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Republic of Poland

Rzeczpospolita Polska

CAPITAL: Warsaw (Warszawa)

FLAG: The national flag consists of two horizontal stripes, the upper white and the lower red.

ANTHEM: Jeszcze Polska nie zginela (Poland Is Not Yet Lost ).

MONETARY UNIT: The zloty (z) is a paper currency of 100 groszy. There are coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 groszy and 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 zlotys, and notes of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, and 5,000 zlotys. A currency reform on 1 January 1995 replaced 10,000 old zlotys with 1 new zloty. z1 = $0.31348 (or $1 = z3.19) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is the legal standard.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Labor Day, 1 May; National Day, 3 May; Victory Day, 9 May; All Saints' Day, 1 November; Christmas, 2526 December. Movable holidays are Easter Monday and Corpus Christi.

TIME: 1 pm = noon GMT.


Situated in Eastern Europe, Poland has an area of 312,680 sq km (120,726 sq mi), extending 689 km (428 mi) ew and 649 km (403 mi) ns. It is bounded on the N by the Baltic Sea, on the n and e by Russia, Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine, on the s by Slovakia and the Czech Republic, and on the w by Germany, with a total land boundary of 2,788 km (1,794 mi) and a coastline of 491 km (305 mi). Comparatively, the area occupied by Poland is slightly smaller than the state of New Mexico.

Before World War II, Poland encompassed a territory of nearly 390,000 sq km (150,600 sq mi). On 11 July 1920, an armistice mediated by Britain in a Polish-Soviet conflict established the "Curzon line" (named for George Nathaniel Curzon, the British statesman who proposed it), conferring the former Austrian territory of Galicia to the Soviet side. However, under the Treaty of Riga (1921), all of Galicia was assigned to Poland, and a boundary well to the east of the Curzon line prevailed until World War II. At the Yalta Conference in February 1945, the Allies accepted Soviet claims to eastern Poland, with a border running approximately along the Curzon line.

On 21 April 1945, a Polish-Soviet treaty of friendship and cooperation was signed, followed by a new agreement on the Polish-Soviet border. To compensate for the loss of 46% of Poland's territory to the USSR, the Potsdam Conference of JulyAugust 1945 placed former German territories east of the Oder (Odra) and western Neisse rivers under Polish administration, pending a final determination by a German peace treaty. On 6 August 1950, an agreement was signed between Poland and the GDR according to which both parties recognized the frontier on the Oder-Neisse line. The Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) recognized this boundary under the terms of a treaty signed with Poland on 7 December 1970 and ratified by the FRG on 23 May 1972.

Poland's capital city, Warsaw, is located in the east central part of the country.


Poland's average altitude is 173 m (568 ft); 75.4% of the land is less than 200 m (656 ft) above sea level. The highest point, Mount Rysy (2,499 m/8,199 ft), is located in the Tatra Mountains on the Slovakian border. The principal topographic regions are an undulating central lowland with a crystalline platform and warped bedrock; the Baltic highland in the north, a glaciated region with many lakes and sandy soils; and the coastland, a narrow lowland with promontories, bays, and lakes. The southern uplands are marked by rich loam and mineral deposits.

Several important navigable rivers drain into the Baltic Sea, among them the Vistula (Wisla), the Oder, the Bug, and the Warta. There are over 6,000 lakes in the northern lake region. Good harbors have been developed on the Baltic Sea.


Poland has a continental climate, conditioned especially by westerly winds. Only the southern areas are humid. Summers are cool, and winters range from moderately cold to cold. The average mean temperature is about 7°c (45°f); temperatures in Warsaw range, on average, from -6° to -1°c (2130°f) in January and from 13° to 24°c (5575°f) in July. Precipitation is greatest during the summer months, lasting 85 to 100 days. Annual rainfall ranges from about 50 cm (20 in) in the lowlands and 135 cm (53 in) in the mountains; the overall average is about 64 cm (25 in).


Coniferous trees, especially pine, account for 70% of the forests; deciduous species include birch, beech, and elm. Lynx, wildcat, European bison, moose, wild horse (tarpan), and wild goat are among the few remaining large mammals. Birds, fish, and insects are plentiful. As of 2002, there were at least 84 species of mammals, 233 species of birds, and over 2,450 species of plants throughout the country.


Poland's environmental situation has improved since the ousting of its communist regime, which has been accompanied by decreased emphasis on heavy industry and increased government awareness of environmental issues. However, Poland has yet to recover from the overexploitation of forests during World War II and the loss of about 1.6 million hectares (4 million acres) of forestland after the war. As of the mid-1990s, 75% of Poland's forests have been damaged by airborne contaminants and acid rain. In 2000, about 29.7% of the total land area was forested.

Pollution of the air, water, and land was the most significant environmental problem facing Poland in the 1990s. Air pollution results from hazardous concentrations of airborne dust and chemicals, including carbon dioxide, nitrogen compounds, fluorine, formaldehyde, ammonia, lead, and cadmium. In 1992 Poland had the world's 12th highest level of industrial carbon dioxide emissions, which totaled 341.8 million metric tons, a per capita level of 8.9 metric tons. In 1996, the total rose to 356 million metric tons. However, some measures for reduction must be working, since in 2000, the total of carbon dioxide emissions was at 301.3 million metric tons. Industry-related pollution affects particularly the Katowice region, where dust and sulfur dioxide emissions exceed acceptable levels.

Water pollution in the Baltic Sea is 10 times higher than ocean water. Poland has 54 cu km of renewable water. Eleven percent of the annual withdrawal is used to support farming and 76% is for industrial purposes.

The nation's wildlife has also suffered from degeneration of its habitats. As of 2003, 12.4% of Poland's total land area was protected. According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included 12 types of mammals, 12 species of birds, 3 species of fish, 1 type of mollusk, 14 species of other invertebrates, and 4 species of plants. The cerambyx longicorn and rosalia longicorn are among the endangered species. The wild horse has become extinct.


The population of Poland in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 38,163,000, which placed it at number 32 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 13% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 17% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 94 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 200510 was expected to be stagnant at 0.0%, a rate the government viewed as too low. The fertility rate, at 1.6 births per woman in 2005, has been below replacement level since the mid-1990s. The projected population for the year 2025 was 36,661,000. The population density was 118 per sq km (306 per sq mi).

The UN estimated that 62% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 0.18%. The capital city, Warsaw (Warszawa), had a population of 2,200,000 in that year. Other large metropolitan areas and their estimated populations were Katowice, 2,914,000; Lódz, 943,000; Gdańsk, 851,000; and Kraków (Crakow), 822,000.


Large-scale emigration from Poland took place before World War II, with the heaviest exodus in the decades before World War I. Between 18711915, a total of 3,510,000 Poles, Polish Jews, and Ukrainians emigrated, about half of them to the United States. Emigration diminished greatly during the interwar period, when France became the chief country of destination. From 192138, some 1,400,000 Poles emigrated, while 700,000 returned. Poland suffered a net population loss of nearly 11,000,000 between 193949 through war losses, deportations, voluntary emigrations, and population transfers arising out of territorial changes. An estimated 6,000,000 Germans left the present western territories of Poland when these territories came under Polish jurisdiction, and since the end of World War II more than 7,500,000 Poles have settled in the area. From the 1950s through the 1980s, Germans leaving for Germany constituted the bulk of emigrants; Jews also left in substantial numbers for Israel, both in the immediate postwar years and during the 1950s and 1960s. Another emigration wave occurred after the imposition of martial law in December 1981. In 2000, the total number of migrants was 2,088,000. In 2003, total remittances to Poland were $2.8 billion. In 2005, the Polish Ministry of Labor reported that 500,000 Poles were legally employed in 15 EU countries. Amongst these, Germany was the chief destination for Polish migrant labor, 350,000 legally admitted workers, including 90% employed seasonally in agriculture.

Since 1989, Poland has been open to refugees. However, while tens of thousands of people transit Poland every year, the number of recognized refugees has been rather limited. As of 2004, there were 2,507 recognized refugees. Since 1997, there has been a significant increase in the number of asylum applicants, from some 800 in 1995 to 3,743 in 2004. The main country of origin was the Russian Federation, with smaller numbers from India and Pakistan. In that same year, 340 Poles sought asylum in Canada. In 2005, the net migration rate was -0.49 migrants per 1,000 population. The government views the migration levels as satisfactory.


Before World War II, over 30% of the people living within the boundaries of Poland were non-Poles. As a result of World War II, and of the boundary changes and population transfers that followed, Poland today is a predominantly homogeneous state with only about 3% of the population being non-Polish. According to the most recent census (2002), Poles constitute about 98% of the total population. Germans make up 0.4%, Ukrainians account for 0.1%; and Belarussians, 0.1%. There are about 50,000 Lithuanians in the country. There is also a significant number of Roma.


Polish is one of the western Slavic languages using the Latin alphabet and the only major Slavic language to preserve the old Slavic nasal vowels. It is easily distinguishable from other Slavic languages by the frequent accumulation of consonants. In addition to the letters of the English alphabet, it has the following letters and diphthongs: a, ch, ci, cz, dź, dzi, e, l, ń, ni, ó, rz, ś, si, sz, z, ż, ź, and zi. It has no q, v, or x. Among the several dialects are Great Polish (spoken around Poznań), Kuyavian (around Inowroclaw), Little Polish (around Cracow), Silesian (around Katowice and Wroclaw), and Mazovian (around Warsaw and extending north and east). Some philologists consider that Kashubian, spoken along the Baltic, is not a Polish dialect but a separate language.

Many Poles speak English, French, German, or Russian, and understand other Slavic languages in varying degrees. By law, ethnic minorities have the right to be taught in their own language.


Poland has historically been one of the world's most strongly Roman Catholic countries. During the period of Communist domination that began in 1945, that church suffered extensive repression by the state. A change in party leadership in October 1956, however, brought about a new relationship between church and state, which included voluntary religious instruction in schools and other guarantees to the Roman Catholic Church. In 1974, the Polish government established permanent working contacts with the Holy See. The position of the Church was further enhanced when the archbishop of Cracow, Karol Cardinal Wojtyla, became Pope John Paul II in 1978. In 1989, the Roman Catholic Church was finally granted legal status and control of its schools, hospitals, and its university in Lublin. A concordat was signed with the Vatican in 1993 and ratified by parliament in 1998.

It is estimated that over 96% of Poles are nominally Roman Catholics. About 509,700 people, about 1.3% of the population, are registered members of the Eastern Orthodox Church, 82,000 are Greek Catholics, 124,294 are Jehovah's Witnesses, and 79,050 are Lutherans (Augsburg). Other established Christian denominations include Old Catholic Mariavits, Polish-Catholics, Pentecostals, Seventh-Day Adventists, Baptists, Methodists, the Church of Christ, Reformed Lutherans, Mormons, and the New Apostolic Church. About 109 people are registered members of Muslim associations; there are, however, many more Muslims in the country who are not officially registered with a group. About 895 people are registered Hare Krishnas. A 2001 poll indicated that only 58% of the entire population were active practitioners of their chosen faith.

On the eve of World War II, an estimated 3,351,000 Jews lived in Poland, more than in any other country; they constituted about 10% of the Polish population and nearly 20% of world Jewry. During the course of the Nazi occupation (193945), nearly 3,000,000 Polish Jews were killed, many of them in extermination camps such as Auschwitz (Oświecim), near Cracow. Most of the survivors had fled to the USSR; at the end of the war, only about 55,000 Jews remained in Poland. Repatriation raised the total Jewish population to 250,000 in 1946. However, the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, combined with a series of anti-Semitic outbreaks in Poland (including a government-led campaign in 196869), induced most Jews to emigrate. As of 2003, Poland had only about 20,00030,000 Jews living in the country.


In 2004, Poland's operational rail network totaled 23,852 km (14,835 mi) of broad and standard gauge rail lines, of which 11,962 km (7,440 mi) were electrified. Of all lines in use, standard gauge accounts for nearly all at 23,223 km (14,445 mi). In terms of line length the Polish State Railways (PKP) is the third-largest railway system in Europe. However, equipment and service is far behind EU countries. In 2000 PKP began privatization of passenger, cargo and infrastructure.

There is a dense road and highway network. Improvement and repair have not kept up with the increased usagean 80% increase in freight and a 1,800% increase in passenger transport between 1950 and 1970, and a 60% increase in freight traffic and a 70% increase in passenger transport during 1971-82. In 2001 out of a total of 364,697 km (226,842 mi) of roadways, 249,088 km (154,932 mi) were paved roads, including 399 km (248 mi) of expressways. In 2003, there were 11,243,800 passenger cars and 2,274,600 commercial vehicles.

As of 2005, Poland had seven merchant ships of 1,000 GRT or more, totaling 154,710 GRT. Before World War II, Polish merchant marine operations were mainly with the Western countries, especially the United States, but much of the current traffic is with Asian and African countries. The major ports are Szczecin, Gdynia, Gdánsk, and Swinoujáscie. The ports were badly damaged during World War II but have since been rehabilitated and enlarged. As of 2003, there were 3,812 km (2,369 mi) of navigable rivers and canals. The principal inland waterways are the Oder, with Szczecin near its mouth, the Wista, and the Warta.

In 2004, Poland had an estimated 123 airports. As of 2005, a total of 84 had paved runways, and there were also two heliports. Polish Air Transport (Polskie Linie Lotnicze-LOT), organized in 1922 and reorganized after World War II, is a state enterprise, with Warsaw's Okecie International Airport as the center. In 2003, about 3.252 million passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.


The land now known as Poland was sparsely populated in prehistoric times. The oldest preserved settlements, most notably at Biskupin in northwest Poland, date back to 1000 bc. A lack of Roman conquest and settlement delayed early urbanization in relation to the territories of Western Europe such as Germany and France. Slavic tribes, from whom modern Poles are descendants in terms of language and culture, began settling Poland in the fourth and fifth centuries AD after the Hunnic invasions and mass migrations of peoples from Asia to Europe. By ad 800, the population was probably around one million and stabilized into permanent settlements. Rulers of the Piast dynasty united the Polish tribes of the Vistula and Oder basins about the middle of the 10th century. In 966, Mieszko I, a member of this dynasty, was baptized, and consequently Poland became a Christian nation. Thirty-three years later, his eldest son and successor, Boleslaw I "the Brave" (9921025), whose military campaigns took him as far east as Kiev, secured recognition of Polish sovereignty and received a royal crown from Holy Roman Emperor Otto III, becoming the first king of Poland.

During the next three centuries, Poland was continually embroiled in conflicts with the Germans to the west and with the Eastern Slavs and Mongol invaders to the east, while developing cultural relations with Western civilizations. Foreign penetration and internal difficulties led to the division of Poland among members of the Piast dynasty. Under Casimir III "the Great" (13331370), the last of the Piast rulers, Poland was restored to unity and greatness. Casimir made peace with the Teutonic Knights, added Galicia to the realm, and welcomed Jewish refugees from the west; internally, law was codified, administration centralized, and a university was established in Kraków in 1364. In 1386, a Polish-Lithuanian federal union was created through a dynastic marriage, which also gave birth to the Jagiellonian dynasty, named for Jagiello, grand duke of Lithuania, who ruled Poland as Ladislas II (13861434). The union extended from the Baltic to the Black Sea and held control over other territories in Central Europe, notably West Prussia and Pomerania. The combined forces of the union annihilated the Teutonic Knights in 1410, in the Battle of Grunwald. The 16th century, known as Poland's Golden Age, saw the flourishing of the arts, scholarship, and architecture, most notable examples of which are the poetry of Jan Kochanowski, the revolutionary astronomical work of Nicolaus Copernicus, and the Renaissance architecture of old Kraków. During this time Poland was the largest state in Europe and a regional military power. In order to preserve the union during the reign of Sigismund II (154872), the last of the Jagiellonians, provisions were made for an elective monarch and a single parliament (Sejm) for Poland and Lithuania. The fact that kings were elected by the Polish/Lithuanian gentry (szlachta ) and the ratification of the first constitution in Europe in 1792 are often mentioned to support the claim that Poland is a pioneer of European democracy.

Unfortunately, many of the political reforms contributed to the nation's subsequent decline. The szlachta had progressively gained influence and power at the expense of the king. Meeting in the Sejm, the gentry adopted the legislative practice whereby a single dissenting voice was sufficient to block passage. Such policies prevented any decisive action by the government with the gentry cementing their position of power in an economy based on agricultural serfdom. The nobility imposed such far-reaching limitations upon the monarchy that national unity and integrity could not be maintained. Internal disorders, including the Cossack and peasant uprising (164849) led by Bogdan Chmielnicki against Polish domination of the Ukrainea revolt that struck with particular ferocity against Polish Jews, many of whom had served as agents of the nobility in administering Ukrainian landsfurther weakened the nation, as did the very destructive Swedish invasion in 165560. In 1683, Polish troops led by John III Sobieski (167496) rescued Vienna from a Turkish siege, but this was perhaps the last great military victory of an increasingly weakened and war-weary state.

The decline of Poland's power was taken advantage of by its neighboring states. A Russian, Prussian, and Austrian agreement led to the first partitioning of Poland in 1772; the second (1793) and third (1795) partitions led to the demise of Poland as a sovereign state. Galicia was ruled by Austria-Hungary, northwestern Poland by Prussia, and the Ukraine and eastern and central Poland by Russia, which extended its domains to include the Duchy of Warsaw, reconstituted as the Kingdom of Poland (under Russian imperial rule) at the Congress of Vienna in 1815. The Poles rebelled in 1830 and 1863 against the tsarist rulers, but each insurrection was suppressed. However, the peasants were emancipated by Prussia in 1823, by Austria in 1849, and by Russia in 1864. Galicia, which won partial autonomy from Austria following the Habsburg monarchy's constitutional reforms, became the cultural center of the Poles.

With the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the defeat of the Central Powers in World War I, Poland regained its independence. On 18 November 1918, Jozef Pilsudski, leader of the prewar antiRussian independence movement, formed a civilian government. Dispute over the eastern borders of the re-born state led to a military clash with the Soviet Union. The conflict, in which the Bolshevik hope of spreading socialist revolution beyond Poland to Germany and France was dashed by a fortuitous Polish counterattack near Warsaw, ended with the Treaty of Riga in 1921, under which Galicia was restored to Poland.

In the next two decades Poland was plagued by economic difficulties and political instability, and by increasingly menacing pressures from its Soviet and German neighbors. Following the Nazi-Soviet Pact in 1939, Germany invaded Poland on 1 September, occupying Warsaw four weeks later. Meanwhile, the USSR began occupation of the eastern half of the country on 17 September, despite nonaggression treaties Poland signed with both the USSR and Germany. Almost immediately Nazi forces began to brutally oppress large segments of the Polish population and loot Poland's industrial sector and major resources such as timber, coal, and wheat. Ghettos for Jews were set up in Warsaw and other cities, and numerous concentration camps were established on Polish territory, including the extermination camp at Auschwitz, where at least one million people perished between 1940 and 1944. Poland suffered tremendous losses in life and property during World War II. An estimated six million Poles were killed, half of them Jews; 2.5 million were deported for compulsory labor in Germany; more than 500,000 were permanently crippled; and the remaining population suffered virtual starvation throughout the Nazi occupation. Losses in property were evaluated at z258 billion (more than us$50 billion).

The seeds of Poland's postwar political history were sown long before the war ended. A Polish government-in-exile was set up in France and later in the United Kingdom. Units of the Polish army fought together with the Allies while in Poland underground groups, organized along political lines, maintained resistance activities. The Home Army (Armia Krajowa ) was the major nonCommunist resistance group and took its orders from the government-in-exile in London. Although formally allied to the Soviet Union, relations between Moscow and the London-based Polish government continued to deteriorate, especially after the discovery of mass graves of thousands of Polish officers murdered by the Soviets in 1940. In July 1944, the Polish National Council, a Soviet-backed resistance group, set up the Polish Committee of National Liberation as a provisional government in liberated Lublin, declaring the émigré Polish government illegal. In August 1944 the Home Army in Warsaw rose against the Nazis in hopes of liberating the capital in step with the Soviet military advance. In the events that followed and still breed controversy to this day, the Red Army halted its advance and allowed the Nazis to use their remaining forces to brutally suppress the rising and completely destroy the city. It was only on 17 January 1945 that the Red Army entered Warsaw and installed the provisional pro-Soviet government. At Yalta, the Allies agreed to accept the Curzon line, thereby awarding the USSR nearly half of former Polish territory (including Galicia) in return for a Soviet agreement to broaden the political base of the provisional government with the addition of non-Communist Polish leaders. After subsequent negotiations, the Provisional Government of National Unity was formally recognized by the United States and Britain in July 1945.

Despite Stalin's promises of free elections, a bloc of four parties dominated by the Communists emerged victorious in the elections of January 1947. The Communists and the Socialists merged in December 1948 to form the Polish United Workers' Party (PZPR). The PZPR consistently followed a pro-Soviet policy. Domestically, the party pursued a reconstruction program stressing agriculture and industrial development. It shunned the Marshall Plan and, in its first two decades, renounced all dealings with the Western powers.

The first decade of Communist rule was dominated by Stalinist repressions, tensions with the Roman Catholic Church, and a strong-handed Soviet influence, as practiced by Konstantin Rokossovsky, a Soviet general of Polish birth, who became Poland's defense minister in 1949 and served as deputy prime minister from 1952 until his resignation four years later. Rising nationalist sentiment, heightened by stagnating economic conditions, led to worker riots in Poznan on 2829 July 1956. In response to the unrest, a new Polish Politburo, headed by Wladyslaw Gomulka (who had been purged from the PZPR in 1949 and subsequently imprisoned because of his nationalist leanings), introduced liberalizations, including the abolition of farm collectivization, and improved relations with the Church. Conditions improved from those immediately after the war, but by the late 1950s, the reform movement had been halted, and the government took a harder line against dissent. In 1968 there were student demonstrations against the government in the university centers; the Gomulka regime countered with a political offensive in which many government officials and party members accused of anti-Socialist or proZionist sentiments were removed from office, and an estimated 12,000 Polish Jews left Poland.

Two years later, following a drought in 1969 and an exceptionally severe winter, demonstrations by shipyard workers in Gdańsk broke out on 16 December 1970 to protest economic conditions, the privileges of the Communist party elite, and an announced rise in food prices. The government responded with military force and after widespread violence, with soldiers firing on striking workers, at least 44 people were killed. The unrest led to the removal from power of Gomulka and the installation of Edward Gierek as the first secretary of the politburo on December 20. Under continued pressure from strikes, Gierek's government postponed the controversial incentive system and froze prices at their new levels. After receiving a substantial long-term Soviet grant (estimated at $100 million), the Polish government rolled back prices to their pre-December 1970 levels, and labor peace was restored. In a move to bolster his support, Gierek reinstated Church control over thousands of religious properties in northwestern Poland to which the government had held title since 1945.

During the 1970s, Gierek's government vigorously pursued a policy of détente with the West. Three US presidents visited Poland and Gierek himself traveled to the United States and to several West European countries. Peace agreements governing the Oder-Neisse line and formally recognizing Polish sovereignty in former German territories were concluded with West Germany, and trade pacts were signed with the United States, Britain, France, Italy, Austria, and other nations. With a bold plan of creating a "second Japan," Gierek secured huge loans (several billion dollars) from the West in hopes of building an industrial export economy and improving living conditions, which were at this point glaringly inferior to those in the capitalist world. Although many ambitious projects were undertaken, including the building of an oil refinery in Gdańsk and a new steel works plant in Katowice, mismanagement and the inefficiency of the socialist economy crippled real economic output and the prospects of repaying the foreign debts became increasingly dim. In 1976, the government announced food price increases but had to rescind them after the workers responded by striking. During the next several years, the economic situation kept deteriorating, and Polish nationalism, buoyed in 1978 by the election of the archbishop of Kraków to the papacy as John Paul II, continued to rise. In July 1980, new meat price increases were announced, and within a few weeks, well-organized workers all over Poland demanded a series of economic and political concessions, including the right to organize independent trade unions outside of the Communist party. The center of labor activity was the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk, where in a public ceremony on 31 August, government officials agreed to allow workers the right to organize and to strike. The independent labor movement Solidarity, headed by Lech Walesa, the leader of the Gdańsk workers, and strongly supported by the Roman Catholic clergy, soon claimed a membership of about 10 million (about a fourth of the population), with its ranks filled not only with workers but also intellectuals. That month, Stanislaw Kania replaced Gierek as first secretary.

For more than a year, the government and Solidarity leaders negotiated, with Catholic Church officials often acting as mediators. As Solidarity became more and more overtly politicaldemanding, for example, free parliamentary electionsPoland's Communist leaders came under increasing pressure from the USSR to stop the "anti-Socialist" and "anti-Soviet" forces. On 18 October 1981, Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, prime minister since February, replaced Kania as first secretary. On 13 December, after union leaders in Gdańsk called for a national referendum on forming a nonCommunist government in Poland, Jaruzelski set up the Military Council for National Salvation and declared martial law. To what extent Jaruzelski's abrupt crackdown was carried out to prevent direct Soviet military intervention is still unclear, although evidence suggests that the Kremlin had not drawn up any plans for a military intrusion into Poland. Almost the whole leadership of Solidarity, including Walesa, was arrested, and the union was suspended. Despite further strikes and rioting, which resulted in several deaths, the military had soon gained complete control. More than 10,000 people were arrested and detained for up to 12 months, and all rights and freedoms gained in the preceding year and a half were abolished. In January 1982, the United States imposed sanctions against Poland, including withdrawal of most-favored-nation status, veto of Poland's entry into the IMF, and suspension of fishing rights in US waters and of LOT flights to the United States. Protests and rioting continued sporadically into 1983, and some Solidarity leaders remained active underground, but these disturbances did not seriously threaten the military regime. On 22 July 1983, the government formally ended martial law and proclaimed an amnesty, but a series of legislative measures had meanwhile institutionalized many of the powers the government had exercised, including the power to dissolve organizations, forbid public meetings, and run the universities.

The internal political situation stabilized to such a degree that in July 1984 the government proclaimed a general amnesty, and the United States began to lift its sanctions the following month (the last sanctions were lifted in early 1987). When an outspoken priest, Father Jerzy Popieluszko, was kidnapped and subsequently murdered by two secret police officers, the government, in an unprecedented step, permitted a trial to take place in February 1985 in the result of which four security officers were convicted and sentenced. Another amnesty was proclaimed in September 1986, leading to the release of all remaining political prisoners. Economically, however, the country was spiraling out of control. Continued declines in standards of living and shortages of even basic necessities led to waves of strikes throughout Poland in spring and fall 1988, essentially paralyzing the nation. By November 1987 public antipathy had been so widespread that the government called for the first public referendum to be held in Poland in more than 40 years; this was also the first open election to be held within the Warsaw Pact. Although the ballot itself asked only for public support of an accelerated economic reform package, the people of Poland understood the referendum to be a vote of confidence in the government itself. The final tally was approximately two-thirds in support of the government, but because of a Solidarity-inspired voter boycott, only 67% of the eligible voters cast their ballots, which meant that the referendum failed to pass, a first-ever defeat for the government.

In autumn 1988, the entire government resigned and it became clear that talks with labor activists were inevitable. The negotiations leading up to the so-called "round-table talks," which finally opened in February 1989, were as delicate and prolonged as the talks themselves. However, in April 1989 agreement was reached on a number of unprecedented concessions: Solidarity was recognized as a legal entity; the post of president was created, to be filled by legislative appointment; some independent media were permitted to operate; and the Catholic Church was given full legal status. In June 1989 came perhaps the most far-reaching change, the establishment of a senate, complementing the existing Sejm, with the seats to be filled by open election. In addition, 35% of the seats in the Sejm were also made subject to direct election.

The government did all it could to make it difficult for opposition candidates to run: only two months were allowed in which candidates could gather the petitions necessary to get on the ballot, and the ballots themselves listed candidates alphabetically, with no indication of party affiliation. Despite those efforts, Solidarity won a decisive victory; 99 of the 100 seats in the Senate went to Solidarity members. Moreover, many government candidates in the Sejm lost seats because voters crossed out the names of unopposed government candidates, thus denying them the necessary 50% of the total votes cast.

In June 1989, the newly elected parliament named General Wojciech Jaruzelski Poland's president by the slenderest of margins. Two months later, Solidarity pressed to balance Jaruzelski's post of president with a non-Communist prime minister and at this point the discredited PZPR could do little but comply. Although it was widely expected that Lech Walesa might lead the first Solidarity government, he demurred, instead putting forward Tadeusz Mazowiecki, who took office on 24 August 1989, as the first non-Communist prime minister in the Eastern Bloc. That autumn, motivated at least in part by the events unfolding in Poland, a wave of "velvet revolutions" spread across Eastern Europe culminating in the fall of the Berlin Wall. These events further accelerated the de-Sovietization of Polish government. In September 1990, Jaruzelski resigned, opening the way for new elections.

The election of Walesa as president was the formal end to Poland's Communist rule, with Poland rejoining the community of democratic nations. In what would become known as "shock therapy," the previously Socialist economy was abruptly opened to free market forces. Although initially inflation sky-rocketed and economic output continued to fall, by 1997 Poland was attracting large amounts of foreign investment and enjoying the highest growth rates in Europe. At the same time, not everyone enjoyed economic prosperity and political discord continued to grow. The number of political parties ballooned, making it difficult to undertake such complex and contentious issues as large-scale privatization, economic rationalization of Soviet-era giant industry, and fundamental constitutional revision. The October 1991 election saw 69 parties competing, with 29 actually winning seats, none of them with more than 14% of the vote. Inevitably, this resulted in coalition governments without clear mandates, giving Poland five prime ministers and four governments in 199193. This proliferation of parties reflected disparities among the electorate that emerged once the Communists had been removed as a unifying focus for opposition.

In the September 1993 election, the two most popular parties, the Polish Peasant Party (PSL) and the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) were made up largely of ex-Communists or other figures from the governments of the past. The apparent rejection of the gains of Solidarity and the return of the vanquished ex-Communists was variously interpreted as a rejection of "shock-therapy" economic transformation, the electorate's nostalgia for the more ordered life of the past, and a vote against the Catholic Church, or at least its social agenda of asserting close control on social issues such as abortion, school curriculum, and women's role in society.

Fears associated with the return of the many ex-Communists to power proved unfounded. Although differing from their predecessors on the pace of Poland's economic transformation, the government of Polish Peasant Party (PSL) leader Waldemar Pawlak, and his Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) partner, Aleksander Kwasniewski, remained generally committed to Poland's course of democratization and economic transition. The Constitution Commission proposed a new constitution that passed the National Assembly in April 1997, and was approved in a national referendum on 23 May 1997.

The parliamentary elections of 1997 saw the return to power of centrist and right of center Solidarity legacy parties, with Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) and the Freedom Union (UW) forming a coalition with Jerzy Buzek as prime minister. The Buzek government presided over many successful reforms, including reorganization of local and regional administration, but an economic downturn and rising unemployment caused the voters to resoundingly return the reigns of power to the post-Communist SLD in 2001.

In 2005 the power pendulum swung again to the right with the scandal ridden SLD achieving less than 12% of the vote and the right of center Law and Justice (PiS) and centrist Civic Platform (PO) gaining the majority. The constant and almost predictable shift of power can be interpreted as a political maturation of the young democracy or as the failure of either side to address the main economic issue of unemployment, which reached its maximum level of 20% in December 2004. The exception to the changing political tides has been the reformed Communist Aleksander Kwasniewski of the SLD, who beat Walesa to be elected president in 1995 and won a second term in 2000.

It has been on the international scene that Poland has made its most visible strides since the end of Communist rule. In 1997, NATO invited Poland, along with the Czech Republic and Hungary, to join the alliance, and the three countries became members in March 1999. In May 2004 Poland became a member of the European Union (EU) and is now the organization's sixth most populous member. Poland asserted itself as a close American ally by being one of the few countries to participate in the 2003 invasion of Iraq and subsequently administering an Iraqi occupied zone with the initial involvement of 2,400 of its own troops. Poland has also attempted to play a leading role in the politics of eastern and central Europe and has invested its political capital in encouraging democratization in Belarus and supporting the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine in December 2004.

Since joining the EU, investment and economic growth picked up, with new manufacturing jobs coming from Western Europe. However, corruption, inefficient bureaucracy and weak infrastructure continued to be problems and slowed economic growth. Unemployment began to drop, but at 17.9% it still remained the highest in the European Union.


Until 1997, the form of government in Poland was in the midst of a protracted transformation, which left a number of its important features unclear. Without a formal constitution, Poland had been functioning on a much-amended form of its Communist-era constitution. The most important modifications were the Jaruzelski government's concessions of April 1989, which created both the Senate and the office of president, and a package of amendments passed in October 1992 which are collectively called the "Little Constitution." Another important modification was the agreement of 1990, which made the presidency a popularly elected post, rather than parliamentary appointment.

The president is directly elected, for a term of five years. The post has traditional executive obligations and powers, such as the duty to sign into law or veto legislations, but also retains substantial legislative powers, including the right to introduce bills and draft legal amendments.

During his tenure, Lech Walesa fought to widen the powers of the presidency, arguing that at least during the transition period Poland required a strong president able to resolve impasses and disputes on the basis of "practical experience," rather than on points of legal niceties.

Walesa's successor, Aleksander Kwasniewski, succeeded in putting forth a new constitution in 1997.

The parliament consists of two houses, the Sejm, or lower house, with 460 seats, and the Senate, with 100 seats. The members of both houses serve four-year terms. Seats are filled on the basis of party lists; there is a minimum national vote threshold of 5% for parties, or 8% for coalitions, with the votes for parties which fail to reach those minimums assigned to victorious parties. The prime minister proposes, the president appoints, and the Sejm approves the Council of Ministers or cabinet. The president, who is elected by popular vote for a five-year term, appoints the prime minister, who is then confirmed by the Sejm.


After the political poverty of its Communist past, Poland initially saw a proliferation of political parties ranging across the full political spectrum, from the rabidly xenophobic nationalism of the Polish National Front (whose leader, Janusz Bryczkowski, invited Russian extremist Vladimir Zhirinovsky to Poland in 1994) to the socialist party, Union of Labor (UP). In between were special interest and even quirky parties, of which the best example may be the Polish Beerdrinkers' Party. Overall, 69 parties participated in the 1991 parliamentary elections, of which 29 gained seats, none with more than 14% of the total vote. By 1993, however, the political scene was stabilizing. Only 35 parties participated in that election; perhaps more significantly, only five received seats.

The local elections of 1994 showed the emergence of three basic political orientations shaped by shifting coalitions of parties, with the parties themselves often dissolving and reorganizing under new names. The Polish political spectrum slightly deviates from the traditional notions of right and left in part because in contrast to most countries where labor movements are associated with the political left, the Polish right has its roots in the Solidarity labor movement.

The Polish far right was initially represented by several coalitions: the Alliance for Poland, which included the Christian National Union, the Center Alliance, the Movement for the Republic, Peasant Alliance, and the Conservative Coalition, and the 11 November Agreement, which included the Conservative Party, the Party of Christian Democrats, the Christian-Peasant Alliance, and the Real Politics Union (a radical laissez-faire party). These parties generally favored a major role for the Catholic Church, and tended to draw their support from Poland's rural sectors; in 1994, they did best in the eastern districts. The religious right is represented by the League of Polish Families (LPR), which has a social platform based on traditional Catholic values and was not in favor of Polish membership in the EU. LPR won 7.97% of the vote in the October 2005 elections.

The mainstream right was represented in the years 1997-2001 by Elective Action Solidarity (AWS). AWS led the government in coalition with UW. However, after a resounding defeat in 2001 AWS dissolved and its members eventually migrated to either the centrist Civic Platform (PO) or the right of center Law and Justice (PiS). PiS supports continuous but careful economic reforms, is in favor of raising retirement benefits, and remains socially conservative, as evidenced by the prohibition of a gay pride parade in Warsaw by its leader Lech Kaczynski in 2005. Another important aspect of the PiS is a strong stand against corruption. In the recent parliamentary elections in October 2005 PiS was the most popular party with 26.99% of the vote.

The center was dominated by Freedom Union (UW), which was formed in April 1994, when the Liberal Democratic Congress merged with the Democratic Union. The centrist position derives largely from the intellectual wing of the original Solidarity, favoring radical economic transformation, while being less concerned with immediate impact upon workers. UW formed a coalition with AWS as the junior partner in 19972000. UW's most prominent member was Leszek Balcerowicz, the architect of the "shock therapy" economic reform and president of Poland's National Bank. After the elections of 1997 UW largely dissolved, with its members joining the newly formed Civic Platform (PO), which also absorbed politicians from AWS. Both the UW and PO draw much of their support from smaller cities and university centers, such as Kraków, and the prosperous regions of western Poland. In the last parliamentary election in October 2005, PO's platform included a proposal for a 15% flat tax. PO was the second most popular party with 24.14% and was set to rule in a coalition with PiS.

The left, which was almost entirely discredited in 1991, has shown remarkable resilience. Through the 1990s, the two major parties were the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and the Polish Peasant Party (PSL), both descendents of elements of the old Communist party and its affiliates. The far left (some would argue far-right) is dominated by Self-Defense (SO) headed by Andrzej Lepper. Lepper's party is in favor of protectionist agriculture and sometimes anti-western isolationist foreign policy. In 2001 the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) in coalition with the Labor Union (UP), a minor left-wing party, won a decisive victory and formed a government under Leszek Miller. Although Miller's government presided over Poland's entry into the European Union, it became increasingly unpopular due to a series of scandals involving corruption and bribery, and failure to accelerate economic growth. With Miller himself forced to resign amid scandal in May 2005, SLD continued to rule as a minority government under Marek Belka until the elections in October 2005. Unhappy with Miller's leadership of the party, many members withdrew from SLD in 2004 and formed a new leftist party called Polish Social Democracy (SDPL). In the October 2005 elections SLD won 11.31%, SO 11.41% and PSL 6.96%. SDPL failed to make the 3% threshold to enter the parliament.

In addition to the major parties, a German Minority Party is active with most of its support from the Opole region in southwest Poland.

In the 1995 presidential elections, Aleksander Kwasniewski of SLD beat Lech Walesa by a small margin (51.7% to 48.3%) to become president for a five-year term. He was reelected in 2000 with 53.9% of the vote to nonparty candidate Andrzej Olechowski's 17.3% and AWS chairman Marian Krzaklewski's 15.6%. In a striking reversal, Walesa finished seventh with 0.8% of the vote.

Constitutionally limited to only two terms, Kwasniewski did not run again in 2005. The October presidential elections saw 14 candidates compete. In the first round the top five contenders were Donald Tusk (PO) with 36.33% of the vote, Lech Kaczynski (PiS) with 33.10%, Andrzej Lepper (SO) with 15.11%, and Marek Borowski (SDPL) with 10.33%. The SDL candidate withdrew from the election due to a scandal. In the second round, which included only the top two candidates, Tusk and Kaczynski, Kaczynski won with 54.04% of the vote to Tusk's 45.96%. Kaczynski's term as president extended to 2010.


Poland had been divided into 49 administrative districts, or voivodships, which were the basic administrative units under the Communists. In 1989 Solidarity government replaced that system with one in which the basic unit was the gmina, or local authority, which owned property and had responsibility for its own budget. The gmina elected a council, which appointed the executive officials actually responsible for day-to-day administration of the locality.

In 1994, there were 2,383 such local councils, with a mixed system of election. In districts containing more than 40,000 people, of which there were 110 in 1994, council representation was proportionally determined, based upon party affiliation. In the smaller districts, council representatives were elected by direct majority vote.

