May 2012 - Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Washington, DC
OF THE REPUBLIC OF POLAND NEWSLETTER
WASHINGTON, DC | MAY 2012
FROM THE AMBASSADOR
The highlight of our very busy month of May was the 2012
NATO Summit in Chicago, where Poland’s President Bronisław
Komorowski with Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski and
Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak met with their counterparts
and NATO partners on a variety of topics, including the role of
the Alliance in responding to today’s international security
challenges, as well as NATO’s presence in Afghanistan.
President Komorowski spent time in Chicago before and after the
Summit with Poles, Polish-Americans and Americans dedicated
to U.S.-Polish relations – including Senator Mark Kirk, who was
awarded the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the
Republic of Poland, and Representative Mike Quigley. Both have
worked tirelessly on legislation that would include Poland in the
Visa Waiver Program, and the President thanked them in person
for that work. President Komorowski also met with Illinois
National Guardsmen and Polish soldiers who are training
together in Marseilles, Illinois; Illinois Governor Pat Quinn;
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel; members of Chicago’s vibrant
Polish-American community; and the Chicago Tribune Editorial
Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski spoke at the Chicago
Council on Global Affairs while in Chicago for the Summit,
outlining his views on NATO’s role in a changing international
environment; the future of the Alliance in Afghanistan; the
concept of Smart Defense; transatlantic relation; and cooperation
with the United States.
The second round of the U.S.-Poland Strategic Dialogue on
Democracy took place in Washington, DC on May 8, 2012 at the
U.S. State Department. Jerzy Pomianowski, Deputy Foreign
Minister of Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Dr.
Tomicah Tillemann, Secretary Clinton’s Senior Advisor for Civil
Society and Emerging Democracies, and their respective
delegations, met to discuss this new, important element of the
strategic U.S.-Poland partnership.
And in the last week of May, one of Poland’s finest – Jan Karski,
a member of Poland’s Underground Resistance movement, a
Polish diplomat and freedom fighter – was posthumously
honored by the President of the United States with a Presidential
Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor bestowed in
America. Sent by Poland’s government-in-exile to gather
eyewitness accounts of the then-secret Holocaust, Karski snuck
across enemy lines to deliver those accounts to Western leaders,
including U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
We opened our Embassy doors in May for the Sixth Annual EU
Open House Day in DC. Guests were treated to an exhibit about
an interesting theatre project in Gdańsk, Poland, in which the
only existing Shakespearian theatre built in his lifetime outside of
England is being reconstructed. We also provided tours through
our historic Embassy building with its Polish art collection,
information on the Euro 2012 soccer championship being cohosted by Poland and Ukraine, and treated our guests to Polish
food and beverages.
We also bring you news from our Consulates across the U.S.,
highlights of the new Ambassadorial residence, a book
recommendation of an important new publication on Captain
Witold Pilecki – the only person to ever voluntarily be
imprisoned in Auschwitz to bring eyewitness accounts to the
world, and news about the reconstruction of a Jewish cemetery in
Nowy Dwór, Poland.
And on a lighter note, we bring you an interview with Poland’s
Deputy Foreign Minister Jerzy Pomianowski, who does not just
excel at diplomacy, but is an aikido master, and taught a seminar
at a DC dojo while in town for the U.S.-Poland Strategic
IN THIS ISSUE
From the Ambassador
2012 NATO Summit in Chicago
Poland’s President Bronisław Komorowski
In and About Chicago
Poland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs at the
Chicago Council on Global Affairs
U.S.-Poland Strategic Dialogue on
Jan Karski Posthumously Awarded
Presidential Medal of Freedom
Outside the Beltway: News from our
President Bronislaw Komorowski and
President Barack Obama’s Letters
EU Open House Day
Renovation and Rededication of the
Jewish Cemetery in Nowy Dwór
On Diplomacy and Aikido: Deputy
Foreign Minister Jerzy Pomianowski
The New Residence of Poland’s
Ambassador to the United States
To Read: The Auschwitz Volunteer:
Beyond Bravery Captain Witold Pilecki
Did You Know:
Poland’s Curved Forest
Embassy of Poland Newsletter
POLAND’S DELEGATION AT THE
2012 NATO SUMMIT IN CHICAGO
President Bronisław Komorowski led a Polish delegation to the
NATO Summit in Chicago May 20-21, 2012. Poland’s Minister
of Foreign Affairs Radosław Sikorski and Minister of Defense
Tomasz Siemoniak were part of the delegation, and met with
their respective counterparts, while the President met with Heads
of State from NATO member and partner countries.
