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Voivodeships of Poland

A voivodeship is the highest-level administrative subdivision of Poland, corresponding to a "province" in many other countries. The term has been in use since the 14th century, is translated in English as "province" or "state"; the Polish local government reforms adopted in 1998, which went into effect on 1 January 1999, created 16 new voivodeships. These replaced the 49 former voivodeships that had existed from 1 July 1975, bear greater resemblance to the voivodeships that existed between 1950 and 1975. Today's voivodeships are named after historical and geographical regions, while those prior to 1998 took their names from the cities on which they were centered; the new units range in area from under 10,000 km2 to over 35,000 km2, in population from one million to over five million. Administrative authority at the voivodeship level is shared between a government-appointed governor called a voivode, an elected assembly called a sejmik, an executive board chosen by that assembly, headed by a voivodeship marshal.

Voivodeships are further divided into powiats and gminas: see Administrative divisions of Poland. Some English-language sources, in historic contexts, speak of "palatinates" rather than "voivodeships"; the term "palatinate" traces back to the Latin palatinus. More used now is "province" or "voivodeship"; the latter is a loanword-calque hybrid formed on the Polish "województwo". Some writers argue against rendering "województwo" in English as "province" on historic grounds. Before the Third and last Partition of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, which occurred in 1795, each of the main constituent Regions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth—Greater Poland, Lesser Poland and Royal Prussia—was sometimes idiosyncratically referred to as a "Province". According to the argument, a "Province" cannot consist of a number of subdivisions that are called "provinces". However, this is an antiquarian consideration, since "province" has not been used in this sense in Poland for over two centuries, in any case the former larger political units—all now obsolete—can be referred to in English as "Regions".

The Polish "województwo", designating a second-tier Polish or Polish–Lithuanian administrative unit, derives from "wojewoda" and the suffix "-ztwo". The English "voivodeship", a hybrid of the loanword "voivode" and "-ship", has never been much used and is absent from many dictionaries. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it first appeared in 1792, spelled "woiwodship", in the sense of "the district or province governed by a voivode." The word subsequently appeared in 1886 in the sense of "the office or dignity of a voivode."Poland's Commission on Standardization of Geographic Names outside the Republic of Poland, recommends the spelling "voivodship", without the e. Competences and powers at voivodeship level are shared between the voivode, the sejmik and the marshal. In most cases these institutions are all based in one city, but in Kuyavian-Pomeranian and Lubusz Voivodeship the voivode's offices are in a different city from those of the executive and the sejmik. Voivodeship capitals are listed in the table below.

The voivode is appointed by the Prime Minister and is the regional representative of the central government. The voivode acts as the head of central government institutions at regional level, manages central government property in the region, oversees the functioning of local government, coordinates actions in the field of public safety and environment protection, exercises special powers in emergencies; the voivode's offices collectively are known as the urząd wojewódzki. The sejmik is elected every five years, at the same time as the local authorities at powiat and gmina level, it passes bylaws, including budget. It elects the marszałek and other members of the executive, holds them to account; the executive, headed by the marszałek drafts the budget and development strategies, implements the resolutions of the sejmik, manages the voivodeship's property, deals with many aspects of regional policy, including management of European Union funding. The marshal's offices are collectively known as the urząd marszałkowski.

According to 2017 Eurostat data, the GDP per capita of Polish voivodeships varies notably and there is a large gap between the richest per capita voivodeship and the poorest per capita. Poznań Voivodeship Kalisz Voivodeship Gniezno Voivodeship from 1768 Sieradz Voivodeship Łęczyca Voivodeship Brześć Kujawski Voivodeship Inowrocław Voivodeship Chełmno

1979 Warsaw gas explosion

The 1979 explosion at PKO Bank Polski’s Rotunda office in Warsaw took place on February 15, 1979, at 12:37 p.m. As a result, 49 people died and 135 were injured; the tragedy was caused by a gas explosion, but in the course of time much speculation appeared, Varsovians talked among themselves that the building had been blown up by a bomb. Furthermore, to many the explosion served as a harbinger of future changes in Poland; the winter of 1978/1979 was harsh in Poland, due to the extreme temperatures and heavy snowfall it was dubbed “the winter of the century”. Transport in the country came to a standstill, in poorly heated apartments in Warsaw the temperature at night dropped to 7 degrees Celsius, public mood was at a low level, the Warsaw poet Tomasz Jastrun, who kept a diary at that time, said: "People were expecting changes, they were convinced that the current situation had to come to an end, something would happen. Before the change, people said, there would be signs. One of these signs was the Rotunda explosion”.