Originally these gmina councils were similar in makeup to the Solidarity Citizens Committees, from which they originated. Increasingly, however, the councils differentiated themselves, some becoming controlled by national parties, others remaining dominated by personalities who responded primarily to local issues.

Changes in local government structure were introduced in 1999, transforming Poland's 49 provinces into 16 new ones. A three-tier division of government was established: municipalities/communes, 308 counties (powiaty ), and 16 provinces (wojewodztwa ). Each of these divisions is governed by a council. Council members are directly elected, and appoint and dismiss the heads of the municipalities/communes (wojt ), the town mayors, the starosta or head of the county, and the speaker of the provincial councils.


There is a four-tiered court system in Poland: regional, provincial, appellate divisions, and a Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, the highest judicial organ, functions primarily as a court of appeal. The Supreme Court and lower courts are divided into criminal, civil, military, labor, and family chambers. Judges are nominated by the National Judicial Council and are appointed by the president for life.

There is also a Constitutional Tribunal which offers opinions on legislation and exercises authority of judicial review. Constitutional Tribunal judges are appointed to nine-year terms by the Sejm.

Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence and have the right to appeal. Although the judiciary is independent, it suffers from inefficiency, lack of resources and lack of public confidence.


Polish armed forces numbered 141,500 active personnel in 2005, with reservists numbering 234,000. Army personnel numbered an estimated 89,000 members, equipped with 947 main battle tanks, 435 reconnaissance vehicles, 1,281 armored infantry fighting vehicles, 33 armored personnel carriers, and 1,482 artillery pieces. The army's aviation arm included 65 attack and 80 support helicopters. Naval manpower in 2005 totaled 12,300, including 2,000 naval aviation personnel. Equipment included three tactical submarines, one destroyer, three frigates, four corvettes, 19 patrol/coastal vessels, and 22 mine warfare vessels. The naval aviation wing was supplied with 18 combat capable aircraft and a total of 30 helicopters for use in search and rescue, antisubmarine warfare and for support missions. The air force had 30,000 active personnel and 142 combat capable aircraft, including 28 fighter and 53 fighter ground attack aircraft, as well as 53 transport and 220 training aircraft. Poland also had a paramilitary force of 21,400 personnel, of which 14,100 were border guards and 7,300 police. Poland provided troops and observers to 13 different nations or regions as part of UN, NATO or European Union missions. The defense budget in 2005 amounted to $5.16 billion.


Poland is a charter member of the United Nations, having signed on 24 October 1945; it participates in ECE and several nonregional specialized agencies, such as the FAO, IAEA, the World Bank, UNESCO, UNIDO, and the WHO. Poland was admitted to NATO on 12 March 1999. The nation is also a member of the Council of Europe, the Council of the Baltic Sea States, the EuroAtlantic Partnership Council, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the OECD, and the OSCE. Poland became a member of the European Union in 2004. The country has observer status in the OAS.

Polish troops have supported UN missions and operations in Kosovo (est. 1999), Lebanon (est. 1978), Western Sahara (est. 1991), Ethiopia and Eritrea (est. 2000), Liberia (est. 2003), Georgia (est., 1993), and the DROC (est. 1999), among others. In 2003, Poland assumed command of division of multinational forces working on peacekeeping and stabilization efforts in Iraq.

Poland is part of the Australia Group, the Zangger Committee, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), the Nuclear Suppliers Group (London Group), and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. In environmental cooperation, Poland is part of the Antarctic Treaty, the Basel Convention, Conventions on Biological Diversity and Air Pollution, Ramsar, CITES, the London Convention, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, MARPOL, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change and Desertification.


Until 1990, Poland had a centrally planned economy that was primarily state controlled. Agriculture, however, was only partly socialized, with state farms and cooperatives accounting for 23% of the country's total farmland in 1984. Since World War II, agriculture's predominance in the economy has been waning; in 1990, it accounted for 16.2% of the NMP, compared to 22.7% in 1970. In 2004, its contribution to GDP was an estimated 2.9%, although it continued to employ about 24% of the labor force. Poland, with its sizable coastline, has become a maritime nation of some note, having developed three major ports on the Baltic and a greatly expanded shipbuilding industry, which in 1991 produced 53 ships. In 2003, yearly production was reported as 50 ships, about one-tenth of the number of ships produced by South Korea and Japan, the industry leaders. However, in June 2002 the Szczecin Shipyards, considered an example of successful privatization, declared bankruptcy. Poland has rich coal deposits, but it lacks some important natural resources, such as petroleum and iron ore.

During 197175, Poland's NMP increased by about 12.8% annually; the growth was, to a substantial degree, the result of loans from the West. After 1975, however, Poland's economic performance deteriorated because of excessive investments, internal market problems, several bad harvests, the worldwide recession, and the political upheaval of 198081. An economic growth rate of 2.5% annually during 197678 was followed by declines of 2% in 1979, 4% in 1980, 12% in 1981, and 5.5% in 1982, while the debt to Western governments reached nearly $25 billion by 1983, rising to $33 billion in 1991, when the total hard-currency debt reached $52.5 billion. During 198091, the GNP grew at an annual average rate of only 1.2%. Inflation averaged 54.3% annually in the 1980s.

With Poland subjected to the "shock therapy" of a transition to a market economy, GDP fell 31.5% from 199092 and consumer prices shot up almost sixfold. However, the economy did not stay down long and it soon became one of the most robust in Eastern and Central Europe thanks to the government's tight fiscal and monetary policies. The economy grew by just under 7% in 1995, and by 5.5% in 1996 and 1997, for an average of over 5% a year 1994 to 1997. Most of the growth since 1991 came from the booming private sector, by 1997 accounting for about 70% of GDP (up from 50% in 1992), due in large part to the creation of new private firms. Poland's pace of growth declined after 1998, as the economy was impacted by the Russian financial crisis and then the global economic slowdown in 2001. In 1998, growth fell to 4.8%; in 1999, 4.1%; in 2000, to 4%; and in 2001, to 1%. Signs of economic recovery began to be seen in 2003. In 2002 GDP grew at 1.4%, but in 2003 at 3.8% and reached an impressive 5.3% in 2004, when Poland joined the EU. Similarly, inflation shot up to 10.1% in 2000 with the recovery of oil prices, but in 2001 moderated to 5.5%. In 2002 inflation was only 1.9%, in 2003 0.8%, in 2004 3.6% and in 2005 3.2%. The growth of the economy was accompanied by privatization. About 72% of the economy had been privatized by 2002, and the government has continued to privatize state-owned industries in recent years by successfully utilizing the Warsaw Stock Exchange to this end. The goal is to achieve the ownership structure similar to that of other EU member states, where private ownership is close to 80%.

The major problems facing the economy are unemployment and persistently high fiscal deficits. Unemployment increased to 13% in 1999, to 15% in 2000, to 16% in 2001, to 17% reaching 20% in 2002, before it started to fall again, to 19% in 2004 and 17.3% in 2005. On 7 June 2003, 75% in a vote with a 57.34% turnout (above the 50% minimum turnout required) voted "yes" to the referendum of Poland's joining the EU. Poland became a member of the EU on 1 May 2004. Economists estimate that it will take decades for per capita average income in Poland, which was about $4,800 in 2002 ($9,500 in purchasing power parity terms), to reach the EU average. In 2004 per capita average grew to $12,000.


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Poland's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $489.3 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $12,700. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 3.3%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 2.1%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 2.8% of GDP, industry 31.7%, and services 65.5%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $2.314 billion or about $61 per capita and accounted for approximately 1.1% of GDP. Foreign aid receipts amounted to $1.2 trillion or about $31 per capita and accounted for approximately 0.6% of the gross national income (GNI).

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Poland totaled $136.49 billion or about $3,573 per capita based on a GDP of $209.6 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 4.7%. In 2001 it was estimated that approximately 28% of household consumption was spent on food, 19% on fuel, 6% on health care, and 1% on education. It was estimated that in 2003 about 17% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.


The labor force in 2005 totaled an estimated 17.1 million persons. As of 2003, agriculture accounted for 18.4% of the workforce, with industry at 28.6% and 53% in the services sector. In 2005, the estimated unemployment rate was 18.3%, with considerable underemployment as well.

Unions have the right to strike and bargain collectively, although union officials report that workers in the private sector are encouraged not to join unions by their employers and workers organizing unions often face discrimination. According to press reports, 17% of Poland's workforce was unionized.

The labor code prohibits employment for children under the age of 15. There are strict rules governing the work standards for those between 15 and 18 years old, however these are not regularly enforced. The minimum wage in state-owned enterprises was around $300 per month as of 1 January 2006. However, a large number of construction and seasonal agricultural workers earn less than the minimum wage. The legal standard workweek is 40 hours with 35 hours of uninterrupted rest per week. Overtime is subject to premium pay rates. The labor code defines occupational safety and health standards but they are not consistently enforced.


In 2003, agriculture engaged 18.4% of the Polish labor force (as compared with 53.5% in 1948 and 39.9% in 1967). About 62% of Poland's land is agricultural; of this area, 78% is cultivated. Overall agricultural output during 198090 fell by nearly 0.4% annually. Between 1990 and 2000, agricultural production dropped by 0.2% annually. Crop output was valued at nearly 5.76 billion in 2003. During 200204, crop output was down 8.5% compared with 19992001. In 2005, agriculture accounted for 5% of GDP, down from 14.5% in 1985.

The transition from an agricultural economy is due partly to territorial changes resulting from World War II (193945); largely agricultural areas were transferred to the USSR, whereas the areas acquired in the west were predominantly industrial. During the war, approximately one-third of the Polish farms were completely or partly laid waste, and five-sixths of the hogs and two-thirds of the cattle and sheep were destroyed, leaving farmers almost without draft animals and fertilizer. At the same time, population transfers delayed cultivation in the areas of resettlement.

Land redistribution followed both world wars but was much more extensive after World War II. A 1944 decree expropriated all holdings larger than 100 hectares (247 acres); land belonging to Germans or collaborators was also expropriated. Attempts at collectivization were generally resisted; after 1956, most collective farms were disbanded and their land redistributed. During the 1990s, about 3.7 million Poles were engaged in small plot farming (with an average farm size of 6 hectares/15 acres) on 2.1 million private farms, which produced about 75% of agricultural output. In 2003, Poland had over 2,172,000 agricultural holdings and the largest number of full-time agricultural employment in the 25-nation EU, at over 1,048,000 workers, and another 3,248,000 part-time agricultural workers that year.

In 2004, principal crops and their estimated yields (in thousands of tons) were potatoes, 13,746; sugar beets, 11,471; wheat, 9,450; rye, 4,129; barley, 3,476; triticale, 3,349 (highest in the world); and oats, 1,462. Yields have been poor because of infertile soil, insufficient use of fertilizers, and inadequate mechanization, in addition to the drought. There were 1,310,500 tractors in 1997, up from 620,724 during 197981. Although grain production has been Poland's traditional agricultural pursuit, since World War II, Poland has become an importerinstead of an exporterof grains, particularly wheat.

Poland grows an assortment of fruits and vegetables. Fruit and berry yields (in thousands of tons) for 2004 included: apples, 2,500; currants, 192; strawberries, 185; raspberries, 42; plums, 119; and pears, 77. Field vegetable production in 2004 (in thousands of tons) included: cabbage, 1,370; carrots, 928; onions, 866; cucumbers, 256; cauliflower, 206; and tomatoes, 213.


Pastures covered about 10.7% of the total land area in 2003. The government has encouraged the development of livestock production through increased fodder supply and improvement in breeding stock and partial tax relief for hog raising. Emphasis has been placed on the raising of hogs and sheep. In 2005, there were 18.1 million pigs, 5,483,000 head of cattle, and 316,000 sheep. In 2005 there were an estimated 90 million chickens, 5 million ducks, 3 million geese, and 600,000 turkeys.

Estimated livestock production in 2005 included (in thousands of tons): pork, 1,923; beef and veal, 304; poultry, 984; mutton, 1.6; and milk, 11,401. Butter production in 2005 was 190,000 tons; cheese, 595,000; and honey, 12,500.


Most of the fishing industry has been brought under state ownership. Sea fishing is conducted in the Baltic and North seas and in the Atlantic (Labrador, Newfoundland, and African waters), and there are inland fisheries in lakes, ponds, and rivers. The 2003 saltwater catch was 160,260 tons, predominantly sprat, herring, and cod; freshwater fishing yielded about 54,520 tons. Aquaculture in 2003 produced 54,000 tons. Exports of fish products amounted to $313.2 million in 2003, with processed and preserved fish and caviar accounting for $100 million.


As of 2003, 28.4% of Poland's land was forested. Pine, larch, spruce, and fir are the most important varieties of trees. Polish forests are subject to difficult growing conditions such as wide temperature fluctuations in winter, hurricane strength winds, and unusually high temperatures in summer. Most Polish forests grow on highly degraded sandy soils that hold little moisture. Moreover, much of Poland suffered from drought during the 1990s. Almost 50% of forests are young trees; only 17% of the stand can be cut. The Wielkopolski National Forest, a reservation in Rogalin, is famous for its thousand-year-old oak trees.

Despite the adversity, the forest products industry was one of the most rapidly growing sectors of the Polish economy in the 1990s. Since 1992, output of value-added products has doubled, excluding sawn timber. Wood processing occurs in the Biala Podlaska region, while large areas of forest in the Zamosc region foster development in the furniture industry. In 2004, exports of furniture were valued at $3.4 billion (mainly to Germany), making it a leading export commodity. In 2004, over 80% of furniture production was exported, compared to 17% in 1989. The timber cut in 2004 was estimated at 28 million cu m (1 billion cu ft) of roundwood. The annual allowable cut is typically around 28.7 million cu m (1.01 billion cu ft), equivalent to 33% of annual growth. Poland was once an exporter of timber, but given the booming construction of private homes, domestic production does not meet local demand. In 2004, imports of forestry products exceeded exports by $233.2 million.

The government has been attempting to offset losses from territorial redistribution and wartime destruction by afforestation. During 19902000, the forested area increased in size by an annual average of 18,000 hectares (44,500 acres) per year. Although land is being returned to forests, industrial pollution and pests are still causing deterioration. As of 2004, 31% of commercial forests were plantation or regrowth forests.


Poland ranked third globally in mined zinc, sixth in silver, seventh in coal and sulfur (a major export commodity), among the top ten in mine copper (3% of world output, and second in Europe and Central Eurasia), and was a leading producer in Central Eurasia and Europe of lead, lime, nitrogen, and salt. Poland had 9% of world sulfur reserves, about 6% of world copper ore reserves, and had significant resources of bituminous coal, salt, silver, and lead and zinc ores. The mining and quarrying sector, which included mineral fuels and processing, accounted for around 2% of Poland's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2002, which grew by 2.3% in that year from 2001. Total sales by the mining and quarrying sector contracted by 3% in 2002, with sales by the coal, lignite and peat mining industries falling by 5.8% in that same year.

Mine output of metals in 2002 included: mined zinc, 171,200 metric tons, down from 172,300 in 2001; silver (refined, primary), 1,229 metric tons; copper (ore and concentrate by metal content), 1,071,000 metric tons; and lead (by total mine content), 120,400 metric tons, down from 121,600 metric tons in 2001. All copper ore was mined by KGHM S.A., in the Lubin area; the government's share in KGHM's stock was 52%. Total copper reserves were 2,300 million tons containing 44 million tons of metal. Lead and zinc resources totaled 184 million tons; limestone and marl, 17,450 million tons; and gravel aggregates, 14,600 million tons. No gold was mined in 2003. Important industrial minerals produced in 2003 included hydraulic cement (10.948 million metric tons), glass sand (1.6 million tons), and sulfur (native [Frasch)], by-product, and from gypsum), 1.195 million tons. Also produced in 2002 were palladium, platinum, selenium, anhydrite, diatomite, feldspar, fuller's earth, fire clay, kaolin, gypsum, magnesite ore (crude), nitrogen, foundry sand, filing sand, lime sand, quartz, quartz crystal, sodium compounds, dolomite, limestone, and crushed and dimension stone. Barite mining, at Boguszow, was stopped in 1997, because of large-scale flooding.

Poland's mining and mineral-processing industry was extensive and appeared well positioned to respond to the country's rising needs for all forms of raw materials, especially those consumed by the construction sector. A major trend in Poland's nonferrous metals sector was the denationalization program that encompassed the aluminum, copper, and zinc industries. The acquisition of former German territories in 1945 enriched Poland with hard coal and, to a lesser extent, zinc and lead. Iron ore was found around Czestochowa, in south-central Poland, but in deposits of low metal content. Uranium deposits occurred in Lower Silesia.


Poland has only modest reserves of crude oil and natural gas. The country's main domestic energy sources are coal, lignite, and peat; and rivers remain a largely untapped source of power.

As of 1 January 2004, Poland had proven reserves of crude oil estimated at 96.4 million barrels and proven natural gas reserves estimated at 5.83 trillion cu ft. In 2003, oil production was estimated to average 23,500 barrels per day, while consumption in that year was tentatively placed at 424,000 barrels per day. As a result, Poland was a net importer of oil, most of which comes from Russia. Poland has the largest crude oil refining capacity in NorthCentral Europe, estimated at 350,000 barrels per day, as of 1 January 2004.

With natural gas reserves estimated at 5.83 trillion cu ft, as of 1 January 2004, Poland was North Central Europe's largest natural gas producer. In 2002, Poland produced an estimated 196 billion cu ft of natural gas, which accounted for 41% of domestic consumption, and came to an estimated 479 billion cu ft.

Coal, as previously noted, is Poland's most abundant energy source. Proven coal reserves at the beginning of 2003 amounted to 24.4 billion tons (of which about two-thirds are anthracite and bituminous), and are the largest in North Central Europe. In 2002, production of all types of coal was estimated at 177.8 million short tons, with demand at an estimated 149 million short tons in that year. Poland's hard coal reserves are concentrated in Upper Silesia, near the border with the Czech Republic. Other major coal basins are located in Lower Silesia and Lublin. Although the coal industry is one of the country's largest employers, a major restructuring of the industry has been initiated. From 1998 through 2002, employment in the industry went from 248,000 to 140,000 by the close of 2002. In addition, a further restructuring was planned for the period 2003 through 2006, and involves further reductions in employment and the closing of inefficient mines.

In 2002, Poland's electric power generating capacity was estimated at 29.307 million kW, of which 28.404 billion kW of capacity was dedicated to conventional thermal fuel plants. Hydroelectric capacity in 2002 was put at 0.868 billion kW, followed by geothermal/other at 0.035 billion kW. Electricity production in 2002 came to 133.980 billion kWh, of which 97.6% was from fossil fuels, 1.6% from hydropower, and less than 1% from other renewable sources. Consumption of electricity in 2002 was 117.533 billion kWh. In 2001, coal accounted for 93% of Poland's primary energy production. However, consumption had declined 23% between 1993 and 2002.

Poland has been gradually deregulating its power market since 1998. Each year an increasing number of companies are allowed to choose their own electricity provider. By 2006 the sector will be completely open.


Leading industries in Poland include food processing, fuel, metals and metal products, automotive parts, chemicals, coal mining, glass, shipbuilding, and textiles. Industrial production increased by 14.5% annually during 197175, but in the late 1970s, the growth rate began to fall. During the 1980s, it grew at an annual rate of 1.1%. With the destabilizing effects of the dissolution of the Soviet bloc and central planning, industrial production initially fell by 26% in 1990 before returning to positive growth between 199198. Poland produced 10 million tons of steel per year in the mid-1990s. Sulfur is another important industrial commodity; and its production totaled 1,901 tons per year. The cement industry turned out 12.3 million tons during the same period.

Light industries were long relegated to a secondary position but, since the 1970s, Poland has increased its production of durable household articles and other consumer goods. In the mid-1990s, Poland produced 401,000 automatic washing machines, 584,000 refrigerators and freezers, 841,000 television sets, 307,000 radios, and 21,000 tape recorders and dictaphones per year.

Currently Poland is among the top 10 world producers of coal, copper and sulphur, and among the top 20 producers of sulphuric acid, cement, television sets, passenger cars, buses and trucks, and power engineering. Poland is also a leading world producer of some food stuffs such as rye, sugar beets, meat, milk barley, wheat, sugar, and eggs.

Since the accession to the EU, there has been a rapid increase in exports as well as in relocation of production facilities such as car and truck assembly plants and household appliances plants from Western Europe to Polish commercial zones such as Lódz and Wroclaw. In addition, there have been many investments from non-European countries such as plans to build an LCD factory near Wroclaw by the South Korean concern LG Electronics.


Destruction of the Polish scientific community, buildings, and equipment during World War II was nearly total, requiring a tremendous rebuilding program. Attached to the various university faculties and government bodies are institutes, laboratories, and clinics devoted primarily to research, but some offering advanced instruction. In 1952, the Polish Academy of Sciences, established in Warsaw, replaced the old Polish Academy of Sciences and Letters of Cracow; it has sections of biological sciences; mathematical, physical, and chemical sciences; technical sciences; agricultural and forestry sciences; medical sciences; and earth and mining sciences. As of 1996, 54 scientific and technological research institutes were affiliated with the Academy of Sciences, and there were 101 scientific and technological research institutes attached to government ministries. In Warsaw are located a botanical garden and museums devoted to zoology, technology, and the earth. The Polish Maritime Museum is located in Gdańsk. The Nicholas Kopernik Museum in Frambork includes exhibits on the history of medicine and astronomy.

Research and development (R&D) expenditures in 2002 amounted to $2.4 trillion or 0.59% of GDP. Of that amount, 61.1% came from government sources, followed by the business sector at 31%. Higher education, private nonprofit groups and foreign sources accounted for 2.9%, 0.3% and 4.8%, respectively. Personnel engaged in R&D in that same year included 1,469 scientists and engineers and 296 technicians per million people. High technology exports in 2002 totaled $915 million, or 3% of the country's manufactured exports.

In 1996, Poland had 50 universities offering courses in basic and applied sciences. In 19871997, science and engineering students accounted for 28% of university enrollment. In 2002, of all bachelor's degrees awarded, 16.3% were in the sciences (natural, mathematics and computers, engineering).


In 1990, Poland replaced its 40-year old centrally planned economy with a free market system. Most small enterprises were privatized, bringing an end to chronic shortages of consumer goods. At the end of 1996, the share of private enterprises in retail trade exceeded 90%. The resulting increase in domestic demand was a primary factor in strengthening the business cycle. In the past few years, the trend in retail establishments, particularly in major cities, has moved from small, independent shops to international supermarket chains, hypermarkets, and large specialty stores. However, small business-owners have been forming associations aimed at promoting and preserving local, independent retailing.

Offices are open from 8 or 9 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday. Food stores are open from 6 or 7 am to 7 pm; other stores, from 11 am to 7 or 8 pm; and banks, from 9 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday, and 9 am to 1 pm on Saturday. The most important trade exhibition is the annual Poznan International Fair, which takes place in June.

According to World Bank report published in 2004, Poland is among the top 10 countries improving their operating climate for enterprises. There were over 90 franchises in operation, with national firms as well as foreign firms represented. The number of foreign enterprises has been growing constantly. According to GUS (the Central Statistical Office), in 2002, about 1012% of the retail market was operated by foreign firms, particularly through chain stores providing a range of goods from food and apparel to furniture and hardware supplies; in the first half of 2004, the number of foreign enterprises exceeded 50,000 an increase of 1,034 companies. The attractiveness of Poland is connected with its advantageous geographical location, EU membership, low labor costs and a high number of people with higher education. The largest inflow of foreign direct investment has been recorded by the manufacturing sector, especially by the automotive and electronic equipment and pharmaceutical branches.


Until recently, foreign trade was a state monopoly under the control of the Ministry of Foreign Trade. After World War II, the orientation of Polish trade shifted from Western and Central European countries to Eastern Europe. This changed with the dissolution of the Soviet-bloc CMEA in 1991. In December of that year, Poland signed an association agreement with the EC (now the EU) and by 2000, 70% of its exports and 61% of its imports were going to EC members. Poland also fosters trade through its membership in the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA), which includes Hungary, the Czech Republic, and the Slovak Republic. Since gaining full membership in the EU in 2004, Polish exports to the West have continued to increase faster than imports. Trade with the countries to the east has recently recovered to the levels from before the 1998 Russian financial crisis, although it is often stifled by minor frictions with Russia and Belarus, for example the controversial restrictions on Polish meat exports to Russia in the fall of 2005.

Poland's export commodities are a mixture of manufactured goods including furniture (7.0%), garments (6.1%), motor vehicles (4.6%), iron and steel (3.9%), and ships (3.3%). Export commodities

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 53,539.3 67,975.7 -14,436.4
Germany 17,241.5 16,543.8 697.7
France-Monaco 3,251.5 4,769.7 -1,518.2
Italy-San Marino-Holy See 3,057.7 5,752.0 -2,694.3
United Kingdom 2,676.1 2,495.8 180.3
Netherlands 2,381.8 2,267.1 114.7
Czech Republic 2,136.3 2,300.7 -164.4
Sweden 1,913.4 1,751.0 162.4
Belgium 1,711.0 1,751.7 -40.7
Ukraine 1,523.5 734.2 789.3
Russia 1,480.2 5,202.0 -3,721.8
() data not available or not significant.
Current Account -4,603.0
   Balance on goods -5,725.0
      Imports -66,732.0
      Exports 61,007.0
   Balance on services 527.0
   Balance on income -3,639.0
   Current transfers 4,234.0
Capital Account -46.0
Financial Account 8,734.0
   Direct investment abroad -196.0
   Direct investment in Poland 4,123.0
   Portfolio investment assets -1,296.0
   Portfolio investment liabilities 3,740.0
   Financial derivatives -870.0
   Other investment assets -1,838.0
   Other investment liabilities 5,071.0
Net Errors and Omissions -2,879.0
Reserves and Related Items -1,206.0
() data not available or not significant.

formed from natural resources include wood (2.5%); coal, lignite, and peat (2.3%); and copper (2.3%).


Measured in terms of commodity trade figures, negative balances have been the rule in Poland in the postWorld War II period. In 1991, the collapse of exports to the Soviet Union dealt a sharp blow to overall export performance. The requirement to exchange by means of hard currency for Soviet raw materials and energy prevented a repeat of the 1990 trade surplus. Poland attracted approximately $50 billion of foreign direct investment between 1990 and 2000. Net official reserves have increased in recent years, due to large capital surpluses due to foreign direct investment and portfolio inflows.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reported that in 2002 the purchasing power parity of Poland's exports was $32.4 billion while imports totaled $43.4 billion resulting in a trade deficit of $11 billion.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in 2001 Poland had exports of goods totaling $41.7 billion and imports totaling $49.3 billion. In 2005 imports totaled 50.9 billion and exports totaled 45.0 billion.


The Banking Law of 1 July 1982 substantially reformed the Polish banking system by giving banks an effective role in setting monetary and credit policy, thereby allowing them to influence economic planning. The Council of Banks, consisting of top bank officers and representatives of the Planning Commission and the Ministry of Finance, is the principal coordinating body.

The National Bank of Poland (Narodowy Bank Polski-NBP), created in 1945 to replace the former Bank of Poland, is a state institution and the bank of issue. It also controls foreign transactions and prepares financial plans for the economy. On 1 January 1970, the National Bank merged with the Investment Bank and has since controlled funds for finance and investment transactions of state enterprises and organizations. The function of the Food Economy Bank and its associated cooperative banks is to supply short and long-term credits to rural areas. The national commercial bank, Bank Handlowy w Warszawie (BH), finances foreign trade operations. The General Savings Bank (Bank Polska Kasa Opieki-PKO), a central institution for personal savings, also handles financial transfers into Poland of persons living abroad.

In March 1985, two types of hard-currency accounts were introduced: "A" accounts, bearing interest, for currency earned in an approved way; and "B" accounts, for other currency, bearing no interest. "B" accounts can be converted into "A" accounts after one year. Major enterprises in Poland conduct their business by interaccount settlements through the National Bank rather than by check, and wages are paid in cash. Banking laws in 1989 opened the country's banking system to foreign banks.

A fundamental reorganization of the banking sector took place between 1990 and 1992. The NBP lost all its central planning functions, including holding the accounts of state enterprises, making transfers among them, crediting their operations, and exercising financial control of their activities. The NBP thus became only a central bank, and state enterprises competed with other businesses for the scarce credits available from commercial banks. Nine independent (so-called commercial), although state-owned, regional banks were created.

In 1993, the first of these, the Poznan-based Wielkopolski Bank Kredytowy (WBK), was privatized. A second highly controversial privatization took place in early 1994 with the sale of the Silesian Bank (Bank Slaski). Also, the Krakow-based Bank Przemyslowo-Handlowy (BPH) was disposed of at the start of 1995 and Bank Gdanski was sold in late 1995. With four major banks privatized, five remained to be sold off in a process that was supposed to have been completed by 1996. With no real hope of meeting this deadline, the Polish government returned in 1996 to proposals for "bank consolidation" prior to privatization. A major round of privatization was due to begin in 1998-99 beginning with the sale of Pekao, the country's largest commercial bank. This sale finally put over half of the industry's holdings in private hands. At the same time, foreign investment in Polish banks continued to increase. Citibank, ING, Commerzbank, Allied Irish Bank, and J.P. Morgan were leading foreign investors in 1998. In 2001, Bank Handlowy w Warszawie SA merged with Citibank (Poland) SA, but retained its historic name.

The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $23.0 billion. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $82.8 billion. The money market rate, the rate at which financial institutions lend to one another in the short term, was 16.2%. The discount rate, the interest rate at which the central bank lends to financial institutions in the short term, was 14%.

In early 1991 important legislation was introduced to regulate securities transactions and establish a stock exchange in Warsaw. At the same time, a securities commission was formed for consumer protection. A year later, the shares of 11 Polish companies were being traded weekly on the new exchange. Restructuring the

Revenue and Grants 223,659 100.0%
    Tax revenue 127,203 56.9%
    Social contributions 69,504 31.1%
    Grants 426 0.2%
    Other revenue 26,526 11.9%
Expenditures 263,580 100.0%
    General public services 81,294 30.8%
    Defense 9,052 3.4%
    Public order and safety 8,592 3.3%
    Economic affairs 11,988 4.5%
    Environmental protection
    Housing and community amenities 5,325 2.0%
    Health 2,151 0.8%
    Recreational, culture, and religion 1,861 0.7%
    Education 12,731 4.8%
    Social protection 135,615 51.5%
() data not available or not significant.

financial market not only was necessary for increasing the overall efficiency of the economy and accelerating privatization, but also was a precondition for the rapid influx of Western capital critical to economic development.

When the Warsaw Stock Exchange opened in April 1991, it had only five listed companies, but by September 1996 that figure had increased to 63. Into 1998, the market still suffered growing pains similar to those afflicting other emerging markets. In particular, the high liquidity of Polish stocks made Poland particularly vulnerable to panic selling. Market capitalization in 2001 was $26 billion, down 17% from the $31.3 billion level of 2000. The WIG All Share Performance Index was at 13,922.2 in 2001, down 22% from 17.847.6 in 2000. As of 2004, a total of 225 companies were listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange, which had a market capitalization of $71.102 billion. In 2004 the WIG All Share Performance Index rose 27.9% from the previous year to 26,636.2.


In 1948, all insurance other than social insurance was included in a centralized State Insurance Bureau, with the former reinsurance organization, Warta, continuing its activity. In 1994, Warta was privatized and was one of three major insurers who, together, controlled over 90% of Poland's insurance market. In 1999, 54 licensed insurance companies competed in the Polish market.

Insurance is dominated by a state concern, PZU, but a number of Western companies, including the United Kingdom's Commercial Union (CU), have been tempted into joint ventures in the life insurance end of this underdeveloped market. CU began its Polish operations in cooperation with the Wielkopolski Bank Kredytowy (WBK) bank. It sold around 130,000 policies in its first four years. PZU was privatized in 1999. In Poland, third-party auto liability, farmer's liability, fire insurance, workers' compensation, and nuclear liability are all compulsory. For 2003, the value of direct premiums written totaled $6.258 billion, of which nonlife premiums accounted for $3.946 billion. In 2003, Poland's top nonlife insurer was PZU, while PZU Zycie was the nation's leading life insurer, with gross written nonlife and life insurance premiums of $1.86 billion and $1.32 billion, respectively.


The annual budget is presented to the Sejm in December and becomes effective for the fiscal year beginning on 1 January. A new set of economic reforms, announced in early 2002, aim to improve the country's investment climate and public finances. Privatization in the former Eastern bloc nation has been fairly successful, with approximately two-thirds of GDP now coming from the private sector. By the early 1990s, Poland was the first formerly planned economy in Eastern Europe to come out of recession and experience economic growth.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Poland's central government took in revenues of approximately $52.7 billion and had expenditures of $63.2 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$10.4 billion. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 47.3% of GDP. Total external debt was $123.4 billion.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2001, the most recent year for which it had data, central government revenues were z223.6 million and expenditures were z263.58 million. The value of revenues was us$54.6 billion and expenditures us$65.6 billion, based on a market exchange rate for 2001 of us$1 = z4.0939 as reported by the IMF. Government outlays by function were as follows: general public services, 30.8%; defense, 3.4%; public order and safety, 3.3%; economic affairs, 4.5%; housing and community amenities, 2.0%; health, 0.8%; recreation, culture, and religion, 0.7%; education, 4.8%; and social protection, 51.5%.


Personal income tax in Poland in 2005 is progressively structured with a top rate of 40%, although under certain circumstances, an individual may opt to be taxed at a flat 19% rate on business income. Individuals realizing capital gains from the sale of land, a building, or dwelling not used for business purposes is subject to a 10% rate.

Poland has a general corporate profits tax rate of 19%. Capital gains and branch operations are each taxed at the corporate rate. Dividends and interest paid to residents and nonresidents are taxed at a flat 19% rate. Income from interest, fees and royalties are subject to a 20% withholding rate, unless other rates have been agreed to in bilateral tax treaties (BITs). Poland has BITs with at least 66 countries. In the BIT with the United States, withholding rates are 0% on interest income, 10% on income from royalties, and 5% on dividend income if the receiving company owns at least 10% of voting shares.

The main indirect tax is a system of value-added taxes (VATs). There are four VAT rates: 22% on most goods and some services; 7% on processed foodstuffs and construction materials; 3% on unprocessed foodstuffs; 0% on exported goods and services, and "VAT-exempt" applied to several groups of services, including financial services, insurance and health care. Excise taxes are charged on alcohol, cars, petrol, and tobacco products. There is also a civil transactions tax.


Poland uses the Harmonized System of Classification. Products are divided into three categories to determine which rate they receive: developing nations, WTO members, and countries with which Poland has a special trade relationship such as a bilateral preferential trade agreement. Under the terms of a 1992 agreement, Poland uses the EU Nomenclature System of Tariff classification and has granted duty-free status to over 1,000 line items from EU countries. Tariffs range from 0% to nearly 400%. In addition, all goods are subject to a 5% import tax, an excise tax on luxury items, and a VAT of 0%, 3%, 7%, or 22%, depending on the commodity. As a result of its efforts to join in the next round of EU expansion, Poland is bringing its trade regulations in line with EU standards.


Prior to World War II, considerable foreign capital was invested in the Polish economy, particularly in petroleum and mining, which were mostly foreign owned. A nationalization decree in 1946 confiscated foreign properties and nationalized Poland's industries, eliminating foreign investments completely. The decree provided for no compensation procedures and foreign governments involved negotiated directly with Poland. The first joint venture with Western counterparts (one Austrian and one US company) was formed in early 1987 to build a new airport terminal in Warsaw. In mid-1991, there were 4,100 foreign registrations, worth $506 million, and in 1993 another $2 billion in foreign investment entered Poland. Among the industrial companies sold to Western interests were Polam-Pila (lightbulbs) to Phillips, Polkolor (TV sets) to Thomson, Pollena-Bydgoszcz (detergents) to Unilever, and Wedel (confectioneries) to Pepsico Foods.

In 199697, Poland continued to invite foreign investors to help the government turn some of its banks and oil, arms, and telecommunications companies over to the private sector. In October 1996 President Aleksander Kwasniewski stated that the government's campaign to shed costly state-owned enterprises had been successful, with the private sector now accounting for about 70% of the goods and services produced in the economy. Total foreign direct investment (FDI) reached nearly $27.3 billion in 1998. FDI inflow in 1998 was $6.3 billion, up from nearly $5 billion in 1997, and increased to $7.2 billion in 1999, undeterred by the effects of the Russian financial crisis. Annual FDI inflow peaked at over $9.3 billion in 2000, having grown at an average rate of 44% a year since 1991 to 2000. Total FDI stock was over $42 billion in 2000. In 2001 and 2002, the economic slowdown, and, particularly, the worldwide decline in foreign investments, helped reduce annual FDI inflows into Poland to $8.3 billion in 2001 and to $6.06 billion in 2002. Cumulative FDI as of 2002 was $61.45 billion.


After World War II, the economy of Poland was centrally planned and almost completely under state control, especially in nonagricultural sectors. The nationalized industries and businesses operated within the national economic plan and were governed by the directives issued by the pertinent ministries. After 1963, however, centralized planning and management were somewhat relaxed, and state-owned enterprises gained more freedom in the design and implementation of their programs. Private undertakings were confined to personal crafts and trades and agriculture.

Under the three-year plan for 194749, principal emphasis was placed on the reconstruction of war-devastated areas and industries, in order to raise production and living conditions at least to their prewar levels. Economic planning followed Soviet lines, setting production goals that determined tasks for each sector on a long-term basis. Under the six-year plan for 195055, the emphasis continued to be on heavy industry, and the housing, transport, agriculture, and consumer sectors lagged. The five-year plan for 195660, originally cast along the same lines, was modified after the 1956 disturbances. It called for a lessened rate of industrial expansion and for increases in agricultural output, housing, consumer goods, and social services. Under a long-range plan for 196175, which governed the three five-year plans falling within that period, emphasis was placed on a direct improvement in living standards. The first and second of these plans (196165 and 196670) were oriented toward investments intended (1) to develop the raw-material base of the country, especially the newly discovered resources of sulfur, copper, and lignite; (2) to secure employment opportunities for the rapidly growing population of working age; and (3) to improve Poland's international trade balance. The five-year plan for 196165 reached its industrial targets but fell short in the areas of agriculture and consumer goods. The period 196670 witnessed two poor agricultural years in addition to export lags, and there were shortages of basic food commodities in 196970.

In late 1970, violent protests erupted over the government's stepped-up efforts to increase production. After the change in political leadership from Gomulka to Gierek, government emphasis shifted from heavy industry to light, consumer-oriented production. In addition, through a concentration of investment in mechanization, fertilizers, and other farm improvements, the government sought and achieved a 50% increase in food production. Overall, the 197175 five-year plan achieved its main targets by a wide margin, with industrial production up about 73%. The 197680 plan, which aimed at a 50% increase in industrial production and a 16% increase in agricultural output, ran into difficulty almost from the beginning, and by 1979 the economy had entered a period of decline and dislocation that continued into 1982. An economic reform stressing decentralization of the economy was introduced in January 1982, but it failed to produce any significant improvements. With price rises and consumer goods shortages continuing to fuel popular discontent, the government in March 1983 announced a three-year austerity plan for 198385. Its aims included a general consolidation of the economy, self-sufficiency in food production, and increased emphasis on housing and the production of industrial consumer goods. By 1986, the economy had rebounded. The 198690 plan expected the national income to grow 33.5% annually, industrial output to increase by 3.2% each year, and exports to grow by 5% (in fixed prices) annually. These goals were not reached. A "second stage," proclaimed in 1986, called for more autonomy for individual enterprises and for more efficient management, with top jobs filled without regard to political affiliations.