The President attended the North Atlantic Council meeting,
where the Chicago Summit Declaration was adopted on May 20.
“Poland was not alone in supporting the view that the defense of
the member states is a basic Alliance function,” President
Komorowski told reporters at the conclusion of the Summit’s first
day on May 20. “Neither was it alone when it stressed that this
should find reflection in concrete steps and decisions, starting
from training, through contingency plans, to an anti-missile shield
system and developing the capacity for participation in larger
operations demanding involvement by more than one corps.”
Foreign Minister Sikorski and Defense Minister Siemoniak
attended meetings on Afghanistan and discussions with NATO
partners on May 21. Poland’s delegation said that the
fundamental role of the Alliance, which is the defense of its
members’ territory while supporting NATO development, is
essential to make the Alliance successful in responding to modern
challenges in the international security environment.
NATO’s presence in Afghanistan, specifically the transition plan
through 2012 and post-2014 support for Afghan National Security
Forces, was one of the critical subjects discussed at the Summit.
On the winding down of ISAF’s mission in Afghanistan, in which
Poland has 2,500 active troops, President Komorowski said:
“There is a rather general belief – one which I personally very
much have and do support – that the decisions, which fell at
Lisbon should be understood unambiguously, not as a
designation to change the end of 2014 as the mission’s conclusion
The Chicago Summit Declaration on Afghanistan was also
adopted during the Summit.
Other topics on the NATO Summit agenda included: NATO
Deterrence and Defense Posture Review; NATO Missile Defense
mission with the announcement of the Missile Defense Interim
Capability; NATO Defense Capabilities, including a NATO
decision to acquire Alliance Ground Surveillance System (AGS);
and NATO Partnership policy as a critical element of
Cooperative Security and promotion of international peace and
President Komorowski also held bilateral meetings with German
Chancellor Angela Merkel, President of France Francois
Hollande and President of Ukraine Victor Yanukovych.
• NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen; Poland’s
President Bronisław Komorowski; U.S. President Barack Obama
• Heads of State gather for a photograph; Poland’s President in the
top row, second from the right
• The Summit opening ceremony; Poland’s President and Foreign
Minister Radosław Sikorski on the right:
• The Summit took place at McCormick Place in Chicago, Ill.
Embassy of Poland Newsletter
The President flew down to
Marseilles, Illinois on May 20,
2012 to visit with POLISH
POLAND’S PRESIDENT BRONISŁAW
KOMOROWSKI IN + ABOUT CHICAGO
OFFICERS AND U.S. SOLDIERS
who are in joint training exercises
through the National Guard
Bureau State Partnership Program.
On May 21, 2012, President
Komorowski awarded the
Commander’s Cross of the Order
of Merit of the Republic of Poland
to members of CHICAGO’S
at an evening event at the
Blackstone Hotel. The President
underlined the need for continued
development of U.S.-Polish
political, socio-cultural and
business ties, and called on
Chicago’s Polonia to actively
support the inclusion of Poland in
the Visa Waiver Program.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and
Major General William Enyart
welcomed the President. Both were
awarded the Commander’s Cross
of the Order of Merit of the
Republic of the Order of Poland.
“We welcome President
Komorowski to Illinois and thank
him for the continued economic
and military partnership with our
state and the Illinois National
Guard,” Gov. Quinn said. “This
visit is a show of solidarity and
support for our troops, and a
testament to the great friendship
that we have with Poland.”
