- April 2, 2014
„Always faithful to the Fifth School. The chronicle of the 70th anniversary of establishing Joachim Lelewel Vilnius High School”
In 2014 the first post-war Polish school in Vilnius – the Fifth High School currently named after Joachim Lelewel – celebrates the 70th anniversary of its establishing. On this occasion a book “Always faithful to the Fifth School. The chronicle of the 70th anniversary of establishing Joachim Lelewel Vilnius High School“ was published. The book’s author, Krystyna Adamowicz, a journalist, the Fifth School graduate, born in 1956, assembled the memories of former teachers and students. The Fifth School’s history is a Vilnius’ history, a history of several generations of the city’s inhabitants.
A photo on the cover was taken in 1944. It presents a group of young, smiling girls who are watching a panorama of Vilnius while sitting on the roof. They are the students of the Fifth Female Junior High School which was located at Ostrobramska Street. Krystyna Adamowicz believes this photo is exceptional. “That was a really happy day for them. The girls were glad they would start learning and would attend a Polish school, so they climbed their school’s roof. The photo went perfectly with the cover” – she says.
In the summer of 1944 when the war was still going on, people in Vilnius started to think about reviving the educational system. The teachers who were teaching solely underground courses started to establish schools. On October 14th, on the 171st anniversary of creating the Commission of National Education, Jadwiga Turkowska called the first faculty meeting of the Fifth Female Junior High School at Ostrobramska Street. This date is regarded as the day on which Polish educational system was revived and the school currently named after Joachim Lelewel was established.
Nevertheless, the school’s origin dates back as far as 1915 when the German occupying authorities permitted the first Polish schools to be established. At that time, two junior high schools and one high school were established in Vilnius. Sigismund II Augustus Junior High School, which was renamed the Fifth High School in 1939, educated two Nobel Prize laureates – a poet Czesław Miłosz and a physiologist Andrew Schally.
After the Second World War, the teachers of the pre-war junior high school, Stephen Báthory University graduates were teaching at the Fifth School. In 1948 the school was relocated to Piaski in Antakalnis, from 1949 to 2001 it bore a name The Fifth High School. In 1972 the Fifth School was relocated to the new building at Antokol 33 Street.
The Fifth School’s services to the Polish community in Vilnius are priceless. That was the first Polish school in post-war Vilnius, the place where the Polish intelligentsia, exterminated as a result of the Soviet regime and massive displacements, were honing their talents. The school graduates formed Wilia Song and Dance Ensemble and were the members of the theater ensembles and the editorial staff of the only Polish newspaper “Czerwony Sztandar” (currently “Kurier Wileński”).
The history of the school, the most important events, and the people who were the part of it have been presented in the book of Krystyny Adamowicz. The school graduates, who have still been living in Vilnius as well as those who live in different countries around the world, shared their memories. Many of them live in Poland, England, in the United States or in Germany.
The oldest year groups graduates meet in front of the old school’s building in Piaski every year on the last Sunday of June. During the one of such meetings the graduates came up with an idea of publishing a book on the 70th anniversary of establishing the school. “I wrote this book because the graduates really desired it. I was working on it with great love, and the people who I ask for recording their memories, providing archival documents and photos, were eager to help me” – Krystyna Adamowicz says.
The priceless archival materials collected by the school’s chronicler, Jan Pakalnis, Krystyna
Kilienė née Pylewicz, Irena Woronko, were made use of in the book. These are for example the notebooks in which the essays were corrected by Stanisława Pietraszkiewiczówna, the legendary teacher, the granddaughter of a philomath, Onufry Pietraszkiewicz, the friend of Adam Mickiewicz. These are also the memories of a memorable history teacher, Aleksander Jabłoński. The lives of the exceptional Vilnian families connected with the Fifth School, Tuliszewscy family, Choroszewscy family and Strużanowscy family, have been presented in the book as well.
“These are not just the people’s lives – interesting, tragic, sad, these are not just the lives of particular persons, this is our city’s history. As far back as in 1944 people were fighting for the Polish character of Vilnius and often ended up in Siberia, going to prison or being dismissed. But this Polish nature still resided in them. „That is a book about our Vilnian indestructible patriotism” – Krystyna Adamowicz says.
The biggest part of the book is made up by the memories of the post-war period when the number of students was changing overnight: one day someone was in class, the day after he disappeared. And nobody had the courage to ask what has happened to him.
Krystyna Adamowicz says she tried to present different periods of the school’s history. “There were ups and downs. There were the periods when it was the first Polish school, then the Polish-Russian school, the Russian-Polish school, and after regaining independence by Lithuania –the Polish school again. Therefore, there are also the memories provided by the young generations of the school graduates as well as the comments made by the high school graduates of 2014.
On the last page Krystyna Adamowicz presented the message of the book: „Life will decide about the next jubilees of this oldest Polish school in Vilnius. Its chronicles will be created and written by other generations”.
On the basis of: Inf.wł. [our own information]
Tłumaczenie by Martyna Kołtun w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Martyna Kołtun within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.