The Economic Transformation Program adopted in January 1990 aimed to convert Poland from a planned to a market economy. Measures were aimed at drastically reducing the large budget deficit, abolishing all trade monopolies, and selling many state-owned enterprises to private interests.

The slow pace of privatization picked up somewhat in 1995, as 512 smaller state enterprises were transferred to private National Investment Funds under the Mass Privatization Program, but large-scale industry remained largely under state control. However, the government subsequently made an attempt to privatize such large-scale sectors of the economy as banks and oil, arms, and telecommunications. Poland in the early 2000s was in the process of bringing its economic policies in line with EU standards. These policies promise even further liberalization and foreign investment into the Polish economy. Poland officially joined the EU in May 2004. In 2002, the government announced a new set of economic reforms, including improving the investment climate (particularly for small- and medium-sized enterprises), and improving the country's public finances to prepare the way for the adoption of the euro. Recently, the government has focused utilizing the EU funds to improve Poland's infrastructure.


A social insurance institute administers social security programs through a network of branch offices, under the provision of new legislation passed in 1998 and implemented in 1999. Social security, including social insurance and medical care, covers virtually the entire population. Old age, disability, and survivors' pensions are provided, as well as family allowances, sickness benefits, maternity benefits, workers' compensation, and unemployment. The system is funded by contributions from employers and employees and government subsidies. In 2004 a revised universal system of family allowances funded by the government covers all residents.

The constitution establishes that all citizens are equal, regardless of gender, but discrimination persists. Women participate actively in the labor force, but are concentrated in low-paying professions and earn less than men on average. Also, women are more likely to be fired and less likely to be promoted than men. Violence against women and domestic abuse remain a widespread problem. The law does not provide restraining orders, and even convicted abusers generally go unpunished. As of 2004, there were not enough shelters for battered women. Sexual harassment in the workplace is slowly being addressed.

The Romani minority living in Poland faces discrimination by local authorities. Anti-Semitic harassment, vandalism, and violence persist. The judicial system is hampered by inefficiency and budget constraints, and there are marginal restrictions on freedoms of speech and press.


As of 2004, there were an estimated 220 physicians, 490 nurses, and 30 dentists per 100,000 people. The same year, the total health care expenditure was estimated at 6.2% of GDP.

Poland's birth rate was an estimated 10.3 per 1,000 people as of 2002. Approximately 75% of married women (ages 15 to 49) used contraception. Poland immunized children up to one year old against tuberculosis, 94%; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 98%; polio, 96%; and measles, 97%.

Life expectancy in 2005 averaged 74.74 years and infant mortality was 7.36 per 1,000 live births. The general mortality rate was 10 per 1,000 people.

There were many cases of tuberculosis as part of the spread of the disease throughout much of Eastern Europe. The heart disease mortality rate for Polish men and women was below average for high development countries. The likelihood of dying after 65 of heart disease was 240 in 1,000 for men and 201 in 1,000 for women. The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.10 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 14,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 100 deaths from AIDS in 2003.


Almost 40% of all urban dwelling space was destroyed during World War II. Although investment in public housing has increased, and credits have been assigned for cooperative and private construction, the housing shortage remained critical five decades later. The average wait for an apartment ranged from 1015 years. In 1984 there were 10,253,000 dwelling units; an additional 193,000 dwelling units were constructed in 1985. In 2002, there were about 12.5 million dwelling units registered in the census serving about 13.3 million households; about 93.9% of these were occupied dwellings. About 67.6% of all dwellings were in urban areas. About 55.2% of all dwellings were owned by private individuals. The average number of persons per dwelling was 3.25. At least 76.2% of all dwellings were built after 1944. The housing deficit in 2002 was estimated at about 1,567,000; an estimated 6.5 million people were living in substandard housing.


Primary, secondary, and most university and other education is free. State and local expenditure on education is, therefore, substantial. Lower schools are financed by local budgets, higher and vocational schools from the state budget. As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 5.6% of GDP, or 12.8% of total government expenditures.

Since 1999, the school system, which is centralized, consists of an six-year primary school followed by a three-year lower secondary general education school. Students then have an option to enroll in a four-year technical school, a three-year upper secondary school, or a two- to three year vocational school. Vocational schools are attended by students studying technology, agriculture, forestry, economy, education, health services, and the arts. The academic year runs from October to June.

In 2001, about 49% of children between the ages of three and six were enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 98% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 91% of age-eligible students. It is estimated that about 98.5% of all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 13:1 in 2003; the ratio for secondary school was about 14:1.

Higher learning is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Higher Education and other ministries. A matriculation examination, which is common for all students, is required for admission to institutions of higher learning. As of 2004, there were 128 state institutions of higher learning and 304 nonstate institutions. Jagiellonian University, among the oldest in Europe, was established at Cracow in 1364. Other prominent universities are the Warsaw University; the Central School of Planning and Statistics (Warsaw); the Higher Theater School (Warsaw); the Academy of Fine Arts (Cracow); and the Adam Mickiewicz University (Poznań). During the communist era the Roman Catholic University at Lublin was the only free private university in the Socialist bloc. Evening and extramural courses are available for anyone who is interested and is not a part of the school system. Foreign students are also welcome to study in Poland, either as regular students or at their summer schools. In 2003, about 60% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in some type of higher education program; 50% for men and 71% for women. The adult literacy rate for 2003 was estimated at about 99.8%.

As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 5.6% of GDP, or 12.8% of total government expenditures.


The National Library, established in Warsaw in 1928, is the second-largest in Poland, with about 2.8 million items, including periodicals, manuscripts, maps, illustrations, and music. Other important libraries are the Public University and the government departmental libraries in Warsaw; Poland's largest library, the Jagiellonian University Library in Cracow, which has 3.5 million volumes; and the Ossolineum Library in Wroclaw. There are over 9,000 public libraries in the country. Lax security at Poland's libraries poses a challenge to the preservation of rare documents: in 1998, a scientific library in Cracow reported the theft of a rare book by Nicholas Copernicus, and in 1999, the Jagiellonian University Library reported the theft of an indeterminate number of rare manuscripts.

Of the more than 500 museums in Poland, the foremost is the National Museum in Warsaw, which has an extensive and important art collection as well as a collection of Polish art from the 12th century to present day. Other important museums are the National Museum in Cracow, notable for its collection of Far Eastern Art, and the National Museum in Poznań, which has a celebrated collection of musical instruments. Cracow also has an important collection of European decorative arts at the Wawel Royal Castle, housed in a 16th century manor house, and the Czartoryski Museum, a world-class collection of antiquities and contemporary artifacts including 35,000 prints, drawings, and paintings. Warsaw has dozens of museums, including the Center for Contemporary Art, founded in 1986, in Ujazdowski Castle; the Museum of Independence, founded in 1990, chronicling Poland's pivotal role in the collapse of the Soviet Empire; the Museum of Polish Emigration to America; the Frederick Chopin Museum, chronicling the life of one of the country's best-known composers; the Marie Curie Museum, housed at her birthplace; and the Museum of the Jewish Historical Institute.


In 2003, there were an estimated 319 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people; about 500,000 people were on a waiting list for telephone service installation. The same year, there were approximately 451 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

In 2004, the government-owned Polish Television (TVP) was the most widely viewed network with four channels accounting for about 54% of the broadcasting market share. The main privately held competitors were the TVN and Polsat networks. Cable television and various satellite services are available. As of 1998, there were 14 AM and 777 FM radio stations. In 2003, there were an estimated 523 radios and 229 television sets for every 1,000 people. About 94 of every 1,000 people were cable subscribers. Also in 2003, there were 142 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 232 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There were 565 secure Internet servers in the country in 2004.

The largest Polish daily newspapers, with circulation as noted, are: Trybuna Slaska, 800,000 in 2002; Gazeta Wyborcza, 558,000 in 2004; 460,000 (weekend edition in 2005); Express Wieczorny, 400,000 in 2002; Zycie Warszawy, Express Illustrowany, 370,000; Gazeta Poznanska, 320,000 (weekend edition); Gazeta Robotnicza, 315,000; Fakt, 300,000 in 2003; Czas Krakowski, 260,000 in 2002 (weekend edition); Nasz Dziennik, 250,000 in 2005; Sztandar Mlodych, 250,000 in 2002; and Rzeczpospolita, 244,000 in 2004.

Though the constitution provides for free speech and a free press, there are some restrictions on these rights. The Penal Code prohibits speech which publicly insults or ridicules the Polish state or its principal organs; it also prohibits advocating discord or offending religious groups. Though the media are not censored, they may be subject to prosecution under these and other penal codes.


The Polish Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Foreign Trade promote foreign trade by furnishing information, establishing or extending commercial relations, and arranging for Polish participation in trade fairs, and exhibitions abroad. The most important worker's organization in Poland is Solidarity, founded in 1980 by Lech Welesa. There are a number of professional associations and trade unions representing a wide variety of occupations.

The P.E.N. ClubPoland is based in Warsaw. The Frederick Chopin Society is a multinational organization promoting the life and works of this Polish composer and pianist. Several professional associations, such as the Polish Medical Association, also serve to promote research and education in specific fields.

There are also many cultural, sports and social organizations in Poland. National youth organizations include the European Federalist Youth, Junior Chamber, Polish Students' Union, Polish Environmental Youth Movement, Union of Young Christian Democrats, The Polish Scouting and Guiding Association, and YMCA/YWCA. There are numerous sports associations promoting amateur competitions in a wide variety of sports for athletes of all ages. There are organizations affiliated with the Special Olympics and the Paralympic Committee, as well as the Olympic Committee.

National women's organizations include the Democratic Women's Union and the Polish Association of University Women. Other social action groups include the Helsinki Human Rights Foundation and Fundacja Stefana Batorego, a group which promotes a democratic and open society. There are national chapters of the Red Cross Society, Habitat for Humanity, UNICEF, and Amnesty International.


The main tourist attractions include the historic city of Cracow, which suffered little war damage; the resort towns of Zakopane, in the Tatras, and Sopot, on the Baltic; and the restored Old Town in Warsaw, as well as the capital's museums and Palace of Science and Culture. Camping, hiking, and football (soccer) are among the most popular recreational activities.

Foreign visitors to Poland must have a valid passport. All visitors are required to carry a visa except citizens of over 30 nations including the United States and members of the European Union.

There were approximately 52 million visitors who arrived in Poland in 2003, about 99% of whom came from Europe. Hotel rooms numbered 68,588 with 134,323 beds and an occupancy rate of about 36%. The average length of stay was three nights. That year tourism receipts totaled $4.7 billion.

In 2005, the US Department of State estimated the cost of staying in Warsaw at $286 per day. Elsewhere in Poland, daily travel expenses were estimated to be between $139 and $221.


Figures prominent in Polish history include Mieszko I (fl.10th century), who led Poland to Christianity; his son and successor, Boleslaw I ("the Brave," d.1025), the first king of sovereign Poland; Casimir III ("the Great," 130970), who sponsored domestic reforms; and John III Sobieski (162496), who led the PolishGerman army that lifted the siege of Vienna in 1683 and repelled the Turkish invaders. Tadeusz Andrzej Bonawentura Kościuszko (17461817), trained as a military engineer, served with colonial forces during the American Revolution and then led a Polish rebellion against Russia in 1794; he was wounded, captured, and finally exiled. Kazimierz Pulaski (174779) fought and died in the American Revolution, and Haym Salomon (174085) helped to finance it. The reconstituted Polish state after World War I was led by Józef Pilsudski (18671935), who ruled as a dictator from 1926 until his death. Polish public life since World War II has been dominated by Wladyslaw Gomulka (190582), Edward Gierek (19132001), and Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski (b.1923), Communist leaders, respectively, during 195670, during 197080, and after 1981. Important roles have also been played by Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski (190181), Roman Catholic primate of Poland, archbishop of Gniezno and Warsaw, and frequent adversary of the postwar Communist regime; Karol Wojtyla (19202005), archbishop of Cracow from 1963 until his elevation to the papacy as John Paul II in 1978; and Lech Walesa (b.1943), leader of the Solidarity movement during 198081, Nobel Peace Prize laureate in 1983, and President of Poland from 1990 to 1995.

The father of Polish literature is Nicholas Rey (150569), one of the earliest Polish writers to turn from Latin to the vernacular. Poland's golden age is marked by the beginning of literature in Polish; its greatest poet was Jan Kochanowski (153084). Notable among 19th-century poets and dramatists was Adam Mickiewicz (17981855), whose The Books of the Polish Nation and of the Polish Pilgrimage, Pan Tadeusz, and other works exerted a paramount influence on all future generations. Other leading literary figures were the poets and dramatists Juliusz Slowacki (180949) and Zygmunt Krasiński (181259), whose Dawn breathed an inspired patriotism. Józef Kraszewski (181287), prolific and patriotic prose writer, is considered the father of the Polish novel. The leading late-19th-century novelists were the realists Aleksander Glowacki (18471912), who wrote under the pseudonym of Boleslaw Prus, and Henryk Sienkiewicz (18461916), Poland's first Nobel Prize winner (1905), whose The Trilogy described the 17th-century wars of Poland; he is internationally famous for Quo Vadis. Another Nobel Prize winner (1924) was the novelist Wladyslaw Reymont (18671925), acclaimed for The Peasants. A Pole who achieved stature as an English novelist was Joseph Conrad (Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski, 18571924). Other important literary figures around the turn of the century were the playwright and painter Stanislaw Wyspiański (18691907), the novelist Stefan Zeromski (18641926), and the novelist Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz (18851939). The best-known modern authors are novelist and short-story writer Isaac Bashevis Singer (190491), a Nobel Prize winner in 1978 and a US resident after 1935; the satirist Witold Gombrowicz (190469); science-fiction writer Stanislaw Lem (b.1921); the dissident novelist Jerzy Andrzejewski (190983); the poet Czeslaw Milosz (19112004), a Nobel Prize winner in 1980 and resident of the United States after 1960; and novelist Jerzy Kosinski (193391), who lived in the United States after 1957 and wrote in English.

The greatest Polish composer was Frédéric Chopin (181049), born in Warsaw, who lived in Paris after 1831. A popular composer was Stanislaw Moniuszko (181972), founder of the Polish national opera and composer of many songs; he influenced such later composers as Wladyslaw Zeleński (18371921), Zygmunt Noskowski (18461909), and Stanislaw Niewiadomski (18591936). Other prominent musicians include the pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski (18601941), also his country's first prime minister following World War I; the great harpsichordist Wanda Landowska (18771959); the renowned pianist Arthur Rubinstein (18871982); the violinist Wanda Wilkomirska (b.1929); the conductor Stanislaw Skrowaczewski (b.1923); and the composers Mieczyslaw Karlowicz (18761909) and Karol Szymanowski (18831937). Witold Lutoslawski (191394) and Krzysztof Penderecki (b.1933) are internationally known contemporary composers.

The first Polish painters of European importance were Piotr Michalowski (180055) and Henryk Rodakowski (182394). In the second half of the 19th century, Polish realism reached its height in the historical paintings of Jan Matejko (183893), Artur Grottger (183767), Juliusz Kossak (182499), and Józef Brandt (18411915), as well as in genre painting and the landscapes of Wojciech Gerson (18311901), Józef Szermentowski (183376), Aleksander Kotsis (183677), Maksymilian Gierymski (184674), Aleksander Gierymski (18491901), and Józef Chelmoński (18491914). Feliks Topolski (190789), who lived in London after 1935, is well known for his oil paintings, watercolors, and drawings. Andrzej Wajda (b.1926), Roman Polański (b.1933), an expatriate since the mid-1960s, Krzysztof Zanussi (b.1939), and Krzysztof Kieślowski (19411996) are famous film directors, and Jerzy Grotowski (19331999) was a well-known stage director.

The outstanding scientist and scholar Nicolaus Copernicus (Mikolaj Kopernik, 14731543) is world renowned. Among Poland's brilliant scientists are Maria Sklodowska-Curie (18671934), a codiscoverer of radium and the recipient of two Nobel Prizes, and Casimir Funk (18841967), the discoverer of vitamins. Oskar Lange (190466) achieved renown as an economist.


Poland has no territories or colonies.


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McElrath, Karen (ed.). HIV and AIDS: A Global View. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002.

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Reuvid, Jonathan, and Marat Terterov, (eds.). Doing Business with Poland. Sterling, Va.: Kogan Page, 2003.

Rose-Ackerman, Susan. From Elections to Democracy: Building Accountable Government in Hungary and Poland. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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Basic Data
Official Country Name: Republic of Poland
Region: Europe
Population: 38,646,023
Language(s): Polish
Literacy Rate: 99%
Number of Primary Schools: 18,911
Compulsory Schooling: 8 years
Public Expenditure on Education: 7.5%
Foreign Students in National Universities: 5,202
Libraries: 3,565
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 5,021,378
  Secondary: 2,539,138
  Higher: 720,267
Educational Enrollment Rate: Primary: 96%
  Secondary: 98%
  Higher: 25%
Teachers: Primary: 325,601
  Secondary: 121,301
  Higher: 75,432
Student-Teacher Ratio: Primary: 15:1
  Secondary: 22:1
Female Enrollment Rate: Primary: 95%
  Secondary: 97%
  Higher: 29%

History & Background

Educational activity began in Poland in the eleventh and twelfth centuries with the appearance of cathedral schools at bishops' sees and collegiate schools at the richest churches in Poznan, Plock, Wroclaw, Wloclawek, Cracóów, Sandomierz, Wislica, Leczyca, Glogóów, Legnica, and Brzeg. At the beginning of thirteenth century, parish schools appeared in newly founded villages and towns as a result of the so-called German Law and resolutions of the fourth Lateran Council.

The Jagiellonian University in Cracóów, founded in 1364 by King Kazimierz the Great, became one of Europe's great early universities and a center of intellectual tolerance. In need of trained lawyers, Kazimierz the Great founded the university with a law faculty or department, but without a theological faculty. The university was reorganized by King Wladyslaw Jagiello in 1400 and modeled largely on those of Bologna and Padova with four faculties. The university attracted students from many countries.

In 1519 Jan Lubranski, the bishop, founded an "academic gimnazjum" in Poznan called the Lubranski Academy (Akademia Lubranskiego ) where activity focused on the humanities. Dissident schools founded in sixteenth century became centers of avant-garde thought. The Jesuit Collegia in Wilno and Lwóów established two universities; in 1579 King Stephen Batory founded Wilno Academy (Akademia Wilenska ) and in 1661 King Jan II Kazimierz founded the Lwóów Academy (Akademia Lwowska ). In 1595 Jan Zamoyski founded a high school called the Zamoyski Academy (Akademia Zamojska ).

In 1741 the Piarist Father and Catholic Priest Stanislaw Konarski founded the Collegium Nobilium, a school in Warsaw for the young men of ruling families, hoping that his pupils would be inspired to effect badly needed constitutional reforms. His emphasis on patriotic education, the purity of the Polish language, and the natural sciences finally resulted in the Jesuits in Poland reforming their own schools accordingly. Konarski's patriotic attitude also influenced the education system in Poland.

In 1765 King Stanislaw August established the Knights' School (Szkola Rycerska ) for young men of noble families. After the dissolution of the Jesuit order in 1773, he established his Commission on National Education, the world's first state ministry of education. It allowed a complete reorganization of the Polish educational system. This body set up a uniform national system emphasizing mathematics, natural sciences, and language study. The commission also stressed standardizing elementary education, integrating trade and agricultural skills into the elementary school curriculum, and improving textbooks at all levels. In 1775 the Commission on National Education established the Society for Elementary Books (Towarzystwo do Ksiag Elementarnych ), which prepared many textbooks, regulations, and decrees.

The partitioning of Poland by foreign governments challenged the work of the Commission on National Education; Germany, Austria, and Russia sought to destroy Polish national consciousness by germanizing and russifying the education system. After 1802 schools in the Russian sector received certain liberties. The educational district in Wilno had been chaired by Prince Adam Czartoryski and seen as a model for educational reform in Russia. Czartoryski, with a group of associates (Stanislaw Kostka Potocki, Tadeuz Czacki, Jan Sniadecki, and Jedrzej Sniadecki), attempted to develop the achievements of the Commission on National Education. One of the most successful centers was the University in Wilno.

During the first 30 years of the nineteenth century, Polish education expanded freely in the Duchy of Warsaw and, after the Congress of Vienna, in the Congress Kingdom of Poland. In 1807 the so-called Educational Chamber (Izba Edukacyjna ) was established in the Duchy of Warsaw. In 1812 it evolved into the Management of National Education (Dyrekcja Edukacji Narodowej ), and then, after 1815, it became the Government Committee for Religion and Public Enlightenment (Komisja Rzadowa Wyznan Religijnych i Oswiecenia Publicznego ). In 1816 the Academy of Mining (Szkola Akademiczna Górnicza ) in Kielce was established, as was Warsaw University with five faculties. By the November Uprising against Russia in 1830-1831, the University had educated 1,254 students.

In 1819 in Marymont, near Warsaw, the Forestry School, the Agronomy School, and the Veterinary Institute were created. In Warsaw the Civil Architecture School appeared in 1819, and in 1826, the Polytechnic Institute's Preparatory School opened. After the defeat of the November Uprising, the university was closed, and the entire educational system was subjected to an intensive russification policy. The Russian language became the teaching language. Institutions established after this time included the Real School (Szkola Realna ), which stressed mathematics, science, and biology (1841), the Medical and Surgical Academy (Akademia Medyko-Chirurgiczna 1857), and the Agronomy School (Instytut Agronomiczny ).

During the 123-year period of partition, teaching and publishing in Polish continued in pockets of resistance, and some innovations such as vocational training schools appeared. In general, the Austrian sector had the least developed education system, whereas the least disruption in educational progress occurred in the Prussian sector.

During the Spring of the Nations, as the wave of uprisings in Eastern and Central Europe in the 1840s was called, the germanization strategy in the Prussian sector was reduced. Teaching of the Polish language was permitted in elementary schools and the lower classes of some gymnasia. Especially important in the area was Ewaryst Estkowski's activity. In 1848, he established the first Polish Pedagogical Association and the first pedagogical journal in the Polish language, Polish School.

Another surge of germanization started in the mid-nineteenth century. The Polish language was removed from secondary schools and peasant schools, and students suffered political surveillance. In 1901 religious education in the German language began. This caused a children's strike in Wrzesnia that spread to other places in Great Poland and Pomerania. The strike was continued intermittently until 1907.

Polish consciousness was strengthened by many educational associations. Karol Marcinkowski's Association for Teaching Help (Towarzystwo Naukowej Pomocy ), for instance, was established in 1841, and the Association of Peasant Libraries (Towarzystwo Czytelni Ludowych ) founded libraries in small villages and towns and gave lectures and public performances. In 1861, in the Congress Kingdom of Poland, the Government Committee on Religion and Public Enlightenment (Komisja Rzadowa Wyznan Religijnych i Oswiecenia Publicznego ) was established with Count Aleksander Wielopolski as the principal. In 1862 the tsar approved a decree concerning education in the kingdom that allowed Polish language as a teaching language, partial autonomy of schools, and the opening of four year secondary schools and seven year primary schools. University-level schools were also founded, including the Main School in Warsaw (Szkola GlównaGlówna Warszawska ) and the Agriculture and Forestry Institute (Instytut Rolniczo-Lesny ) in Pulawy.

The defeat of the January Uprising in 1863-1864 put an end to autonomy of education. The Main School in Warsaw was turned into a Russian university in 1869, elementary schools were reduced, and secondary schools were subjected to intense ideological control. In 1897 illiterates composed about 69.5 percent of the whole population in the Congress Kingdom of Poland. The only escape lay in underground teaching. Two such institutions were the so-called Flying University (Uniwersytet Latajacy ), operating between 1887 and 1905, and the Peasants' University (Uniwersytet Ludowy ). New private schools, especially for girls, were also established.

During the Revolution of 1905 the state Russian schools on Polish territory were boycotted. The protests continued until 1914. The Agriculture University evolved into the Public University (Uniwersytet dla Wszystkich ), and the Flying University became the Higher Education Courses (Wyzsze Kursy Naukowe ). In 1906 the private Kronenberg High Business School (Wyzsza Szkola Handlowa ) was founded. Elementary education was developed by the Association of Teaching Courses for Adult Illiterates (Stowarzyszenie Kursów dla Analfabetów Doroslych ). After receiving autonomy in Galicia in 1866, the National School Board (Rada Szkolna Krajowa ) was established to manage secondary schools. Because of a lack of funds, those schools developed very slowly.

Schools in Galicia used the Polish language as a teaching language but their spirit was Austrian. The Polish students opposed that situation, especially after 1905. The Universities in Kraków and Lwów, restored to their former status between 1870 and 1874, reached the highest standard of education. In 1866, women received the right to study (except under the law faculty). In 1878 Lwówthe High Agriculture Academy (Wyzsza Akademia Rolnicza ) was established in Dublany near Lwów. The Polytechnic School in Lwów was also approved. In the latter years of the nineteenth century, teachers' associations started their activity, and publications concerning teaching methods and programs appeared.

In the beginning of the twentieth century the problems of educational programs and management were discussed intensively. Some perspectives underscored the role of religion in common education. An opposing viewpoint was held by the activists of the Polish Teachers' Association (Polski Zwiazek Nauczycielski ) in the Congress Kingdom of Poland and the National Peasant Teachers' Association (Krajowy Zwiazek Nauczycielstwa Ludowego ). They insisted on secular education, which was also free and accessible to every student, taking into consideration the needs of the whole country.

After the rise of the independent Second Polish Republic in 1918, the most important task was the standardization of the educational system. This process lasted until 1920. Between 1918 and 1939 the newly independent Poland faced the task of reconstructing a national education system from the three separate systems imposed during the time of foreign control by Germany, Austria, and Russia. One of the first legislative achievements was the law "Concerning School Obligation" (O obowiazku szkolnym ) of 7 February 1919. It mandated compulsory attendance of the 7 year primary school from ages 7 to 14. Schools were to be free and accessible for all children.

Common education was intensively developed especially between 1922 and 1929 but needs in this area were greater than the reform efforts. In the grammar schools an eight year system existed, which was divided into two stages. During the first three years, the schools took the general (comprehensive) approach, teaching all students the same material. During the next five years, students were grouped into specialized areas of study for part of their schooling. The school diploma opened up the prospects of further studies. Independent grammar schools were accessible after the five year primary school, and they prepared students for education in the secondary schools. Secondary and high schools remained barely accessible because of high tuition fees.

Among the educational accomplishments of the inter-war period was the establishment of state universities in Craców, Lwów, Poznan, Warsaw, and Wilno; the polytechnic schools in Warsaw and Lwów; the Veterinary Medicine Academy (Akademia Medycyny Weterynaryjnej ) in Lwów; the Warsaw Agricultural University (SGGW ); and the University of Mining and Metallurgy (Akademia Górniczo-Hutnicza ) in Craców. Also established during this period were private schools including the Academy of Fine Arts (ASP ) in Craców and the Catholic University of Lublin (Katolicki Uniwersytet Lubelski ). The High School of Economics (Wyzsza Szkola Handlowa ) evolved into the Warsaw School of Economics (Szkola Glówna Handlowa ).

In 1938 there were 25 universities, upper schools, and polytechnic schools. There were numerous specialized secondary schools as well, such as the High School of Engineering (Wyzsza Szkola Inzynierska ) established in Warsaw in 1895, the National Technical School (Panstwowa Szkola Techniczna ) in Wilno (established in 1922), and high pedagogical schools (in Katowice and Kielce). Specialized arts and military schools also existed, as did special elementary, technical, and high schools.

The 1932 decree of Janusz Jedrzejewicz brought important changes. This decree kept the obligatory seven year primary school for children but also introduced different levels: I level (four-year school), II level (six-year school), or III level (seven-year school). The grammar school was accessible after the six-year primary school. A six-year primary school prepared for a grammar school; a seven-year primary school was intended for those who did not want to continue their education. A four year grammar school, called the gimnazjum, offered a unified comprehensive teaching program, so in every school pupils were taught the same types of material. Two-year secondary schools (arts, mathematics, physics, and natural classes) prepared for high studies.

Vocational schools were of great importance. Young working people had to supplement their education in three year schools based on I-level and III-level of primary schools. The lower vocational schools were based on I-level primary school. Vocational grammar schools were equivalent to common grammar schools; vocational schools entitled their graduates to study in high technical schools. The five year pedagogical seminar schools were replaced by three year pedagogical schools, based on four year grammar schools.

In the 1920s, national trends connected with the National Democrats dominated. Tradition, patriotism, and religious attitude played very important roles in education. After the May 1926 coup established the sanacja government, a national education curriculum was introduced. The pedagogical activity put the emphasis on respect and responsibility to the state. A decree published 15 March 1933 increased the education minister's powers to control.

In the Second Polish Republic, education for minority populations was not sufficient and did not satisfy the needs and ambitions of those groups. In 1929 and 1930 the Ukrainians had 790 primary schools, 24 grammar schools, and 1 pedagogical seminar with Ukrainian as a teaching language. Attempts to establish a university in Lwów were defeated. Jews were treated as a religious minority, not an ethnic minority. They owned private primary and secondary schools in which Yiddish, Hebrew, and Polish were the teaching languages. During this same time period, Belorussians had 26 primary schools using their mother tongue. In 1934 and 1935 Germans had 394 primary schools, out of which 203 had classes with Polish and German as teaching languages, and 15 grammar schools (including 2 state schools).

After the military defeat in September 1939, all Polish territory came under Nazi occupation. In the territories annexed to the Third Reich, that is Great Poland, Pomerania, and Silesia, the Polish education system was completely eliminated. Teachers, professors, and the whole intelligentsia were displaced or arrested. In the central region, called the General Government, the Nazis permitted only primary and vocational schools with significantly limited curricula, which had been stripped of all Polish content. All secondary and higher schools were closed to Poles.

The most spectacular event in the destruction of the Polish education system was the so-called Sonderaktion Krakau. On 6 November 1939 research workers of the Jagiellonian University and the University of Mining and Metallurgy in Kraków were invited to a meeting, arrested, and taken away to extermination camps. In response, an extensive underground teaching movement developed under the leadership of the Polish Teachers' Association, which had been established in December 1939. In 1940 the Department of Education and Culture was established to represent the Polish government in exile. The underground movement supplied students with teaching aids and textbooks that were published by underground publishing houses. This unofficial education effort spread through the whole territory of the General Government, Greater Poland, Pomerania, and Silesia. The most important center of these education activities was Warsaw, where the Poznan University was operating as the University of Western Poland. Underground teaching appeared in almost all secondary schools, even in ghettoes. An estimated 90,000 students attended underground secondary classes, 10,000 were in illegal vocational classes, and 7,000 were in the resistance's higher education classes. Nowhere else in Europe was underground teaching as extensive as in Poland.

Nazi control exacted a heavy toll on Poland's education infrastructure. Between 1939 and 1940 about 9,000 teachers and 640 professors were murdered. Approximately 6,480 primary schools, 203 secondary schools, 295 vocational schools, and 80 schools for teachers' education were destroyed or damaged. Almost all high school and university property was destroyed or seized.

Where the Soviets controlled Polish territory in the east, starting in late September 1939, education took on diverse forms. In December 1939 the Vilnius authorities closed the Stephen Batory University. At the beginning of 1940 the new authorities nationalized all private schools and closed schools managed by the church. New curricula, consistent with the Soviet system, was introduced. Emphasis on history, literature, and geography was significantly reduced. The teaching language depended on the local conditions; in multinational communities, Russian became the teaching language. Many Belorussian and Ukrainian schools were established.

Between 1944 and 1947, as Poland regained independence from the Nazis and the Second World War ended, schools quickly resumed their activity. During this period all levels of the Polish education system were plagued by shortages of buildings and teachers. In June 1945, a Nationwide Convention in Lódz established the main principles of education, which were closely related to political goals and principles.

The massive task of postwar education reconstruction emphasized the opening of institutions of secondary and higher education to the Polish masses and the reduction of illiteracy. The system of schooling was standardized, and attendance in an eight year primary school was compulsory and tuition-free. Nursery school expenses were shared by the government and parents. The state built dormitories and established scholarships. Young people up to age 18 continued their education in secondary schools. Various types of secondary schools offered basic vocational training, technical training, and general college-preparatory education. Primary schools were unified, and the remnants of the 1932 Decree were abolished.

Due to the lack of qualified staff, new pedagogical lycea were established to educate new teachers. The variety of teachers' training options satisfied temporary needs but shortcomings in the area were noticeable for a long time. In 1945 and 1946 all Polish high schools in the territory of the former Second Polish Republic were opened. New high schools, especially in LódzLódz, Torun, and Lublin, with approximately 55,000 students, were also established.

During the early post-war years, the curriculum was modified only slightly. In 1945 minor changes in Polish language teaching were introduced, concerning knowledge of World War II, social sciences, and working and rural classes. Teaching of foreign languages was commonly introduced. In spite of the breaking of the concordat with the Holy See, religious education in state or council schools was obligatory.

In January 1947, major ideological changes were initiated. Education was infused with the principles of Marxism-Leninism. The educational system depicted the Soviet Union as the country's main partner and ally, and learning the Russian language learning became obligatory. Private schools were closed, and religious education was gradually eliminated. Many educational institutions fell under government control, and many disappeared.

In 1948 the eight year primary schools were evolved into seven year primary schools that were the base for four year lyceum or vocational schools. This change and workers' training were the educational system's most important tasks. In 1955 about 90 percent of pupils were taught in primary 7-year schools. Between 1949 and 1951 about 80,000 teachers were involved in the education of 1,500,000 illiterates from ages 14 to 15. As a direct consequence, illiteracy was virtually eliminated. This was Communism's single, unquestioned contribution to Polish life.

After 1954, two-year vocational schools and four-year technical schools were established. Industrialization drew much of the population to the cities. A decree of July 1958 mandated school attendance to age 18. As a result, training schools were established at factories. These schools were too specialized though and did not satisfy practical requirements. The number of universities, polytechnic schools, academies, and specialized colleges was considerably increased. The introduction of three-year vocational colleges, four-year vocational colleges, and two-year master's studies, with the exception of medical colleges, came about in 1947.

Some faculties (medical, forest, and agricultural) were moved to independent colleges. After theological faculties were taken from universities and colleges in 1954, the Academy of Catholic Theology (Akademia Teologii Katolickiej ) and Christian Theological Academy (Chrzescijanska Akademia Teologiczna ) were established. The former was composed of the theological faculty of Warsaw University, which had been separated from it by the Communist authorities to form the state-supported, Catholic, university-level institution. Because it was financed by the state, the bishops looked at it with suspicion. They feared its teachers might be loyal to the state, rather than the church. Priests were also employed by the Academy of Catholic Theology. In 1999 the institution was renamed Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University after one of the most respected, influential, and prominent figures in Polish religious and public life. The other religious university, the Christian Theological Academy, was for the protestant and orthodox churches. Lectures on Marxism-Leninism were obligatory in all types of schools, beginning in 1948 in evening technical colleges and in 1950 at part time colleges. The 1956 decree restored the importance of the pedagogical council and moderated discipline regulations.

The Law on the Development of Education Systems, passed on 15 July 1961, established formal principles that reiterated the goals of the educational system. An 8 year primary school was introduced and attendance to age 17 was mandated. Schools of all types and on all levels were free. The system of schooling was standardized. Schools were secular in nature, but the church was permitted to establish a network of separate religious education centers to compensate for this restriction. This reform in primary and secondary schools was completed between 1963 and 1971.

In 1971 new models of education were introduced. One of the most important tasks was developing a common secondary education system. The decree of 1973 established 10-year secondary schools with 2-year vocational schools to prepare students for employment or 2-year preparatory colleges, permitting students to take university entrance exams. In 1981, for lack of suitable funds, this educational reform initiative was rejected. Access to education still varied from place to place, depending on social conditions. The end of Soviet rule in 1989 brought many changes to Poland's educational system, including autonomy for local school administrations and comprehensive upgrading of material support. Nursery schools and public schools introduced religious education, according to a directive from the Ministry of National Education.

Between 1991 and 1996, primary schools were taken over by local governments. By law the number of lessons per week decreased from 199.5 in 1989 to 184 in 1993. In 1996, more than 95 percent of primary school graduates continued on to some form of secondary education. Between 1993 and 1994, only 27.9 percent of pupils completing primary school went to lycea (1561 schools with 601,854 pupils). Teachers were educated at universities and colleges. Between 1992 and 1993, approximately 7,000 teachers supplemented their education, despite the fact that tuition was high at both state and private schools. The Office of Innovation and Independent Schools was established to create the legislative basis for government support of private schools established by individuals and civic organizations. Education in the non-public schools was paid, and, with the exception of non-public college-level schools, state subsidies were set at 50 percent of the state's per-student cost. Schools for minorities also appeared, serving mainly Ukrainians, Belorussians, and Lithuanians.

Constitutional & Legal Foundations

The Polish educational system is currently based mainly on four laws. These are: the Constitution of the Republic of Poland of 17 October 1997; The Act of Sections of Governmental Administration of 4 September 1997; The Act of the System of Education of 7 September 1991; and the Education Act of 26 January 1982, as amended on 18 February 2000 (known as the Teachers' Charter).

The Constitution grants parents full rights over their children, and the role of teachers is described as supportive. Article 48, part 1, states that "parents shall have the right to rear their children in accordance with their own convictions. Such upbringing shall respect the degree of maturity of a child as well as his freedom of conscience and belief, and also his convictions." The Constitution, in Article 72, states, "everyone shall have the right to education. Education to 18 years of age shall be compulsory. The manner of fulfillment of schooling obligations shall be specified by statute." According to Section 4 of the same Article, "public authorities shall ensure universal and equal access to education for citizens. To this end, they shall establish and support systems for individual financial and organizational assistance to pupils and students." Article 72 also declares that "the Republic of Poland shall ensure protection of the rights of the child. Everyone shall have the right to demand of organs of public authority that they defend children against violence, cruelty, exploitation, and actions which undermine their moral sense." This protection relates to all state organs, including the Ministry of National Education.

The Act of the Sections of the Government Administration of 4 October 1997, orders in Article 20 that the separate section of administration called "education and rearing" be established and be responsible for "the matters of educating and rearing children and the youth." On 1 January 1999, schools and public educational institutions were turned over to local administration units. Therefore councils are responsible for kindergartens, primary schools, and grammar schools. Districts are responsible for educational institutions of regional character, designated by the Council of Ministers orders, as well as institutions for teachers' development and adult education.

The financing of schools and educational institutions depends on the administrative division. Consequently, all territorial self-government units perform their own educational tasks and finance them. Government subventions, however, constitute a substantial part of their educational budgets.

Educational SystemOverview

Compulsory Education & Age Limits: Education is compulsory for all children ages 8 to 16. The most recent reform of education raised the upper age limit to 18. Primary school starts at age 7 and ends at 13. Currently, reformed secondary education still consists of two systems. According to the old one, education starts at age 16 and finishes at age 19 or 20 for technical schools, and, according to the new, the age range is from 16 to 18.

Enrollment as of the 1999-2000 School Year:

Nursery Schools: The total number of nursery schools during the 1999-2000 school year was 8,733, serving 719,611 children, which included 6,763 who had some disability. In towns, such schools contained 575,736 children, 6,358 of whom were disabled. In the countryside, schools served 144,875, including 405 disabled.

Preschool Education: During the same period, Poland had 10,152 preschools, containing 199,506 toddlers, which included 1,180 disabled. In towns, the children totaled 53,866, including 941 disabled. In the country, the figures were 145,640 and 239.