Zygmunt Biernat | Wieslaw Chodorowski | Maria Ciesla
Tadeusz Czajkowski | Zygmunt Dyrkacz | Jerzy Kenar
Teresa Skawski | Frank Spula | Stanislaw Stawski
Marek Rudnicki | Arie Zweig
President Komorowski met with
a group of YOUNG
President Komorowski awarded
SENATOR MARK KIRK of
Illinois the Commander’s Cross of
the Order of Merit of the Republic
of Poland on May 22, 2012.
“I met with my dear friend
Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois
today,” President Komorowski said. “He has always been a strong
supporter of Poland, Polish people and his extensive Polish-American
constituency in Chicago, for which I am very grateful. I am
particularly thankful for his leadership with regards to the expansion
of the Visa Waiver Program and Poland’s inclusion in it, so that
Polish citizens can finally join their European counterparts and travel
to the U.S. visa-free.”
Senator Kirk’s support for strong U.S.-Polish cooperation began
during his service as a U.S. Representative and member of the Polish
Caucus, and continues today as a Senator. Senator Kirk visited
Poland – and President Komorowski – with Rep. Mike Quigley in
January to discuss how to enhance U.S.-Polish relations.
On May 22, 2012, President
Komorowski met with ILLINOIS
REP. MIKE QUIGLEY to thank him
for his steadfast leadership on
legislation that aims to include
Poland in the Visa Waiver Program
so that Poles can travel to the U.S.
AMERICANS OF POLISH
DESCENT on May 22, 2012, at
the Consulate General of Poland
“You have a great attitude,
independence and ambition,” the
President told the group, which
shared with him what their
Polish heritage means in their
Interviewed for a Chicago
Tribune article about the event,
attendee Agnes Ptasznik, said that the group wanted to introduce
the president to “a perspective of what Polish-Americans look like
today, not just immigrants but second and third generations that are
interested in their community and giving back as well.”
President Komorowski met with
CHICAGO MAYOR RAHM
EMANUEL on May 22, 2012 to
discuss a broad range of issues on
the city’s ethnic outreach, and
Polonia’s role in public life. They
also touched upon how the legacy
of Polish-American heroes like
Kazimierz Pulaski can be celebrated and promoted in Chicago.
“Since taking office, I have been committed to the issues affecting
Polish American constituents in my district, including the issue of visa
free travel for Poland,” Rep. Quigley said. “Outdated visa procedures
do not reflect the strong diplomatic ties between our two nations, and
I will continue to work steadfastly to realize our common goal.”
Rep. Quigley has been advocating for the Visa Waiver Program
throughout his term, and testified before Congress in December 2011
on why it would be beneficial for the U.S. to include Poland in the
program. His 5th Congressional Illinois District has one of the largest
concentrations of Polish-Americans in the U.S. and outside of Poland.
The President visited the Chicago
Tribune on May 22, 2012, and met
with the Tribune’s editorial board.
Here, the President gives an
interview to Tribune Nation
manager James Janega.
READ the Tribune’s coverage of
the President’s visit
Embassy of Poland Newsletter
While in Chicago for the NATO Summit, Poland’s Foreign Minister
Radosław Sikorski spoke on May 20, 2012 at the Chicago Council on
Global Affairs. In his “NATO after Afghanistan – A View From
Europe” speech, the Minister outlined his views on NATO’s role in a
changing international environment; the future of the Alliance in
Afghanistan; the concept of Smart Defense; transatlantic relations; and
cooperation with the United States. Attendees included political
scientists, journalists, and business representatives.
“At this time of new ideological competition and economic
uncertainty,” the Minister said, “the need for democracies to stand firm
– and stand together – on their core values and principles is not
declining. It is increasing.”
READ AND LISTEN TO the Minister’s speech
Partnership Challenge aims to leverage
resources and expertise from around the
world to encourage reform in emerging
democracies. Poland and the U.S. have
agreed to support this effort by cochairing the international task force
responsible for assistance to Moldova.