Satirist Michał Ogórek has said that the explosion was a reflection of the gloomy and cold period in Polish history. February 15, 1979, was a cloudy day. At 12:37 p.m. the bank’s branch at the Rotunda, located in the strict city centre at the intersection of Marszałkowska Street and Aleje Jerozolimskie, was full of people. The explosion took place twenty minutes before the end of the first shift. At that time, there were around 300 customers in the building; as witnesses stated, the Rotunda floated in the air like a soap bubble, broke into pieces. All the glass walls were shattered, hundreds of pieces of glass fell onto the sidewalks. Inside the building, floors collapsed into the basement; the explosion was so loud that it was heard by thousands of Varsovians.70% of the Rotunda was destroyed and emergency crews began searching for people buried under the rubble. The last living person was found three hours after the explosion, but some 2,000 workers continued the search for as long as seven days afterward.

The construction of the building, made of reinforced concrete fell inwards, creating a giant crater. Among the survivors were two female employees of the bank’s safe; the safe itself, located in the basement, was intact. The central location of the Rotunda in the city made an immediate search and rescue operation possible. Altogether 2,000 people participated in it, commanded by Edward Gierski of the Warsaw Fire Department. Day after day, new bodies were recovered from the ruins. On February 17, four victims were found, on February two. Apart from the firefighters and ambulances crews, passers-by helped. Blood was donated in a temporary medical office, located at the nearby Hotel Forum; the Zodiak restaurant offered hot meals to the rescuers, hundreds of liters of blood were collected, witnesses remember terrifying scenes, such as a woman in a blue dress, without an arm. Crowds gathered around the Rotunda, the place of the explosion was cordoned off by the police. Documents and bills were flying in the air, the building looked as if it had been bombed.

A reporter from "Express Wieczorny" was on the spot within a few minutes, the newspaper covered the explosion widely. One of its articles stated: At night we meet workers of several building companies, such as Mostostal, Instal, Elektromontaż, as well as boys from Ochotnicze Hufce Pracy and trucks from Betonstal and Transbud. Several trucks haul away debris and parts of the construction non-stop. Leonard Grunerd from Mostostal has worked here four nights in a row; as he says, the first night was the most difficult one, with temperature of minus 20 degrees. "People were cold, we were saved by hot meals and hot beverages from the Zodiak Restaurant – says Grunerd". After the explosion, numerous rumors and wild speculation appeared. Warsaw newspapers wrote about the incident, but people, accustomed to Communist propaganda, did not believe in any official explanations. Most common was the rumor about a bomb, planted by the main cashier of the bank, who had embezzled large sums of money and caused the explosion to destroy all evidence.

A similar rumor stated that the bomb was planted by cronies of a high-ranking Communist party official, who had stolen hundreds of thousands of zlotys. Another rumor stated that the explosion was caused by robbers, who tried to get to the underground safe from a rail tunnel, they planted a bomb to open the wall of the safe, but miscalculated its power. Satirist Michał Ogórek says that people were talking among themselves that the incident was part of an inner-party conspiracy, aimed at Edward Gierek and his cabinet. Danuta Szmit-Zawierucha, author of several books about Warsaw, confirms this speculation: “People said that the Rotunda had been blown up by the Communists themselves”. One final rumor stated that the explosion was caused by a mysterious anti-Communist organization, which wanted to blow up the building at midnight, when it was empty, but messed up the timing; the real cause of the explosion was a gas leak from a damaged pipe located underneath the sidewalk. The gas gathered in the basement of the Rotunda.

Frozen water and snow clogged all the air vents, in those circumstances, one spark or the turning on of a light in the basement, was enough to ignite the powerful explosion. The Rotunda itself did not have a gas connection; the low temperature caused the odorant to condense, nobody was warned of a leak. Several people, still do not believe in this explanation. Edward Gierski, who commanded the search and rescue operation has doubts: “Despite all official reports and photos of damaged valves, I

Zig Byfield

Trevor Mills "Zig" Byfield was a British actor known for his roles in Heartbeat, EastEnders, The Bill, Holby City, Coronation Street, Family Affairs, Only Fools and Horses, One Foot in the Grave, Birds of a Feather, The Professionals, Spooks, Lovejoy, So Haunt Me and New Tricks. Prior to his work in television and film he appeared in several stage musicals; these included the 1970s production of Hair, where he appeared alongside Joan Armatrading, Richard O'Brien, Paul Nicholas and Floella Benjamin. He appeared in Richard O’Brien's The Rocky Horror Show. Zig Byfield on IMDb