Primary Schools: This system contained 17,743 schools that were attended by 3,957,986 pupils, 1,919,281 of whom were girls. In the 1999-2000 school year, the system graduated 656,245 students of whom 320,645 were girls. Public (state) primary schools totaled 17,375 and served 3,926,577 pupils. Of these 1,904,719 were girls. During the same school year, 651,862 students were graduated, including 318,725 girls. The far smaller non-public (private) primary schools numbered 368, having 31,409 students, of whom 14,652 were girls. This system graduated 4,383 children, including 1,920 girls. The total number of primary school repeaters, not including those in special schools, was 29,789, of whom 6,983 were girls. Repeaters in towns totaled 20,535, including 4,986 girls. Rural repeaters numbered 9,254, among them 1,997 girls. Special primary schools for the disabled numbered 801. They contained 59,397 pupils, of whom 22,654 were girls. Some 13,143 were graduated, including 4,772 girls.

Gymnasium: Polish schools at this level totaled 6,121, serving 615,328 pupils, of whom 296,256 were girls. Public schools numbered 5,766, and held 609,414 children, including 293,648 girls. There were 355 non-public schools. They contained 5,914 students, of whom 2,608 were girls. The nation had 709 special gymnasiums to meet the needs of 14,948 children, including 5,534 girls.

Secondary Schools: Polish schools at this level totaled 2,156. They held 864,091 students, of whom 551,531 were girls. During the 1999-2000 school year, 173,917 students graduated, including 115,973 girls. Public schools numbered 1,715 and served 823,049 children, including 530,463 girls. The system contains 439 nonpublic secondary schools of public school status; they teach 40,986 pupils, including 20,947 girls. There are also two non-public secondary schools, teaching 56 students, of whom 21 are girls. Finally, there were 24 special secondary schools. They held 1,198 adolescents, including 630 girls.

Technical & Vocational Schools: Schools of this type numbered 8,066. They taught 1,552,350 pupils, including 651,235 girls. Of a total of 379,566 graduates, 164,063 were girls. Most of these technical and vocational schools or 7,749 were public; they instructed 1,526,089 students, including 636,778 girls. The system contained 306 nonpublic schools of public school status. They taught 25,905 pupils, of whom 14,326 were girls. Poland had 11 non-public technical schools, which served 356 students, including 131 girls. There were also 353 special technical schools, holding 30,954 students; 12,866 of these were girls.

Complementary Secondary Schools: Schools in this category numbered 2,328. They taught 205,538 students, including 133,686 girls. Of these complementary secondary schools, 925 were public. They served 100,731 pupils, of whom 71,695 were girls. Another 1,072 nonpublic schools of public school status existed. They held 83,393 youths, including 50,347 girls. Non-public schools of this type numbered 331, training 21,414 students, which included 11,644 girls.

Academic Year: The school year for all types of primary and secondary schools begins on 1 September and finishes in June. The exact closing date is not prescribed, but the year must contain at least 42 weeks. It contains two semesters. There are three major holiday periods: Christmas break (usually one week), winter holiday (two weeks), and Easter recess (one week). The winter holiday period is usually in late January or early February, but exact dates are defined by regional education authorities. National holidays and Teachers Day (14 October) are free by law.

The academic year for university-type institutions starts usually in October, but the decision is left to the university rector who may move it to late September. It is usually divided into 2 semesters, each 15 weeks long. Some private three year colleges have trimesters, depending on decisions by college authorities. Holiday periods at universities vary and are decided by their governing bodies. Typically, they fall at the same periods as nonuniversity schools. Rectors may decide about an extra day off for students and faculty (called Rector's Day), which is usually the Academic Year Inauguration Day, or any other day that should be free for important reasons. In both types of institution, winter holiday marks the end of the winter semester and beginning of the summer (spring) semester.

Language of Instruction: The language of instruction is Polish in schools for Poles and in minority schools the language is the minority's language. According to Oswiata i wychowanie w roku szkolnym 1999/2000, during the 1999-2000 academic year, there were 429 primary schools of this type. Belorussion was the language of instruction in 31 schools, serving 2,220 students. Sixteen Kashubian institutions instructed 980 youth. Thirteen Lithuanian programs affected 528 students. German schools, numbering 273, taught some 25,545 young people. Eleven Slovakian establishments reached 303 students. Ukranian institutions (76) instructed 1,919 students, and 8 Lemk schools taught 66 youth. That same year there were 25 pupils studying the Hebrew language as their mother tongue.

In 1999-2000 there were 91 gymnasium-type schools for 3,383 ethnic minority pupils. Ten Belorussian institutions reached 354 students. Two Kashubian schools instructed 144. Two Lithuanian establishments taught 73 young people. The nation had 49 German language schools with 2,588 pupils. Slovakian speakers (29) studied at three schools, while 190 who spoke Ukranian learned at 23 schools. Finally, 2 Lemk programs reached 14 students.

That same year there were 10 lycees for 2,214 ethnic minority pupils. Two Belorussian schools reached 1,046 students. One Kashubian institution instructed 346; a Lithuanian establishment, 128; a German, 111; and a Slovakian, 53. Four Ukranian schools taught 530 pupils. There were no Lemk lycee.

Grading System & Examination: Polish education marks students from one to six. One means failure; two is poor; three signifies satisfactory; four good; five very good; and six excellent. The grading system is not considered effective, and many believe it should be modernized in accordance with European standards. Grading rigor varies widely, and marks on school certificates are not always legible. In the reformed system of education, the Matura examination and school certificate are expected to be external and standardized, comparable with the European Committee. The latter arrangement affords graduates better opportunities at higher education or employment.

Currently, pupil progress is assessed internally by each school. Detailed examination requirements are designed by a teacher and approved by a Pedagogical Council and headmaster. Pupils and their parents are informed about these requirements. The requirements must not violate the Ministry of National Education directive of 19 April 1999, which delineates principles of public school evaluation, examination, grading, and promotion. Other external assessment standards are provided by Regional Examination Commissions and by State Examination Commissions, which are established by the Ministry of National Education.

The Polish system mandates standard testing at various levels. After primary school, students take an aptitude examination. After the gymnasium, they are given an orientation examination. After the profiled lyceum they take an exit examination, known as the Matura. Upon completing the program at a vocational school, students are tested in the appropriate trade. After a supplementary lyceum, they may take the Matura examination. During the 1998-1999 school year, at the general secondary school level, 172,216 students took the Matura examination (99.1 percent of the total). The vast majority, 163,977 (94.4 percent), passed it. For the same time period, in technical and vocational schools, 176,402 students took the Matura. Again most, 151,309 (85.8 percent), succeeded. University candidates take entrance examinations for their chosen institution. The education reform that has introduced the Matura produced agreement from university authorities that it would serve as the entrance examination.

Private & Religious Schools: In Poland all non-public schools are considered private. The word "private" might be part of a school's name, but it is not used in official documents. Consequently, all religious schools are private, because the state generally does not support them financially. On the other hand, Lublin Catholic University receives state financial support from time to time. Twice a year a collection for LCU is taken in Polish churches. There is a Catholic state university, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw, but it is not subsidized by the church. Another church institution is the Papal Academy of Theology in Craców. Religious primary and secondary schools may be subsidized by state money. Seminaries, which prepare students for the priesthood, are maintained by the diocese.

Education of Pupils Needing Special Care: Special courses and curricula for gifted students try to take into consideration the student's social skills and attitudes. A new experimental gymnasium and academic lyceum are being considered. Also, plans include a Nationwide Center for Supporting Gifted Pupils (Ogolnopolskie Centrum Wspierania Uczniow Wybitnie Uzdolnionych ) that would be based on a local institution in Torun.

Polish schools are available for everyone, including pupils suffering from physical, emotional, or other disabilities. Such students comprise about 3 percent of the nation's children. In recent years the disabled have been integrated into the mainstream. Today, a typical class may have 15 to 20 students, plus 3 to 5 possessing handicaps. As much as is possible, all participate in common activities, and act together to solve common problems. Some of the disabled, such as the blind and the deaf, receive individual lessons with specialists, making use of sign language, Braille, and exercises to help develop a sense of direction. As of 1997, approximately 3,590 pupils attended integrated classes. Children and youth who need special care but lack the opportunity to attend integrated classes make use of special education.

Instructional Technology: Schools use computers as instructional aids. No exact number is available. The goal is to have a computer laboratory with Internet access in every school. The subject "informatics" informatyka ) teaches computer skills. Many schools participate in a program called "Internet for Schools."

The new, reformed educational system needs textbooks that are consistent with the programming basics. Teachers have the right to choose the most appropriate textbooks from a list compiled by the Ministry of National Education. Listed books are those deemed appropriate in content, methodology, and reading level. They must be constitutional, consistent with the United Nations' Declaration of Human Rights, non-racist, respectful of children's rights, and not at variance with international textbook principles. Beyond the Ministry of National Education's list, schools may add experimental textbooks that comply with the legal system.

Foreign Students: During the 1999-2000 academic year, there were 6,025 students in Poland from the following countries: Ukraine (1,073); Belarus (831); Lithuania (515); the Czech Republic (265); Kazakhstan (363); Russia (262); the United States (270); Vietnam (168); Germany (147); and Bulgaria (127).

Preprimary & Primary Education

Preschool education (Wychowanie przedszkolne ) is part of the formal system of education in Poland. There is a well-established network of state preschools that children may attend between ages three and six. Formal school education before age 7 is not compulsory, but currently 97 percent of the nation's children attend. Preschool education is designed to aid child development, promote personal independence, and instill a sense of confidence in one's self and abilities. Preschool education helps those between the ages of three and five develop communication and social skills, so they can cope with any situation. Parents may participate in arranging activities.

Programming is based on assumptions that: children expect approval and safety; they need to develop communication and social skills; they should be encouraged to explore and understand their environment and the larger world; they should examine their creative nature; they need to know how to recognize and express emotions; they must learn how to live in a group; and they must also learn to act independently. Polish teachers are expected to generate situations whereby children can realize their innate potential.

Polish education features a so-called zero year (Zerowka ) for six-year-olds, which helps children make a fluid transition from preschool to primary school. Beyond this transitional nature, however, preschools have educational value. Preschools measure a child's progress. They can help recognize the child's potential and alert professionals to any need for specialized intervention. Preschool teachers help children understand themselves and the outside world, develop relationships with peers, and build their own system of values.

From seven years of age, all children must attend primary school, which is divided into two teaching stages. The first is integrated teaching, classes I-III (Szkola podstawowa I etap ) for children aged seven to nine. The second is block teaching, classes IV-VI (II etap ) for children between 10 and 13.

The first stage of primary education should develop literacy and an understanding of numbers; teach children how to use simple tools; help them become independent and self-confident; develop sensitivity; strengthen cultural, historical, national, and ethnic identity; and teach children to explore their environment and the world. Integrated education takes advantage of children's experiences in family life and other situations.

At this stage teachers give lessons, which follow the established curriculum. The routine is adapted to pupils' ability and includes physical exercises every day, totaling approximately three hours per week. Class I has a minimum of 20 lessons per week. Fifteen of them are general in nature and mandated by law. Another three lessons per week are assigned at a tutor's or the headmaster's discretion. Compensatory activities, in accordance with appropriate regulations, make up another two lessons a week. Beyond these, additional lessons may include religion or ethics (two per week) and corrective gymnastics (two per week). Class II is structured in the same manner with the minimum lesson number raised to 21. Class III features a minimum of 23 lessons weekly.

The second stage of primary education (II etap ) features classes IV to VI. Education at this level is designed to help students gain adequate knowledge and skills; promote curiosity and stimulate intellectual activity; develop sensitivity toward and empathy for disabled persons; instill proper social attitudes; and teach appropriate behaviors. Schools strive to create the necessary conditions for gaining knowledge and skills. The curriculum includes thematic blocks covering: patriotic and social education; preparation for family life; health care education; and public relations.

Beginning with class IV, a considerable degree of structure appears. Students receive at minimum 26 lessons per week. Six are in culture, the Polish language, history, and social science. Another six are in mathematics and biology. Foreign language training accounts for three, fine arts and technical activities for two and physical education for three. One lesson per week takes place with a tutor, and five per week are at the tutor or head-master's discretion. An extra two lessons per week in religion and ethics are set by special regulations but are not counted toward the number of compulsory lessons. This structure is identical for classes V and VI.

After finishing six years of primary school, children take aptitude examinations, which are administered and assessed by the school's internal board. Such testing measures achievement and informs both parents and teachers. Results are communicated to the next level of schooling, the gymnasium.

Secondary Education

Gymnasium: The gymnasium, the secondary stage of general education, is compulsory in Poland for pupils aged 13 to 16. Education at this level is designed to help pupils develop adequate knowledge and skills; take advantage of human achievements; fully master their mother tongue; become independent, confident in themselves and their abilities, and prepared to become responsible individuals; participate in cultural activity; develop sensitivity toward and empathy for disabled persons; solve the problems of adolescence; and learn how to work well with others.

In each of the 3 classes of the gymnasium, students must take a minimum of 28 lessons per week. Four are devoted to the Polish language. Another four are divided among history, traditional culture, and civic education. Three lessons per week are devoted to mathematics and three to foreign language study. Five lessons per week are divided among biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, and geography. Two per week cover computer sciences, technical education, music, or fine arts. Physical education makes up three lessons weekly. One lesson per week is determined by the student's tutor and another three by the tutor or headmaster. Two lessons per week of religion and ethics are required but not counted toward the total. All of the aforementioned subjects prepare students for higher education. They are supplemented by interdisciplinary lessons, which include preparation for family life; healthcare education; ecological education; philosophy; the culture of public relations; and civil defense.

Post-Gymnasium Secondary Education: At age 16, the gymnasium graduate chooses to prepare for higher education or to begin training for a vocation. Those seeking the former attend a three year profiled lyceum. Completion of this program leads to the Matura certificate, which confers entitlement to enter a university. Other students choose a two year vocational school, which ends with a vocational examination. The graduate of this school may elect to go on to a supplementary lyceum, which is a two year school that prepares one for the Matura examination. Passing that examination permits entry to academies.

Profiled Lyceum: The profiled lyceum (liceum profilowane ) is a three year secondary school following the gymnasium. At this level, 80 percent of education in Poland is comprised of general courses, which follow a basic curriculum. About 20 percent is "profiled" or specialized education in academic or vocational subjects. Five profiles exist: academic; technology; agriculture and environment; social work and services; and culture and arts. The academic profile is made up of traditional college-preparatory courses and is designed for both those eventually seeking higher education and students whose precise future plans remain unclear. The technology profile deals with industrial production and features courses in: construction; chemistry; electricity and electronics; mechanics; the media; woodworking; food preparation; textiles; and biotechnology. The agriculture and environment profile is built around natural resource management and provides curricula that include: landscaping; forestry; horticulture; environmental protection; and related areas. The social work and services profile stresses the management and organization of social services. Its offerings include: economics and administration; trade; delivery of medicine; promotion and marketing; transportation; tourism; catering and hotel management; defense; and others ranging from beautician's training to insurance. A final profile concerns culture and the arts. It is aimed at those interested in organizing and managing cultural activities. Its courses include: European and regional culture; theatre and film; artisanship and monument restoration; fashion and interior design; and sports.

Despite this broad range of choices, most of a student's time in the profiled lyceum is spent taking mandated courses. Students have 15 lessons per week in the study of the Polish language. They take 10 a week in their primary foreign language and 6 in another. History and civics make up another six. Ten lessons every week are in mathematics. The science component is strong. Students must have four weekly lessons in physics and astronomy; three in chemistry; and three in biology. Rounding out the required courses are three lessons per week in geography; two in entrepreneurship; two in national defense; and nine in physical education. Every student's week also includes three lessons with a form tutor; three at the headmaster's discretion; and six in religion/ethics, though the latter do not count toward required totals.

Vocational Education: Vocational schools are two-year schools based on the gymnasium model and preparing graduates for employment. The certificate confirms their vocational knowledge and skills. In vocational schools, about 35 percent of the lessons stress general knowledge and social skills and aim to develop proper adult attitudes. The remaining lessons impart intensive vocational knowledge and skills to raise the graduate to the journeyman (or entry-level) employee. Education at this level strives to maintain a careful awareness of the labor market and local employers' expectations. The curriculum provides 12 lessons per week in the area of general education, including a foreign language and preparation for family life. Two lessons per week are spent with the form tutor. (Groups of students have a permanent mentor known as the form tutor.) Usually this time is spent on class bureaucracy, behavior problems, and arranging parental conferences. National Defense takes up two lessons a week and physical education six. Two lessons are reserved for entrepreneurship. A full 40 lessons per week are devoted to vocational training. Conditions vary from institution to institution, but in no case do theoretical approaches exceed 25 percent; the great bulk of these lessons are grounded firmly in the practical. For underage students, the number of vocational lessons is determined by the Labor Code.

Students who pass all subjects receive a graduation certificate. It proves the acquisition of both general and vocational knowledge and skills, which is confirmed by an authorized examination center appointed by the Regional Examination Commission. Special care is taken to protect juveniles. Their examinations are conducted by a craft guild or a trade commission. The under-aged graduate receives journeyman vocational entitlements, according to a professions register. Pupils who have served a suitable six month apprenticeship may also receive vocational degrees.

Supplementary Lyceum: The supplementary lyceum (liceum uzupelniajace ) is a two-year general school, which is designed mainly for vocational school graduates who want to supplement their education. This school prepares students for the Matura examination and should thereby create an equal chance for all students to pursue the highest levels of education in the Polish system. Such education takes the form of daily or evening courses. Supplementary lycea concentrate approximately 85 percent of the lessons on compulsory subjects. Graduates may continue their education, including higher education.

The supplementary lyceum curriculum typically consists of 15 lessons per week on the Polish language and 10 on a foreign language. History and civic education require 6, and mathematics consumes another 10. Again a strong science component appears: physics receives four lessons per week; chemistry three; and biology three. There are three geography lessons; nine optional classes; and two at the headmaster's discretion.

Upper Secondary Specialized Lyceum: A specialized lyceum (szkola policealna ) educates lycea graduates and makes possible vocational skill acquisition at the secondary level. This school is designed for graduates who possess the Matura certificate. The curriculum is quite flexible. Students take 437 lessons per semester in vocational training. They spend nine lessons studying the market economy and labor economy of their chosen field. Physical education accounts for 19 lessons, and 10 are devoted to topics at the headmaster's discretion. Vocational training in the secondary specialized lyceum is a combination of theoretical and practical courses. It is difficult to say how important the specialized lycea will be in the future. Graduates from the profiled lycea can choose from employment, supplementary education, and higher education. The main advantage the specialized lyceum provides is the acquisition of professional qualifications.

Higher Education

The academic year lasts 30 weeks, is divided into 2 semesters, and in most cases begins with Matriculation Day, 1 October. Graduates from institutions of higher education may receive the Bachelor's and Master's degrees and the professional title of engineer. The Bachelor's degree (licencjat ) is awarded following at least three years of professional training. Engineer (inzynier ) comes after a minimum of three and a half years of professional training. The Master's degree (magister ) can be awarded to those with four and a half years in a program of study in a given discipline. The degree can also be obtained by completing a two year supplementary Master's program, for which holders of the title of engineer are eligible. Some universities and the Polish Academy of Sciences award the Ph.D. degree. Doctorate studies take the form of daily courses and last approximately four years. They require, among other things, that applicants possess master's degrees in their field and write at least two articles and a dissertation. In Poland, as in many continental systems, a post-doctoral degree, known as Doctor Habilitated (doktor habilitowany ), can be attained. Persons write and successfully defend a second dissertation, which is usually publishable, and complete a complicated five step process, assuring that they are among the finest scholars in the land.

Types of Institutions: As of December 2000, the rapidly growing higher education sector included: 15 universities; 18 technical universities; 2 maritime schools; 5 academies of economics; 9 high pedagogical schools; 7 academies of agriculture; 12 academies of medicine; 7 academies of theology; 11 military academies; 8 music schools; 6 schools of art; 3 theatre schools; and 6 academies of physical education. Legislation creating the current system includes the Education System Act; the Higher Education Act; and the Scholarly Degrees and Titles Act, supplemented with more detailed regulations by the Ministry of National Education.

Scholarly research is conducted by the 51 scientific institutes of the Polish Academy of Sciences (PANPolska Akademia Nauk ), 29 research units of PAN, and 4 foreign research institutions. In 1991, the Committee for Scientific Research, a government agency, was set up to bring back direct government financing of science. Fundamental principles include financing projects, not institutions, granting financial support on a competitive basis, and granting statute research according to the ranked quality of state educational institutions. Foundations for scientific research, however, have very limited funds. The government-run Foundation for Polish Science, also established in 1991, plays an important role as well. Its chief objectives are financing scientific research and projects through nearly 100 loans, subventions, and stipends per year for young scientists. In 1992 the Foundation Award for exemplary scientific achievements was initiated. It is granted in three main fields: the humanities and social sciences; medicine and the natural sciences; and technical and exact sciences.

Admission Standards: To qualify for admission to an institution of higher education, the applicant must hold the secondary school certificate or the professional title of Bachelor's degree or meet requirements determined autonomously by a specific high school.

Faculty: Lectures and other classes are conducted by research workers: professors, associate professors, senior lecturers (adiunkt ), and assistants. Classes are also taught by senior lecturers, lecturers, and instructors. The post of professor is an appointed position for persons who have been granted the degree of professor. The post of associate professor is given to persons who have received at least the degree of reader (doktor habilitowany ) and corresponds to the United States position of associate professor. In the high vocational school, which grants the professional title of bachelor's degree or engineer, the associate professor post is given to persons who have obtained the degree of doctor and possess the necessary professional experience gained outside high schools or the educational system. In a higher maritime school, associate professor is an appointed position for those who have obtained the degree of doctor and possess the highest naval degree. The post senior lecturer is for persons who have attained at least the title of doctor. Assistant is given to those who have obtained at least the master's degree or its equivalent. Senior lecturers are persons who have attained the professional title of doctor or master (or its equivalent) and have the necessary professional experience.

Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

In Poland, public schools of all types are free because tuition costs are covered by the state. In non-public schools, tuition fees depend on maintenance costs and vary widely. In higher education, all day courses are free, but students have to pay for evening, part-time, and postgraduate courses. In addition, Ph.D. candidates pay for doctoral examinations and review costs, unless they are employed in a teaching capacity by the university.

The following examples reveal the high cost of part time and evening course costs. To put them in perspective, it may help to note that a nominated teacher with 10 years' experience earned 1,100 Polish zloties (PLN) per month in 2001, when one U.S. dollar was worth four PLN. Similarly, an assistant professor with a Ph.D. and 8 years experience received 1,200 to 1,300; members of the Polish Academy of Sciences made even less, as they did not have teaching duties.

For courses in economy and management: The Academy of Economy in Poznan charged 2,100 PLN for part time winter semester courses and 1,900 PLN in the spring. Evening course fees were 2,500 and 2,300. Courses toward the Master's degree charged 2,200 for the winter semester and 2,000 for the spring. Warsaw University's Department of Economy charged 3,600 per semester. The Roman Kudlinski Higher School of Banking, Finance, and Management in Warsaw, a private school, charged 5,300 per year for day courses and 4,400 for part time.

For courses in law: Jagiellonian University in Cracow charged 5,000 PLN for part time courses and 3,000 for each subsequent year. The Higher School of Commerce and Law in Warsaw, a private institution, levied 2,400 per semester, plus an additional 300 enrollment fee, for day and part time courses.

For computer science courses: Wroclaw University required 2,100 PLN per semester. The Polish-Japanese Higher School of Computer Techniques, a private institution, charged 980 per month for 10 months for day courses and 760 for evening courses.

For courses in pedagogy: Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan charged 1,200 PLN per semester. The private Higher School of Humanities and Economy in Lódz required 320 per month for 12 months, plus 500 as a yearly enrollment fee for day courses. Its part time courses were 280 PLN per month for 12 months with a 540 enrollment fee.

For political science courses: Maria Sklodowska Curie University in Lublin charged 2,100 PLN per year.

For courses in psychology: Warsaw University charged 3,900 PLN per semester for evenings. Lublin Catholic University's evening courses cost 1,700 for the winter semester and 1,500 for the spring.

For courses in Sociology: Warsaw University charged 1,750 PLN per semester for evening courses.

Educational Budget: In 2001, Poland's educational budget projected expenditures in the following manner: teachers' salaries, 70 percent; administrative salaries, 10 percent; repairs and maintenance, 14 percent; teaching aids, 2 percent; teachers' development, 3 percent; and curricula, 1 percent.

Nonformal Education

Adult Education: Currently, the most important continuing education institutions are the Continuing Education Centers (Centra Ksztalcenia Ustawicznego ) and the Practical Education Centers (Centra Ksztalcenia Praktycznego ). Figures as of December 1999 showed 109 adult elementary schools, 108 of them full time. They held 5,777 students, including 1,106 women. They graduated 4,259 persons, 783 of them women. Adult gymnasiums totaled 21, with 20 of them full-time day schools. They served 710 students, of whom 89 were women. There were no graduation figures for this level. The nation had 754 adult secondary comprehensive schools, 353 day and 401 part time. Total students numbered 205,708 of whom 67,644 were women. They graduated 24,181, including 13,719 women. Secondary vocational and technical schools were greatest in number. There were 1,829 of them, 1,078 day and 751 part-time. They held 205,708 students, which included 67,644 women.

In Poland's reformed system, adult education will be extremely important. Presently, formal elementary education of adults is not necessary. The tendency is to study extramurally, without attending courses, and then to take the required examinations. For this reason it will be necessary to establish a proper accreditation system for schools and examination commissions. It is anticipated that public schools will take on three major adult education functions. First, they will impart the general knowledge that children obtain through the three year profiled lyceum and the two year supplementary lyceum. Second, they will provide vocational knowledge and skill training for adults. Third, they will be responsible for the supplementary education of youths who gained skills during an apprenticeship or in voluntary units, the so-called OHP (Ochotniczy Hufiec Pracy ).

Open University & Distance Learning: The open university concept was tried in 1994-1995 but failed. The idea has never been resurrected. Aside from distance language and vocational courses, distance education does not exist. Indeed, the concept is associated with the great open spaces of Australia, and there is little enthusiasm for it in Poland.

Teaching Profession

Education of Teachers: Teachers are trained in two systems: higher education and the other schools. Higher education includes universities, high pedagogical schools and pedagogical academies, and academies of physical education. The other schools in the department of education, culture, and health care train teachers in vocational subjects or general education subjects. These other schools include schools of polytechnics, academies of music, and academies of art. They also include colleges for teachers (who will work some day in preschool education, primary schools, and educational institutions) and foreign languages colleges that train teachers for primary and secondary schools. Training courses in colleges are consistent with subjects to be taught or activities to be executed. The goal is the acquisition of the knowledge and skills necessary to employment in a given job.

High schools educate teachers in accordance with regulations of the Central Accreditation Council and are compatible with academic subjects. In the present register of courses, only some courses are purely educational in nature: special pedagogy, physical education, music education, and technical education. For this reason, education follows special guides. If the university does not possess such guides, teachers are trained under an optional pedagogical college course. In most cases, the high school offers single specialization courses. Teachers who have specialized in one subject have an opportunity to gain another specialization through postgraduate two year programs of study. In compliance with the regulations of the education act Karta Nauczyciela, the student teacher gives lessons at schools and educational institutions or operates in special educational institutions. Specialists who help with education (speech therapists and psychologists) are also considered teachers.

This same act established five stages of teacher promotion. At the entry level is the "trainee," who teaches for one or two years. Success at this level, plus an interview before a committee consisting of the trainee's mentor, school's director, faculty chair of the subject, and a trade union representative selected by the trainee, elevates the trainee to the level of "contract teacher." Here he or she works for at least three years. Thereafter, passing an examination raises him or her to the status of "nominated teacher." Three good years must be completed at this level, plus an interview with a committee consisting of the school's director or assistant director, three experts from the Ministry of Education, and a trade union representative. The fourth level, "certified teacher," is where most careers end. Some, however, manage to reach the fifth level, which is honorary, "professor of education."

Academic Teachers in Institutions of Higher Education: As of the 1999-2000 school year, a total of 77,821 faculty members, including 29,908 women, worked in Polish higher education. There were 15,530 professors of whom 2,873 were women. Predictably, there were far fewer doctors habilitated, 8,963. Of this figure, 1,388 were female. Associate professors numbered 596, and among them were 120 women. Of this figure 391 held the scientific degree of doctor habilitated, including 80 women. Tutors possessing at least the doctorate, called adiunkt, were counted at 2,768 with 715 females. Out of this total, 885 possessed the scientific title of doctor habilitated. Assistants, holders of the M.A. degree, totaled 18,138 and among them were 8,511 women. Other teachers numbered 15,861, of them 8,689 were female.

Teacher Unions: There are two main teachers unions, the Polish Teachers Union (Zwiazek Nauczycielstwa Polskiego ) and Solidarity's Teachers Section (Sekcja Nauczycielska NSZZ Solidarnosc ).


Free Poland inherited from the era of Soviet domination an excellent public education system. In some ways that system has been made even better. Since 1989, Marxist-Leninist dogma has been removed, and, in addition, the curriculum has been made more practical and less encyclopedic. Today a wide selection of textbooks is in use. Polish schools now demand even more from teachers, who have been forced to develop their skills more fully. New pedagogical methods are in use, and parents now play a greater role in the education of their children. Poland has responded eagerly to the technological revolution of the 1990s, and stress on computers and the Internet is heavy. In addition, new facilities have been built. Poland's system for busing school children is quite efficient.

Not all change has been positive. In the pell-mell rush to embrace capitalism, Poland, like many nations of the former East Bloc, has badly neglected its public sector employees. In just a decade, low wages have produced a visible generation gap. University graduates are not attracted to teaching, but instead the most talented are lured into business. Below the college-teaching level, the profession has experienced a feminization found frequently in nations that support public education in an inadequate manner. Likewise, low investment in school equipment, such as teaching aids,plagues the system. Post-Communist creation of a new level of schools, the gymnasium, has caused school bureaucracies to expand, even as funds have not kept up with growth. The closing of small, rural schools in the name of efficiency has caused some children to be bused great distances to the chagrin of parents. Indeed, the very selection of which schools to shut has led to ugly rhetoric in parts of the Polish countryside.


Bruckner, Aleksander. Dzieje kultury polskiej t 1-4. Warszawa: Wiedza Powszechna, 1991.

Gazeta Szkolna On-Line. Available from

Gimazjum. Available from http://www.gimnazjum.

Liceum. Available from

Oswiata i wychowanie w roku szkolnym 1999/2000. Warszawa: Glowny Urzad Statystyczny, 2000.

Raport o stanie o wiaty w PRL. Warszawa, 1973.

Republic of Poland Ministry of Education (Ministerstwo Edukacji Narodowej). Scientific and Academic Activities of Polish Universities and Other High Schools. Available from

Statistical Yearbook of the Republic of Poland. Warszawa: Glowny Urzad Satystyczny, 2000.

Wroczynski, Ryszard. Dzieje oswiaty polskiej do roku 1795. Warszawa: Panstwowe Wydawn, 1983.

Dzieje oswiaty polskiej 1795-1945. Warszawa: Panstwowe Wydawn, 1980.

Dorota Batog, Wlodzimierz Batog, and James G. Ryan

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Republic of Poland

Rzeczpospolita Polska



Located in Central Europe, Poland is bordered on the west by Germany, in the north by the Baltic Sea, in the north-east by Russia and Lithuania, in the east by Belarus and Ukraine, and in the south by Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Poland covers a total area of 312,685 square kilometers (120,728 square miles), making it slightly smaller than the state of New Mexico. The capital city, Warsaw, is situated in the center of the country.


The population of Poland was estimated at 38,653,912 in July 2001. In 2001 the birth rate stood at 10.2 per 1,000 and the death rate at 9.98 per 1,000. After a period of uninterrupted growth that began in 1946, the population registered a slight decrease of 0.03 percent in 2001, reflecting a net migration rate of 0.49 people per 1,000. Negative population growth is expected over the next few years, before an upward turn that should see the population reach 39,065,000 in 2015. These projections could change with the arrival of immigrants of Polish descent from central Asian countries such as Kazakhstan, a law having been passed in 2000 to facilitate such immigration .

In 1990, Poland's population was primarily of Polish European descent (97.6 percent). Small minority groups included Germans (1.3 percent), Ukrainians (0.6 percent), and Byelorussians (0.5 percent). Prior to World War II (1939-45) the population of Poland was multi-ethnic, but 5 years of Nazi occupation resulted in heavy loss of life, and it is estimated that more then 6 million Polish citizenssoldiers and civilians combinedwere killed. The heaviest losses were suffered by Poland's Jewish population, the vast majority of whom perished in extermination camps. Many citizens of Polish descent also died in concentration camps, labor camps, prisons, or during forced labor. The demographic profile of Poland at the end of World War II demonstrated the effect of the war on population distribution: by 1945, the number of young men and women who could have been expected to produce children was considerably diminished, although a subsequent baby boom partially improved the situation.

In 1999, approximately 19 percent of the total population was aged 14 or younger, while 12 percent were older than 64. The majority of people live in urban areas. Life expectancy for men is 69.1 years, significantly shorter than for women (77.7 years). Thus, while the genders are more or less equal in number between the ages of 14 and 64, among people aged 65 and older women outnumber men. Despite a well-organized health care service, compulsory vaccination programs against major childhood diseases, and public health information, substantial numbers of Poles die prematurely of smoking-related illnesses. Alcohol consumption has decreased in the past decade, with low alcohol beverages preferred to spirits, but the Polish diet favors red meat, dairy products, and animal fats. Accordingly, Poles are subject to coronary heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer, all of which are thought to relate to the nation's eating habits. In recent years, emphasis has been placed on the development of healthy eating and physical exercise as a preventive measure against such illnesses.


The main revenue-producing sector of the Polish economy is the service sector, which generated approximately 60 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2000. Industry, much of it connected to the mining of mineral wealth, is next in importance at nearly 37 percent of GDP. Except for the rivers traversing Poland from the mountains in the south to the Baltic Sea in the north, the country's topography is free of any major obstacles to freedom of movement and the country has provided a natural network of east-west trade links for Europe dating back to ancient Roman times. Polish cities benefitted from trade for centuries, though numerous wars and military campaigns repeatedly destroyed the infrastructure and depleted the country's periodically accumulated wealth. The last wave of devastation was caused by World War II (1939-45).

Traditionally, Poland has been a large agricultural producer, with the broad, open valleys of the Oder and Vistula rivers providing excellent farmland. However, in recent years, due to a combination of changing farming methods, stiff competition, and environmental hazards such as soil erosion and water pollution, agricultural activity has declined significantly and accounted for only 3.8 percent of GDP in 2000.

In the 1600s, Poland was the main grain supplier in Europe and the country prospered considerably through the grain trade. By the late 1700s, however, the country fell victim to aggressive treaties between its neighbors, Russia, Austria, and Prussia, and ceased to exist as an independent state. The country was divided into thirds, annexed by its neighbors, and absorbed into their territories. Consequently, for 123 years, until the end of World War I in 1918, Poland was developed within separate economic and political entities. Reconstituted as an independent nation under U.S. President Woodrow Wilson's peace plan in 1918, the country had to deal with the legacy of 3 foreign economic systems and uneven levels of infrastructure.

The worldwide effects of the Great Depression of the 1930s and the devastating consequences of World War II hampered Polish economic growth in the first half of the 20th century. Freed from Nazi occupation by the spring of 1945, the country then fell into the sphere of the Soviet Union's influence. From the late 1940s until 1989, Poland's economy was again controlled by foreign dictate, which poured the country's resources into the creation of a huge industrial complex. Coal mining, steel manufacture, and other capital-intensive enterprises were built to satisfy the needs of the centrally planned system imposed by the Soviet Union on countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The Soviet program deprived other economic sectors of resources, caused environmental pollution, and lowered the quality of life in Poland. The unpopularity of the economic policies led to organized protests by the Solidarity labor movement that began in the summer of 1980 and resulted in the eventual defeat of the pro-Soviet government in 1989. Subsequent negotiations between the authoritarian regime and the democratic opposition brought political and economic change, and the non-democratic state-controlled economy gave way to the free market system.

Widely known as "shock therapy," the economic policy adopted by the newly elected democratic government early in 1990 was directed at balancing the national budget. A number of simultaneously implemented reforms liberalized prices and international trade, eliminated political censorship, restored private ownership, and began the privatization of state-owned assets. After an initial period of accelerated inflation in early 1990, the economy stabilized by the end of 1992. Between 1993 and 2000, Poland experienced a run of robust economic growth, offsetting the effects of economic contraction suffered in the 1980s and the early 1990s.

The private sector is now the country's primary job provider and, by 1999, employed 71 percent of the labor force , compared with 1990 when state-owned enterprises employed 52.1 percent of workers. However, the 1999 employment total of 16.069 million workers showed a drop of about 2.5 percent from 1990, although the number of self-employed people had grown by 12.8 percent to 5.6 million. Also, the number of farmers increased by about 10 percent, reflecting structural changes in the economy that reduced the labor force engaged in heavy industry and providing employment in some rural areas, particularly in southern and southeastern Poland.

In general, the Polish labor force is relatively well educated and literacy rates are high (99 percent for men and 98 percent for women). Only 15 percent of the total Polish population have had no more than a primary education, and a significant proportion of those are aged 55 and above. Among the 55-64 age group, nearly 19 percent have had a college education. In recent years, the demand for higher education has increased dramatically and about a third of those in their early twenties are enrolled in public or private colleges.

Sustained economic growth has continued despite frequent changes of government since 1989. Though governments have alternated between conservative and leftist, they have all shared a strong commitment to democracy and free market principles. Unemployment has remained relatively high, about 15 percent in 2000, largely because of the continuing structural adjustments to the economy that are necessary after decades of Soviet mismanagement. The government now attempts to focus on maximizing the use of the country's resources to assure the highest possible standard of living. For example, with the closing of a number of coal mines and a slowing down of heavy industry, with a consequent loss of jobs, new sectors such as telecommunications, banking, and insurance are developing. Growth is nonetheless steady, and this factor, combined with a large domestic market, attracts foreign direct investment . Recent years have witnessed rapid growth in retailing, food and hotel services, and communications.

Poland is negotiating for membership in the European Union (EU), but the question of agricultural subsidies is proving one of the most difficult areas on which to reach agreement. Although a date had not yet been set for joining the EU by 2001, the majority of Poles expect to become EU citizens within the first decade of the 21st century.


Since the change to the political system in 1989, Poland has been governed by alternating periods of right and left-oriented governments. Tadeusz Mazowiecki became prime minister in September 1989, leading the country's first democratic government since the end of World War II. In January 2001, a minority government took power, led by Election Action Solidarity (EAS), an umbrella organization of right-wing parties and the Solidarity trade unions. Despite several changes of government since 1989, democratic, free market, and pro-Western policies have remained unchanged. The large number of political parties established around 1990 has been reduced to 4 major players. The EAS, the moderate Freedom Union (FU), the Polish Peasant Party PPP), and the Liberal-Democratic Alliance, or SLD. From 1997 until late 2000, the SLD, a conglomerate of left wing and social democratic parties, formed a coalition government with the PPP, supporting private ownership, democratic principles in political life, and freedom of expression.