In this context, Poland and the U.S. cofinance the establishment of an
Information Centre for Local
Authorities in Moldova.
Jerzy Pomianowski, Deputy
Foreign Minister of Poland’s
Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
and Dr. Tomicah Tillemann,
Secretary Clinton’s Senior
Advisor for Civil Society and
Emerging Democracies, met
at the U.S. State Department on May 8, 2012
accompanied by their respective delegations for the
second round of the U.S.-Poland Strategic Dialogue on
U.S. - POLAND
The meeting was an opportunity to exchange views on
the situation in countries aspiring to democracy as well
as countries in North Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia
where democracy is at risk. Participants discussed how
to advance existing bilateral and multilateral
mechanisms of cooperation, and the possibility of
establishing new joint projects on democracy.
Example projects include:
The Community of Democracies’ Democracy
Tunisia Joint Mentorship Initiative –
Polish democracy activists and
transition experts travel to Tunisia with
U.S. support to assist political reform,
party building, civil society, and
Continuing Joint Efforts to Pressure the
Belarus Regime and Support Civil
Society – Poland and the U.S. are
collaborating to expand the Kirkland
and Kalinowski Scholarships for
Belarusian youth and young leaders.
We also co-finance the establishment of
an Assistance and Documentation
Center for the Victims of Political
Repression in Belarus.
Support for the Eastern Partnership –
Poland and the U.S. co-finance a
summer school for political leaders from
Eastern Partnership Countries.
NGOs are also involved in the
implementation of projects related to
U.S.-Polish cooperation on
democracy. Among others, the PolishAmerican Freedom Foundation is
implementing the Lane Kirkland
Scholarship Program in Belarus; the
Solidarity Fund PL will implement
projects aiming at assisting civil society
The Solidarity Fund PL was reestablished by the Minister of Foreign
Affairs in 2011 due to Poland’s
growing participation in development
cooperation and democracy support,
the. The Fund is a democracy support
and development cooperation agency
registered as a non-governmental
organization, and is headed by
The Polish-U.S. dialogue on
promoting democracy was launched
during a meeting of Poland’s Foreign
Minister Radosław Sikorski and U.S.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in
DC on March 3, 2011. The first round
of the dialogue took place in Warsaw
on March 22, 2011.
PHOTO: Poland’s Deputy Foreign
Minister J. Pomianowski meets with
Deputy Assistant Secretary D. Russell;
Coordinator of U.S. Assistance to Europe
& Eurasia D. Rosenblum; Sr. Advisor for
Civil Society & Emerging Democracies
Dr. T. Tillemann, at the State
Department on May 8, 2012.
Embassy of Poland Newsletter
U.S. President Barack Obama awarded the
Presidential Medal of Freedom to Dr. Jan
Karski on May 29, 2012. The Presidential
Medal of Freedom is America’s highest
Since Dr. Karski passed away in 2000,
Poland’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs
and Holocaust Survivor Adam Daniel
Rotfeld accepted the award on behalf of
Karski. The ceremony – held in the East
Room of the White House – was attended by Poland’s Ambassador to the
U.S. Robert Kupiecki, Jan Karski U.S. Centennial Campaign Director
Wanda Urbanska and Campaign Steering Committee members Robert
Billingsley, Andrzej Rojek and Sigmund Rolat.
In the midst of World War II, Jan Karski was sent by Poland’s Resistance
Movement, the largest underground organization in German Nazioccupied Europe, to inform the West about the atrocities being committed
by the German Nazis in occupied Poland, including the slaughter of the
Jewish population, as well as millions of others. Karski talked with British
and U.S. officials, including President Roosevelt, giving his eyewitness
reports. He later became a professor at Georgetown University, educating
generations of students about the dangers of not speaking up in the face of
cruelty, oppression and genocide.
Jan Karski was born in Łódź, Poland, and became a naturalized U.S.
citizen in 1954. He was the recipient of the Order of the White Eagle, the
Republic of Poland’s highest civilian honor, as well as its highest military
decoration, Virtuti Militari. In 1994, he was made an honorary citizen of
Israel, recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem and
named as a Savior by the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation. Dr.
