, among other things, key data on V-1 and V-2 missiles along with the technical base of their launchers in Peneemünde. Conspiratorial activities in the General Government involved in turn persons like Antoni Byrtus (1914-1998) from Bukowiec/Bukovec, commander of the III Region of District North AK in Lviv, Lt.-Col. Józef Kopecki (1895-1944), born in Jabłonków/Jablunkov, served as head of the paper information and intelligence at the Headquarters of the White Eagle Organization. In addition, there was the commander of the ZWZ-AK Kraków-City Ferdynand Żyła (1911-1985) from Lutynia Polska /Polská Lutyně, a graduate of Warsaw School of Economics, one of the organizers of the famous “Góral” action, conducted in the spring of 1942 with an aim to assault a German convoy in Warsaw and capture a million dollars in cash, and Bruno Absolon (1892-1940), born in Marklowice/Marklovice, engineer of metallurgy. Before the war he served as director of the “Pokój” ironworks in New Bytom and “Baildon” in Katowice, and was executed by the Germans in Chlewiska due to his cooperation with Major Henryk “Hubal” Dobrzański. Besides Bernard Adamiecki, Paweł Wojas (1905-1978) from Bogumin/Bohumín also took part in the Warsaw Uprising. He was a communist, member of the KPP, a September soldier and then emissary of the Comintern in occupied Poland, a member of the Polish Workers' Party and an officer of the People's Army, in which he commanded two circles, namely the right suburban Warsaw (October 1944) and Częstochowa (from December 1944); in the post-war period he was a Member of Parliament (1947-1952) and a member of the government (1947-1952) and the PZPR authorities. Two Zaolzian physicians also took part in the Warsaw Uprising, organizing and directing hospitals in the capital for both the insurgents and civilians. They were Paweł Kubica (1910-1973) from Łazy/Lazy, and the first interwar Polish director of the Cieszyn hospital – Jan Kubisz (1885-1948) from Gnojnik/Hnojník. The history of the post-war independence underground also includes the names of Henryk “Bartek” Flame (1918-1947), born in Frysztat/Fryštát, commander of the largest partisan group operating on the border of Silesia and Lesser Poland, and Lech Haydukiewicz (1915-1949), from Orłowa/Orlová, historian and assistant to professor Władysław Konopczyński, arrested along with other professors of the Jagiellonian University during Sonderaktion Krakau and held in a concentration camp. After his release, he served as the head of the clandestine Organizational Department of the Board of the National Party, and from October 1945 as member of the Presidium of the Main Board of the National Party. Arrested in December 1946, he died in prison.

Zaolzie was also the birthplace of several clergymen of both denominations, many well-known throughout Poland. The most original of them was Karol Grycz (1885-1959), Lutheran pastor born in Śmiłowice/Smilovice. In 1918 he was the chaplain of the Silesian Military Unit in Cieszyn, and the first Protestant clergyman in the ranks of the reborn Polish Army. He became famous due to efforts which led to the renewal of Arianism in Poland and the formation of the Unity of Polish Brethren, in which he served as the head. Karol Kotula (1884-1968), born in Cierlicko/Těrlicko, was a military chaplain and organizer of the Polish Lutheran church structures in Greater Poland, Łódź and Upper Silesia, as well as the initiator of the launch of the teachers’ seminary in Ostrzeszów. In 1959, he was elected to the office of bishop (superior) of the Lutheran Church in communist Poland. Chaplain functions in the Polish Army were also performed by numerous Catholic priests from Zaolzie. The rank of major of the Polish Armed Forces in the West was given to Rev. Franciszek Trombala (1893-1975), born in Karviná, who, after returning to the country, worked as a lecturer at the seminary in Nysa. Rev. Dominik Ściskała (1887-1945), born in Końska/Konská, was given the rank of officer as well. He was a national and political activist, author of numerous novels and short stories, editor and publisher, and during the war – chaplain of AK in the Radom district. In the world of study, there has been much renown for Protestant theologians, including Karol Michejda (1880-1945), born in Olbrachcice/Albrechtice, professor of practical theology. In the late 1930s, he served as dean of the Faculty of Protestant Theology at the University of Warsaw. Wiktor Niemczyk (1898-1980), a native of Bystrzyca/Bystřice, was a scholar and dean of the Faculty of Lutheran Theology at the University of Warsaw, the organizer of the Christian Theological Academy in Warsaw and its first rector. Furthermore, there was Jan Szeruda (1889-1945), born in Wędrynia/Vendryně, historian of the church, dean of the Faculty of Protestant Theology at the underground University of Warsaw who, after 1945 – still serving as professor at the UW, and then also ChAT – was elected as the first post-WWII bishop of the Lutheran Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland (up to 1951). The youngest of the known Zaolzian clergymen active in Poland include Rev. professor Jan Krucina, born in Kraków, director of the Department of Pastoral Care in the Metropolitan Curia in Wrocław, and also the rector of the Pontifical Faculty of Theology in Wroclaw) and Rev. dr Ireneusz Lukas, born in 1971 in Hawierzów/Havířov, a Protestant theologian who, since 2008, has been serving as Director of the Office of the Polish Ecumenical Council.