The executive branch of Polish government consists of the prime minister, the cabinet, and the president of the Republic of Poland. The president signs all bills passed by parliament, participates in formulating the annual government budget, and is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The president serves a 5-year term and can only be elected to 2 terms of office. Presidential appointees represent the office in numerous government agencies, including the Council of Monetary Policy, an autonomous body that sets targets for the money supply and for interest rates on loans made by the central bank to commercial banks, and establishes guidelines for foreign exchange rates . The former Solidarity leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Lech Walesa, was the first president of post-Soviet Poland.

Poland's parliament consists of a lower and an upper chamber (the Sejm and the Senate) which, together, form the National Assembly. There are 460 members of parliament in the Sejm and 100 in the Senate, all of whom are elected to serve a 4-year term. Candidates for the Senate must be at least 25 years old. The voting age is 18.

The third branch of government is the judiciary, which consists of the courts of law and a number of specially constituted bodies such as the Constitutional Tribunal. The Tribunal monitors and rules on matters alleged to be unconstitutional, protects the rights of individuals, and interprets the laws passed by the National Assembly with respect to rights defined by the Constitution. Labor disputes between employee and employer are heard by the Main Administrative Court, which was established exclusively to deal with non-criminal labor issues and deliver speedy judicial decisions. Cases considered in these courts cannot be considered in other courts.

The Criminal Code and the Civilian Code regulate the conduct of individuals and companies. The European-style legal system is strongly rooted in rules and regulations established by the National Assembly. Poland has abolished the death penalty and the longest prison sentence is 25 years, with life sentences an option only for crimes of particular gravity. However, because of public anxiety over crime, new laws were passed in 2000 approving stiffer penalties in a number of instances. The Civilian Code regulates contractual agreements and presides over divorce cases. It assigns parental custody and sets alimony payments, which are mandatory for all children up to age 18 and for those aged 18 and over who are still enrolled full-time at school. The amount of alimony is based on parental earnings.

In recent years, the Polish government has undertaken several major reforms needed to ensure both economic growth and efficient government administration. Such reforms include redrawing the boundaries of administrative districts, reducing the country's 50 provinces to 16, and the reintroduction of counties. Executive powers have been delegated from the central government to the provinces where elected legislative bodies have been established, thus reducing the number of government departments. This administrative streamlining has coincided with education reform, placing responsibility for the school system in the hands of local authorities. The Polish school system consists of grade, middle, and high schools. Important reforms in health care and social security have decreased government involvement in the provision of medical services and brought in the privatization of pension funds.

Taxes are the major source of government revenue in Poland. Businesses pay a tax of 28 percent on profits, while individuals are taxed on earned income calculated in bands of 19, 30, or 40 percent. Personal income tax accounted for 20.5 percent of all tax revenues in 1999. Over the past several years, tax rates have changed several times. Despite strong pressure from business-oriented leaders, including Leszek Balcerowicz who implemented the economic "shock therapy" of the early 1990s, the rates have not been lowered for some time. Parliamentary debate on this vital economic issue is expected to continue for some time. Excise taxes , representing 22.4 percent of all tax revenue, are collected on tobacco, alcohol, and lottery winnings, while a value-added tax (VAT), introduced some years ago in line with EU countries, supplies 43.3 percent of total tax revenue. The VAT is set at different rates for differing commodities.

The legislative and executive branches of government influence the economy through fiscal and monetary policies. The annual government budget is formulated by discussion of proposals put forward by the prime minister and the president, with additional policies introduced by legislators. Once approved, the budget sets short-term goals related to estimated income and expenditure and the project budgetary deficit or surplus. The economy is managed in line with these projections and, if the deficit figure is exceeded, the shortfall must be covered either through additional public borrowing or increased revenues. However, additional borrowing must have parliamentary approval, not always easily obtained, while additional taxation is limited by public opposition to increases. Consequently, the government may resort to raising excise taxes on selected goods such as alcohol, but more often obtains extra revenue by reducing or liquidating its ownership of companies owned by the Treasury. The privatization of such assets is implemented by opening the companies to bids from all interested parties. The selling off of state-owned enterprises to private companies is fiscally prudent, strengthening the private sector and reducing the necessity for government to compete directly in the financial markets.

The last Soviet troops left in 1994 and Poland, which had actively pursued membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) since the restoration of democracy, became an official member in March 1999 and joined the NATO peacekeeping forces in Kosovo shortly afterwards.


Poland has a good road and rail network, although its density varies across regions. Although the country had 251,004 kilometers (156,000 miles) of paved roads by 1999, these proved insufficient to cope with the explosion of car ownership and trucks in the country. The number of vehicles traveling on Polish roads increased to 13.2 million between 1990 and 1999, a growth of 47 percent (76 percent for passenger cars). The dated infrastructure is being modernized, but is not keeping pace with the acceleration in road traffic. Because of its location and topography Poland serves as a major route between western and eastern European countries. In recent years, trucks have become major carriers of goods from France, the Netherlands, Germany and other EU members, through Poland to Russia, Belarus, Lithuania, and Ukraine.

New multi-lane limited access highways are under construction across Poland and will increase the efficiency of the transport system. The construction of the limited access highway linking Berlin with the Polish capital, Warsaw, and extending to the border with Belarus, has been given priority. In southern Poland, a similar highway will link the western border with Germany through the city of Wroclaw in the Silesian region, and Cracow to the eastern border with Ukraine. A north-south link between Gdansk and the southern border crossings into the Czech Republic and Slovakia is also planned.

By 1999, Poland had 230,087 kilometers (143,000 miles) of well-developed railroad networks. With the increasing competition from buses and trucks, many unprofitable rail routes (12.7 percent between 1990 and 1999) have been closed. The state-owned railroad monopoly is being privatized, and the modernization of major railway lines undertaken in recent years has begun to reap benefits in shortened travel time. With the price of gasoline increasing, railways are once again becoming a competitive mode of passenger transport.

Poland has several well-known seaports. Starting from the northwest corner, the ports of Szczecin and Swinoujscie handle cargo, including coal exports and imports of fertilizer. The smaller ports of Kolobrzeg and Ustka mostly serve fishing fleets and coastal shipping, and handle cargo originating from, and destined for, other Baltic Sea ports. Further east, several small ports are used by fishermen and recreational sailors. Gdansk is the largest seaport. In 1999, 18.8 million tons of cargo37 percent of all Polish cargo both incoming and outgoingwas loaded or unloaded at Gdansk. Next to Gdansk is Gdynia, Poland's youngest port, which was built as a matter of economic necessity in the 1920s. It handles various cargoes, including container shipping. East of Gdansk, the port of Elblag can only be accessed by a narrow strait belonging to Russia, and ships bound for Elblag can only pass through without delay by negotiated agreement with the Russians.

Several major rivers, including the Vistula, Oder, Warta, and Notec, are used for barge navigation. The total length of rivers and channels suitable for barge navigation was 3,813 kilometers (2,370 miles) in 1999. Through its system of channels and rivers, Poland is linked with the inland waterways of Western Europe. The economic importance of the west-east barge traffic is small because it cannot compete effectively with truck and rail shipments. However, the north-south barge traffic is competitive, plying goods between Poland's southern industrial towns and farms and the Baltic ports of Szczecin, Swinoujscie, and Gdansk.

Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Poland 113 523 413 83.3 50 N/A 43.9 40.86 2,100
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
Germany 311 948 580 214.5 170 73.1 304.7 173.96 14,400
Romania 300 319 233 119.2 29 N/A 10.2 9.01 600
aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
bData are from the Internet Software Consortium ( and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

Warsaw's Okecie airport is the largest in Poland. All major European air carriers operate services to Warsaw, while the Polish national airline, Lot, connects the capital with many cities in Europe, North America, the Middle East, and Asia. Airports in Gdansk, Poznan, and Cracow also offer international connections. Airports of domestic importance are located in Szczecin, Katowice, and Wroclaw.

About 95 percent of the country's electricity is generated by burning fossil fuels. Public opposition in the early 1990s put an end to the construction of a proposed nuclear power plant in Zarnowiec, which was converted to conventional fuels instead. Hydroelectric power is also generated, mostly in southern Poland, where the mountainous topography offers opportunities to construct dams. Since much of the country's terrain consists of open plains, there is some expectation of being able to harness wind power in the future. In 1999, Poland generated a total of 134.351 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy, enough to meet domestic needs and export demand.

The country operates a very well-established postal service with 8,380 post offices in 1999, 58.8 percent of them located in rural areas. There is no weekend mail delivery, but many post offices in towns stay open in the evening and large cities typically have one 24-hour post office. Nearly 26,000 mailmen are employed in the daily delivery of mail. Courier services are provided by the post office and by private companies, which include branches of international couriers DHL and Federal Express.

Telecommunications services are undergoing rapid modernization. After years of neglect, new switchboards are constantly being installed and the number of telephone subscribers has increased substantially. The nation has enthusiastically adopted wireless communications and cellular phones, with the number of wire telephone subscribers exceeding 10 million in 1999 (more than treble the figure in 1990), while cellphone users increased from 75,000 in 1995 to almost 4 million in 1999.


Agriculture is the smallest of Poland's 3 major economic sectors, contributing just 3.8 percent of GDP in 1999. The industrial sector is significant and wide-ranging and contributed 36.6 percent of GDP, but the largest and fastest-growing economic sector is services, which provided 59.6 percent of GDP in 1999.

The total labor force in Poland stood at 17.2 million at the end of 1999, an increase of 1.2 percent since 1995. Men make up 64.3 percent of the workforce as against 49.7 percent of women, and the share of the working population is slightly higher in rural areas (57.2 percent) than in urban areas (56.3 percent), reflecting some increase in the number of farmers during the 1990s. In 1999, 1.434 million women and 1.207 million men were unemployed. Overall, 44.4 percent of Poles were employed in 1998, more than in Italy (40.7 percent) or Spain (41.6 percent), but less than in Germany (48.7 percent) or the United Kingdom (49.4 percent). The majority of Poland's workers50.4 percentwere employed in the services sector in 1999, while 27.5 percent were employed in the agricultural sector and 22.1 percent in industry.

The value of foreign direct investment (FDI) amounted to US$26 billion in 1999, a 332 percent increase since 1995. Many foreign companies operate in Poland. Hormel is investing in the meat processing industry, Coca-Cola and Pepsico have expanded their operations, and fast food chains including McDonald's, Burger King, Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell, and Dunkin' Donuts are now familiar names. Other major international corporations operating in Poland include GM, Daewoo, Volkswagen, and Fiat in the automotive industry. Power generation, petrochemicals, and telecommunications are other sectors that attract foreign investors since demand is high. While economic restructuring had already modernized a number of industries (paper and packaging, for example), foreign direct investment has led to a sizable increase in imports of technologically advanced machinery and equipment designed to speed up modernization.


About 2 million family farms, employing approximately 27.5 percent of the labor force, supply Poland's agricultural output. As a result of land reforms in the 1940s, when the country's large estates were divided up under communist rule, Polish farms are generally small, averaging about 15 acres. This is changing as much bigger farms are being developed, but the majority of farmers are unable to earn sufficient income through agriculture and must take outside jobs in order to support their families. Agriculture contributed only 3.8 percent of GDP in 1999, a major change in a country that, before World War II, was primarily an agricultural economy.

Poland is among the world's leading producers of rye, potatoes, and apples, as well as pork and milk. The length of the growing season varies regionally according to climate, being much shorter in the northeast where a harsh continental climate prevails. Although the exports of certain produce (potatoes, apples and other fruits, frozen ducks and geese, and sugar) has declined over the years, Poland exports grains, sugar, pork, processed meats, and dairy products. The upwards of 150-year-old sugar industry faces stiff price competition from overseas producers and is under pressure to restructure itself as the quantities of unsold sugar mount. Similarly, the once enormous potato production has been substantially reduced by changes and improvements to the feeding of livestock. Farmers face tough competition from imported commodities and food products, and are dissatisfied by the lack of sufficient export markets. It is expected that, within a decade, there will be no more than 700,000 farms in Poland. They will be large, specialized, and commercially geared, replacing the small, diversified, but often inefficient agricultural producers. Restructuring of the farming sector is a major issue in negotiating Poland's access to the EU.

Pork and dairy farmers remain competitive. Milk and pork production have recovered from the transition from the centrally planned system of fixed prices to the market economy. Dairy plants that had been organized as cooperatives have successfully adopted modern processing and packing technologies, and planned development of dairy products has helped maintain market demand.

Even before the 20th century, deforestation occurred as a result of clearing trees in order to expand the land available for farming. This has led to problems of soil erosion caused by winds blowing across the treeless land. In recent years, the government has offered reforestation incentives to farmers, granting them exemption from land tax if they plant trees on their least productive land. Polish farmers only use pesticides in conditions of extreme necessity and the use of chemical fertilizer is also comparatively low, but there is always the threat of water pollution, mainly caused by nitrogen and phosphorus runoff in livestock production. Farmers are being educated to the dangers, and practices are changing. Local governments, too, have been using central government grants to plant trees along streams and creeks to establish a biological barrier between fields and surface water. Further progress in farming techniques will require additional investment in manure storage facilities, and the government will continue to support environmental programs relating to agriculture in order to meet EU standards.



The mining sector employed 271,000 workers in 1999, representing 2.8 percent of the workforce. Since 1995, however, the employment decreased in this sector by 27.5 percent. Mining accidents were a constant threat and resulted from gas explosions, gas poisonings, or rock collapsing on miners working underground.

Coal mining has been a traditional employer of thousands living in the regions of Upper and Lower Silesia. Poland has long produced in excess of 140 million tons of coal annually. In 1999, the country mined 112 million tons, placing it seventh among the top 10 world coal producers. New coal fields were brought into production in eastern Poland in the 1980s, but the decreasing importance of steel production and coal exports led to the reduction of the number of mines. In 2000 the government offered coal miners an incentive program encouraging early retirement and re-training because of the diminishing profitability and efforts to reduce the environmental degradation in Silesia, the primary coal mining region.

Poland is also mining lignite, used as a fossil fuel for power generation. The 1999 production was 60.8 million tons, about 10 percent lower than in 1990. Large lignite deposits have been mined in central Poland around the town of Konin and in the southwestern corner of Poland near Turoszow, where the borders of Poland, Germany, and the Czech Republic come together. Because lignite contains less energy per unit of weight than coal it is chiefly used in the immediate vicinity of the mine for power generation. Poland was the world's fourth largest lignite producer in 1999.

Sulphur mines are located in the area of Tarnobrzeg, northeast of Cracow, near the Vistula river. Poland is the third largest sulphur producer in the world and produced 1.247 million tons in 1999, roughly a quarter of what was produced in 1990. Sulphur and sulfuric acid are major exported commodities. In western Poland, around the town of Lubin, copper is mined. In 1999, the region produced 28.388 million tons of copper ore. High quality copper is smelted there as well as other ores typically found with copper such as silver. Poland was the world's eighth largest copper producer in 1999 and copper is a major export commodity, but the slowing world demand does not encourage further expansion of mines in Poland. Sodium chloride, or salt, has been mined for centuries in Poland and some of the world's oldest salt mines can be found in Wieliczka near Cracow. Today Poland continues to mine salt mostly in the central plains. In 1999, Poland produced 4.128 million tons of salt. Natural gas reserves are significant and several fields are being operated on plains in central and western regions. Oil reserves are limited and satisfy only a fraction of the domestic demand.


The manufacturing sector has been undergoing major restructuring since 1990. Following the changes in the political and economic system, many industries were forced to compete on the market rather than having their production and prices set by the government. Many plants found it difficult to compete on the basis of quality and cost-effectiveness. After a period of attempts to adjust, many plants closed because they were using obsolete technology or because they lost their primary markets. The closings most affected the heavy industry producing machinery and equipment for the mining industry, steel mills, smelting, shipbuilding, and railroad equipment.

Steel manufacturing continues at modernized mills near Cracow and in Silesia in southern Poland. Demand for steel comes from the automotive industry and shipbuilding. Several car plants including the Italian Fiat and GM are located in Silesia. Daewoo operates a plant in Warsaw, while Volkswagen operates a new plant in Poznan. Between 1990 and 1999, car production increased by 244 percent. The shipbuilding industry, although considerably smaller than in decades past, continues to build vessels in Szczecin, Gdynia, and Gdansk located on the Baltic Sea. After a period of adjustment in the mid-1990s, the shipbuilding industry increased production in the late 1990s. The rail car industry shrunk substantially, but a plant continues to produced modernized equipment in Wroclaw. Large demand for steel is represented by the construction industry. Besides steel, Poland also produces aluminum, lead, and zinc.

Silesia is also the center for coke produced from coal and crude petroleum processing. Plock, located in central Poland, refines crude oil imported from Russia, and a refinery in Gdansk processes oil imported by sea from the Middle East and Africa. Fuel oil, gasoline, and lubricants are some of the products produced by the oil processing industry.

Fertilizers are produced at several locations. Phosphorus fertilizers are produced near Szczecin, while a plant in the town of Pulawy, southeast of Warsaw, produces nitrogen fertilizers. Another fertilizer plant is in Tarnow, east of Cracow in the southern part of the country. Fertilizer production increased in the late 1990s despite a decrease in the domestic demand for fertilizers caused by the decrease in food consumption and imports of competitively priced feed components.

The chemical industry produces a number of goods, including sulfuric acid, synthetic fibers, synthetic organic dyes, and caustic soda. The production of plastics increased by about 50 percent between 1995 and 1999, while synthetic rubber production decreased slightly. Chemical industry plants are located in Silesia and several major cities. Lacquer product production increased substantially during the 1990s. The production of tires for cars more than tripled between 1990 and 1999 in response to the increased demand resulting from increased car ownership.

The production of construction materials showed mixed trends in the 1990s. This is the result of dramatically changing technology using different materials, lighter constructions, and new insulating materials. Although the production of cement increased, plate glass production shrunk. Also, brick production decreased by nearly one-half.

Lodz and surrounding towns in central Poland have been for more than a century producing high quality yarn, fabrics, and ready-to-wear clothing. However, once price controls were lifted and the large market represented by the Soviet Union disappeared, the industry was forced to reduce production and employment. Many female workers were laid off because, with the outdated technology and relatively high labor costs, some textile factories were unable to compete with goods from Asia and Central America. Textiles are also produced in the city of Bialystok in the northeastern part of Poland.

The production of consumer durables is located in major cities. Poland increased the production of refrigerators, automatic washing machines, computer systems, and electronic calculating equipment and television sets in the 1990s. The increase in the production of television sets amounted to 687 percent between 1990 and 1999. The production of furniture increased by 334 percent during the same period.



Poland's retail sector had been severely under-developed by central planners. The allocation of resources by the Soviet-backed regime gave priority to industrial development and, under the fixed-price system, made retailing a secondary concern. Furthermore, with private property ownership perceived as highly undesirable, the only companies that could operate retail stores were state-owned or cooperative enterprises. Three major organizations were virtual oligopolists (businesses which greatly affect the market by virtue of the scarcity of other businesses) in the retail sector. Two of them were transformed cooperatives: one operated grocery stores in towns and cities, and the other dominated retailing in rural areas. The government planners distributed goods according to priorities set by the government administration and in response to political influence rather than in response to the needs and actual demand.

The transition to a market-oriented economy at the end of 1989 led to the rapid re-birth of the private retail sector. Within a couple of years almost all retail trade was privatized. The old distribution system collapsed, and a new system slowly emerged. The instant effect of price liberalization and the introduction of private property was the increase in the number of retail outlets. Initially, new outlets were mostly small grocery stores, but over time specialty stores appeared, including clothing stores, shoe stores, drug stores, books and paper product outlets, stores with electronics, home furnishings, and others. The number of grocery stores continued to increase in the late 1990s, although at a decreasing rate. In 1999, the number of grocery stores was 16 percent higher than in 1995, but in 1998 the number of new stores increased by only 159, reaching a total of 147,366.

The newest trend in the retail food sector is the emergence of supermarket chains. In the first half of the 1990s, large supermarkets located in the largest cities. Although some of them were established by foreign retail corporations, others were operated by Polish entrepreneurs. Knowing the needs and preferences of Polish consumers, Polish chains located in residential neighborhoods or in areas of dense housing. The stores were medium size, offered self-service areas and serviced meat, fish, and bakery departments. In recent years, a number of large supermarkets has been constructed on the outskirts of large urban areas. They located at the intersections of major highways and depend heavily on shoppers traveling in their own vehicles. Given the rapid increase in car ownership, these new stores appeal to the new and growing middle class. Because these stores are largely operated by chains from Germany, France, Belgium, and other countries, they also brought with them the new concept of the hypermarket, which sells both groceries and non-food items ranging from cosmetics and detergent to clothing and household items.

Retail shops employed 1.35 million workers in 1999, or 13.9 percent of all employed in the economy. The employment in this sector increased by 20 percent between 1995 and 1999. However, the next few years will bring a restructuring of the food retail segment because large supermarkets operating for long hours had begun to force the closure of small shops in their area. Therefore, some jobs will be transferred from small owner-operated shops to large corporate-owned supermarkets. The process will vary across regions reflecting variability in population density and income.


The rapidly increasing number of cars in Poland led to the development of a new service sector that includes car dealerships, repair services, and gasoline stations. Car dealerships numbered 13,453 in 1999 and increased by 28.6 percent between 1995 and 1999. However, the growth rate decreased substantially over this period, reflecting the saturation of the market and the slackening demand for new cars. Although Poland's new car demand was the highest in Europe in 1998 and 1999, sales figures for 2000 were substantially lower. Increasing gasoline prices caused by higher energy prices worldwide and excise taxes made ownership less attractive. Furthermore, the increase of the short-term interest rates by the National Bank of Poland to curb inflation increased the cost of credit used by the majority of buyers to finance a purchase.

The number of gasoline stations continues to increase at a healthy pace. Between 1995 and 1999 the number increased by 42 percent. The growth in 1999 alone was almost 5 percent. With the construction of new highways and the establishment of new shopping centers on the outskirts of towns, the demand for gasoline will continue to grow. Also, the anticipated growth in cross-country transit traffic will encourage the construction of new gasoline stations in the near future. Many of the new stations are built by international corporations, e.g., Shell and BP, and include a convenience store and a fast food restaurant. McDonald's Corp. in particular joins many gasoline retailers located at major highways.


The banking industry was underdeveloped at the end of the 1980s. Credit was used to finance government investment projects and was provided by state-owned banks. Credit for consumer spending was very limited. Housing cooperatives constructing and maintaining apartment complexes received government-subsidized credits. Since the change in government, the private banking industry has emerged and foreign banks opened branch offices.

The financial sector employed 287.4 thousand people at the end of 1999, 2.9 percent of the workforce and more than the mining industry. Employment grew by about one-fifth between 1995 and 1999. Revenues from operations increased for the comparable period of time by 268 percent. The gross profit rate of financial service businesses amounted to 15.5 percent in 1995 and dropped to 7.1 percent in 1999. However, the net profits were 9.9 percent in 1995, 4.2 percent in 1998, and 4.5 percent in 1999. Credit and debit card use has increased dramatically and ATMs have been installed in public access areas, facilitating customer use of their money.

In 1999 and 2000 a number of foreign banks increased their presence in Poland. Also, several major mergers were concluded strengthening the banking sector and increasing its capital. Foreign portfolio investment in Poland increased from US$9.4 billion in 1995 to US$14.2 billion in 1999. The foreign portfolio investment can choose between the bond and the stock market. In recent years, because of the growing economy, the stock market offered very good returns.


This sector was particularly underdeveloped prior to 1989. The government was not interested in such investment because, under the system of controlled food prices, there was no economic incentive to operate restaurants. Instead, the government-owned companies, schools, universities, and hospitals operated cafeterias. Eating privileges were tied to employment or enrollment in the school program. The majority of cafeterias served the main meal of the day at mid-day. The food was often perceived as lacking taste, but it was convenient, saving the trouble of shopping and cooking upon returning home.

The restoration of private ownership encouraged a large number of entrepreneurs to open eating establishments. At the end of 1999, the number of restaurants was 73,099, and about 95 percent of them were privately owned. The distribution of restaurants by type indicates that the most popular among consumers and entrepreneurs were self-service restaurants, which represented 44.3 percent of all restaurants at the end of 1999. Food stands were the second most prevalent type of food service facility, representing 39.1 percent of all establishments, but their number grew very slowly between 1995 and 1999. Tablecloth restaurants represented 8.8 percent of all restaurants, but their number increased by 24.4 percent between 1995 and 1999. This growth is most visible as these restaurants locate in prime shopping or tourist areas. The fastest growth was among cafeterias, whose numbers expanded 36.4 percent between 1995 and 1999. The revenues in the food service sector as a whole doubled between 1995 and 1999. The growth was generated mostly by food sales rather than by alcohol sales.


Slightly over 89 million foreigners visited Poland in 1999. The growth was fully attributable to the growth in visits of citizens of neighboring countries, who represented 95.4 percent of foreign tourists. However, the short-term trends in the direction from which tourists arrive is changing. In the second half of the 1990s, the number of Ukrainian, Lithuanian, and Belarusian visitors increased, while the number of tourists from Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Russia decreased. Czech and German tourists dominate the tourist traffic in Poland. In 1999, 53.8 million tourists came from Germany and 13.5 million tourists from the Czech Republic. The number of visiting German tourists steadily increases.

Tourists arriving from countries not bordering with Poland come mostly from the Netherlands, the United States, Sweden, Hungary, Italy, and Great Britain. Among them, the number of American tourists showed the largest gains between 1995 and 1999. Although Poland offers great tourist sites for those interested in history or nature, the climate is not conducive to all types of activities sought by tourists. The large, sandy beaches of the Baltic Sea are wonderful for walking, but sun bathing and swimming are reserved only for summer months.

The expanding hotel sector and improved quality of accommodations and service will eventually attract more tourists. The hospitality industry (hotels and restaurants) employed a total of 158.3 thousand people in 1999, or 1.6 percent of the workforce. This figure grew by more than 24 percent since 1995, showing a robust expansion of the sector. With improving access through a better highway system, faster train service, and more air connections, the tourist industry is poised for moderate growth.


During the last decade of the 20th century, international trade was fully liberalized. The direction of Poland's trade has changed substantially as the result of the breakup of the Soviet bloc of countries. Today, Poland's major trading partners are located mostly in Western Europe and North America and not in the former

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Poland
exports Imports
1975 10.289 11.155
1980 14.191 16.690
1985 11.489 11.855
1990 13.627 8.413
1995 22.895 29.050
1998 N/A N/A
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.

Soviet bloc states. Prior to World War II, the main trading partner in both exports and imports was Germany, receiving 31.2 percent of Polish exports and providing 27.3 percent of imports in 1928. The second and the third trading partners were the United States and Great Britain.

Following World War II and the installation of the Soviet Union-controlled regime in Poland, trade flow patterns changed. In 1950, the Soviet Union was the largest importer of Polish goods (28.8 percent) and the largest exporter to Poland (24.3 percent). Czechoslovakia and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) were the other 2 most important trading partners. By 1990, the trade flow patterns continued to reflect the economic re-orientation of Poland. The 2 main trading partners were East Germany (20.1 percent and 25.1 percent of imports and exports, respectively) and the Soviet Union (19.8 percent and 15.3 percent of imports and exports, respectively).

After 1990, however, trade patterns changed dramatically. The Soviet Union peacefully disintegrated and was replaced by Russia and 14 other independent countries. By 1999, a re-unified Germany had become the major trading partner, taking 36.1 percent of Poland's exports and providing 25.2 percent of its imports. Other major markets for Polish exports were Italy (6.5 percent), the Netherlands (5.3 percent), France (4.8 percent), the United Kingdom (4.0 percent), and the Czech Republic (3.8 percent). Major importers to Poland in 1999 include Italy (9.4 percent), France (6.8 percent), Russia (5.8 percent), the United Kingdom (4.6 percent), and the Netherlands (3.7 percent).

Poland formed together with Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic a free trade area in the early 1990s and became a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). However, the main goal has been to gain access to the European Community (EC) market because of its size and the demand structure. Poland's agricultural products had particularly difficult access to EC markets because of the quota system imposed by the EU. An agreement between the 2 parties signed in September 2000 opened the trade in agricultural products and set the pace leading to full liberalization of agricultural trade between Poland and the EU within the next few years. It is expected that Poland will increase exports of milk and dairy products, pork, some fruits and vegetables, potato products, confections, and, perhaps, sugar, while increasing imports of poultry, fresh fruits and vegetables, wine, and processed foods.

Imports are associated with the rapid growth and direct foreign investment. Among some of the main types of goods imported to Poland are machinery and industrial equipment, electronics, cars and car parts, and construction materials. Oil and gas are large import items. Oil is imported from Russia and Middle Eastern countries, while gas is imported from Russia. Poland wants to import gas from Norway, but not until a pipeline link is constructed. In recent years Poland's appetite for imported goods exceeded exports. In 2000, the value of imports stood at US$42.7 billion while the value of exports stood at US$28.4 billion.


From the end of World War II until 1990, the exchange of the Polish currency, the zloty, was suspended. The government established an elaborate system of several exchange rate regimes. The Polish zloty was valued differently against the same foreign currencies depending on the type of a transaction. For example, western tourists were forced to exchange their currency at a rate making the zloty very expensive, but foreign importers were attracted by competitively priced goods in zlotys. This system of multiple exchange rates ended in the late 1980s.

The liberalization of economic controls during the early 1990s caused the zloty to lose much of its value. By the mid-1990s, US$1 was worth in excess of 10,000 zlotys. Therefore, the National Bank of Poland decided to exchange the banknotes by introducing new coins and banknotes on 1 January 1995. The new Polish zloty was equal to 10,000 old Polish zlotys. The original exchange rate was posted at US$1:2.434 Polish zloty in January 1995. For a time, both the new and the old banknotes were in circulation. Today, old banknotes are no longer accepted for payment.

The National Bank of Poland (NBP) is the sole supplier of money in the economy. Its mission is to implement the monetary policy consistent with maintaining the low inflation rate needed for sustained economic growth. The primary tool used by the NBP was the manipulation of the short-term interest rate charged on loans made to commercial banks. The NBP is independent from the executive branch of government. Its leadership received high praise for its focused approach and has been credited with the high levels of economic activity.

With the adoption of the market economy, Poland opened its stock exchange. The Warsaw Stock Exchange

Exchange rates: Poland
zlotys per US$1
Dec 2000 4.3126
2000 4.3461
1999 3.9671
1998 3.4754
1997 3.2793
1996 2.6961
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

was, ironically, located in the building built specially as the headquarters of the Polish United Workers Party (a Soviet-style communist party). The increasing popularity of the stock exchange, the growing number of traded stocks, and the volume traded have forced it to move to a new, bigger facilities in recent years. Besides stocks of individual companies, several mutual funds have been established. Their popularity has increased because capital gains and dividends are tax-free in Poland.

At the end of 1999, the number of companies listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange was 119, more than twice the number of those traded in 1995. The value of transactions more than tripled in the same time period. An average number of transactions per session on the main market was about 4,100 in 1999. The main market requires that companies exist for a minimum period of time and meet standard capital requirements. The parallel market trades shares of companies unable to meet the main market requirements, but which issue enough shares to guarantee liquidity . A total of 61 companies were listed on this market at the end of 1999. Finally, the free market trades shares of companies which meet similar, but less rigorous requirements than those expected from companies traded on the other 2 markets. At the end of 1999, this market listed 26 companies after 2 years in existence.

The Warsaw Stock Exchange Index (WIG) relates the current market value of companies listed on the main market to the value of companies quoted on the first session of the stock exchange on 16 April 1991. The initial level of the index was 1,000 and rose to 18,083.6 at the end of 1999.

Poland also has an active bond market. The government began issuing securities to finance the budget deficit in the early 1990s and gradually introduced short-, medium-, and long-term fixed rate treasury bonds. Variable rate bonds have been also introduced. Over time, the government has been issuing mostly variable rate bonds. This trend is reflected in changes in volume traded. In 1995, for example, the majority of transactions involved 5-year fixed rate bonds, but in 1999 the majority involved 3-year variable bonds. Overall, during that period, the government issued less bonds and the value of traded bonds in 1999 was roughly one-fourth of that in 1995. Traders and the public preferred trading at the stock exchange.


Although not a poor country, the amount of wealth accumulated by Poland's citizens is limited. The loss of independence, the control by foreign powers of economic and political life, and 2 world wars brought destruction and depleted any accumulated wealth. Since the end of World War II misguided economic policies further wasted the efforts of millions of people. Only since 1990

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Poland N/A 2,932 2,819 2,900 3,877
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Germany N/A N/A N/A N/A 31,141
Romania 1,201 1,643 1,872 1,576 1,310
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.

has the country had its first real opportunity to utilize its talents and skills. It will take time, however, before the effects will be widely visible.

The implementation of market-oriented reforms caused the whole nation to suffer during the period of transition. The previous system of widely spread subsidies for food consumption, transportation, and other areas of life could not be sustained because of the gaping hole in the government budget. Particularly hard hit by budget cuts were places of culture including museums, galleries, theaters, symphony orchestras, and other artists who had benefitted from government sponsorship. Slowly, as the economy has improved, private sponsors increased their contributions and the government budget has allocated more funds to support arts and sciences.

The new economic system offers unemployment benefits. The benefits expire after several months. However, local governments operate offices assisting the unemployed in finding jobs. In some parts of the country it is difficult to match the person with given skills to the job. Retraining programs are offered for those who lack job skills, such as high school graduates who pursued general education, or those whose skills are obsolete because of the changing economy.

Poland's health care system has been recently reformed, but everybody has access to medical services. A

Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Poland
Lowest 10% 3.0
Lowest 20% 7.7
Second 20% 12.6
Third 20% 16.7
Fourth 20% 22.1
Highest 20% 40.9
Highest 10% 26.3
Survey year: 1996
Note: This information refers to income shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita income.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].
Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Poland 28 4 19 6 1 8 34
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
Germany 14 6 7 2 10 7 53
Romania 36 7 9 3 20 9 16
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
aExcludes energy used for transport.
bIncludes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

person must register with a family doctor of his or her choice. This general physician is the primary care provider. Should any additional services be required, the primary care provider directs a patient to a specialist. The health care system is organized into several regional organizations which receive government grants to finance their services. The organizations negotiate contract prices with hospitals and clinics, both private and operated by local governments. Destitute people also receive health care services and the cost of treatment is paid by grants from local or central governments. Although the system pays for psychiatric help, it does not include dental care services.

Poland has a public school system. All citizens are guaranteed education through grade 12. In recent years, private schools have been permitted, but their number remains small. Schools are operated by local governments, but the central government provides grants on a per-pupil basis. Because schools often lack funds for periodic maintenance services such as painting or decorating classrooms, parents often either collect additional funds or provide labor to complete these tasks. Fund raisers are also held to finance class trips and other special projects.

High school graduates who would like to pursue a university degree can choose from a number of private colleges and public universities. Many of these schools focus on educating students in a single area, for example, insurance, journalism, marketing, or economics and management. They offer a baccalaureate degree after 3 years of studies. Two additional years and a thesis are required to complete an MS degree. The government provides low-interest loans for students lacking funds to study at a university. Public universities do not charge tuition, but to be accepted the candidate must pass an entrance exam or graduate from high school with a high GPA.

Because economic conditions vary across regions, the government developed some programs focusing on the needs of areas lagging behind the general level of development. These areas receive additional funds for the construction of local infrastructure projects including water and sewage treatment facilities, school construction and renovation, etc. A portion of the funds is provided by the EU.

Although lifestyles between the poor and the wealthy have not yet had time to fully differentiate, some differences are visible. Besides differences in food consumption, some of the noticeable differences are in the use of vacation time. Although the number of people participating in tourist trips increased from 53 percent in 1990 to 63 percent in 1999, the percentage of those spending 5 or more days on a trip stayed roughly the same. In 1990, 34 percent spent 5 or more days on a trip, while in 1999 36 percent did so. However, the number of non-travelers decreased from 47 percent to 37 percent in the same time period. The length of a typical vacation tends to be shorter now than the standard 2 weeks prior to 1989.

The change of the economic system to one rewarding the suppliers of labor negatively affected families with a large number of small children. These families tend to spend particularly large amounts of their income on food and basic necessities, while having fewer opportunities to allocate more time to work. Government welfare programs provide additional support, but it seems that the needs of large families are increasing. Whether this situation discourages childbearing and contributes to the stagnation of the population growth has not yet been determined.


Government policy aims at sustaining economic growth as the way to solve the problem of unemployment. In 1999 an estimated 12 percent of Poland's work-force of 17.2 million were unemployed. Poland is a member of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and participates in all major world and European treaties protecting personal freedoms, rights of expression, and free association. The tradition of independent trade union organization started with Solidarity, which was a major force behind the transition to democracy and a market-oriented economy.

Workers continue to be organized in 2 major trade union organizations: Solidarity, which continues the traditions of the organization born in the summer of 1980; and the trade union organizations formed from the former government-sponsored and controlled unions that predated Solidarity. There is also a very aggressive teachers' union, which was opposed to the government-sponsored school reforms and the associated performance-based evaluation. Part of the reform included the change of the retirement age from 55 years of age to 60 years. However, none of the changes violated any domestic or international legal standard.

Disputes resulting from employment contracts are handled by special courts. These courts deal only with conflicts between employers and employees. Children under 16 years of age are not allowed to work. On farms, however, some children may help parents with regular chores or at harvest. However, no widespread use of underage children is required because many farms are small and they are relatively well equipped with machinery. Pregnant women receive special treatment. After delivery, a woman can take up to 12 months of unpaid leave, while her job is protected.

Increasingly, education influences the type of job and pay a person receives. The link between education and pay explains the increasing demand for education and the rapidly growing number of college and university students.


966. Poland's Duke Mieszko I is baptized and Poland accepts Christianity.

1025. Boleslaw is crowned the first king of Poland.

1385. The commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania is created through a treaty.

1683. King Jan Sobieski III defeats the army of the Ottoman Empire in the battle of Vienna.

1772. Poland is partitioned (divided) by Russia, Austria, and Prussia.

1795. Polish-American hero Tadeusz Kosciuszko leads an insurrection against Russia, one of many that occur as Poland loses all the functionings of an independent state as it is subsumed into the partitioning countries. Poland ceases to exist as an independent nation until 1918.

1918. Poland is reborn at the end of World War I; Ignacy Paderewski becomes the first prime minister.

1920. Poland fights a war with the Soviet Union and successfully defends itself against the Red Army.

1939. On 1 September Nazi Germany invades Poland signaling the beginning of World War II; on 17 September Russian leader Josef Stalin orders the Red Army to enter Poland in accordance with the secret treaty between the Soviet Union and Germany; Poland is occupied until 1945.

1940. The Polish government-in-exile formed in the United Kingdom organizes a system of military and civilian communication in occupied Poland.

1945. Warsaw is liberated and Poland is freed of Nazi occupation.

1948. The Soviet Union installs a communist government in Poland, leading to over 40 years of centrally-planned economic organization.

1956. In June, protests against Soviet control in the city of Poznan end with nearly 80 dead; by October, the ruling regime installs new leadership and temporarily relaxes some controls.

1970. The December protests of shipyard workers against food price increases lead to violent action by government security forces in the Baltic cities of Szczecin, Gdynia, and Gdansk.

1976. Following another wave of protests, the Polish opposition forms the Committee for Workers' Defense and begins to organize the underground publication of officially banned writers and intellectuals.

1979. Polish Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cracow, is elected Pope John Paul II.

1980. The independent trade union "Solidarity," led by Lech Walesa, is born in Gdansk.

1981. Martial law is introduced on 13 December, and there are widespread arrests of Solidarity activists.

1989. Negotiations lead to a peaceful transfer of power to the opposition; the first free elections are held in Poland since the end of World War II.