Karski earned a Ph.D. from Georgetown University, and was the recipient
of six honorary degrees from around the world.
While the Medal of Freedom ceremony was taking
place in the White House, Poland’s Consul General
in New York Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka and Head of
the Consular Section in DC Piotr Konorowrocki lay
a wreath at Jan Karski’s gravesite – as well as the
gravesite of his brother, Polish freedom fighter
Marian Kozielewski – in DC’s Mount Olivet
After the White House ceremony, a reception was
held at the Poland’s Ambassador’s Residence for invited guests was part of
the celebration. Hundreds of guests joined Ambassador Kupiecki in a toast
to the achievements of Poles past and present, as well as those of all
ethnicities who value freedom, courage and tolerance.
With this honor, Dr. Karski joins the distinguished company of Archbishop
Desmond Tutu, Aung San Suu Kyi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Elie Wiesel,
Nelson Mandela, Pope John Paul II and Lech Wałęsa, who have also been
awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for their contributions.
The Jan Karski U.S. Centennial Campaign was established in 2011 as part
of a worldwide effort initiated by the Polish History Museum in Warsaw.
Ewa Wierzynska, senior advisor for international cooperation at the
Museum, has worked with groups in several countries to educate them
about Karski’s legacy. For more information about Dr. Karski or about the
Campaign, consult the Jan Karski Centennial Campaign website.
President Bronislaw Komorowski and President Barack Obama’s exchange
of letters following the Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony on the
1. Jan Karski at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in 1994; photo by E. Thomas
Wood; 2. + 3.: The Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony at the White
House; 4. Reception at Poland’s Ambassador’s Residence: Z. Brzezinski, W.
Urbanska, S. Rolat, E. Junczyk-Ziomecka, R. Kostro.
Embassy of Poland Newsletter
PRESIDENT BRONISLAW KOMOROWSKI AND PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA’S LETTERS
FOLLOWING THE U.S. PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM CEREMONY
Embassy of Poland Newsletter
OF THE JEWISH
On May 17, 2012, the
Embassy hosted a
presentation on the
renovation and rededication
of the Jewish Cemetery in
Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki,
Poland. David Wluka, project
initiator, together with his cosponsors – his wife Nancy,
son Zachary and Ze’ev
Shaked, spoke about their
“Putting my hand on the headstone of the newly erected
wall was the most profound moment of my life,”
Mr. Wluka said.
The Wluka family has been an integral part of the Nowy
Dwór Jewish community since the early 1800s. Mr.
Wluka’s grandfather, a blacksmith, died before WWII
and was buried in the Jewish cemetery. His grandmother
was, most probably, among those who fled Nowy Dwór
after the onset of WWII and died in the Ghetto in
occupied Warsaw. His father and seven siblings were
trapped in the Nowy Dwór Ghetto, and transported to
Auschwitz in May 1942. Mr. Wluka’s father was the only
survivor. With all the inhabitants gone, the cemetery
became a gravel pit. The headstones were taken and
buried under the dirt roads to support the weight of
German tanks and trucks.
In 2009, Dr. Ze’ev Shaked and his brother Josef
Kieliszek, whose grandfather was Mr. Wluka’s
grandfather’s partner in the blacksmith shop before the
war, decided to take on the protection and securing of the
abandoned and desecrated cemetery. With international
support, as well as that of the Polish-Jewish community
and the city of Nowy Dwór, the project’s first phase was
dedicated one year ago.
Mr. Wluka said that the project has been very well
received in Nowy Dwór. He expressed appreciation for
the support received from the local community and
municipal authorities, especially Mr. Jacek Kowalski –
the city mayor. The Mayor’s letter is on the left.
