THE CELEBRATIONS OF POLAND’S 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF INDEPENDENCE

On 1- 3 June 2018 in Sydney the Executive Committee of the Polish Community Council of Australia (PCCA) hosted Australia’s main celebrations commemorating the Polish Republic’s 100th anniversary of independence proclaimed in 1918, following over 120 years of partitions and purposeful obliteration of Polish cultural heritage. […] The three days of celebrations were honoured by the attendance of special guests namely, His Excellency, Mr Michał Kołodziejski, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to Australia (Honorary Patron of centennial celebrations); the Consul General of the Republic of Poland in Sydney, Ms Regina Jurkowska; Vice Consul, Ms Dorota Preda; Ms Małgorzata Gosiewska, MP,the Republic of Poland; Mr Wojciech Ziemniak, MP, the Republic of Poland; The Hon. David Clarke, MLC representing the Minister for Multiculturalism Ray Williams MP; The Hon. Jason Faliński MP; The Hon. Stephen Bali MP; and The Hon. Robert Borsak MP. Many of the invited Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth from Marayong and many Polish priests also attended. The Ambassador, Consul General and Polish MPs took part in each of the events during the three days of celebrations in Sydney. […]
Below is a brief overview of the events that took place in Sydney on 1 – 3 June 2018.
“Tribute to Freedom” Concert – concert hall, Sydney Town Hall, Friday, 1 June
This concert of classical music, inspired by the creations of Polish composers (Noskowski, Chopin, Szymanowski, Paderewski, Kilar) and Addinsell (the famous Warsaw Concerto written for the British film Dangerous Moonlight, which tells of the German invasion of Poland in 1939), was opened by the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland, Mr Michał Kołodziejski, who spoke of the thousand’s year history of a proud nation that demonstrated how it can rise above social and political differences in critical and important times. The bold oration by The Hon. David Clark MLC, Parliamentary Secretary for Justice, representing The Hon. Ray Williams MP, Minister for Multiculturalism and Minister for Disability Services, praised Poles as “a beacon for freedom” – tenacious fighters for peace and defenders of Christian civilisation (referring to the proud history of Poland and key historical events such as the Battle of Vienna, “the miracle on the Vistula river”, heroic resistance to Hitler’s invasion of World War II, the Battle of England, Monte Cassino, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the Solidarity movement), concluding with the proclamation “Long live Poland and her people!” for which he received thunderous applause.

Ignacy Paderewski’s declaration “…we are fighting for a whole, united, great and independent Poland” underpinned the performances by the musicians of the Manly Warringah Orchestra under the baton of their charismatic conductor, Dr Carlos Alvarado. Notable pianists Krzysztof Małek, Alan Kogosowski and Konrad Olszewski, and soprano Daniela Leska also took part in the concert after which Grzegorz Machnacki, artistic director of the first day’s event summed up, “A magical program! So Polish, it hurts… I am completely enchanted by the concert. So many colours and tones within the incredibly powerful passionate rendition of striking Polish masterpieces, all directed so magnificently by Carlos. Noskowski, magical music… Warsaw Concerto, extraordinary… Paderewski, so devoted to the sound of independence… Chopin, fantastic Polonez!!!” Readers are invited to the PCCA website, where one can get to know the artists who were responsible for giving the 450-strong audience from all over Australia a series of unforgettable moments of sentiment and emotion.
The “Road to Independence” Exhibition – Polish Club, Ashfield, Saturday, 2 June
The exhibition was officially opened by the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland at the Polish Club in Ashfield. The exhibition was a PCCA initiative and was developed by the Polish Museum and Archives in Australia under the direction of Dr Zdzisław Derwiński. The graphic conceptualisation was designed by artist and graphic designer, Vitek Skonieczny.
Written in Polish and English, twenty-two colourful panels document the historic fall of the First Polish Republic and Poland’s subsequent struggle for independence over the next 123 years. Included are brief accounts of General Jan Henryk Dąbrowski’s Legions and the Polish Legions during WWI. The uprisings of 1830-31, 1846-48, 1863-64 and the revolution in 1905 were covered in an international context, i.e. the politics of major European monarchies concerning Poland and Poles. The most important moment for Poland’s cause was World War I (1914-18) when Poland and Poles ceased to be political assets of occupant countries and regained their political personality on a global scale. As a result, not only were Polish formations established in various armies, but the future structures of a reborn Poland were developed.
The authors endeavoured to show the input of various political figures and groups into Poland regaining its independence. Most noteworthy amongst the political figures were Józef Piłsudski, Roman Dmowski, Ignacy Paderewski, Wincenty Witos, Wojciech Korfanty and Ignacy Daszyński. A separate exhibition conceived by the Institute for National Remembrance entitled “Fathers of Independence”, was made available to the Australian public thanks to the efforts of the Polish Museum and Archives in Australia. The “Fathers of Independence” exhibition was set up in the main auditorium of the Polish Club in Ashfield. Undoubtedly, the materials and information presented in both exhibits will enhance historical knowledge about Poland and Poles. Both exhibitions will be on show at various Polish Community Centres around Australia. The organisers hope that a broader audience will avail themselves of these events and the Poles who played such decisive roles in the fate of our homeland.

An Evening of Poetry and Music „A Tribute to Free and Independent Poland… and to those who dared to dream” – Polish Club, Ashfield, Saturday, 2 June
A romantic spectacle was created and presented by Bożena Szymańska and Daniel Bolkunowicz from Melbourne, and featured poetic works by J. Jasiński, J. Relidzyński, compositions by F. Chopin, and songs from World War I as well as contemporary works on the theme of independence. Performers included Bożena Szymańska, Paweł Siembab, Wiesław Rogoliński and Jeremi Skrzypek who encouraged audience participation. Performances were also given by Polish Folk Dance Groups „Kujawy”, „Lajkonik” and „Syrenka”.
The Feast of Corpus Christi and Thanksgiving Mass for Poland’s independence regained 100 years ago – Marian Shrine, Marayong, Sunday, 3 June
The celebratory Mass was preceded by a meeting with the Sisters of Nazareth and the management of the Care and Retirement Village in Marayong located near the unique chapel shaped in the form of praying hands. The Sisters of Nazareth explained its history and the extent of their aged care residential services, after which the guests visited part of the facility which houses the residents’ internal chapel, an auditorium, a cinema, a dining hall and activity rooms. Visitors were accompanied around the complex by Alexandra Davis (CEO of HFS), Lech Mądry (Chairperson HFS Board), Sr Joanna Zarzyczna (Director of Mission and Pastoral Care), Sr Alicja Drabik (Provincial Assistant, representing Sr Lucyna Fraczek, Provincial Leader of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth in Australia), Sr Grażyna Rocławska (Member of the Provincial Leadership Team and HFS Board) and Joanna Juszczak (HR).

After Holy Mass, the faithful took part in the Corpus Christi procession, and then were invited by Fr Henryk Zasiura to the parish house for refreshments and performances by Polish Folk Dance Groups „Syrenka”, „Lajkonik”, „Kujawy” and „Podhale”.

Ita Szymańska
Spokesperson
Polish Community Council of Australia
19 June 2018
(Translated into English by Henryk Kurylewski and Ita Szymanska)

See more: http://www.polishcouncil.org.au

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