1997. A new constitution is adopted in a nationwide referendum.

1999. Poland joins the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).


Poland entered the 21st century as a member of NATO and a candidate for the early accession into the European Union. The country has been firmly committed to democracy and a market economy after the implementation of economic, political, administrative, and social reforms following the collapse of communist control in 1989. The pace of changes during the 1990s moved the country from stagnation to a period of steady economic growth. The country is posed to continue its growth. Although the unemployment rate will, at least in the short run, remain relatively high, the government's macroeconomic policies are intended to assure long-term economic growth. The primary objective will remain the need to manage the supply of money to the economy so as to balance the need for growth with the need to assure stable prices.

In the coming years the most important economic issues facing Poland will likely include efforts to lower unemployment, while keeping inflation at bay. Furthermore, issues in regional differences in economic activity will come to the forefront. Although labor mobility in Poland is low because of prevailing attitudes, those who want to move to an area where the demand for labor is high face the problem of finding affordable housing.

Political stability has been achieved as governments alternate between right and left orientation, but within constitutionally defined boundaries. Although not all reforms have been popular, all of them have been necessary to assure the sustainable growth in decades to come. The transfer of many responsibilities from the central to local government strengthens the participatory democracy, allowing the people to voice their opinions and influence policies.

Within the next few years, a young, well-educated labor force will enter the labor market. Because the quality of human capital is increasingly important in today's economy, future graduates are expected to be productive and competitive contributors to further economic growth.


Poland has no territories or colonies.


Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: Poland. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2001.

Embassy of Poland, Washington, D.C. <>. Accessed September 2001.

Holmes, Leslie T., and Wojciech Roszkowski, editors. Changing Rules: Polish Political and Economic Transformation in Comparative Perspectives. Warsaw: Institute of Political Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences, 1997.

National Bank of Poland. <>. Accessed September 2001.

OECD Economic Outlook. Paris: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Vol. 68, December 2000.

Polish Official Statistics. <>. Accessed September 2001.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2001. <>. Accessed September 2001.

U.S. Department of State. FY 2001 Country Commercial Guide: Poland. <>. Accessed September 2001.

Wojtaszczyk, Konstanty Adam, editor. Poland in Transition. Warsaw: Dom Wydawn, ELIPSA, 1999.

Wojciech J. Florkowski




Polish zloty (Z). One Polish zloty equals 100 groszy. There are coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 groszy, and 1, 2, and 5 zlotys. There are notes of 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 zlotys.


Machinery and transport equipment, intermediate manufactured goods, miscellaneous manufactured goods, food and live animals.


Machinery and transport equipment, intermediate manufactured goods, chemicals, miscellaneous manufactured goods.


US$327.5 billion (purchasing power parity, 2000 est.).


Exports: US$28.4 billion (f.o.b., 2000). Imports: US$42.7 billion (f.o.b., 2000).

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Republic of Poland

Major Cities:
Warsaw, Kraków, Poznań, Łód Ź, Wrocław

Other Cities:
Bielsko-biala, Bydgoszcz, Częstochowa, Gdańsk, Kielce, Szczecin


This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report dated April 1997. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at for the most recent information available on travel to this country.


POLAND 's geography and the national struggles marking its long history of unrest have made it a country of contradictions, ideologically and emotionally torn between East and West. The Polish people, still haunted by a century-and-a-half of partition, the holocaust of the Second World War, and life under Communist rule, are vigorous and patriotic, and eager for a better life.

Since the end of Communist party rule in 1989, Poland has undergone tremendous political and economic change. Under privatization, factories have closed. Unemployment has risen, income has dropped, and prices of consumer goods has increased. Despite these hardships, the Polish people continue to show support to their government and commitment to their new way of life.



Warsaw, with a metropolitan population of about 1.6 million, is situated in eastern Poland on the banks of the Vistula River (in Polish, Visła). More than 80 percent of the city was destroyed during World War II, and the extent to which it has recovered is a tribute to the spirit and patriotism of the Polish people. Many old sections of Warsaw have been rebuilt in styles reminiscent not only of the prewar period, but also of earlier eras, and a remarkable amount of new construction has taken place. Few ruined buildings or rubble remain. In winter, the lack of sunshine and the smoke from the soft coal burned for heat combine to make Warsaw somewhat drab. However, in contrast, the many parks, squares, and tree-lined boulevards come alive in spring and summer, giving the city a cheerful appearance.

Postwar Warsaw is characterized by a profusion of large buildings which house government ministries and enterprises. Many new apartment blocks have been built, but urban housing still is in chronically short supply. Hotel space remains inadequate in spite of several good, new hotels. A new highway and bridge were completed in recent years to provide additional access for the growing population on the east bank of the Vistula. Buses and streetcars remain the principal means of public transport around the city. Service is frequent and routes extensive.

The Old Town, with its famous market square (Rynek Starego Miasta), was almost totally destroyed during World War II. It was painstakingly reconstructed in 17th-and 18th-century style from old architectural plans. On the south side of Old Town is Castle Square, dominated by a granite column with a statue of King Sigismund III Vasa. The Royal Castle, which stood on the east side of this square, has been rebuilt by the voluntary contributions of millions of Poles as a symbol of Polish national pride.

Warsaw (in Polish, Warszawa) was founded as a city in 1300, but the first settlement on the site dates to the 11th century. The city was an important trade center in the Middle Ages; it came under Polish rule in 1526, and was made the capital of Poland in 1596. Throughout its history, it has suffered at the hands of Sweden (destroyed by Charles X Gustavus of Sweden in the mid-17th century); of Russia, by fire and massacre, and by occupation; and of Germany, by whom it was occupied during both World Wars. Warsaw endured almost total destruction from bombing in World War II. Of the 400,000 Jews who lived in the city in 1939, and who comprised nearly one-third of the population, only 200 remained at the war's endthe vast majority had been exterminated in Nazi gas chambers. Many thousands more perished in the ghetto uprising of 1943, or died during incarceration. In all, between 600,000 and 800,000 Warsaw residents died in the occupation years between 1939 and 1944.

Schools for Foreigners

The American School of Warsaw, which opened in 1953, is partly financed by U.S. Government grants. It offers instruction from kindergarten through twelfth grade, following an American curriculum and using American textbooks and standard tests. A program emphasizing individualized instruction is in use at all levels.

American School has staff specialists in reading, math, computer science, and learning disabilities. Special curricular activities include art, chorus, photography, and computer instruction. Extracurricular activities are drama, gymnastics, dance, instrumental music, computers, student council, yearbook, newspaper, and field trips. Scouting programs are offered for boys and girls.


Citizens of Warsaw are justly proud of their many large, open parks which afford extensive opportunity for rest and relaxation. A variety of tame animal life abounds in the woods and ponds of these parks. Children can play in a number of playgrounds and fields while their parents hike along miles of fine paths, enjoy an open-air concert, lunch at a restaurant in the park, or just relax on a convenient bench.

Fishing is possible in many rivers and lakes. Tackle, boats, and related items can be bought locally at moderate prices. Licenses are required, but membership in a group or club is not necessary.

Camping is growing in popularity, especially with families. Many excellent campsites are both in the Warsaw vicinity and in other parts of the country. The most beautiful are in the lake region near Augustów, about 155 miles northeast of Warsaw, and in the Mazurian lake region, about 185 miles to the north. These two lake belts, situated in forests, offer many lake-side cottages, boats for rent, and excellent fishing and water-skiing. Camping equipment is available locally.

Tennis and swimming are popular sports during summer, although swimming in the Vistula River is not recommended because of strong currents and pollution. Many expatriates enjoy skating at outdoor rinks or at the Torwar Stadium in winter. The Torwar management sets aside a special hour on Sunday afternoons for the exclusive use of the diplomatic and foreign business community.

Skiing is excellent at Zakopane, a noted mountain resort town, and in the Karkonosze Mountains. Both skiing and climbing are possible in parts of the Tatra and Beskidy Mountains, about 280 miles from Warsaw. Many of these areas have well-equipped shelter houses, but ski lifts are not always available.

The Baltic coast, 230 to 330 miles from Warsaw, has a wealth of sea resorts with beautiful sandy beaches although the water is too polluted for swimming. The most famous of the Polish seaside resorts, Sopot, hosts a variety of international festivals.

About 150 miles east of Warsaw is an interesting nature preserve, Puszcza Białowieska, which has the last remaining herd of rare European bison, a virgin forest with 1,000-year-old oaks, and other attractions.


Cultural life in Poland offers something for just about everyone. Annual festivals include jazz in October and serious contemporary music (Warsaw Autumn) in October. Warsaw has a choice of grand opera, chamber opera, a richly-varied symphony season that usually includes one or two major visits (the Israeli Philharmonic, the Pittsburgh Symphony, Joan Sutherland), or lighter entertainment provided in the musical theatermost of which is American in origin.

Spectator events, such as ice shows, soccer, track and field, boxing, cycling, basketball, and horse racing, are held regularly.

Local museums have frequent exhibitions of art, handicraft, books, and related subjects. Warsaw's National Museum holds international exhibits. A Chopin museum is located at the composer's birthplace in Żelazowa Wola, about 40 miles from the capital. Distinguished Polish and foreign pianists give Sunday recitals there and in Łazienki Park in Warsaw during the summer.

In addition to Polish films, cinemas here show many American and other imports, usually in the original language with Polish subtitles.

Warsaw restaurants vary considerably with regard to menus, atmosphere, and decor, and several are very good. Sidewalk and indoor cafés are popular meeting places, and two or three nightclubs offer dancing. A large shopping center, with several department stores, is located on Marszałkowska Street. Close by is the central railway station.

Roadside picnics are popular during fair weather. Many picturesque forest and riverside sites are only a short distance from the city.


The name Kraków (Cracow in English, but Polish form is more commonly used) first appeared in written records in the year 965, when the town was already an active east-west trade center. Despite the Tatar invasions, one of which destroyed the city, Kraków continued to grow, and became the capital of Poland in 1320. King Casimir the Great opened his realm to Jews and, in 1364, founded the city's Jagiellonian University, the second oldest in central Europe.

The 15th and 16th centuries marked Kraków's golden age; the Jagiellonian dynasty rejuvenated the university and encouraged the arts and sciences. While the distinguished astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) studied at the university, Polish and Italian artists were giving the city the Renaissance flavor which characterizes it even today.

After the capital was moved to Warsaw in 1596, Sweden twice invaded and burned Kraków. Following the first partition of Poland in 1772, hard times continued for the city. For the next 150 years, first the Prussians and then the Austrians occupied Kraków. Tadeusz Kosciuszko, hero of the American Revolution's turning-point Battle of Saratoga in 1777, returned to Poland in 1784. During the next five years he became increasingly involved in his country's struggle to save itself from the Russian invaders. In 1794, Kosciuszko took an oath in Kraków's Great Square (Rynek Gïówny), swearing to lead the nation to the end in the fight for liberty, integrity, and independence. His heroic efforts ended in October of that year when, betrayed by Prussian entry into the conflict, he was wounded and captured by the Russians. Thomas Jefferson wrote of Kosciuszko, "He is as pure a son of liberty as I have ever known, and of that liberty which is to go to all, and not to the few or the rich alone." Kosciuszko is buried in Kraków's Wawel Cathedral.

During a short period of oppression and revolts (1815-1846), the Austrians shared their rule of the "Republic of Kraków" with the Prussians and the Russians. Under the relatively mild Austrian rule in the latter part of the 19th century, however, the city flourished as a center of Polish culture, the only place in Europe where Polish civil rights were recognized. The governor-general was a Pole, and the Polish language was used in schools, courts, and government offices. In this fertile atmosphere, Jan Matejko, Stanisław Wyspiański, Helena Modjeska (Modrzejewska), and other outstanding 19th-century artists flourished.

At the beginning of World War II, the Nazis made Kraków the capital of their general government. Prominent Kracovians were arrested and sent to concentration camps, the largest of which, Auschwitz-Birkenau (Oswiecim), stands 25 miles west of the city. Four million people, including Kraków's entire Jewish population, perished there.

Despite this massacre of its population, Kraków escaped the physical destruction suffered by other Polish cities during World War II. Although it received only a small share of postwar reconstruction funds, a new town, Nowa Huta, was built around the Lenin Steel Works in 1947 and eventually was incorporated within the city limits. This plant, until recently the largest of its kind in Poland, and the city's chemical industry have changed the face of Kraków, adding an aspect of bustling, grimy, 20th-century industrialism to the traditional calm of a thousand-year-old cultural center. The current population is around 740,000.

Recently civic and environmental concerns have emerged to demand that the city's social needs and the preservation of its unique academic, cultural, and historical character be given overriding priority in modifying and developing its industry. Active steps are now underway to preserve the city's many monuments and reduce air pollution levels. With its Wawel museum, where most of Poland's greatest heroes are interred, Kraków remains a shrine of Polish identity and nationalism.

The province of Katowice, contains about 3 million inhabitants. According to official statistics, almost half of those gainfully employed in the 10 voivodships (administrative centers) work in industry although, traditionally, areas such as Opole, Rzeszów, and Przemyśl have been considered primarily agricultural. In Katowice, the country's most heavily populated voivodship, most workers are employed in the mines and mills. The southeastern provinces of Poland have, for many years, been centers of emigration to the U.S. and many in the area, especially the górale, or highlanders, have relatives in America.

Kraków lies in a shallow basin on the Vistula River, some 50 miles east of the Katowice-Gliwice industrial area. A "city voivodship" of 1.028 square miles, it is the meeting place of three geographic regions: the Carpathian uplands, the Małopolska highlands, and the Vistula lowlands.

A point of interest to Americans is Kraków's American Children's Hospital, which was built and organized with U.S. assistance. Facilities and services at this hospital are good, and adults are also treated in emergencies.

Schools for Foreigners

Polish Government schools at all levels may accept American children, but knowledge of the Polish language and parental willingness to provide supplementary schooling at home are required. Normally, children of high-school age are sent to private (or U.S. Defense Department-run) schools in Western Europe.

Kraków's large and prestigious Jagiellonian University is the home of the Polonia Institute, which offers year-round courses in Polish language, history, and culture. Private tutoring in music and language is also available.


With its beautiful medieval monuments, Kraków is Poland's leading tourist center. The city annually draws hundreds of thousands of foreign and Polish visitors to its historic churches, museums, and palaces. A visit to the Wawel Castle and the Cathedral (scene of coronations and resting place of royalty) forms part of every Polish child's education in the country's great artistic and political achievements.

Numerous sites are also within an easy drive of the city. Both the Ojcow National Park and the famous Wieliczka salt mines are close to downtown Kraków. Within an hour of the city is the Dunajec gorge with its well-known raft ride. The former concentration camp at Oswiecim (Auschwitz), now a museum, is also one hour from Kraków. Farther away are the Shrine of the Black Madonna Częstochowa in Katowice Province, and the palaces in Lancut and Baranów in Rzeszów voivodship. Prague, Vienna, and Budapest are within a day's drive of Kraków. Czechoslovak visas may be obtained in Katowice.

Spectator sports are popular in Kraków. Wisła, the city's soccer team, is one of the best in Poland, and the annual Rajd Polski (Polish automobile rally) originates in Kraków.

Swimming, fishing, and camping in the nearby mountains, forests, and national parks are the principal outdoor activities. Ice skating, tennis, and indoor swimming are also available in the city.

Skiing is the main attraction at mountain resorts just south of Kraków. The most popular of these, Zakopane, is about one-and-a-half hours from the city. It has a good ski lift and many excellent hotels, villas, and restaurantsall set in the breathtaking scenery of the Tatras. Zakopane is usually crowded, particularly at Christmas and in March.

Farther east, about four hours from Kraków, the virgin forests of the Bieszczady offer some of the best camping in Poland, especially around Lake Solina.


Kraków's theater has a fine reputation, but language remains a barrier for most Americans. In addition to the Old Theater (Stary Teatr ) and Słowacki Theater, both of which present innovative stagings, some interesting semi-professional and student playhouses are available.

The city's opera gives relatively few performances, and is no rival to Warsaw's. However, the philharmonic orchestra season is long and varied, including frequent performances with guest artists and choirs; chamber music and jazz events are also offered. A light opera company presents Broadway-type musicals. The city's Higher School of Music is probably Poland's best. Kraków's political cabaret is famous, but requires native-speaker language competence to be enjoyed.

Katowice, only one-and-a-half hours from Kraków, has one of the country's finest symphony orchestras, the Katowice Radio and Television Orchestra.

Several American or English films are shown regularly in the city's theaters, most of them in English with Polish subtitles; tickets must be purchased in advance to ensure entry. In early June, Kraków hosts an international short-film festival. An art-film theater in town features classic moviesoften American or British.

Kraków is a center for the plastic arts and the home of several world-famous painters and sculptors. Numerous galleries and museums in the city have a constantly changing variety of offerings.

Kraków has a few good restaurants, including the Wierzynek, reputedly the best in Poland, and boasting a 600-year history. The Nowinna, eleven miles south of the city, also rivals any restaurant in the country. The restaurants in the Hotel Francuski, Holiday Inn, and Cracovia Hotel feature Polish and international cuisine. The Balaton serves spicy Hungarian dishes. The Pod Korza Stopka specializes in poultry dishes, and the Staropolska offers a variety of Polish specialties. In a slightly lower-price category are the Hawalka and Hermitage, featuring Polish dishes, and the Dniepr, a Ukrainian restaurant. The Francuski, Cracovia, Pod Strzelnica, and Dniepr have dancing, and the city's two nightclubs feature floor shows. At all restaurants, standards are lower than those found in the U.S. or Western Europe.

Social contact among Americans in Kraków tends to be frequent and informal. There is a small U.S. Consulate staff, a small group of Fulbright scholars and professors, and some American students enrolled at local universities. Members of the French Consulate General and the French Institute, and visiting professors and students are often included in social functions. A knowledge of Polish adds immeasurably to the enjoyment of activities in Kraków.


Although more than half of Poznań was destroyed during World War II, the city today shows few signs of war damage. Much new building and restoration is in progress. The Opera House, Palace of Culture (formerly the Kaiser's Palace), Poznań University, and many impressive public buildings and churches give an elegant appearance to the city. The renaissance Old Square and City Hall, destroyed during the war, have been handsomely rebuilt. A large and attractive part of the city surrounding the old town center consists of turn-of-the century buildings. Apartment houses are going up in the suburbs, but the exteriors of some are left unplastered and give a rough, unfinished appearance to these sections. Most new construction is of apartment complexes rather than detached houses.

Poznań has a population of 578,000, and is located about 120 miles east of the Polish-German border. The city is 266 feet above sea level and, although generally in the same northern continental climatic zone as Warsaw, seems to have somewhat milder weather. The Warta River, which runs through the city, is Poland's third largest waterway and carries barge traffic for half its length. The area surrounding Poznań, generally flat with a few rolling hills, contains several large lakes, some narrow streams, and forested areas.

Covering the western third of the country, the Poznań (U.S.) consular district contains 17 of Poland's 49 provinces (województwa ). The area is about 56,600 square miles in size. The Baltic provinces of Szczecin (Szczcecińskie), Koszalin (Koszalińskie), and Słupsk (Słupskie) have long coastlines with some fine beaches. The large port city of Szczecin (population 417,000) is at the point where the Odra River flows into Szczecin Bay, about 40 miles inland from the Baltic coast port of Świnoujście. Szczecin and Świnoujście together form one large port complex under a single port administration. Koszalin and Słupsk provinces are largely rural and sparsely settled. With gently rolling terrain, many lakes, and large areas of mixed coniferous and deciduous forests, the region generally is reminiscent of northern Minnesota or Wisconsin.

The provinces surrounding Poznań comprise a rich agricultural area of flat to gently rolling terrain with many small lakes and forests. The area to the south, which includes the important industrial, academic, and cultural center of Wrocław, ranges from flat and rolling plains to the Sudeten Mountains along the Czech border.

Altitudes in the district vary from 75 feet above sea level in Szczecin to 1,100 feet in the southwestern city of Jelenia (Zielona) Góra. A few miles south of here is 5,200-foot Śnieżka Mountain, the highest point in the consular district.

The number of Americans and other foreigners in the city increases as preparations for the annual Poznań Trade Fair get under way each spring. A variety of American official, scientific, and cultural representatives visit throughout the year. A large influx of visiting Americans occurs in August, at the time of the three-week summer seminar in English.

Schools for Foreigners

A Polish Government preschool has accepted many American children, and most parents have been satisfied with this arrangement.

Private tutoring, inexpensive by U.S. standards, is available in music.


Poznań is replete with historical monuments and museums. The Old Town is authentically restored, and the Renaissance town hall here is one of the monuments which withstood wartime devastation; built in the mid-16th century, it is among the most valuable structures of its kind in central Europe. The cathedral on Ostrów Tumski island contains centuries-old relics and tombs. Other beautiful churches here date from the 12th through the 18th centuries, and museums abound throughout the city.

Several areas of touring interest are near Poznań. Kórnik, a small town about 10 miles southeast of the city, is the site of a 16th-century castle which is now a museum. It has a moat and contains an unusual picture gallery; beautiful polished floors; fine old furniture; porcelain stoves and appointments; Polish handicrafts; archaeological and nature collections; and a 100,000-volume library, including old manuscripts and prints. The museum contains not only collections from the Działynski and Zamojski families who formerly lived in the castle, but also such Polish artistic work as a magnificent collection of embroidered sashes and costumes. The park surrounding the castle-museum is planted in a variety of trees, shrubs, and hedges, and has numerous paths.

At Rógalin, near Kórnik, is an 18th-century palace which is now a museum and gallery containing valuable historical objects and paintings by 19th-century Polish artists. Rógalin also is noted for a stand of 1,000-year-old oak trees.

Other country palaces, recently restored, are within a half-hour's drive of Poznań. Some have restaurants or coffee houses. Gniezno, about 30 miles northeast of Poznań, was Poland's first capital. This 1,000-year-old city contains an ancient cathedral with paintings, sculpture, medieval tombs, and a set of bronze doors dating from the 12th century. It also has relics of St. Adalbert (in Polish, Wojciech), patron saint of Poland. St. John's Church, in 14th-century Gothic style, is also of unusual interest.

Biskupin, not far from Gniezno, is one of the largest prehistoric settlements in Europe. It dates from 700 to 400 B.C., and Poles assert that it shows the historic predominance of a Slavic culture in the region. The site, excavated and partially restored, includes a museum with a collection of prehistoric ceramics and tools.

Roads to these places of interest are narrow, but in good condition. A personal car is the best mode of transportation, although train and bus service is available to most of the cities mentioned. Public transportation generally is crowded.

Large lakes in forest settings near Poznań provide ample opportunities to swim, fish, picnic, or camp. In some cases, these activities can be combined with visits to nearby places of interest. Arrangements also can be made to use good tennis courts.

A large municipal outdoor ice rink in Poznań is available for skating six months of the year. In addition, ice skating on the lakes is possible during the coldest periods of winter. Sledding is possible on a few hills in town and in the nearby countryside. Poznań has two heated indoor swimming pools.

Skiing is good around the tourist centers of Karpacz and Szklarska Poręba in the Sudeten Mountains southwest of Wrocław. Tow facilities are crowded, but are being expanded each year. A shortage of hotels and restaurants still exists in both places, so reservations should be made well in advance. Depending on winter driving conditions, the area is about five hours from Poznań. Although Zakopane is 300 miles from Poznań, it is a more popular ski area because of its extensive facilities.

The Baltic coast north and northeast of Szczecin offers excellent beaches and swimming. Unfortunately, in recent years pollution has posed periodic problems. The resort city of Kołobrzeg has a good hotel, and nearby beaches are wide and sandy. Summer weather is usually sunny and breezy here. Lifeguards are on duty during the season, and swimming is good. The drive from Poznań to Kołobrzeg takes about four hours and passes through some scenic countryside.


Poznań has an extensive opera, operetta, concert, and theater season. The opera company is uneven, but enjoyable. The Poznań Philharmonic Orchestra, a source of great local pride, has a distinguished record of performance, and often features fine Polish and foreign guest artists. The Struligrosz and Kurczewski Boys' Choirs are outstanding. The ballet troupe is considered quite good. Two dramatic theaters present a varied program of Polish and foreign works, and the quality usually is high. Local student theaters often produce experimental works. A puppet theater also is available.

Both Polish and foreign films (often excellent) are shown in the city's movie theaters, but English soundtracks are rarely left intact. American movies are popular. Movie tickets, like tickets for opera, concert, and ballet, are not expensive.

Although Poznań has some good restaurants, menu selection is often limited because of food shortages. Some nightclubs feature floor shows. A discotheque and cabaret theater also are available.

Social contact with Poles is possible, and a good knowledge of their language is an asset in Poznańeven more so than in Warsawfor developing acquaintances. A knowledge of German is also helpful.


Łódź, with a population of 807,000, is Poland's second largest city and the capital of Łódź Province. It is located in the central part of the country, about 75 miles west-southwest of Warsaw, and is an important industrial city and the center of Poland's textile industry.

Chartered in 1423, Łódźwas ceded to Prussia in 1793, then passed to Russia in 1815, reverting to Poland in 1918. During its years of Russian domination, it was developed into a prosperous industrial center. The Nazis incorporated Łódź at the beginning of World War II, renaming it Litzmannstadt and subjecting it to aggressive Germanization.

Today, aside from textiles, Łódź manufactures machinery, electrical equipment, chemicals, and metals. It is an episcopal see, and has a technical university which was founded in 1945. Its Central Weaving Museum has amassed an impressive collection of tools, machinery, and documents relating to the history of the textile industry. The city also has museums of art and archaeology, and is the site of a physics research center affiliated with Warsaw's Polish Academy of Sciences.


Wrocław, known as Breslau when it was under German authority, is the capital of the province of the same name in the southwestern region of Lower Silesia. Originally a Slavic settlement, the city became the capital of the duchy of Silesia in 1163. It was sacked by the Mongols in 1241, but was rebuilt by German settlers, and passed to Bohemia in 1335. Breslau was ceded to the Hapsburgs in 1526 and to Prussia in 1742. It grew into a prosperous trade center in the 19th century. After World War II, when the city was a Nazi-held fortress, the German inhabitants were expelled.

Today Wrocław, with a population of 638,000, is a river port and railway center manufacturing machinery, iron goods, textiles, railroad equipment, and food products. Its historic sites include a 13th-century cathedral and several Gothic churches in the old island districts of Ostrów Tumski and Ostrów Piaskowy. The city houses a noted university, founded in 1811.

There are several schools of higher education here, including the Ossolineum, a scientific institute founded in the Ukrainian city of Lvov in 1817, and transferred to Wrocław in 1947.

Numerous museums of art, natural history, and mineralogy display impressive exhibits. International programs of vocal music and a festival of jazz are held here regularly; the latter is known as "Jazz on the Odra," in recognition of the river (in English, Oder) which flows through the city.

Wrocław is the site of a large zoo; the botanical gardens within the park exhibit a broad variety of plant life. Several small cities of historical interest are situated in the vicinity of WrocławSobótka, Oleśnica, Trzebnicaas are a number of popular health and recreation resorts. There is skiing in the Karkonosze range of the Sudetic Mountains.


BIELSKO-BIALA (in German, Bielitz) has been an important wool center since at least the Middle Ages. Situated in the far south, 190 miles southwest of Warsaw, this city of some 180,000 residents was formed in 1950 when two towns on opposite sides of the Biala River merged. In World War II, German forces took over Bielsko-Biala's mostly Jewish-owned plants. The region declined after Soviet annexation of Polish land following the war. The economy is still dependent upon the production of high-grade woolen textiles.

BYDGOSZCZ (in German, Bromberg) is the capital of Bydgoszcz Province, located about 150 miles northwest of Warsaw. It serves as a vital water-transport route and railroad junction linking Upper Silesia with the Baltic Sea. The city had its beginnings as a frontier outpost and, later, was seized by the Teutonic Knights. Bydgoszcz prospered in the 1700s after the building of the Bydgoszcz Canal, which connected the Vistula and Oder Rivers. The city received the Grunwald Cross in 1946 for its fierce resistance to Nazi attack seven years earlier. Today Bydgoszcz has a population of approximately 387,000. It has higher institutions of agriculture and engineering.

CZĘSTOCHOWA is a major religious center, located about 70 miles northwest of Kraków in the south. With a population of roughly 257,000, this is the destination for Poles making pilgrimages to the Jasna Góra monastery. The noted painting of "Our Lady of Częstochowa" (or "The Black Madonna") is displayed here, along with rare frescoes. The city began as two regions, Old Częstochowa, dating to the 13th century, and Jasna Góra ("shining mountain" in Polish), founded 100 years later. The monastery became the stronghold for Polish forces in the Swedish invasions of 1655 and 1705. This is also a major industrial city of mills and manufacturing plants.

GDAŃSK , formerly known as Danzig, is one of the chief Polish ports on the Baltic Sea and an important industrial center. Established as the Free City of Danzig under the League of Nations, this municipality of approximately 459,000 is the capital of Gdańsk Province in northern Poland. Its shipyards were made famous by an uprising against the Communist regime in 1970, and as the site of the birth of Solidarity (Solidarnoõé) in 1980. Gdańsk was annexed to Germany during World War II, and suffered the destruction of many of its landmarks during hostilities. Ninety percent of the city lay in rubble. The Allies unconditionally returned the city to Poland in 1945. There is an annual film festival in Gdańsk and the live productions of the Teatr Muzyczny in Gdynia, ten miles northwest of Gdańsk, are not to be missed.

KIELCE , located 90 miles south of Warsaw in the south-central region, is an industrial center and provincial capital. This railroad junction of 212,000 residents has landmarks such as a castle and 12th-century cathedral. Kielce was founded in 1173 by the bishop of Kraków. Russian and German forces battled here several times in World War I; German troops occupied the city in World War II.

SZCZECIN , known in German as Stettin, is a major Baltic port and industrial center in northwestern Poland. It has a population of about 417,000. The city was heavily damaged by repeated bombings in World War II, and taken by Soviet troops in late April 1945 after a long and devastating battle. Szczecin, which is the capital of the province of the same name, is the birthplace of Czarina Katarina II of Russia (Catherine the Great).


Geography and Climate

Postwar Poland, including the lands placed under Polish administration at the Potsdam Conference (1945), covers about 120,000 square miles, an area about the size of New Mexico. Poland ranks seventh in Europe in area and population, with an estimated population of 38,654,000.

Most of the country consists of lowland plains. In the north are the Baltic Sea coast and a broad belt of lake land. In the center are broad, low-lying plains and vast forest belts. To the south, the land passes into chains of mountainsthe Sudetic (in Polish, Sudety) in the west and the Carpathians in the east. These mountains combine to form the southern boundary of Poland. The Tatra Mountains, a part of the Carpathian chain, are the highest in Poland; Rysy mountain rises 8,212 feet above sea level. At the foot of the Tatras lies the town of Zakopane, a famous winter sports center.

Poland is bordered by the Baltic Sea and a small section of the Russian Federation to the north, Lithuania, Belarus, and the Ukraine to the east, the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south, and Germany to the west.

One main seaport, Szczecin, is near the German border. Poland's two other major port cities, Gdańsk and Gdynia, lie about 170 miles farther east at the mouth of the Vistula River. Many summer resorts with beautiful beaches lie along the Baltic coast (although the water is too polluted for swimming). About 200 miles north of Warsaw, surrounded by the greatest forest in the country, is a belt of lakes stretching from Olsztyn to Augustów. Good camping and fishing abound.

The main rivers are the Vistula (Wisła), on which Warsaw and Kraków are situated; the Odra or Oder, whose northern course forms a part of the border with the Germany; the Narew, in northeastern Poland; the Warta, on which Poznań is located; and the Bug, which partially forms Poland's eastern boundary.

Poland has a continental European climate. Winters can be severe, with heavy snows possible from December to March. Winter temperatures in Warsaw average about 32°F. The lowest temperature in recent years was recorded at-22°F. Spring is usually cold and rainy, and summer relatively cool. The highest temperature recorded recently in Warsaw was 94°F. Autumn is usually cloudy and can be quite cold. Yearly rainfall averages about 23.5 inches.

Poland has no diseases caused by climate, and mildew is not a problem because humidity is usually low. Earthquakes do not occur, and snowslides in the mountains normally are not hazardous.


Poland's population is predominately Polish. Small German, Ukrainian, Byelorussian, and Jewish minorities, and even smaller Lithuanian, Czech, and Slovak colonies exist. Warsaw's population is about 1,618,000.

95 percent of the population is Roman Catholic. Church attendance is high, and Catholic holy days are strictly observed by most of the people.


Poland is organized as a parliamentary democracy according to the constitution adopted in 1992. Poles enjoy largely unfettered rights to free speech, press, and assembly, as well as other commonly accepted Western human rights.

Poland has a bicameral parliament, comprising a lower house and upper house. Within the legislative branch of the government, the lower house has most of the power; the upper house may only suggest amendments to legislation passed by the lower house. Both parties are democratically elected. The President may dissolve the parliament and call new elections if it fails a vote of confidence or does not approve a budget within a set period of time.

The Polish Prime Minister, currently Leszek Miller, is nominated by the President, currently Aleksander Kwasniewski, and must propose a government that could win a vote of confidence in the lower house. He chairs the Council of Ministers and serves as Poland's chief of government. There are 18 cabinet members, 3 of whom serve as deputy prime ministers, mostly drawn from the governing coalition parties. There are a few ministers with no party affiliations.

Poland's president, who serves as the country's head of state, has a five-year term. The Polish president is the commander of their armed forces and may veto legislation passed by Parliament.

Poland is divided into 49 provinces, each of which is headed by a provincial governor appointed by the central government. There are also independent locally elected city and village governments.

The flag of Poland displays equal horizontal bands of white (above) and red.

Arts, Science, Education

Polish intellectual and cultural life has preserved much of its traditional vigor and creativity despite years of communist rule and the political difficulties of recent years. Historically, Poland's cultural ties have been with the West rather than with the East, although there had been sporadic attempts in the postwar years to force Polish creativity into orthodox communist and Soviet-model structures. Poland has formal cultural exchange agreements with many countries from both East and West, ensuring a fairly steady flow of Polish artists and intellectuals abroad and of foreign performers to Poland.

In the period following the proclamation of martial law on December 13, 1981, many Polish actors, directors, writers, filmmakers, and other intellectuals boycotted government-sponsored cultural activities as a sign of protest. Now, with the communists out of power, cultural life is showing greater independence. Cultural and intellectual associations are forming, and these have begun to support and invigorate creative activities.

Commerce and Industry

Poland is undergoing a profound transformation as the government rapidly introduces a free-market system to replace the centrally planned economy. During 1990, the economic reform program stopped hyperinflation, stabilized the currency, brought an end to chronic shortages of consumer goods, and produced a sizable trade surplus. At the same time, however, the economy suffered a recession, with sharp declines in industrial production and real incomes and steadily increasing unemployment. The United States and other Western countries supported the growth of a free enterprise economy by providing direct economic aid, restructuring the debt and rescheduling payments, and encouraging private investment in Poland.

By the mid-1990s, Poland's economy was one of the strongest in Eastern and Central Europe as a result of its government's fiscal policies. Most growth since 1991 has come from the emerging private sector.

Nearly 30 percent of Poland's work force is engaged in agriculture, and 51 percent in services. Unlike the industrial sector, Poland's agricultural sector remained largely in private hands during the decades of communist rule.

Production of wheat, feed-grains, vegetable oils, and protein meals is insufficient to meet domestic demands. However, Poland is a leading producer in Eastern Europe of potatoes, rape seed, sugar beets, grains, hogs, and cattle. Attempt to increase domestic feed grain production are hampered by the short growing season, poor soil, and the small size of farms.

Before World War II, Poland's industrial base was concentrated in the coal, textile, chemical, machinery, iron, and steel sectors. Today it extends to fertilizers, petrochemicals, machine tools, electrical machinery, electronics, and shipbuilding. Accordingly, exports have become more diversified, including those to hard-currency markets; meat, coal, and copper remain important export commodities.

Poland's industrial base suffered greatly during World War II, and much of the investments in the 1950s were directed toward reconstruction. The need to rebuild existing capacities and the orthodox communist economic system imposed on Poland in the late 1940s resulted in the intense centralization of industries. Large and unwieldy economic structures operated under detailed central command. In part because of this systemic rigidity, with the emphasis on central planning, the economy performed poorly even in comparison with other economies in Eastern Europe.

A vital element of the economic reform is the privatization of state-owned enterprises. Enabling legislation was passed by the Sejm in July 1990. A Ministry of Ownership Transformation was been created to oversee the conversion of state enterprise into private firms and prepare guidelines for the creation of a stock market. The challenge facing the Polish government is how to privatize thousands of state enterprises, while preventing profiteering and cushioning the work force against unemployment as many large, unprofitable state firms face bankruptcy.

As a result of the economic reform program, prices for consumer goods have risen in response to market forces. Demand has been dampened by falling real wages, whose growth is tied to increases in productivity. The serious consumer shortages that were once endemic to the Polish economy have now largely disappeared.

Poland maintains a Chamber of Foreign Trade at Skyrtla Pocztowa 361, Warsaw (Trebacka, 4).


Warsaw is served by a number of airlinesLOT, Swissair, Aeroflot, Sabena, SAS, Air France, KLM, Lufthansa, British Airways, and othersto most European capitals. Airline tickets for international travel must be purchased with hard currency.

LOT operates several daily flights from Warsaw to Kraków and Poznań. It also is possible to travel by rail or auto directly to Vienna, Prague, Munich, and Berlin.

A daily car-ferry service is available between Õwinoujõcie (about one hour's drive north of Szczecin) and Ystaad, Sweden. The crossing takes about seven hours. Reservations should be made well in advance, especially during the summer tourist season.

Most main roads in Poland are good all-weather roads by European standards. Important towns and places of interest are served by inexpensive trains. Principal cities also are served by the national airline (LOT) at moderate fares. A countrywide network of bus lines exists, but buses are usually crowded and uncomfortable and are rarely used by Americans. Tickets for travel in Poland are reasonable and may be purchased for z ï otys (the unit of currency). Warsaw buses and streetcars can be crowded and slow during rush hours. Cabs are available at stands, or sometimes can be hailed.

Public transportation in Kraków and Poznań is not extensive and is crowded at rush hour. Most Americans in these cities travel by personal car.

Motorists must obey signs that close roads to traffic or indicate restricted areas, and should be alert to emergency vehicles with flashing lights, since these vehicles always have the right-of-way. Ambulances are beige with a red or blue cross on the side, fire trucks are red, and police vehicles usually are grey or blue with "MILICJA" printed in large letters on the doors.

An international driver's license obtained outside Poland is valid for one year after entering the country and is recommended for all new arrivals. Polish licenses are issued based upon valid foreign permits and an oral examination conducted by a Polish traffic office. Traffic moves on the right. Motorists must exercise extreme caution while driving, since numerous horse-drawn carts, tractors with wagons, trucks, and pedestrians are constant hazards on both highways and streets. Night driving is dangerous.

Owning an automobile can be expensive here. Rough cobblestone roads subject cars to heavy wear and tear. Vandalism is a problem; foreign cars seem to be prime targets.

Although adequate work can be done on some foreign cars, repair service for American makes is hard to arrange and seldom satisfactory. No parts for American vehicles are available in Poznań or Kraków, or in the other large cities, except Warsaw. American cars must be driven to Western Europe for major maintenance. Poznań has authorized repair facilities for many major West European makes, but stocks of spare parts are limited. A fully licensed Volkswagen repair shop at Leszno, 50 miles south of Poznań, has a good supply of spare parts and performs required maintenance and periodic checks.