1. Mr. David Wluka, project initiator;
2. The evening’s guests.
Embassy of Poland Newsletter
THE NEW RESIDENCE OF POLAND’S AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES
On April 25, 2012, we officially
inaugurated the new residence of the
Ambassador of Poland to the U.S. Our
guest of honor was U.S. Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton, who, along with
numerous guests, celebrated this
momentous occasion with us.
We detailed the opening in our April
newsletter, and now bring you more
details about the residence itself, which
dates back to 1927. Today, it is a
showcase of modern Poland, but is also
deeply rooted in U.S. history. New
building technologies are combined with
detailed restoration that respects the
building’s original footprint and
architecture. Polish art throughout the
residence creates links to Poland’s rich
history and culture, and Poland’s multicentury relationship with the U.S.
The building was designed by architect
Nathan C. Wyeth. Trained at the École
des Beaux Arts in Paris, Nathan C. Wyeth
designed the White House Oval Office for
President W.H. Taft; Capitol buildings incl. the Longworth
House Office Building; and DC-area private residences, schools
The government of Poland purchased the
building from Nicholas Brady, who served
as the 68th U.S. Secretary of the Treasury
(1988-1993), under Presidents Ronald
Reagan and George W.H. Bush.
Philanthropist and art collector Paul
Mellon owned the building prior to Mr.
Nicholas Brady. Mr. Mellon used the
building as his in-town residence for four
decades. Mr. Mellon was the founding
benefactor of the National Gallery of Art,
to which he donated more than 1,000 works of art.
1. The Oval Office as designed by Nathan Wyeth;
2. Nicholas Brady;
3. Paul Mellon with a Degas sculpture; courtesy of the
National Gallery of Art.
form a single
completely restored, with careful attention paid to maintaining
its original style, character and elegance.
We kept the façade, exterior walls, load-bearing walls and slab,
but performed a full-gut rehab to bring the entirety into the 21st
century – including a new addition that holds a multifunctional
hall, equipped for video and teleconferences. It can also host
events such as film screenings and presentations.
Great care was taken to retain the distinctive Washington, DC
flavor of the original residence, but also to bring the building up
to modern-day standards (ultra-modern lighting and HVAC
control, security equipment). Features were added to enable
handicapped access – including an entrance ramp.
The Hall as seen from the Garden
A pergola, brick walk paths, new trees and plants were added,
speakers and lights installed.
POLISH ART COLLECTION
An impressive array of Polish
art from the 19th and 20th
centuries adorns the
residence. The works provide
a palpable link to Poland’s
rich heritage and culture –
and its strong ties to the U.S.
PHOTOS show the garden by day and by night
PORTRAITS of Tadeusz Kosciuszko & Kazimierz Pulaski, Polish
freedom fighters who also fought in the Revolutionary War
Outside the Beltway – News from our Consulates
NATIONAL DAY +
Poland’s National Day on
May 3 was a special day for
community, as well as soccer
fans of all nationalities.
The Consulate General of
Poland in LA held a
celebratory event at its
residence. The full house of
guests included Mariola
Deyna, wife of the late,
famous Polish soccer player
Kazimierz Deyna. Consul General Joanna Kozińska-Frybes
welcomed guests and encouraged them to enjoy the upcoming Euro
2012 games, but also to support Poland’s efforts and those of the
international community in defending human rights in Ukraine –
including justice for Julia Tymoszenko, Ukraine’s former Prime
Minister, now imprisoned and in delicate health.
The menu reflected the occasion (soccer-themed sweets above).
On April 24, 2012, the Consulate General of Poland in
New York hosted the inaugural JAN KARSKI DAY,
organized in cooperation with the Jan Karski U.S.
Centennial Campaign. The date was chosen to coincide
with Jan Karski’s birthday.
CONQUERS THE WEST
The Consulate General of
Poland in Los Angeles,
Honorary Consul of Poland in
Wojciechowski, the Modjeska
Club, and the Austin Polish
Society hosted renowned
historian Norman Davies this
May. Prof. Davies gave two
lectures while on the West
Coast. The first, on May 19,
2012, was on Poland’s role in
the history of Europe and the
world, and was followed by a
three-hour Q&A session with
the gathered audience of Poles
and U.S. historians who
specialize in European history.
