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Panorama of Kraków, former capital of Poland

Welcome to the Poland Portal
Witaj w Portalu o Polsce

Coat of arms of Poland

Poland is a country in Central Europe, bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast to the north. It is an ancient nation whose history as a state began near the middle of the 10th century, its golden age occurred in the 16th century when it united with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania to form the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. During the following century, the strengthening of the gentry and internal disorders weakened the nation; in a series of agreements in the late 18th century, Russia, Prussia and Austria partitioned Poland amongst themselves. It regained independence as the Second Polish Republic in the aftermath of World War I only to lose it again when it was occupied by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in World War II. The nation lost over six million citizens in the war, following which it emerged as the communist People's Republic of Poland under strong Soviet influence within the Eastern Bloc. A westward border shift followed by forced population transfers after the war turned a once multiethnic country into a mostly homogeneous nation state. Labor turmoil in 1980 led to the formation of the independent trade union called Solidarity (Solidarność) that over time became a political force which by 1990 had swept parliamentary elections and the presidency. A shock therapy program during the early 1990s enabled the country to transform its economy into one of the most robust in Central Europe, with its transformation to a democratic, market-oriented country completed, Poland is an increasingly active member of NATO and the European Union.

From Polish history

Constitution of 3 May 1791 by Jan Matejko
Constitution of 3 May 1791 is a large Romantic oil painting by Jan Matejko. It was painted in 1891 to commemorate the centenary of the Polish Constitution of 1791, a milestone in the history of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and the high point of the Polish Enlightenment. Set in the late afternoon of 3 May 1791, the canvas shows a procession from Warsaw's Royal Castle, where the Constitution has just been adopted by the Great Sejm, to St. John's Collegiate Church. While the procession was a historical event, Matejko took many artistic liberties, such as including persons who were not in fact present or had died earlier, because he intended the painting to be a synthesis of the final years of the Commonwealth. Like many works by the same artist, the picture presents a grand scene populated with numerous historic figures, including King Stanislaus Augustus; Marshals of the Great Sejm, Stanisław Małachowski and Kazimierz Nestor Sapieha; and co-authors of the Constitution such as Hugo Kołłątaj and Ignacy Potocki. Altogether, some twenty individuals have been identified by modern historians. Originally displayed in Lviv, the work now hangs at the Royal Castle of Warsaw.

Selected picture

Polish Yak-18
Credit: Łukasz Golowanow, Maciej Hypś,

Yak-18 is a Soviet-made two-seat military trainer aircraft designed by Alexander Sergeyevich Yakovlev. This plane bears the white-and-red Air Force checkerboard, a national marking indicating that it belongs to the Polish Air Force. Yak-18 planes were used in Poland for military training purposes throughout the 1950s, this photograph was taken at the International Air Picnic in Góraszka near Warsaw.

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Selected biography

Józef Światło
Józef Światło, born Izaak Fleischfarb (1915–1994), was a high-ranking Stalinist secret police agent and then defector to the United States. A Zionist, and then Communist activist in his early life, he was taken prisoner by the Germans during the 1939 Invasion of Poland and soon escaped only to be captured and deported by the Soviets. He returned to Poland as a political officer of the Polish First Army and, in 1945, started to work for the Ministry of Public Security, where he was nicknamed "Butcher" for his interrogation techniques. His arrestees included Władysław Gomułka, Marian Spychalski, Michał Rola-Żymierski, and Stefan Wyszyński. After Stalin's death, Światło was sent to East Berlin for consultations with the Stasi where he defected to the U.S. military mission in West Berlin. Included in the U.S. witness protection program, he began working for the CIA and the Radio Free Europe. Światło's written and broadcast incriminations shook the Polish United Workers' Party and contributed to the reform of the Polish security apparatus as one of the factors leading to the Polish October revolution.

Selected location

Szczecin as seen from the Oder River

Szczecin is one of Poland's largest seaports, located at the mouth of the Oder River where it empties into the Szczecin Lagoon. It is the capital city of the West Pomeranian Voivodeship, a region in the northwestern part of the country. Founded by the Slavs in the 8th century, it passed into German, Danish and Swedish hands during the course of history; in 1720, following the Great Northern War, Sweden ceded Stettin, as it was then known, to Prussia. Nine years later it became the birthplace of Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg, better known as Empress Catherine the Great of Russia, after the city's destruction during World War II and subsequent expulsion of its German population, Szczecin was rebuilt and resettled with Poles and Ukrainians. Its major industries include shipbuilding, metallurgy, fishing and beer making.

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Poland now

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Olga Tokarczuk

Holidays and observances in June 2018
(statutory public holidays in bold)

Portrait of Józef Feldman by Stanisław Wyspiański (1905)

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