• August 9, 2014
  • 338

In tribute to great people

Cover of the book “WielcyPolacy z Wileńszczyzny i Kresów Północno-Wschodnich” [In English: Great Poles from the Vilnius Region and North-Eastern Borderlands]  Source: “Rota”

When I reach for this tidily published book, Polskie Radio Program 1 [Eng: The Polish Radio, Station 1] is just quoting the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński’s (1901-1981) statement about respect for the past and for the people who created this past. There are his words, “A nation that does not believe in greatness, and does not want great people, stops existing”. It just happens that this sentence became the motto of the publication that only recently arrived to Vilnius.

The book is titled “WielcyPolacy z WileńszczyznyiKresówPółnocno-Wschodnich” [In English: Great Poles from the Vilnius Region and North-Eastern Borderlands]. It is a joint publication, edited by prof. dr hab. JaninaMarciak-Kozłowska, and it was published in 2014 in Białystok publishing house BUK. On the cover, there is the coat of arms of the Republic of Two Nations: The Crown of the Kingdom of Poland – the Eagle, Grand Duchy of Lithuania – the Chaser.

We connect and we link our homes and families

The publication is devoted to the 600th anniversary of the Union of Horodlo, concluded on 2 October 1413 between Poland and Lithuania in Horodlo on the Bug, that introduced the office of Grand Duke of Lithuania, common parliament sessions and Polish-Lithuanian congresses. In the preamble to the Act of the Union of Horodlo we read that “There will be no experience of grace of salvation for those who will not base on love. One love does not work badly; being effulgent itself, it quenches envy, weakens resentments, gives everyone peace, connect those who are separated, raises the fallen, takes away inequality, straightens the curvatures, supports everybody, does not offend anybody, and anyone who takes refuge under its wings shall find himself safe and will not be feared of any threat. Love creates the law, rules kingdoms, establishes towns, leads the states of the Republic to welfare, and those who despise it will lose everything. Therefore, we all gathered, prelates, knights and noblemen, wanting to rest under the shield of love, being thrilled by a pious affection towards it, claim that we connect and link our homes and nations, our families and our coats of arms”. There were published 47 images of coats of arms of Polish noblemen who took into their coats of arms 47 families of  Lithuanian boyars. It was so-called adoption of coats – the fruit of the Union of Horodlo.

The Borderlands – they are our identity and our memory

Prof.dr hab. Janina Marciak-Kozłowska, n.b. the Vice President of the Warsaw Branch of the Society of Friends of Vilnius and the Vilnius region, the participant of organized in Vilnius by the Institution of Higher Public Utility Universitas Studiorum Polona Vilnensis International Conferences “Science and the quality of life” and Symposia “The Vilnius Region: Yesterday, today and tomorrow” (between 28 June – 1 July of this year, there was the 18th edition of this event), in the foreword to this edition refers to the speech of Józef Piłsudski at the opening ceremony of Stefan Batory University in Vilnius in 1919. He then said e.g. that “Unhappy and changeable is the lot of the castle and borderland hamlets… And the misery because of the proud of great suffer and great sacrifice, and unhappiness of the increased pleasure of fighting with the fate, and defeating the fate on its own – but deep happiness, wistful and quiet, even childlike-naïve, comes from faith in ideal elements of our own culture…”

“Borderlands are a great part of our history, they are our identity and memory that enriches all the Polish culture… The young generation of Poles, not of their own fault, knows so little about the people of the Borderlands. Yet their achievement is a great contribution not only to the national culture, but also to the all Latin civilisation. Their names should be the subject of our pride and the admiration of other nations. To make it happen, we have to get them to know better. This is the purpose of the book,”writes prof. dr hab. JaninaMarciak-Kozłowska.

Profiles of borderland Poles

The book is a joint publication. It presents the profiles of the Great Poles who lived on the Borderlands in 19th and 20th centuries. It is worthy, even for a while, to stop and reach for this edition (available in Polish bookstore “Elephas”). The reading is touching. It is such a wealth of highly talented people born on the Borderlands. There are over 50 texts in three chapters: The defenders of the Fatherland, the Statesmen; The artists, poets, scholars; The unusual witnesses of the Gospel.

This is another attempt to pay tribute to the undoubtedly great, worthy people, with a colourful biography. It should be treated as the second part of the book titled“The Great Poles of Galicia and South-Eastern Borderlands” which was published in 2013 in the publishing house in which described edition was published. Its important part is the Appendix. It contains original statements of the presented people: fragments of their diaries, the poems of the poets. The characters speak to the reader as if in person. Let us just add: the book is richly illustrated.

The Vilners should be especially happy with two sketches by “local, our” prof. dr hab. Romuald Brazis (a physicist). But our local patriotism does not speak here. The texts, devoted to ZygmuntRewkowski(1807-1893), a professor of Vilnius University, a mathematician and the creator of analytical economics, and Józef Marcinkiewicz(1910-1940), a genius mathematician of Vilnius Mathematics School, are brilliant. They are comprehensive, embedded in the Vilnius realities, based on archival materials and personal meetings of the author with the people who investigated the achievements of described scholars or knew them personally – they are the values of these works, in addition, written using the beautiful Polish language. Prof. Brazis said that when he held in his hands the original version of stored in the Academy of Sciences of Lithuania Wróblewski Library poem by Maria Konopnicka, dedicated to “the Venerable Zygmunt Rewkowski for the 60th anniversary of His work and suffering for the land”, he experienced a great emotion. An extensive fragment (over 20 stanzas) of this poem is published in the Appendix:

I już jedna miłość płynie [And the one love comes]
Przezte Orły i Pogonie– [Through the Eagles and the Chaser]
I choć nie chcesz to, Litwinie, [Although you don’t want it, Lithuanian]
Sercem przez pół tyś w Koronie… [You are in the Crown with the half of your heart]

Signature: MaryjaKonopnicka, Warsaw, 19 April 1889.


Translated by Paulina Baca within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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