On May 23, 2012, Prof.
Davies spoke on “Poland – A
Land Between, the
Background to Present-Day
IN NEW YORK
The event was part of a long-term, ongoing campaign by Poland’s
Ministry of Foreign Affairs to celebrate and promote Jan Karski – a
wartime hero of Poland’s Underground Movement who alerted the
West to the horrors of the Holocaust. The campaign’s first highlight
was the 2007 unveiling of a statue of Karski in front of Poland’s
New York Consulate (photo), and was followed by the rededication
of Madison Avenue and 37th Street as Jan Karski Corner two years
later. More recently, the Consulate organized the first meeting of
the Jan Karski U.S. Centennial Campaign, thanks to whose work
the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom was awarded to Jan Karski
on May 29, 2012. The decision to award the medal was announced
April 23 – one day before Jan Karski Day.
Event attendees included Consul Generals of the
Czech Republic, Germany and Hungary; David
Harris, Executive Director of the American Jewish
Committee (photo); David G. Marwell, Director of the
Museum of Jewish Heritage; Fr. Leo J. O’Donovan, former
President of Georgetown Univ.; Frank Milewski, President of the
Polish American Congress NY Downstate Division; Alex
Storozynski, President of the Kosciuszko Foundation; Magdalena
Kapuścińska, President of the Pilsudski Institute of America;
Roman Kent, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Board Member;
Sol Adler, 92nd Street Y Director.
During the event, the Jan Karski U.S. Centennial Campaign
awarded Consul General Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka with its newly
established “Spirit of Jan Karski Award” for her pioneering work
in the development of good relations between Poles and Jews
around the world. The award will be presented annually.
Embassy of Poland Newsletter
EU OPEN HOUSE DAY
We opened our doors on Saturday,
May 12, 2012 for the 6th Annual EU
Embassies’ Open House Day, and
treated our guests to Polish food for
the mind, body and soul.
The curator of an exhibit about the
reconstruction of the Gdansk
Shakespeare Theatre spent the day
with us. Ms. Maria Gostyńska
chatted with our guests about this
interesting and innovative project,
which is recreating the only
Shakespearian theatre to be
constructed outside of the U.K.
during Shakespeare’s lifetime.
We had lots of materials on Poland
available – including on the
upcoming Euro 2012 soccer
championship, as well as a short film
on today’s Poland, with its scientific
and economic achievements, as well
as cultural and tourist attractions.
And what Polish party would be
complete without good food and
drink? Guests sampled meat and
veggie pierogi, and two types of
ON DIPLOMACY + AIKIDO: DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER JERZY POMIANOWSKI
Poland is probably not the first place that comes to mind when you hear
the word “aikido.” But it was the first country in the Soviet bloc to
establish an aikido dojo, and today ~5,000 – 7,000 Poles practice in
around 250 dojos.
Aikido in Poland exists in large part thanks to Jerzy Pomianowski, who
opened the first dojo in Warsaw. Today, he holds the sixth dan in aikido,
is president of the Polish Aikido Federation, as well as founder/ director of
WARSAW BUDOJO (Center for Japanese Sports in Warsaw). That’s in
his spare time – Mr. Pomianowski is also Poland’s Deputy Foreign
Minister. And when he came to Washington, DC to lead a
delegation in meetings for the Polish-U.S. Strategic
Dialogue on Democracy in early May, the Minister
accepted an invitation to teach an aikido seminar in the
“Not only is he a black belt in aikido, but he’s also a very skilled classical
Japanese swordsman,” Veltri said. “The opportunity to have him here,
teach and learn from was wonderful.”
Veltri began studying aikido in southern California in 1988, where he was
stationed with the U.S. Marine Corps. He continued his studies in Japan,
and is a fourth degree black belt.
“Aikido is a martial art, often called meditation in motion,” Veltri said.