In the field of culture, the most outstanding figure was undoubtedly Gustaw Morcinek (1891-1963), now somewhat forgotten, yet erstwhile an extremely popular writer, who devoted a large part of his literary output to Karwina/Karviná. Among the musicians there was Stanisław Hadyna (1919-1999) from Karpętna/Karpentná, composer, organizer of the “Silesia” Song and Dance Ensemble (1952-1953) and its long-time artistic director and. Jan Gawlas (1901-1965) from Żuków Dolny/Dolní Žukov, who was a composer, professor and rector of the Higher School of Music in Katowice. Józef Orszulik (1896-1974) from Karwina/Karviná, a Catholic priest and theologian, an outstanding composer, conductor of both orchestras and choirs and a teacher. In the field of visual arts, there was the famous Jan Raszka (1871-1945) from Ropica/Ropice, legionnaire, sculptor, creator of many monumental memorials, lecturer and director of the once famous School of Industrial Arts in Kraków. Jan Hollender (1907-1989), born in Sibica/Šibice, creator of business graphics, author of approx. 160 trademarks, including PKO and Child Health Centre. The most famous architect from Zaolzie was Tadeusz Michejda (1895-1955), born in Olbrachcice/Albrechtice, legionary, one of the founders of Polish modernism in architecture, author of many projects, public buildings, schools, administrative buildings, churches, as well as guest houses and private villas in Upper Silesia and Cieszyn Silesia. He was also a talented painter. Not only Ewa Farna (b. 1993 in Bystrzyca/Bystřice) gained much stage fame, but there is also Halina Młynek (b. in 1977) from Nawsie/Návsí, daughter of a well-known Zaolzian activist and artist Władysław Młynek, who in 1990-1993 served as the president of the Board of the Polish Cultural and Educational Society. Alas, Zaolzie is not associated with two extremely popular Polish actors – Jan Monczka (b. 1956 in Karwina/Karviná), who played the seducer Kalibabka in the cult TVP series “Tulip” (1986), as well as Przemysław Branny (b. 1970) from Český Těšín, theatre and film actor and singer. Furthermore, Otokar Balcy (1924-2012) was also born in Zaolzie, in Orłowa/Orlová. His name was once known to almost every Polish child. He was in fact the author of the audio to 630 short films and animated films, including the cult “Reksio” and “Bolek and Lolek”. Even before the war, Adolf (Bolko) Kantor (1910-1992) from Sucha Górna/Horní Suchá, reached the status of a nationwide Polish star. In the 1930s, he was an amateur, and afterwards professional, Polish boxing champion. During the war – he served as soldier of the 2nd Polish Corps in Italy and took part in the Battle of Monte Cassino and Bologna, twice awarded with the Cross of Valour.

Zaolzians living in Poland gained the biggest fame in the field of science. Their role is cannot be overestimated, especially in the field of technical sciences and medicine, but Zaolzians also obtained outstanding achievements in many other areas of research. Among the humanists, the greatest authority was granted to a Karwina/Karviná born professor, Józef Chlebowczyk (1924-1985), a historian and leading researcher of nationgenic processes in Central Europe, the co-founder and vice-rector of the Cieszyn branch of the Silesian University in Katowice. Karviná was also the birthplace of Ludwik Brożek (1907-1976), long-time director of the Museum of Cieszyn, a historian and bibliographer. Franciszek Duda (1878-1945), from Górna Sucha/Horní Suchá, was also a historian, and served as director (1924-1939) of the National Archive of Town and Land Records (now the State Archives) in Kraków. Bogumin/Bohumín was the birthplace of Jan Kuglin (1892-1972), perhaps the most famous Polish bibliophile, publisher, author of many works devoted to printing, who after the war started 70 printing houses throughout Upper Silesia, and later headed the Wroclaw Scientific Printing House while giving lectures during Journalist Courses in Poznań and Kraków and Library Studies at the University of Wrocław. Roman Suszko (1919-1979) was born in Kocobędz/Chotěbuz. He was a professor of philosophy, author of numerous works on logic, head of the Logic Team at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, professor at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey.

