• June 12, 2019
  • 249

Lewandowska: No Polishness Without a Decision

Polish education in Lithuania has survived even the Stalinist era. During that time, Poles fought for the existence of Polish schools heedless of the great danger of exposing their point of view or emphasizing their national belonging.

It was in the late 70s and the early 80s when the worst period for Polish schools came. At that time the persecution subsided. Many Poles just made a convenient choice and sent their children to Russian schools. They sincerely believed that it would pay off and facilitate their children’s further lives.

The Polish schools were dying in silence, nobody cried over them. And as it turned out, life was not easier after graduation from Russian schools. Now, when discussing the state of Polish education in Lithuania and teaching of the mother tongue, we usually try to find the causes of shortcomings in the system. The system is indeed flawed, but the fact is that it is not the system that makes final decisions.

Neither rights nor privileges will guarantee the presence of Polish culture and language in Vilenshchina (the Vilnius region, TN). The decision to identify oneself as a Pole is always taken by individuals. Those are decisions such as choosing Polish as the language of instruction, adding information about one’s nationality in the official documents or not doing so. No law can guarantee speaking Polish at home or using the Polish media. These are some simply daily choices made in the Vilenshchina, and without them there would be no Polishness there.

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

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