Polish law requires cars to have directional signals and mud flaps. U.S. officials in Poland recommend export-grade, heavy-duty shock absorbers and springs, snow tires for winter, and an engine that can run on regular gas. Emission controls are not required, and cars appear to run better in Warsaw without such controls. Major repairs to automatic transmissions must be done in Germany.

The Polish State Insurance Company (WARTA) sells third-party liability insurance (required in Poland) at nominal cost. WARTA also offers collision, fire, theft, and other special coverage, both inside and outside Poland, but rates for foreign-made cars are high. Insurance is also available from a few American or Western European agencies which insure vehicles in Poland.

Most resident Americans have Polish liability coverage, and supplement it with international "green card" insurance for trips outside the country. The U.S. Embassy strongly emphasizes the importance of insurance coverage and careful driving.


Telephone and telegraph service is available to Western Europe and the U.S. Service is slower and less reliable than in America, but is adequate in emergencies. Rates within Poland are inexpensive; standard world rates usually are charged for international calls.

International mail via Polish (PTT) facilities is unreliable. Bad weather and canceled flights frequently result in turnaround times of over one month from the date a letter is mailed to Warsaw from the U.S. until a reply is received. Turnaround time for Kraków, Poznań, and other cities is even longer.

Polish radio and television have proliferated since 1993, when the government began for the first time to award broadcast licenses to private stations. Polish viewers can now choose from broadcasting all over the world with cable. Like most European countries, Poland has a state-owned national television system which broadcasts in both color and black-and-white. Polish TV frequently shows British and American films dubbed in Polish, as well as some old American TV series.

The conversion of American TV sets is costly and not always satisfactory. Sets can be rented in Poland.

Poland has hundreds of radio stations on AM and FM bands. Daytime shortwave reception of British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is good. Voice of America (VOA) English broadcasts usually can be heard without difficulty morning and evening. U.S. Armed Forces Network (AFN) broadcasts from Germany cannot be heard most of the time in either Warsaw or Kraków. Shortwave radio is rarely listened to any longer.

Poland's print media are among the most interesting and informative in Eastern Europe. Time, Newsweek, USA Today, and other Western periodicals are sold at major hotels.

The American and British embassies together produce a daily English-language summary of the Polish press.


Arrangements can be made for medical consultations and for treatment in local hospitals. U.S. officials, however, discourage the practice except in emergencies. Some Americans are satisfied with the available services but, in most cases, go to Western Europe for serious medical problems and major dental work. Eye care can be obtained locally.

Medical services of all types are more limited and of lower quality in Kraków than in Warsaw. However, services at American Children's Hospital are good; adults are treated in emergencies.

Air pollution is a problem in Kraków. It is caused by industries in and near the city, and by its location in a basin.

Poland's community sanitation is generally satisfactory. Flies are a problem, even though most U.S.-owned and-leased apartments and houses are screened. Rest rooms in restaurants, theaters, hotels, and other public places are usually below American standards of sanitation and cleanliness, although some upgrading has been evident in recent years with the marked increase in tourist trade.

Colds, bronchial ailments, sinusitis, and intestinal flu are common, especially in winter. A form of gastroenteritis is prevalent in spring and summer. Poland is considered a "jaundice area." Inoculation against typhoid is desirable, especially for those who plan to travel to remote parts of the country. Gamma globulin is recommended.

Raw fruits and vegetables require careful washing or peeling. The water purity is questionable, and it is recommended that all water for human consumption be boiled for 20 minutes. Some Americans resident in Warsaw drink one brand of locally pasteurized milk which is considered safe, but which often sours within a day or two.

Clothing and Services

Heavy coats and hats are needed for Poland's winters. Ski suits or warm jackets and slacks and heavy socks are useful for outdoor activities; warm underwear is a necessity for all family members.

A good supply of shoes and boots (tennis and dress shoes, sandals, rubber rain boots, and lined winter boots for children) should be part of every wardrobe. It is difficult to purchase suitable footwear locally.

Men's woolen suits worn in the U.S. are satisfactory for winter, but some men prefer heavier suits and vests during the coldest months. Fur hats, purchased locally, are popular. For summer, lightweight suits are adequate.

Women wear woolen clothing of various weights throughout most of the year, although lighter clothing worn with sweaters or jackets is good for summer. Leotards, heavy-weight stockings, pantsuits, sweaters, warm jersey blouses, and wool slacks are suggested for the coldest months. It is advisable to bring a supply of nylon pantyhose from home; they are available locally, but sizes and colors are limited. Polish women and resident foreigners are fashion conscious.

Children need the usual wool, corduroy, and other heavy clothing. A Mid-Atlantic wardrobe, supplemented by heavy sweaters, is suitable for Warsaw. Flannel pajamas are desirable most of the year. Availability of children's clothing on the local market is limited, making it necessary to have a good initial supply. School uniforms are not worn.

Tailors and dressmakers are generally satisfactory in the large cities of Poland, and also are fairly inexpensive. A few do excellent work copying from fashion magazines. Yard goods, especially linen, silk, and wool, are often scarce, and quality sewing notions also are difficult to find. Shoe repair services suffer from lack of materials.

Warsaw has several good beauty shops which keep pace with the latest styles. Similar shops, although fewer in number, are also available in other major cities.

Repairs on appliances are adequate and reasonably inexpensive, but sometimes slow. Supplies of personal and household items are generally available, although brands vary. Stationery and gift wrappings are difficult to find locally, and often costly. Christmas decorations are lovely and inexpensive here.

Domestic Help

Hard-working and dependable domestic help is available, and most resident Americans employ at least one domestic. Singles often hire part-time help. Cooks who are familiar with French and American cuisine are a rarity, but some who have worked for families from the U.S. can prepare American dishes.

Salaries vary according to responsibility. The social security scheme, which covers health insurance, must be paid for by the employer; if uniforms are desired, those are also the responsibility of the employer. Meals are provided for all domestics. Some apartments and homes have domestics' living quarters. Few domestics speak English, so it is helpful to learn numbers, a few cooking phrases, and as much shopping vocabulary as possible before moving here.


Jan. 1New Year's Day


Mar/Apr.Easter Monday*

May 3Labor Day

May 3Constitution Day

May/JuneCorpus Christi Day*

Aug. 15 Assumption of the Virgin Mary

Nov. 1All Saints' Day

Nov. 11Independence Day

Dec. 25Christmas Day

Dec. 26Boxing Day



Several international air carriers serve Poland. The most frequently traveled auto route is from Frankfurt to Berlin, and from there on Highway E-8 to Poznań and Warsaw. Other routes are from Nuremberg to Prague to Cieszyn (on the Polish border) and north to Warsaw, or from Vienna north through Brno to Warsaw. Check visa requirements. Travel by train through Prague or Vienna also is possible. When driving in Eastern Europe, one should add about 50 percent more time than would normally be expected, since time is lost at border crossing points, in auto servicing, and in passing through small towns and villages.

There are no quarantine requirements for pets. Health certificates and proof of rabies inoculation (within six months, and not less than six weeks before arrival) are the only necessary documentation.

Only those holding diplomatic passports may import, buy, or own firearms and ammunition.

Poland is predominantly Roman Catholic, and churches are numerous throughout the country. In Warsaw, one Catholic church has an English mass every Sunday. The city's Methodists have Sunday services in Polish. The one synagogue has traditional services year round, and Christian Scientists and other denominations have regular services except during summer. An Anglican clergyman visits Warsaw several times a year, and holds communion services for all Christians. Interdenominational services are held on special occasions in an auditorium at the U.S. Embassy.

Kraków has more than 85 Roman Catholic churches. There also are a Lutheran and a Baptist church (services in Polish), and a synagogue (without a rabbi) which holds Sabbath services. Kraków is the headquarters of ZNAK, a club of Catholic intellectuals, some of whom speak English. Poznań has many Catholic churches, and four Protestant churches representing different denominations. No English church services are available, and Poznań does not have a synagogue.

The time in Poland is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) plus one.

The basic unit of Polish currency is the z ï oty. Import and export of z ï otys is prohibited.

Poland uses the metric system of weights and measures.


The following titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country:

Blazyca, George, and Ryszard Rapacki, eds. Poland into the 1990s. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991.

Davies, Norman. Heart of Europe: A Short History of Poland. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.

Dobroszycki, Lucjan, and Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett. Image Before My Eyes: A Photographic History of Jewish Life in Poland. New York: Schocken Books, 1987.

Dunford, Martin. Real Guide: Poland 1991. New York: Prentice-Hall General Reference & Travel, 1991.

Kaminski, Bartlomiej. The Collapse of State Socialism: The Case of Poland. Princeton University Press, 1991.

Kemp-Welch, A. The Birth of Solidarity, 2nd ed. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991.

Latawski, Paul, ed. The Reconstruction of Poland, 1914-1923. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992.

Michener, James A. Poland. New York: Random House, 1983.

Sanford, George, ed. & tr. Democratisation in Poland, 1988-1990: Polish Voices. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992.

Sein, Dominique. Poland. Countries of the World Series. New York: French & European Publications, 1992.

Shen, Raphael. The Polish Economy: Legacies from the Past, Prospects for the Future. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing, 1992.

Swick, Thomas. Unquiet Days: At Home in Poland. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1991.

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Basic Data

Official Country Name: Republic of Poland
Region (Map name): Europe
Population: 38,633,912
Language(s): Polish
Literacy rate: 99.0%
Area: 312,685 sq km
GDP: 157,739 (US$ millions)
Number of Daily Newspapers: 59
Total Circulation: 1,157,000
Circulation per 1,000: 28
Number of Nondaily Newspapers: 460
Total Circulation: 963,000
Circulation per 1,000: 23
Total Newspaper Ad Receipts: 836 (Zloty millions)
As % of All Ad Expenditures: 10.80
Number of Television Stations: 179
Number of Television Sets: 13,050,000
Television Sets per 1,000: 337.8
Number of Cable Subscribers: 3,583,620
Cable Subscribers per 1,000: 92.6
Number of Satellite Subscribers: 2,500,000
Satellite Subscribers per 1,000: 64.7
Number of Radio Stations: 792
Number of Radio Receivers: 20,200,000
Radio Receivers per 1,000: 522.9
Number of Individuals with Computers: 2,670,000
Computers per 1,000: 69.1
Number of Individuals with Internet Access: 2,800,000
Internet Access per 1,000: 72.5

Background & General Characteristics

General Historical Description

Poland reached the pinnacle of its influence in the sixteenth century, when it became one of the most important powers in Europe. At that time, Poland's territories stretched from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea.

When the sixteenth century Jagiellonian dynasty came to an end, the Poles introduced the heretofore-untried governmental strategy of an elected monarchy of kings chosen from royal families. Notable was the Polish introduction of a parliamentary voting system called the liberum veto. In this system any member of parliament could veto a law with a single vote.

The seventeenth century was a turbulent time in Polish history. The Swedes first invaded Poland, then the nation fought a war with the Turks. Poland also experienced a Cossack rebellion in the southeastern territories. Poland slowly crumbled and eventually, at the end of the eighteenth century, Russia, Austria and Prussia divided Poland into three sections.

Poland continued to be occupied during the nineteenth century, despite two uprisings in 1830 and 1863. Independence finally arrived with the end of World War I. Unfortunately, after Poland gained independence it was soon overrun by Germany and the Soviet Union in World War II.

Poland's postwar fate was decided by the Allies at the Yalta Conference held in February 1945. There was no Polish representation at the conference. A Provisional Government of National Unity, made up of members of the pro-Soviet government and émigré politicians was established. Free elections were to be held shortly after the end of the war, but those elections did not occur. A government in exile formed, and Britain and the United States withdrew their support and diplomatic recognition of Poland due to Soviet actions within the country.

Polish borders were greatly altered after the Allied conference in Potsdam, Germany, in 1945. The Soviet Union retained control of the territories it had obtained in 1939, while Poland gained large areas of former German territory in the west including the industrial region of Upper Silesia, the ports of Gdansk and Szczecin, and a long Baltic coastline.

Political strife and labor turmoil in the 1980s led to the formation of the independent trade union Solidarity. Solidarity soon gained a strong political following and with the advent of glasnost in the Soviet Union, was able to rapidly become a robust political entity. After the collapse of the Soviet empire, Solidarity swept parliamentary elections and the presidency in the 1990 elections.

An important role was played by the media in shaping social attitudes that led to the Solidarity movement. Despite censorship and administrative interference, the evolution of the Polish film school in 1956 helped bolster freedom of thought through art. Also of importance to the loosened fetters of censorship was the political, literary and scientific activity pursued by people in exile. Radio Free Europe played a significant role in molding public opinion. Similar roles were played by the Paris-based periodical Kultura and a number of similar publications.

In 1988 Poland experienced a large number of strikes. By 1989 roundtable talks between the authorities and the opposition were arranged and were held with the mediation of the Church. The talks were bolstered by a new world politic. Perestroika in the USSR and the support of the Western states for reforms in Poland helped Polish negotiators bargain.

In June 1988, elections were held that had been agreed upon in the roundtable contract. The Communist Party did not even win the votes of its own members, and retained with difficulty only those offices that had been allocated to it beforehand by the contract with the opposition. The efforts of Lech Walesa and other leaders brought about the first non-communist government in the Soviet bloc.

Privatization programs during the early 1990s enabled the country to transform its economy into one of the most vigorous in Central Europe, boosting hopes for acceptance to the EU. Poland joined the NATO alliance in 1999.

General Characteristics of the Population

About 38 million people live in Poland, and the yearly rate of increase is 4.8 people per 1,000. World War II was cataclysmic to the country as 6 million peopleor about one-sixth of the populationdied, including nearly 3 million Polish Jews in Nazi death camps.

Around 60 percent of Poles live in a city. There are a number of large cities, including Warsaw with a population of around 1.7 million.

Poland has made significant progress in education. In 1970 about half of the population had a primary education or less. By 1997 that number had dropped to one-third. Also during that time span, the number of college-educated people increased from 2 percent to nearly 10 percent. Educational advancement has been gender-based. Men improved their education largely through vocational training while women tended to obtain a general secondary education. As a result, 57 percent of working women now have at least a general secondary education while 43 percent of working men have a basic technical education.

Although improvement has taken place, Poland still needs to augment its educational system to meet the needs of the twenty-first century. Poland's people still lack skills in information technologies, new ways of organizing industry and job elasticity.

An Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Adult Literacy Survey illustrated the gap between Poland and other European countries. The survey revealed that more than 70 percent of Poles did not reach a moderate level of competency, while in all other countries only 32 to 44 percent of respondents failed to do so. The low level of adult literacy in Poland is prevalent for those living in rural areas. Polish farmers had scores 40 percent lower than Polish respondents of other professions. In other OECD countries, farmers' disadvantage was between 9 and 10 percent. Low adult literacy rates in Poland are largely explained by the poor performance of two sizeable groups of Polish respondents, namely farmers and people with basic technical education. These two groups represent about 63 percent of the total working-age (15 to 64) population.

Attempting to obtain higher educational standards entails major effort. The school system in Poland seems to be substandard. The country is characterized by qualms on the final shape of educational reform. In addition, ambiguity about its financing and lack of lucidity on the separation between the state, local communities and other educational partners concerning responsibilities remains problematic. Socio-economic disparity between social groups and regions also may create difficulty in achieving elevated educational norms.

Media History

Transformation in the Polish media sphere began immediately after the collapse of the Communist regime in 1989. On April 11, 1990, Polish parliament passed an anti-censorship act that modified the Press Act of 1984 implemented by the previous communist administration. The structure of Poland's media also was reformed by the Polish legislature. Economic reforms in the print arena gave journalists who had previously worked for state-owned newspapers the opportunity to take over ownership. In addition, foreign investors were allowed to enter the Polish media market.

Electronic media also experienced reformation. First, the transformation of the state-owned broadcasting apparatus into a public company was implemented. Second, policies encouraging commercial radio and television stations were instigated. The Polish government modeled the organizational framework of Poland's electronic media after the French Conseil National dÁAudiovisuel.

Poland enjoys a strong tradition of newspaper publishing. The Press Research Center at Jagiellonian University in Krakow reports that about 5,500 print media periodicals are published in Poland. A menagerie of daily and weekly newspapers of various qualities offers an assortment of opinions to Polish citizens.

Generally, periodicals in Poland can be separated into pre-and post-1989 categories. Papers existing before 1989 established under Communist rule have been privatized and sold to investors, often foreign. Publications that came into being during or after the change of the political system often reflect the values of post-communist Poland.

A strong characteristic of Polish newspapers is they do not attempt to disguise their political sympathies and readers can expect the opinions of editors to be explicitly expressed. In addition, Polish papers often do not separate news from opinions.

Gazeta Wyborcza is the most widely read newspaper in Poland. It was launched as a venture of the Solidarity movement in 1989. The newspaper was, at conception, owned by the Polish company Agora. Agora was a Polish company founded by the anti-communist movement in Poland. Eventually it was partially purchased by the U.S.-based media conglomerate, Cox Communications. The paper has a circulation of around 600,000.

Other larger dailies in Poland include: the Rzeczpospolita, Super ExpressDziennik Sportowy, Nasz Dziennik, and Trybuna.

Local newspapers in Poland benefit from a circulation of between 7 to 8 percent of the total circulation figures. Poland's industrial regions serve as the crux of the local press industry. Pomorze'Pomerania; Wielkopolska'Major Poland; and Slask'Silesia operate as hubs for the majority of local newspapers that have circulations between 1,000 and 3,000.

Publishers in Poland also distribute 78 regional journals. In addition, a budding magazine sector is gaining readership. Notable, however, is that many major magazines are owned by foreign concerns: Gruner & Jahr/ Bertelsmann, Axel Springer, H. Bauer, Hachette Filipacchi. There are a few local publishers, including: Agencja Wydawniczo-Reklamowa WPROST, Proszynski, S-ka and POLITYKA Spoldzielnia Pracy. Polityka andWprost are two of the most prestigious news magazines and each has a circulation of around 300,000. Another competitor in the magazine market is the Polish edition of Newsweek. Magazines currently account for about 12 percent of the money spent on advertising, with the European average around 20 percent.

Most sales of newspapers, periodicals and magazines occur at kiosks. Subscriptions represent less than 4 percent of total sales.

The local media in Poland has expanded at a rapid rate since 1989. Three periods may be noted. The first was founded upon widespread support for Solidarity. The second phase was rooted in the dissolution and disbanding of the anti-communist forces. Finally, local media is now based upon profit rather than political thought.

Tendencies in the print media in Poland have been similar to those in other developed countries; however a few differences should be noted. First, there has been a marked drop in the number of readers and circulation of newspapers since 1985. This has been true across Europe with the exception of Portugal, where the starting point for the number of readers was quite low. Magazines have had a different history. The largest difference is the magazine industry's tendency to address specialized, particular products rather than aiming for a mass audience. The number of titles in Polish magazines has increased dramaticallyan estimated 200 percent since 1990 however, the circulation rate per magazine has decreased. The specialization of magazines can be expected to continue as new products create new opportunities for creation of magazines.

Until 1989 Poland had only one broadcaster 'Polish Radio and Television' which was operated by the state. After the fall of the Communist government, television and radio structure changed. First, Polish Radio was separated from Polish Television and both were reconstructed into public service organizations. Commercial interest in radio and television has grown and foreign investment has surged, albeit lower than in print media. This can be explained by legal limitations on Polish media which stipulates that broadcasting companies may not have more than 33 percent foreign ownership.

Economic Framework

Following a period of intense reform efforts in the early 1990s, Poland's was the initial economy in the region to recover to pre-1989 levels of economic output. Growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) since 1993 historically has been strong, averaging more than 5 percent annually, and making the Polish economy among the most robust in Europe. OECD admitted Poland as a member in 1996. Additionally, Poland has met nearly all of the conditions for European Union membership and is expected to be admitted within a few years.

Poland's economic performance has remained relatively good when compared to other post-transition economies. Poland's insistence in engaging in a reform strategy has led to the nation becoming one of the most prosperous in the region. Policies allowing privatization of state-owned companies and statutes allowing the establishment of new business have been followed by rapid development in the private sector.

Key industrial areas including coal, steel, railroads, and energy have undergone restructuring and privatization. However, further progress in public finance depends on privatization of Poland's remaining state sector.

Although Poland's economy is better and more stable than its counterparts in Central and Eastern Europe, the GDP per capita remains inferior when compared to its Western neighbors. Recent analysis indicates that Poland's GDP is little better than half the level of the poorest European Union members. Also notable is that Poland's GDP has leveled in recent years. In the first half of 2000 the GDP was 5.4 percent higher than in the previous year, in the second half that had fallen to 2.7 percent, and dropped again to a lowly 1.8 percent in the first half of 2001.

Poland's economic situation has impacted Polish media. The last half of the 1990s witnessed a number of newly established quality newspapers disappearing from the media market due to harsh economic realities. Their situation was significantly worse in comparison to older, pre-existing newspapers that received higher profits from advertisements. Ironically, the public adjusted to placing advertisements in "old" newspapers even when the circulation of new newspapers was similar. Further, Poland's new government does not subsidize the press, which makes capital from advertising essential to survival.

Press Laws

Since the fall of communism, the major legislation in broadcast media is the Broadcasting Act (Radio and Television Act) of 1992, as well as the Regulation of National Council of Radio and Television which grants and revokes licenses required for broadcasting radio and television programs. The Broadcasting Act of 1992 establishes the National Council of Radio and Television. This institution is designed as an independent body whose most important tasks are to grant and revoke licenses for broadcasting stations, appoint members of supervisory boards for public radio and television, and control and evaluate practice in the audiovisual field. The National Council is patterned after French Conseil National dÁudiovisuel, and its members are elected for six-year terms.

The National Council has granted dozens of licenses both on the national level and the local level. The license procedure is transparent and open to the public. Complaints concerning granting or refusing a license may be brought before the Supreme Administrative Court.

The primary legislation governing the printed press is still the Press Act of 1984 as amended several times, especially in 1990. The Press Act of 1984 now states that the only requirement necessary to start the publishing of a newspaper is registration by the Regional Court. The act also stipulates that state institutions, economic entities, and organizations must provide the press with information. Only when it is required to keep state secrets may entities refuse to provide information.

The Church has attempted to influence broadcast law. Agreements with the government and Polish Radio and Television gave the church favorable access to electronic media as early as mid-1989. The Church pays less than commercial stations for its radio licenses. An ill-defined clause enshrining "respect for Christian values" was controversially forced through by the Church's supporters in parliament as part of the new Radio and Television broadcasting bill passed in December 1992. Poland's government can therefore revoke licenses according to vague criteria about safeguarding Christian values. In the present absence of state censorship, the Church has to take recourse to the rather sparse provisions provided by the press and penal codes. The Church is concerned with prohibiting pornography and obscenity over the airwaves. In August 1995, Trybuna reported that pressure was being exerted by municipal authorities against newstands to restrict the sale of pornographic magazines.


There exists a history of censorship in Poland. Before the pre-1918 liberation censorship of materials was common. After liberation in November 1918, censorship was curtailed. However, the state of emergency prevailing over much of Poland, due to numerous wars waged during the first few years of independence, provided rationalization to suspensions of democratic freedoms of the press. The 1920 war against Soviet Russia also brought about the introduction of censorship in defense of military secrets.

Between the two world wars, Poland tended to display little censorship of the press. Legislation in interwar Poland initially granted publishers the ability to print a wide variety of opinion. Furthermore, the 1921 March Constitution codified a variety of press liberties.

After 1926 the Sanacja government became increasingly authoritarian and the unified Press Law of 1927 allowed the use of economic sanctions to curtail press independence. By 1935, the Poland's constitution no longer provided for freedom of the press. The government began to coerce editors to print sympathetic stories and instructed newspapers about what to print. The government and its agents also attempted to dominate the distribution network. In 1928, the government signed an agreement with the Association of Railway Bookshops to exclude publications of a communist nature from its kiosks.

In 1934 a press agreement was secretly signed with Nazi Germany. All works critical of Hitler and other leading Nazis were banned and removed from circulation. Hitler's Mein Kampf was distributed. Further, the Catholic Church occasionally supported repressive measures against specific individuals and works which allegedly offended religious sentiment and public decency.

The invasion by Germany in 1939 brought harsh censorship to the Polish press. Production and distribution of papers were deeply affected in the war, but the impact varied between cities depending on German behavior. In Krakow, for example, the early days of occupation were relatively calm and journalists received permission from the local military authority to publish newspapers, albeit subject to censorship. The inhabitants of Krakow went without papers for only a short while. In sharp contrast, in Czestochowa the German occupation was extremely violent. Media was absent from Czestochowa for months and when newspapers slowly reappeared, the Germans completely controlled their content.

Early in the war and until early 1943, the Polish-language press existed only to communicate German directives. The German occupation government used the press often to remind the Poles of their "sub-human" status. By 1943, recognizing the precarious nature of the war on the eastern front, Joseph Goebbels issued a memorandum recommending that Poles be enlisted in the fight against Soviet Bolshevism. Local government and press leaders were prepared to institute the "reforms" which Goebbels recommended with the hope that this would pacify the Polish population. Examples of the reforms included eliminating malicious statements about Poland and its "national character." The press was to emphasize the "good, even friendly relations" with the Germans. In spring 1943, Germany finally implemented reforms along the lines suggested by Goebbels. By that time, Polish resistance had grown in power, and with the Russians, was defeating the Germans on the eastern front.

After World War II, Russian censorship of the Polish press initially rivaled the Nazi's authoritarian policies. With the creation of the Soviet-backed Lublin government, communists moved quickly to control key areas of cultural activity. Soon, the state's control and accumulation of print works, enforcement of publishing plans, and its development of absolute domination over the publishing process allowed for complete censorship of information distributed by the press. The Soviet-backed government's iron-hand authorityfrom financing to distributionwould come to determine in every respect the products made available to the public. By 1950 the government had established a near-monopoly in the collection of subscriptions and distribution of periodical publications. This censorship lasted for nearly 40 years.

Key differences in censorship between the 1960s and earlier decades were noticeable, particularly in the streamlining of the system. The Censorship Office received ever more precise, and sometimes contradictory, instructionsthe "Black Book"on a regular basis in the attempt to guarantee the Communist Party a monopoly on information. Access to information or limited freedom to criticize depended on the individual's status in the official hierarchy.

Lessening government censorship was one of the 21 demands made by Solidarity in the Gdansk Agreement of August 1980. Real reforms were beginning to take shape, and by July 1981 new laws were passed which enabled editors to challenge government censorship decisions in the courts. Tygodnik Solidarnosc mounted the first successful challenge in November 1981 and overturned the government's decision to confiscate readers' letters. The 1980 Gdansk agreement reformed much of the censorship process. Certain types of speech and publications, such as orations by deputies at open parliamentary sessions, school-approved textbooks, publications approved by the church and Academy of Sciences publications were no longer subject to government censorship. This legislation partly dismantled the censorship process. However, imposition of martial law in the early 1980s negated these new-found freedoms. Yet, the basic trend during the 1980s leaned toward less censorship, particularly with the advent of glasnost. By 1989 about 25 percent of all newspapers were exempt from preventive control.

Change spread quickly upon the fall of communism. Newspapers were soon privatized and although television has been slower to reform, new technology and Poland's movement toward the European Union tended to lead to diminishing attempts by the government to retain control over broadcasting. There has been, however, with the election of socialist leaders, a move by the government to regain more control of the media.

State-Press Relations

Several present statutes help to outline the Polish government's relationship with the press. Article 14 of the constitution of 1997 guarantees freedom of the press and of other mass media. In addition, the Broadcasting Act of 1992 privatized state radio and television into joint stock companies that eventually led to private commercial radio and television stations. The act also limits foreign ownership in broadcasting entities to less than 34 percent.

The present-day Polish constitution provides for freedom of speech and the press, and the government, for the most part, respects this right. However, there are some marginal restrictions in law and practice.

By statute, an individual who "publicly insults or humiliates a constitutional institution of the Republic of Poland" may be fined or even imprisoned for up to two years. In addition, persons who slur a public functionary may receive up to one year in prison. The most famous case tried under this law found President Aleksander Kwasniewski suing the newspaper Zycie for insinuating the president had contacts with "Russian spies." Additionally, individual citizens and businesses also can use this provision of the Criminal Code. Network Twenty One, which sells Amway products, employed the statute to prevent a broadcast detrimental to its interests. Another case includes talk show host Wojciech Cejrowski, who was charged with publicly insulting Kwasniewski. Eventually Cejrowski lost the case and was fined.

The new criminal code also specifies that speech which "offends" religious faith may be punishable by fines or imprisonment for up to three years. In 1997, the Council for the Coordination of the Defense of the Dignity of Poland and Poles filed charges against the left-leaning newspaper Trybuna for its alleged insults of the pope. The Warsaw prosecutor's office, however, decided to drop the case.

Another statute that restricts the press includes The State Secrets Act that allows for the prosecution of people who betray state secrets. Human rights groups have criticized this law as restraining the fundamental right of free speech.

Protection of journalistic sources also is addressed in the criminal code. The law grants news sources protection except in cases involving national security, murder, and terrorist acts. Further, if the accused is benefited, statutory provisions may be applied retroactively. Journalists who decline to reveal sources preceding the new code's ratification may avoid sanctions by invoking journalistic privilege.

Up to this point there have been no restrictions placed on the establishment of private papers, journals and magazines. KRRiTV (The National Radio and Television Broadcasting Council) has authority in regulating programming on radio and television. KRRiTV also distributes broadcasting frequencies and licenses and apportions subscription revenues to public media. KRRiTV theoretically is to be a non-partisan, apolitical board. Legally members must be suspended from active participation in political parties or public associations. However, since they are chosen for their political allegiances and nominated by the parliament, serious questions often arise concerning board members' neutrality.

Broadcast law states that broadcasting should not encourage behavior that is illegal or hostile to the morality or welfare of citizens. The law requires that programs respect "the religious feelings of the audience and Christian system of values." This law has never actually been seriously tested in the courts.

The Ministry of Communication selects frequencies for television broadcaster to operate. KRRiTV then auctions the frequencies. The first such auction, held in 1994, gave the Polsat Corporation and a few other local entities licenses to operate. Further licenses were granted in 1997 to TVN and Nasza Telewizja.

Two of the three most widely viewed television channels and 17 regional stations, as well as five national radio networks, are owned by the Polish government. Public television tends to be the major source of information. However, satellite television and private cable services are becoming more available. Cable services carry the main public channels, Polsat, local and regional stations, and a variety of foreign stations.

Statutes concerning radio and television require public television to provide direct media access to the main state institutions, including the presidency, "to make presentations or explanations of public policy." Both public and private television provides coverage of a spectrum of political opinion.

In 2002, Prime Minister Leszek Miller's administration earned a reputation as being unfriendly to media. It has taken action to curb the independence and influence of the country's two most prestigious newspapers, Gazeta Wyborcza and Rzeczpospolita, both of which have attempted to hold government accountable. Shortly after taking office, Miller's government reopened a legal clash with Rzeczpospolita, whose ownership is split between a Norwegian publishing company and the state. Prosecutors have introduced criminal charges against three of its senior managers and confiscated their passports. The newspaper argues that the government is attempting to gain control of the papers by not allowing the Norwegian interest voting rights and/or forcing the Norwegians to sell. In addition, the company that owns Gazeta Wyborcza, founded by Polish reformers, wants to purchase shares in a Polish television network. The Polish government has since introduced legislation that would halt private media companies from having interest in both television and journalistic companies. The Polish government is exempt from the provision, which means the state would be free to print its own agenda.

Attitude toward Foreign Media

The presence of foreign capital is most visible in the newspapers sector, especially the local/regional market, where a comfortable relationship exists between publishers and foreign investors. Two firms are in the forefront: Passau Neue Presse (PNP, from Germany), and Orkla Media (from Norway).

Twelve dailies and one weekly are fully owned or controlled by PNP. PNP controls papers in regions where it is present. It is estimated that the company's economic activity makes up about 15 percent of the total income in the newspaper sector of the Polish media market. PNP is a multinational corporate media entity controlling 40 percent of the Czech local market, and it has sizable holdings in Austria as well as Germany.

Orkla Media entered the Polish market in 1993 and controls 10 dailies and 18 percent of the Polish newspaper market sector. On each local market, with one exception, the titles owned by Orkla have dominant position.

H. Bauer Verlag specializes in popular television, women's, and teen magazines. Bauer Verlag publishes 11 magazines and controls 12 percent of the magazine market. Bauer also is present on the Czech, Slovak and Hungarian markets.

Axel Springer Verlag has eight titles and controls 5 percent of the magazine market. Springer Verlag differentiates from Bauer Verlag due to the fact that nearly 40 percent of its revenues originate from advertising. Springer also is active on the television and radio market and is one of the leading media groups in Germany.

Cox Enterprises, a U.S. firm, owns 20 percent of the media company Agora, which radically increased its revenues after selling its shares to Cox. Although Cox doesn't have a dominant share, it is the biggest partner in the company. Agora invests in radio (Inforadio and six local stations) and television (Canal Plus Poland).

In television there are two important firms with foreign capital investments: Canal Plus has more than 200,000 subscribers in Poland, while Polish Cable TV (PTK) has 700,000 subscribers.

There is room for further growth in the pay-television market. The pay channel RTL7 was launched in 1997 by the film and television giant CLT-Ufa. It is based outside of Poland and distributed by satellite in order to circumvent Polish restrictions on foreign ownership. However, RTL7 can only muster audience shares in the low single digits. If allowed to broadcast from Poland the share would undoubtedly rise. This is not likely to happen unless the ownership laws that bar foreign companies are changed. The National Broadcast Council is sympathetic to the case and tried without success to raise the maximum foreign ownership stake allowed from 33 percent to 49 percent. This effort failed.

Foreign investors are waiting for Poland's entry in to the European Union, scheduled for 2003. As an EU member, Poland will have to conform to European-wide media laws, and all ownership restrictions will be lifted.

News Agencies

Polish press agencies include Polska Agencja Prasowa (PAP, or Polish Press Agency); Polska Agencja Informacyjna (PAI or Polish Information Agency) and Katolicka Agencja Informacyjna (KAI or Catholic Information Agency). There are a number of small information providers, which also offer wire and photo services.

Broadcast Media

Historical Overview of Broadcast Media

The Polish United Workers' Party (PUWP) believed television had a specific function in a socialist society. Communist Party leaders often attempted to use television as a conduit to transmit socialist and communist ideology to the people of Poland. They soon discovered that television presented a host of problems as propaganda tool. First, party leaders were unable to fully control the content of television. Second, and perhaps more importantly, government leaders did not comprehend how the plethora of televisions functions prevented the party from reaching its goals. Some have suggested that the government's policies regarding television were a contributing factor in the fall of communism in Poland.

There exist several limitations when analyzing television as an element of social change in Poland. Significant is the fact that radio, not television, was the media of choice in Poland. Before 1970 there were fewer than 3 million televisions in Poland. In addition, only one channel broadcast for only a few hours each day, and its quality of transmission left much to be desired. Television coverage was incomplete in Poland until after the early 1970s. Despite these shortcomings, the government still recognized the potential of television as a propaganda tool. Socialist leaders believed that television would bring culture to the masses and would bring village and city closer together.

Party leaders enjoyed some success in the beginning. Surveys indicated that the television viewing population was partial to various programs presenting the party line concerning economic and political topics. Television also broadcast celebrations denoting Socialist holidays.

The government soon discovered that the persuasive abilities of television tended to decrease over time. People also began to doubt the veracity of television reporting. Perhaps the event that most diminished television's credibility was Pope John Paul II's visit in June 1979. The pope's popularity in Poland was not fully understood by the government. As he worked his way across Poland that summer, he addressed hundreds of thousands of people. Polish television attempted to denigrate the visit, and it censored the coverage, belittled the number of people present at masses, and limited the amount of coverage. Polish viewers were incensed.

Characteristics of Broadcast Media Public radio (Polskie Radio S.A.) and public television (TVP S.A.) still rank as most important among broadcast stations. Polish Public Radio provides four national programs: PR 1 and PR3 (for the general public), PR 2 (which features classical music and literature), and education channel Radio Bis. It also incorporates PR 5, which broadcasts abroad on shortwave frequencies, and 17 regional radio stations, each an independent broadcasting company. Public radio also produces programs in ethnic minority languages.

Two national public television channels (TVP, SA) and 11 regional channels operate in Poland. Ethnic minority television programs are also produced in minority languages by regional stations.

Financing for public radio and television comes through a combination of license fees and advertising. With the fall of the communist system, the National Council for Radio and Television has been created to grant frequencies for broadcasting and new broadcasters.

National commercial channels include Polsat TV, TVN (ITI Holdings), and Channel 4. A 24-hour information channel also is operated by TVN. Other channels include Catholic Puls TV, coded RTL 7, Canal Plus, and Wizja TV. About 500 cable television operators exist in Poland with more than 2 million subscribers. The cable operators, by statute, must transmit two public channels.

There is access to various satellites from Poland. The most popular satellite channels are MTV, Eurosport, RTL and the Cartoon Network.

Electronic News Media

The Polish Internet market is growing, and shopping and banking are becoming popular with well-educated Poles. Numerous local and national government Web sites offer information in an assortment of languages.

Most media outlets in Poland have developed Web sites. The electronic database of the Press Research Centre has recorded 1,516 Internet addresses.

However, media advertising via the Internet may be difficult. Europemedia reports that only 24 percent of Polish firms consider advertising on the Internet to be better than advertising via traditional media. Further, according to research conducted by the Krakow Academy of Economics, 48 percent of Polish entrepreneurs believe that advertising through traditional media is superior to online advertising. However, while Polish firms are skeptical about online advertising, more than half of the companies surveyed claimed they would "definitely" be using the Internet in the future to promote their products.

Education and Training

Polish journalists are, for the most part, well educated and competent in their craft. Many hold college degrees but this is not a requirement.

The major media employers' organizations are: the Polish Chamber of Press Publishers, the Association of the Local Press Publishers, the Convent of Local Commercial Radio Stations, the Association of Independent Film and TV Producers and the National Industrial Chamber of Cable Communications, the Polish Journalists Association (SDP), the Journalists Association of the Republic of Poland (SDRP), the Catholic Association of Journalists, the Syndicate of Polish Journalists, the Union of Journalists, the Union of TV and Radio Journalists, the European Club of Journalists, the Local Press Association, the Polish Local Press Association, the Polish Chapter of the Association of European Journalists.

A code of ethics was adopted on March 29, 1995, in Warsaw by most of these organizations. The code stated that journalists should perform their craft in accordance with the principles of truth, objectivity, dividing commentary and information, honesty, tolerance, and responsibility.


A multitude of media voices exist in Poland and most are tolerated. Videotapes are available in local stores, and comics, once heavily influenced by government intervention, are free to portray a variety of political stances. Polish law now allows competition for state owned radio and television. Further, several private newspapers have commenced publishing. Privatization has become the hallmark of Polish post-communist culture. In Poland during the first year after the fall of communism, the number of journals and newspapers increased by 600 in five months. More than just creating new publications, the Poles began to provide avenues for publishing. New publishing companies were formed to replace the Robotnicza Spoldzielnia Wydawnicza (RSW, the Workers Cooperative Publishing House), the organization that had control over 80 percent of Polish publications for 40 years.

Television growth in Poland has been explosive as well. The total advertising money spent virtually doubled between 1997 and 1999, from 3.7 billion zlotys (U.S. $840 million) to 7.3 billion zlotys (U.S. $1.67 billion). Poland is one of a number of countries in Europe where private stations have to compete for both audiences and advertising revenue with subsidized state-owned channels.