In the field of natural sciences, a lasting legacy was left behind, among others, by Emil Chroboczek (1902-1978) from Dziećmorowice/Dětmarovice, professor and specialist in plant cultivation, associated with the Warsaw Agricultural University since the pre-war, in the post-war period he served there as the Dean of the Faculty of Horticulture (the Institute of Vegetable Crops in Skierniewice was named after him in 2004). Antoni Gaweł (1901-1989) from Łazy/Lazy, professor and specialist in the field of mineralogy and petrography, served as head of the Department of Geochemistry of the Academy of Mining and Metallurgy in Krakow and head of the History of Geological Sciences Team. He was arrested by the Gestapo during Sonderaktion Krakau, and held prisoner in German concentration camps. Karol Kozieł (1910 -1996) of Trzyniec/Třinec, professor of astronomy, served as the head of the Department of Astronomy and director of the Astronomical Observatory at the Jagiellonian University, Vice-Rector of the Jagiellonian University. Elżbieta Kocwa (1918-2011) from /Karwina/Karviná, a specialist in the field of biology and microbiology of water, waste water and air, was appointed as vice-dean of the Faculty of Sanitary and Water Engineering at the Kraków University of Technology. Jerzy Kukucz (1905-1997) from Wędrynia/Vendryně, professor of ichthyology, worked as commercial director at Centrala Rybna (fish wholesale) in Warsaw. He was associated with the Warsaw Agricultural University and the Polish Academy of Sciences, head of the Department of Fish Technology at the Technical University of Gdańsk. Paweł Sikora (1912-2002) from Nawsie/Návsí, professor of anthropology, served as head of the Department of Anthropology at the Jagiellonian University. Jerzy Suszko from Piosek/Písek, director of physics, was appointed dean of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences (1938/1939, from 1945), and later on as the rector (1952-1956) of the University of Poznań.

In the field of medical science, there was the famous Kornel Michejda (1887-1960) from Bystrzyca/Bystřice, who in the interwar period served as dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the Stefan Batory University in Vilnius, and after the war he co-founded the Medical University of Gdańsk, where he served as dean of the Faculty of Medicine, and then – Medical Academy in Kraków, serving as its first rector. Honoured with the title “Righteous among the Nations”, he was appointed as an expert during the Nuremberg Trials. Much authority was also gained by other Zaolzian physicians, such as Henryk Kania (1895-1965) from Mosty koło Cieszyna/Mosty u Českého Těšína, professor of medicine, head of the Department and Clinic of Surgery at the Medical University of Gdańsk (since 1951) and vice-dean of the Faculty of Medicine. Ernest Matuszek (1897-1952) from Rychwałd/Rychvald, fought in the Polish-Czechoslovak war and the 3rd Silesian uprising. He was the precursor of Polish dental radiology and researcher at the University of Warsaw. Tadeusz Rucki (1925-1998) from Nydek/Nýdek, was a pioneer of andrology in Poland, and the first manager of the Polish Department of Andrology and Seminology at the University of Medical Sciences. Konstantyn Ślusarczyk (b. in 1944 in Cierlicko/Těrlicko), a distinguished physiologist, a charismatic lecturer, served as head of the Department of Anatomy at the Faculty of Medicine at the Medical University of Silesia.

It would be hard to mention all Zaolzians who had a significant impact on the development of technical sciences as well as contributing to the creation of Polish technical universities led by the University of Science and Technology in Kraków. As stated by professor Andrzej Bolewski, “[...] the participation of Zaolzian Poles and employees of the Polish Mining School in Dąbrowa Cieszyńska in the formation of the group of professors and lecturers at the emerging Mining Academy in Kraków, including the academic community, shows that it is comparable with that of scientific centres of Kraków, Lviv and St. Petersburg”. Among the Zaolzian luminaries of technical sciences one should mention first of all: prof. Jerzy Buzek (1874-1939) from Końska/Konská, lecturer at the AGH and head of the Department of Metallurgy and Foundry. Karol Czerner (1898-1958) from Lutynia Polska/Polská Lutyně, who was a member of the government plenipotentiary team for the coal industry, machine-director at the Bytom Coal Industry Association, professor at the Wroclaw University of Technology and since 1950 – dean of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. Prof. Oskar Nowotny (1875-1972) of Trzyniec/Třinec, lecturer at the AGH (1920-1939), head of its Library (1925-1939), creator of the Department of Geodesy and Mine Surveying at the AGH. Andrzej Ofiok (1910-1993) from Kojkowice/Kojkovice, scientific director of Stanisław Staszic Institute of Ferrous Metallurgy in Gliwice (1953-1971), head of Blast Furnace Faculty at the Częstochowa University of Technology (1960-1972). Brunon Podczaski (1905-1977) from Bogumin/Bohumín, associated before the war with the AGH, then – employee of the Polish Government in London (1940-1945 ) and lecturer at the Polish University College in London (1945-1948), and the Universidad Nacional de Cordoba in Argentina. Feliks Olszak (1904-1965) from Karwina/Karviná, head of the construction of “Stalowa Wola” ironworks, officer of PSZ in the West, member of the London Academic Council of Technical Schools and lecturer at the Polish University College in London, head of the Department of Steel Metallurgy (1958-1965) and rector of the AGH. Wacław Olszak (1902-1980) from Karwina/Karviná, who in 1918 volunteered to the 10th Infantry Regiment of Cieszyn Land, served as professor of Materials Strength at the AGH (1946-1952) and was the co-founder of the Department of Materials Engineering and Robotics, since 1952 – at the Warsaw University of Technology – founder of the Polish school of plasticity and theory of engineering structures, member of the Academy of Sciences of Serbia, France, Sweden and Hungary, doctor honoris causa of the University of Liège and the University of Toulouse.