“We’re not learning how to kick or strike, or beat somebody into
submission. We’re learning to blend with that person,
to find a harmony with them. Not using force against
force, but learning to become one with our ego, to see
a harmonious resolution with that person.”
During his seminar, Minister Pomianowski
demonstrated and led the students in both the physical
– throws, joint locks, pins – and non-physical levels of
aikido, what Veltri describes as “a deeper connection
with that person’s energy.”
“I was so lucky, being in Washington, to have the
opportunity to come to the dojo and practice with the
wonderful people here,” the Minister said.
How did his interest in aikido begin? Bruce Lee was a part
of it: In the 1970s, a young Pomianowski attended a
screening of one of his films.
“When you are 15, 16 years old, you feel that this is something awesome,”
the Minister said. “I started to first practice karate. But then I read a book
He became intrigued by aikido’s underlying philosophical elements, and
wanted to learn more. But there was only one dojo in all of Poland, in the
northwest, and the Minister lived in Warsaw. He contacted that dojo, then
established the first aikido club in Warsaw.
The Minister said that aikido is very helpful in his
“There is an element in aikido to properly address different emotions, to
understand where is the aggressiveness, where is the sympathy, a kind
approach toward you,” the Minister said, adding that it’s very useful for
everyday life. And when negotiating in diplomacy, it’s important to be
able to understand if people are willing to find a compromise, do good
business. “If you know this in advance, then you lead the negotiation
accordingly,” he said.
His professional life eventually led him to Japan as Poland’s Ambassador.
That’s where he first met Michael Veltri, Chief Instructor of DC Aikido,
who co-hosted the May 8 aikido seminar.
A video interview with Pomianowski Sensei and Veltri Sensei
Embassy of Poland Newsletter
TO READ: THE AUSCHWITZ VOLUNTEER: BEYOND BRAVERY
CAPTAIN WITOLD PILECKI
Captain Witold Pilecki was Auschwitz Prisoner No. 4859. He was also the only man in
the world who volunteered to be captured and imprisoned in the notorious German Nazi
Concentration and Extermination Camp. His mission for Poland’s Resistance Movement
– the largest underground organization in German Nazi-occupied Europe – was to
smuggle out information about the then-new camp, and to create a resistance organization
within the camp.
Pilecki survived in Auschwitz for almost 3 years, then escaped. His intelligence reports
were among the first read by the Allies.
Now, Pilecki’s 1945 report on his Auschwitz mission is available in English for the very
first time – in Aquila Polonica’s newest publication, The Auschwitz Volunteer.
Translated from Witold Pilecki’s original 1945 Auschwitz report by Jarek Garlinski, with
an introduction by historian Norman Davies and foreword by Rabbi Michael Schudrich,
the book is filled with archival photographs, and provides an invaluable resource from a
A book trailer for The Auschwitz Volunteer
DID YOU KNOW:
POLAND’S CURVED FOREST
“Krzywy Las” is a mysterious and lovely
forest filled with pine trees that grow
with a 90 degree bend, which occurs in
their trunks about 20 cm. from the
ground. In some trees, the bends reach 3
meters high (~9 feet). The trees are now
32-36 feet tall.
Located in western Poland, the pine trees
with curved trunks grow on 4 acres of
land, and are surrounded by other pine
trees that grow straight upward.
Most probably, the trees are curved
because of some kind of human
intervention that occurred when they
were 7-10 years old. But no records of
the trees – or their planters – remain.
Since the forest was planted in or around
1932, that intervention would have taken
place right before or during World War
II. It is probable that both records and
record keepers perished during the war.
What could have been their intended
use? Boat hulls, perhaps. Or furniture,
If you’re in western Poland, this one-of-a-kind forest is located close to the town of
Gryfino. Perhaps one day the mysteries of the forest will be explained, but its origins may
forever remain lost.
MORE EMBASSY NEWS + INFORMATION
Embassy of Poland, DC
EMBASSY OF THE
REPUBLIC OF POLAND
2640 16th St NW