Amongst the Zaolzians who settled in Poland there were also many outstanding teachers, both theorists and practitioners. The list opens with Stanisław Palka (b. 1941 in Dobra), professor at the Institute of Education at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, dealing with, among other things, methodology of pedagogy and methodology of educational research. A few other prominent teachers and organizers of education have already been mentioned, yet it is also worth mentioning: Wiktor Buzek (1883-after 1939) from Jabłonków/Jablunkov, who in the interwar period served as director of the National Middle School in Piotrków, Józef Lubojacki (1888-1977) from Jabłonków/Jablunkov, director of middle schools in Stołpce and Łuniniec in Polesie, and Ernest Berger (1904-1958) from Dąbrowa, who in the period between 1944 and 1946 led the famous Polish middle school in Villard-de-Lans, France. He also participated in the French resistance movement and, after the war, lived in Opole, where he worked at the local Teachers’ College and high schools throughout the Opole region.

Zaolzians also reached high positions in administration, first of all – economic, perfectly carrying out various management functions in heavy industry. Their list is very long, this is where we shall limit ourselves only to a few examples: Jerzy Buzek (1884-?) from Jabłonków/Jablunkov, who in the interwar period served as chief executive of the Silesian Electric Plants. Henryk Cimała (1912-1993) from Hawierzów/Havířov, in the 1950s he was the chief director of the Cement Industry Union in Sosnowiec. Tadeusz Czechowicz (1923-1986) from Karwina/Karviná, served as director of the Rybnik Coal Industry Association. Alojzy Farnik (1906-1960) from Cierlicko/Těrlicko, in the postwar period he worked as technical director in “Baildon” ironworks (from 1945), and afterwards as its chief executive. Jan Kędziera (1901-1992) from Gródek/Hrádek, was appointed technical director of the Rohn-Zieliński “Celma” Electric Machinery Factory in Cieszyn. Karol Machej (1906-1971) from Karwina/Karviná, head of mining work in the “Bobrek“ mine in Bytom (1946-1950), afterwards the chief inspector of Health and Safety, mining advisor for the PRL Prime Minister Piotr Jaroszewicz. Ludwik Majewski (1904-1986) from Rychwałd/Rychvald, head of the planning department in the Central Board of Coal Industry in Katowice, director of the “Radzionków” and “Bytom” Mines. Józef Michejda (1901-1990) from Wędrynia/Vendryně, after World War II he served as the director of the Silesian Electric Plant in Katowice and employee of the Ministry of Heavy Industry. Wiktor Sławiński (1893-1973) from Karwina/Karviná, in the post-war period he was an employee of the Central Board of Coal Industry in Katowice and vocational education department of the Ministry of Mining and Energy. Wilhelm Wojtyła (1908-1982) of Karwina/Karviná, Director of the Energy Department at the Resort of Metallurgy in Warsaw, president of the Main Office of Weights and Measures in Warsaw.

The above list does not constitute a list of all those Zaolzians living in Poland whose achievements are worthy of mention. Nonetheless, this modest selection seems to reveal an unusual phenomenon of Zaolzie, a small patch of land which was torn from Poland in the Middle Ages only to return to the borders of the Polish Republic for a brief moment in 1918-1920 and 1938-1939. Despite the fact that the Polish population of several dozen thousand people always had to struggle for survival, yet it was able to yield a host of eminent scholars, clerics, artists, teachers, soldiers, politicians and administrators, who sacrificed themselves to the service of the Republic of Poland, regardless of the fact that their own family land – left beyond the Olza river – has remained underestimated and ignored by their fellow countrymen.



Gustaw Morcinek (Phot. OD KP collection)


Józef Kiedroń, 1934 (Phot. OD KP collection)


Kornel Michejda (Phot. OD KP collection)


Jerzy Buzek at the opening of the 60-years-of-PZKO exhibition at the Sosnowiec Museum, 2007 (Phot. OD KP collection)


Ewa Farna, 2011 (Phot. OD KP collection)

Projekt dofinansowany przez Unię Europejską ze środków
Europejskiego Funduszu Rozwoju Regionalnego
 w ramach Programu Interreg V-A Republika Czeska – Polska