The media in Poland remains in an expansionist mode. Polish media is taking on a global dimension with the introduction of digitalization, specialization, concentration of media ownership, and development of local media.

The rapid growth of Polish media may also have some detrimental consequences. The media companies now existing in Poland must be willing to work diligently to develop new strategies in order to hold their place in the market. The concentration of media ownership, as big media conglomerates buy weaker publishers and stations, may become problematic. Locally, newcomers to the profession may not be as experienced or well trained. Finally, the demand for sensationalism has grown and may lead to inferior coverage of newsworthy events.

Polish media has experienced tremendous change since 1989. Privatization has been leading Poland away from an ideological to a market-driven media model. This could lead to Polish media being dominated by corporate interests as media conglomerates gain a larger share of the media. However, there is a possibility that privatization will cease. The Polish government has become less friendly to foreign investment. The government seems to be giving up and even reversing previous plans for privatization in the media sector.

Poland has attracted the largest amount of foreign investment among European Union candidate countries: 36 billion euro. The sale of hundreds of companies has made it possible to substantially change telecommunications. This has enabled an injection of not only capital, but also new technology and management methods of key importance for the process of restructuring Poland's media industry.

Polish media is sitting upon the threshold of a new era. The path it chooses to tread will be directed by economic and political forces both inside and outside of Poland.

Important Dates

  • 1984: Polish Press Act
  • 1989: Industrial unrest and economic problems lead to Round Table Talks between the government and the opposition.
  • 1989: In partly democratic elections, Solidarity wins a landslide victory; Tadeusz Mazowiecki becomes the first non-Communist prime minister.
  • 1990: The name of the country is changed back to "Rzeczpospolita Polska" or "The Republic of Poland."
  • 1990: The Polish Communist Party ceases to exist.
  • 1990: First democratic presidential elections; Lech Walesa elected president.
  • 1990: Anti-Censorship Act introduced.
  • 1992: Radio and Television Broadcasting Act introduced.
  • 1993: A coalition of leftist parties gains control of the Sejm, the Polish parliament.
  • 1995: Aleksander Kwasniewski, a leader of the leftist coalition and former communist, is elected president. He promises to continue reforms and integration with free Europe.
  • 1997: Constitution adopted including Article 14 which guarantees freedom of the press.


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Terry Robertson

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Poland, Pol. Polska, officially Republic of Poland, republic (2005 est. pop. 38,635,000), 120,725 sq mi (312,677 sq km), central Europe. It borders on Germany in the west, on the Baltic Sea and the Kaliningrad region of Russia in the north, on Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine in the east, and on the Czech Republic and Slovakia in the south. Warsaw is the capital and largest city.

Land and People

The country is largely low-lying, except in the south, which includes the Carpathians, the Sudeten Mts., and the Małopolska Hills. The highest point is Rysy Mt. (c.8,200 ft/2,500 m), located in the High Tatra Mts. near the Slovakian border. Poland's main rivers (including the Vistula, the Oder, the Warta, and the Western Bug) are connected to the Baltic Sea and are important traffic lanes. The country has three important Baltic ports (Gdańsk, Gdynia, and Szczecin) and a dense rail network. There are many lakes, especially in the north. About 40% of Poland's land area is arable (with the best soil in the south), and about 30% is forested.

In addition to the capital and important ports, the country's major cities include Białystok, Bydgoszcz, Bytom, Częstochowa, Gdańsk, Gliwice, Katowice, Kraków, Łódź, Lublin, Poznań, Radom, Tarnowskie Góry, and Wrocław.

As a result of World War II, of the 1945 boundary treaty with the USSR, and of the emigration of most of the German-speaking population, the country has considerable ethnic homogeneity. Nearly the entire population is Polish-speaking and the vast majority of those affiliated with any creed are Roman Catholic.


Agriculture is mostly privately run and was so even during the Communist years. It accounts for 5% of the gross domestic product and occupies more than 15% of the workforce. Poland is generally self-sufficient in food; the main crops are potatoes, sugar beets, rye, wheat, and dairy products. Pigs and sheep are the main livestock. Poland is relatively rich in natural resources; the chief minerals produced are coal, sulfur, copper, silver, lead, and zinc, and there also is shale gas. There is food and beverage processing, shipbuilding, and the manufacture of automobiles, machinery, iron and steel products, chemicals, glass, appliances, and textiles. The country is also a center for companies outsourcing work.

Industry, which had been state controlled, began to be privatized in the early 1990s, although restructuring and privatization of the country's coal and other energy industries and the railroads has moved forward slowly, when it has progressed at all. Prices were freed, subsidies were reduced, and Poland's currency (the zloty) was made convertible as the country began the difficult transition to a free-market economy. Reforms initially resulted in high unemployment, hyperinflation, shortages of consumer goods, a large external debt, and a general drop in the standard of living. The situation later stabilized, however, and during the 1990s Poland's economy was the fastest growing in E Europe. Growth slowed significantly in 2001, and by 2006 Poland had the highest unemployment rate in the European Union. Growth subsequently increased, and Poland weathered the worldwide recession that began in 2008 much better than most other European Union nations. Poland exports machinery and transportation equipment, manufactured goods, food, and live animals. Imports include machinery and transportation equipment, manufactured goods, chemicals, minerals, and fuels. Germany, Russia, Italy, France, and the Netherlands are important trading partners.


Poland is governed under the constitution of 1997. The president, who is the head of state, is popularly elected for a five-year term and is eligible for a second term. The prime minister, who is the head of government, is appointed by the president, as is the cabinet, with the approval of the Sejm. The bicameral National Assembly consists of a 460-seat Sejm (lower house) and a 100-seat Senate (upper house). Members of both bodies are elected for four-year terms. Administratively, Poland is divided into 16 provinces.



The territorial dimensions of Poland have varied considerably during its history. In the 9th and 10th cent., the Polians [dwellers in the field] gained hegemony over the other Slavic groups that occupied what is roughly present-day Poland. Under Duke Mieszko I (reigned 960–92) of the Piast dynasty began (966) the conversion of Poland to Christianity. Gniezno was the first capital of Poland and Poznań the first episcopal see. The Piasts expanded their domains in wars against the German emperors, Hungary, Bohemia, Pomerania, Denmark, and Kiev, and in 1025 Boleslaus I (reigned 992–1025) took the title of king.

At the death (1138) of Boleslaus III the kingdom was broken up; its reunification was begun by Ladislaus I, who was king from 1320 to 1333. During the period of disunity, the Teutonic Knights gained a foothold in the then pagan N Poland. Their power was only broken by their defeat at the hands of Polish-Lithuanian forces at Tannenberg (1410); by the second treaty of Toruń (1466) they became vassals of the Polish kings. The main line of the Piast dynasty ended with the death (1370) of Casimir III, whose enlightened economic, administrative, and social policies included the protection of the Jews. He also completed the reunification of the kingdom. After Casimir, the crown passed to his nephew, Louis I of Hungary (reigned 1370–82) and then to Louis' daughter, Jadwiga (reigned 1384–99).

The Age of Greatness

Jadwiga married Ladislaus Jagiello, grand duke of Lithuania, who became king of Poland as Ladislaus II (reigned 1386–1434). The Jagiello dynasty ruled Poland until 1572; this period—especially the 16th cent.—is considered the golden age of Poland. Although involved in frequent wars with Hungary, Moscow, Moldavia, the Tatars, and the Ottoman Turks, the closely allied Polish and Lithuanian states maintained an empire that reached from the Baltic to the Black Sea.

Ladislaus III (reigned 1434–44; after 1440 also king of Hungary), although routed and killed by the Ottoman Turks at the battle of Varna (1444), gave Poland the prestige of championing the Christian cause against the Muslim invaders. Casimir V (1447–92) placed Poland and Lithuania on equal terms and decisively defeated (1462) the Teutonic Knights. Under Sigismund I (reigned 1506–48) internal power was consolidated, the economy developed, and the culture of the Renaissance was introduced. During the reign of Sigismund II (reigned 1548–72) a unified Polish-Lithuanian state was created by the Union of Lublin (1569).

The arts and sciences flourished during the Jagiello dynasty; a towering figure of the age was the astronomer Copernicus. At the same time, however, the Jagiellos were forced to contend with the growing power of the gentry, who by the 15th cent. began to acquire considerable political influence. In 1505 the gentry forced King Alexander (reigned 1501–6) to recognize the legislative power of the Sejm, or diet, which comprised a senate (made up of representatives of the landed magnates and of the high clergy) and a chamber (consisting of the deputies of the nobility and of the gentry). The liberum veto, which allowed any representative to dissolve the Sejm and even to annul its previous decisions, was applied with growing recklessness in the 17th and 18th cent.

Class Divisions and Foreign Conflicts

The Polish kings had always been elective in theory, but in practice the choice had usually fallen on the incumbent representatives of the ruling dynasty. After the death (1572) of Sigismund II, last of the Jagiellos, the theory that the entire nobility could take part in the royal elections was newly guaranteed. In practice, this meant that internal factional rivalry prevented the establishment of any great Polish dynasty; contested elections and insurrections by the gentry were frequent. Although the state was weakened, the constitution of the royal republic created a certain democratic egalitarianism among the gentry and noble classes. The peasantry, however, had been reduced to serfdom, and its condition tended to worsen rather than improve. The middle class was largely Jewish or German.

There was considerable religious toleration in 16th-century Poland and the progress of Protestantism was arrested without coercion by the Jesuits, who introduced the Counter Reformation in 1565. Relations between the Roman Catholic ruling class and the followers of the Greek Orthodox Church in Belarus and Ukraine (then parts of Lithuania) were less harmonious and helped to involve Poland in several wars with Russia.

Much of the reigns of Stephen Báthory (1575–86) and Sigismund III (1587–1632) was occupied by attempts to conquer Russia. The outstanding figure of their reigns was Jan Zamojski (1542–1605). Sigismund III, a prince of the Swedish ruling house of Vasa, also became king of Sweden; after his deposition (1598) by his Swedish subjects he continued to advance his claims and started a long series of Polish-Swedish wars. In addition, Sigismund defeated an armed revolt (1606–7) by the gentry and fought the Ottoman Turks. He was succeeded by his sons Ladislaus IV (1632–48) and John II (1648–68).

John's reign came to be known in Polish history as the "Deluge." During his rule discontent in Ukraine flared in the rebellion of the Cossacks under Bohdan Chmielnicki. In 1655, Charles X of Sweden overran Poland, while Czar Alexis of Russia attacked from the east. Inspired by their heroic defense of the monastery at Częstochowa, the Poles managed to regroup and to save the country from complete dismemberment. The Peace of Oliva (1660) cost Poland considerable territory (including N Livonia), and by the Treaty of Andrusov (1667) E Ukraine passed to Russia. The Vasa dynasty ended with the death of John II. John III (John Sobieski; reigned 1674–96), who defended (1683) Vienna from the Ottoman Turk invaders, temporarily restored the prestige of Poland, but with his death Poland virtually ceased to be an independent country.

Partition and Regeneration

After John III, the fate of Poland was determined with increasing cynicism by its three powerful neighbors—Russia, Prussia, and Austria. In 1697 the elector of Saxony was chosen king of Poland as Augustus II by a minority faction supported by Czar Peter I. Augustus allied himself with Russia and Denmark against Charles XII of Sweden. In the ensuing Northern War (1700–1721), during which Poland was plundered several times, Charles XII maintained Stanislaus I (Stanislaus Leszczynski) as Polish king from 1704 to 1709. The War of the Polish Succession (1733–35), precipitated by Augustus's death, resulted in the final abdication of Stanislaus and the accession of Augustus III (1734–63). Under Augustus III, the Polish economy (still largely agricultural) declined and orderly politics was undermined by feuding among the great landed families, which was evident in the frequent use of the liberum veto.

As a result of the support of Catherine II of Russia and Frederick II of Prussia, Stanislaus II (Stanislaus Poniatowski; reigned 1764–95), a member of the powerful Czartoryski family, was elected king of Poland. Prince Nikolai Repnin, the Russian minister at Warsaw, gained much influence in Polish internal affairs. Opposition to Russian domination led to the formation (with French help) in 1768 of the Confederation of the Bar, which, however, was suppressed militarily by Russia in 1772. Fearing that all Poland might fall into Russian hands, Frederick II proposed (1772) a partition plan to Catherine II, which later in the same year was modified to include Austria. Three successive partitions (1772, 1793, 1795) resulted in the disappearance (1795) of Poland from the map of Europe. Russia gained the largest share.

Despite the severe losses that the country suffered, there was a renewed spirit of national revival after 1772. It manifested itself in the thorough reform (including the abolition of the liberum veto) embodied in the May Constitution (1791) for the remaining independent part of Poland and in the heroic revolt (1794) led by Kosciusko. By the Treaty of Tilsit (1807), Napoleon I created a Polish buffer state, the grand duchy of Warsaw, under King Frederick Augustus I of Saxony. After Napoleon's defeat, the Congress of Vienna (1814–15) established a nominally independent Polish kingdom ( "Congress Poland" ), in personal union with the czar of Russia. The western provinces of Poland were awarded to Prussia; Galicia was given to Austria; and Kraków and its environs were made a separate republic.

A Polish nationalist revival led to a general insurrection in 1830 (known as the November Revolution) in Russian Poland. The Poles were at first successful, but their army was defeated (1831) at Ostrołęka, and the Russians reentered Warsaw. The Polish constitution was suspended, and the kingdom became virtually an integral part of Russia. Thousands of Poles emigrated, notably to Paris, which became the center of Polish nationalist activities. In 1846 an insurrection in Galicia by the peasantry against the gentry led to the annexation of Kraków by Austria. Rebellions broke out in 1848 in Prussian and Austrian Poland, and in 1863 the Poles in Russian Poland rose in the so-called January Revolution.

After crushing the revolt, the Russians began an intensive program of Russification. At the same time industry (especially the manufacture of textiles and iron goods) was developed and large estates were divided and given in freehold to peasants. A similar policy of Germanization in Prussian Poland was linked with Bismarck's Kulturkampf (see Ledóchowski, Count Mieczisław). Only in Austrian Galicia did the Poles enjoy a considerable degree of autonomy, but there the economy was very weak.

The Restoration of a Nation

In World War I the early efforts of the Polish nationalists were directed against Russia. Polish legions, led by Joseph Piłsudski, fought for two years alongside Germany and Austria. In Nov., 1916, Germany and Austria proclaimed Poland an independent kingdom, but Germany, which occupied the country, retained control over the Polish government. Piłsudski resigned and was imprisoned (July, 1917), and the independence movement from then on was centered at Paris. The defeat of the partitioning powers allowed Poland to regain its independence, which was proclaimed on Nov. 9, 1918. Piłsudski returned on Nov. 10 and was declared chief of state.

The Treaty of Versailles (1919) gave Poland access to the Baltic Sea via the Polish Corridor and forced Germany to return Prussian Poland to Poland. Gdańsk became a free city and parts of Silesia were awarded to Poland as a result of plebiscites. The Polish-Russian border proposed at the Paris Peace Conference (and later named after Lord Curzon of Great Britain) would have awarded to Russia large parts of the former eastern provinces of Poland, inhabited mainly by Belarusians and Ukrainians. However, Poland insisted on its 1772 borders. War broke out between Poland and Russia, and in 1920 the Poles drove the Russians back from Warsaw. In the Treaty of Riga (1921), Poland secured parts of its claims.

Poland also became involved in protracted disputes over Vilnius with Lithuania and over Teschen with Czechoslovakia. About one third of newly created Poland was made up of ethnic Germans, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Jews, and Lithuanians, and these minorities were generally treated inequitably. A republican constitution was adopted in 1921. Financial and agrarian reforms were undertaken and industrialization progressed, but the condition of the peasantry remained generally poor, and the landowning aristocracy retained most of its wealth.

In 1926 a parliamentary government was suspended by a military coup that made Piłsudski virtual dictator. After his death (1935), Marshall Edward Rydz-Śmigły assumed control, and under a new constitution (1935) parliament became a tool of the governing clique ( "the colonels" ). Foreign policy in the 1920s was based on alliances with France and Romania; in the 1930s, under the guidance of Col. Josef Beck, Poland attempted to steer a course among the powers of Europe (especially Germany and the USSR) by following a pragmatic policy of balance. In the economic depression of the 1930s unemployment was widespread; also, anti-Semitism became increasingly virulent.

In early 1939, after having secured guarantees against aggression from Great Britain and France, Poland rejected Germany's demand for Gdańsk. In Aug., 1939, the negotiations of Great Britain and France with the USSR for a military agreement fell through, partly because Poland would not agree to allow Soviet troops to march across Poland in case of a conflict with Germany. On Aug. 23, 1939, Germany and the USSR signed a nonaggression treaty, which included secret clauses providing for the partition of Poland between them. On Aug. 25, 1939, a treaty of alliance between Poland and England was concluded.

On Sept. 1, 1939, Germany, having refused further negotiations, invaded Poland and thus precipitated World War II. German columns advanced with spectacular speed. On Sept. 17, Soviet troops invaded Poland from the east. Polish resistance was crushed, and the country was partitioned between Germany and the USSR, except for a central portion that was annexed by neither power but was placed under German rule. After the German attack (1941) on the USSR, all Poland passed under German rule.

World War

Poland suffered tremendous losses in life and property in the war. The Nazi authorities eliminated a large part of the population by massacres and starvation and in extermination camps such as the one at Oświęcim (Auschwitz). About six million Poles were killed, and 2.5 million were deported to Germany for forced labor. Polish Jews suffered the worst fate; all but about 100,000 of the prewar Jewish population of some 3,113,900 were exterminated.

Despite German oppression, the Poles did not cease to fight for their independence. An underground resistance movement was organized, and a government in exile (led initially by General Władysław Sikorski and later by Stanislaus Mikołajczyk) was established first in France and then in London. Polish prisoners of war in the USSR were allowed to form a corps under Wladislaw Anders and fought with distinction with the Allies; other Polish units were organized in Great Britain and Canada.

The German announcement (1943) that a mass grave of some 10,000 Polish officers, allegedly executed by the Soviets, had been discovered in the Katyn forest led to a break between the Polish government in exile and the Soviet Union. (The Soviet Union admitted to the massacre in 1990.) The rift was widened by Soviet demands for the Curzon line as the new Polish-Soviet border. When Soviet troops entered Poland, a provisional Polish government was established (July, 1944) under Soviet auspices at Lublin. A Polish uprising (Aug.–Oct., 1944) at Warsaw, organized by the resistance movement and controlled by the Polish government in exile in London, was crushed by the Germans while Soviet forces remained inactive outside Warsaw. The last German troops were expelled from Poland in early 1945.

By an agreement at the Yalta Conference (Feb., 1945), Mikołajczyk joined the Lublin government, and this new government was subsequently recognized by Great Britain and the United States. The Polish-Soviet border was fixed by treaty slightly east of the Curzon line, and 15% of German reparation payments to the USSR was allotted to Poland. At the Potsdam Conference (July–Aug., 1945), the sections of Prussia east of the Oder and Neisse rivers, including Gdańsk and the southern part of East Prussia (altogether c.39,000 sq mi/101,010 sq km) were placed under Polish administration pending a general peace treaty. The expulsion of the German population from these territories was sanctioned.

The Communist Regime

A unicameral parliament was established (1946) after a referendum. Legal opposition was limited almost entirely to Mikołajczyk's Peasant party, but nationalists, rightists, and some other opponents operated as underground forces. The government-controlled elections of 1947 gave the government bloc an overwhelming majority; Mikołajczyk resigned and fled abroad. Bolesław Bierut, a Pole who was a Communist and a citizen of the USSR, was elected president of Poland by the parliament. The Sovietization of Poland was accelerated; in 1949, Soviet Marshall Konstantin Rokossovsky was made minister of defense and commander in chief of the Polish army. The constitution of 1952 made Poland a people's republic on the Soviet model.

In 1949, Poland joined the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON), and in 1955 it became a charter member of the Warsaw Treaty Organization. Polish foreign policy became identical with that of the USSR. Relations with the Vatican were severed; the church became a chief target of government persecution, which included the arrest (1953) of the primate of Poland, Cardinal Wyszynski. Partly as a result of the more relaxed atmosphere following Stalin's death (1953), workers and students in Poznań rioted (late June, 1956) in a mass demonstration against Communist and Soviet control of Poland. Discontent soon became widespread, and the government was forced to reconsider its policies.

In Oct., 1956, Władysław Gomułka, purged in 1949 from the Polish Communist party as a "rightist deviationist" and imprisoned from 1951 to early 1956, was elected leader of the Polish United Workers (Communist) party (PZPR) and became the symbol of revolt against Moscow. Gomułka denounced the terror of the Stalinist period, ousted many Stalinists from the government and the party, relieved Rokossovsky of his posts, and freed Cardinal Wyszynski from detention. Collectivization of agriculture was halted, and the Poles were given far more freedom than under the previous regime. Relations with the church improved, and economic and cultural ties with the West were broadened. However, Poland retained close ties with the USSR. By the early 1960s Gomułka was tightening the party's hold on Poland; intellectual freedom was curbed, the church again was a target of government polemics, political rhetoric was infused with an anti-Semitic nationalistic fervor, and renewed attempts were made to have peasants join state groups.

In Aug., 1968, Poland joined other East European countries and the USSR in invading Czechoslovakia. In early Dec., 1970, Poland and West Germany signed a treaty (ratified in 1972) that recognized the Oder-Neisse line as Poland's western boundary (recognized in 1950 by East Germany) and provided for normal diplomatic relations. Later in the same month, rapidly increasing food prices led to riots by workers in the Baltic ports of Gdańsk, Gdynia, and Szczecin. Gomułka was ousted and replaced by Edward Gierek, who sought, with some success, to ease the living conditions of the average citizen. By the mid-1970s, however, recession necessitated price hikes that led to strikes and the arrests of hundreds of protesters. The bishop of Kraków, Karol Wojtyła, became Pope John Paul II in 1978, and his subsequent visit to Poland in June, 1979, drew several crowds of over a million people.

Solidarity and a Multiparty State

The continued shortage and expensiveness of food and housing led to strikes in 1980, first at the Lenin Shipyards in Gdańsk and then in other cities. The striking workers formed an illegal labor union, Solidarity, led by Gdańsk shipyard worker Lech Wałęsa. Granted legal status and enormously popular, Solidarity continued to strike for higher wages, lower prices, and also for the right to strike and an end to censorship. General secretary Gierek was replaced by Stanisław Kania, who in turn was replaced by Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski. Martial law was declared in Dec., 1981; Solidarity was banned in 1982, and its representatives were arrested. Martial law was lifted in 1984, Jaruzelski became president in 1985, and all imprisoned Solidarity members were released by 1986. Solidarity, still outlawed, remained a popular force as the economy failed to improve.

In 1989, Solidarity was again legalized, and it participated in the negotiation of substantial political reforms that led to free elections in the same year. Solidarity won a majority in both houses of the parliament. Tadeusz Mazowiecki was named prime minister in 1989, and in 1990 Lech Wałęsa was elected president. In 1990 the Solidarity-led government adopted a radical program for transforming Poland to a market economy, but the ensuing economic hardship led to widespread discontent and political instability.

From 1990 through 1996 Poland had eight prime ministers. Hanna Suchocka became Poland's first woman to hold the post in 1992, but she lost a no-confidence vote the next year. In new elections the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and the Polish Peasants' party (PSL) together won a majority. Waldemar Pawlak of the PSL became premier, but he resigned and was succeeded in Mar., 1995, by SLD leader Józef Oleksy. In Nov., 1995, Wałęsa was defeated in his presidential reelection bid by Aleksander Kwaśniewski, the SLD candidate. Oleksy resigned in Jan., 1996, after being accused of having spied for Moscow when he was a senior Communist party official. (Although the charges were later dropped, he was convicted in 2002 of having lied about collaborating with Polish military intelligence in the late 1960s.) He was succeeded by Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz of the SLD.

Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS), the political bloc that grew out of the labor union, won a plurality in 1997 parliamentary elections, forming a coalition government with the market-oriented Freedom Union. AWS leader Jerzy Buzek was named prime minister and pledged to speed up reform of Poland's outmoded heavy industrial base. A new constitution approved in 1997 diluted the power of the presidency and strengthened the power of the parliament. Poland joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1999. The AWS-led coalition collapsed in June, 2000, but Buzek formed an AWS minority government and remained in power. President Kwaśniewski was reelected in Oct., 2000.

In parliamentary elections in Sept., 2001, the SLD, led by Leszek Miller, won a sizable plurality of the seats but not a majority. The SLD formed a coalition with the PSL and the Union of Labor, and Miller became prime minister. The AWS, with only 5.6% of the vote, failed to win any seats; it was badly hurt by growing unemployment and other economic problems, as well as charges of corruption. Economic conditions continued to worsen after 2001, with unemployment reaching 19% in 2003. In Mar., 2003, disagreements over policy led the SLD to expel the PSL from the coalition; the SLD continued in power with a minority government.

Government budget cuts prompted by Poland's approaching entry into the European Union eroded popular support for the SLD, leading Miller to resign as party leader early in 2004, but he remained prime minister until May, when Poland joined the European Union. Marek Belka, a former finance minister and technocrat, was confirmed as Miller's successor in June. Continuing high unemployment and a series of political scandals hurt the SLD in the Aug., 2005, parliamentary elections. The socially conservative Law and Justice party (PiS) and the economically conservative Civic Platform (PO) each won roughly a third of the seats in the lower house and entered into unsuccessful negotiations on forming a new government.

The strongly conservative turn in Polish politics continued in October when, after a runoff election, Lech Kaczyński, of the PiS, was elected president; his main opponent had been Donald Tusk, the PO candidate. PiS subsequently formed a minority government led by Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz; the government became more stable when support from two fringe parties, one far-right, the other far-left, was secured in Feb., 2006. The three parties entered into a formal coalition in Apr.–May, 2006. There were tensions, however, between the president and prime minister, and in July, 2006, Marcinkiewicz resigned, and Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of PiS and the twin brother of the president, was appointed prime minister.

The coalition collapsed in September when the leader of the leftist Self Defense party (SRP) was expelled from the government for repeatedly criticizing its policies, but SRP rejoined the government in Oct., 2006, as it and the PiS sought to avoid new elections. Poland's Communist past returned to haunt the Roman Catholic church in early 2007 when Stanisław Wielgus, who had been appointed archbishop of Warsaw, resigned before he was consecrated after it was revealed the he had collaborated with the secret police under Communist rule.

Poland's support for basing U.S. antimissile facilities in its territory strained relations with Russia in early 2007 and into 2008 when a preliminary agreement was signed (August) concerning the placement of missile interceptors in N Poland. In Nov., 2008, Russia said it would station short-range missiles in its Kaliningrad exclave, neighboring N Poland, if U.S. missiles were based in Poland. A new U.S. administration, however, suspended plans for a ballistic missile defense system in E Europe in Sept., 2009, to focus on defending against shorter range missiles, and Poland agreed in principle (Oct., 2009) to host a short-range antimissile base. Meanwhile, the governing coalition collapsed again in Aug., 2007, and in early elections in September the PO won a plurality of the seats in parliament. The PO subsequently formed a coalition with the PSL, and PO leader Donald Tusk became prime minister. In Apr., 2010, President Kaczyński, the army chief of staff, and other high-ranking government and military officials were killed when their plane crashed while landing at Smolensk, Russia. Bronisław Komorowski, the marshal (speaker) of the Sejm, became acting president. In July, Komorowski was elected president, defeating Jarosław Kaczyński in a runoff. The Oct., 2011, parliamentary elections again produced a plurality for the PO and a majority for the PO-PSL coalition. In mid-2014 the release of secretly (and illegally) recorded conversations involving government officials making blunt statements and talking about political schemes caused controversy for Tusk's government, but he easily won (June) a confidence vote. Tusk resigned in Sept., 2014, to become president of the EU's European Council; PO member Ewa Kopacz succeeded him as prime minister. In the 2015 presidential election Komorowski lost the office after a runoff to Andrzej Duda, the PiS candidate.


See The Cambridge History of Poland, ed. by W. F. Reddaway et al. (2 vol., 1941–50, repr. 1971); H. H. Kaplan, The First Partition of Poland (1962, repr. 1972); S. Kieniewicz, The Emancipation of the Polish Peasantry (1970); L. Blit, The Origins of Polish Socialism (1971); P. W. Knoll, The Rise of the Polish Monarchy (1972); A. Polonsky, Politics in Independent Poland, 1921–29 (1972); D. S. Lane and G. Kolankiewicz, ed., Social Groups in Polish Society (1973); J. Karpinski, Countdown: The Polish Upheavals of 1956, 1968, 1970, 1976, 1980 (1982); O. Halecki, A History of Poland (1983); T. G. Ash, The Polish Revolution: Solidarity 1980–82 (1983); N. Ascherson, The Struggles for Poland (1987); N. Davies, God's Playground: A History of Poland (2 vol., rev. ed. 2003); H. Kochanski, The Eagle Unbowed: Poland and the Poles in the Second World War (2012).

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Since 1989, Poland has gone through extraordinary social changes. It has made a complex transition from socialism to democracy and capitalism and has joined the European Union (EU). The formerly implemented Marxist ideology of equality for all (including idioms of equal opportunities and rights, equal access to privileges and positions, etc.) is being replaced by the development of a free market, which has introduced intense competition and a disparity between the rich and the poor (Łobodzińska 1995). Unemployment, inflation, layoffs, and the closure of nonprofitable plants all contribute to tensions in the labor force, economic insecurity, and lower family budgets. Poles are very concerned about high interest rates, rising crime, and the expanding underground economy, but their main concern is jobs (Jobs 2001). These differences influence behavior, attitudes, values, and opinions, and represent social change (Łobodzińska 2000b).

Changes in Population and Demographic Structure since the 1960s

Because of rural-urban migration after 1945, by the 1980s, the Polish population was transformed from a predominantly rural one into an urban one. The rural family was characterized as a three-generational, extended family, often living in the same household and working together on the farm. Rural people marry at relatively earlier ages and have higher birth and lower divorce rates.

The consequences of the industrialization and urbanization processes include changes in the composition of the family, in marital stability, in childbirth patterns, and in the number of children per family. Rural families tend to have more children than do urban ones. In socialist Poland, abortion was legal and served as a primary means of birth control. In postsocialist Poland, the aging of the population, decreasing birth rate and natural increase rate all contribute to the changing demographic structure. (The natural increase rate is calculated from the difference between the total numbers of births and deaths during one calendar year. Depending on which number is larger, the rate can be positive or negative.) People are marrying less, they are postponing their first marriages, and they are divorcing more frequently (see Table 1). Such trends resemble the vital statistics in other Western societies.

Legislation Applied to Marriage, the Family, and Working Mothers

The intention of lawmakers to meet high standards of equality for all people has resulted in legislation to protect the family and secure women's equal rights. Such ideas have a long tradition in Poland, initiated at the end of the eighteenth century. Legally introduced in socialist Poland, they were manifested by socialist fringe benefits: free access to health care for all, free access to education on all levels of schooling, and retirement benefits. This trend is continued in the most recent, postsocialist Constitution of 1997. The constitution emphasizes eight articles: equality; protection of marriage and the family; protection of children and their rights; protection of pregnant women, working mothers and their offspring; protection of the elderly; and the right to health care are emphasized. Reality, however, falls short of these intentions. Limited family aid, shortages of family services and fixed—but insufficient—family and retirement allowances, and discrimination against women in the labor force confine constitutional rights to aspirations (Malinowska 1995). Legislation evidenced by the Constitution is supplemented by several Legal Codes, amendments and bills, which regulate many aspects of employment and earnings, equal rights, and property.

Among factors modifying family structure and mothers' employment is family planning regulated by the law. Abortion was gradually limited after 1989 and in 1997 was made illegal (except in cases of rape or if the mother's health is at risk). This bill coincides with restrictions in family planning, expensive birth control devices, and limited birth control instructions. Those who perform an illegal procedure face heavy penalties, including imprisonment.

Right-wing, conservative politicians influenced by the Catholic Church who favor larger families argue that this is necessary to secure replacement in the labor force; with the present birth rate labor shortages will occur in the future. They also cite nationalistic reasons: to increase the size of the Polish population. This faction also wants to keep women out of the work force and argues that combining work and motherhood is a burden for the economy because of necessary expenses on family allowances and child care, as well as paid maternal leave of absence, and paid health care for the expectant mother and her child. Such arguments attempt to justify keeping women away from the labor market and persuading them to have more children while staying at home and taking care of the family. In reality, narrowing of the number of women in the labor force increases the chances for male workers' employment under the free market competition. Officially, the most often recommended method of birth control was either total abstinence or the rhythm method. The Catholic Church supported such recommendations. Feminist organizations are few, with small membership. Their influence on family law, politics, and women's employment is secondary.

Other significant aspects of the law regarding family life and women's employment are family violence and sexual harassment. Traditionally, Polish legislation abstained from addressing those issues, and laws were not always clear. Changes introduced in 2000 in divorce law included formal separation for the purpose of reducing the number of divorces granted. Instituting an official separation allows only for the temporary protection of marriage, justifying it as a benefit to the children. In case of divorce, absent parents had to pay child support.

Age of retirement is determined according to gender: women retire at age sixty, men at sixty-five. The law protects working women in general, pregnant working women, and working mothers and allows them to combine employment and motherhood. As a result of such protective laws,

table 1Population and demographic indications of marital status and the family, Poland
indications1964 1970 1980199019981999comments
poland: population - total31,3 32,6 35,738,138,738,7in millions
population - urban49.5 52.3 58.861.561.861.8in %
population - rural50.5 47.7 41.238.538.238.2in %
population**: age 60+10.8 13.0 % of total
population***: age 65+6.6 8.4 % of total
marriages contracted7.6 8.5 8.66.7 5.4 5.7per 1000 population
median age at marriage****: men25.6 24.1 24.924.924.9 (1996)
median age at marriage****: women22.3 21.6 22.722.722.6 (1996)
divorces granted0.7 1.05 1.1 1.1 1.2 1.1per 1000 population
live births15.5 16.6 19.514.310.2 9.9per 1000 population
infant mortality rates - total47.3 33.4 21.315.9 9.5 8.9per 1000 live births
urban41.7 31.6 21.015.7 9.7 9.2per 1000 live births
rural51.4 34.8 21.716.2 9.4 9.4per 1000 live births
non-marital births4.6 (1966) 4.9 4.7 4.7 6.111.0 (1997)
in % of total births
natural increase8.5 10.5 9.6 4.1 0.50.0per 1000 population
families – single mothers11.3 11.813.6 (1988)15.0 (1995)in % of total families (data include never married, divorced, and widowed)
families – single fathers1.4 1.5 (1978)1.71.8 (1995)in % of total families (data include never married, divorced, and widowed)
** - retirement for women = 60 years of age
*** - retirement for men = 65 years of age
**** marriage and remarriage
sources:based on the author's calculations using the folowing sources: publications of the glówny urzad statystyczny (central statistical office) in warsaw.
rocznik statystyczny 2000 (statistical yearbook 2000). pp. xxxviii-xxxix; 96; 102-103; 128; 248; 269; 271.
rocznik statystyczny 1999 (statistical yearbook 1999). pp. xxxvi-xxxvii; 97, 100, 103.
rocznik statystyczny 1998 (statistical yearbook 1998). pp. lxxvi; xxxix; 97; 100-104; 126-27; 182; 271, 291; 293.
rocznik statystyczny 1997 (statistical yearbook 1997). p. 103.
rocznik statystyczny 1992 (statistical yearbook 1992). pp. 45.
rocznik statystyczny 1991 (statistical yearbook 1991). pp. xxxii-xxxiii, 49-50.
rocznik statystyczny 1990 (statistical yearbook 1990). pp. xxiv-xxv, 39-41.
rocznik statystyczny 1987 (statistical yearbook 1987). pp. 49.
rocznik statystyczny 1981 (statistical yearbook 1986). pp. 51.
rocznik statystyczny 1981 (statistical yearbook 1981). pp. xxxiii, 54-6.
rocznik statystyczny 1971 (statistical yearbook 1971). pp. 84, 90-1, 94.
rocznik statystyczny 1966 (statistical yearbook 1966). pp. 50.
rocznik statystyczny 1965 (statistical yearbook 1965). pp. 29; 44-5; 63; 247.
rocznik demograficzny 1967-68 (demographic yearbook 1967-68). pp. 238.
rocznik demograficzny 1971 (demographic yearbook 1971). pp. 166.
rocznik demograficzny 1987 (demographic yearbook 1987). pp. 122.
rocznik demograficzny 1993 (demographic yearbook 1993). pp. 140.

employers consider women unreliable workers. Patterns of discrimination carried over from the pre-1989 period include a largely sex-segregated labor market and a preference for hiring male workers, followed by inferior jobs and lower incomes for women, aggravated by a higher unemployment rate (which reached 17.4% in December 2001) and by a disproportionate increase in women's unemployment. In 2001, women's unemployment reached approximately 60 percent of the total unemployment. Seventy-five percent of working women earn average salaries below the national level ("Wydarzenia" 2001).

Family Planning and Number of Children Per Family

During the 1990s, birth rates were below replacement level (zero population growth, see Table 2) and marriage rates were on the decline. The population was getting older. In 2001 the birth rate indicators reached a level below zero population growth. In spite of restrictions and penalties, according to estimates, about 20 percent of all pregnancies end in artificially induced abortion (Montgomery 2001). Although there are fewer marriages and they are contracted at a later age, and the older generation makes up a greater proportion of the society, there has been no increase in family services or family allowances (childcare and family benefits policy). In other European countries, expanded family allowances and services have been implemented to stimulate higher birthrates. In Poland, the distribution of expenditures by the government suggests different priorities, which they consider aiding more urgent economic needs. Values that affect having children are changing; young couples delay the birth of their first child so that they may first achieve a more adequate level of economic stability. Fewer children and an older population are the case in Poland, as they are in most of the postsocialist countries. The number of children in an urban setting fluctuates between one and two; in the rural areas, it is more often two or three, and, fairly commonly, more than three. In urban areas, families with more than three children are rare (see Table 2).

The reduction in fertility since 1980 goes against the official postsocialist family policy statements. It is, however, consistent with Western values of a better life. In spite of limited means of family planning and abortion being illegal, practicing birth control results in smaller families. According to a public opinion poll (CBOS 2000, 2001), almost all respondents want to have children. The majority—62 percent—want two children; 21 percent want three children, the officially preferred model. Respondents said that the reasons preventing them from having larger families included inadequate housing conditions, insufficient state assistance, working women's fear of being fired, and concern about decrease in standard of living.

Three-Generational, Extended Family versus Nuclear Family

In the Polish tradition, maintaining close relationships within the family is well established. This applies to siblings and three-generational, extended family members.

Among factors limiting number of children in urban families is the housing shortage, which has been a problem since World War II. Despite the shortage, three-generational, extended families are common, even in urban areas. Housing shortages are especially stressful for young couples who intend to start families. A study conducted in 1999 pointed out that 23.0 percent of the adults—including young couples—in the research sample lived with their parents. In urban areas, approximately 33 percent of respondents aged eighteen to thirty-four lived with parents or other relatives (Wciórka 1999). Under such circumstances, conveying ideas from one generation to another and influencing them would be common and understandable. Even those grandparents who live separately from their adult children frequently supervise grandchildren whose mothers have daily full-time employment.

Under socialism, inexpensive childcare (state subsidized) and numerous family benefits policies were among the advantages for women in being employed. After 1989, the benefits that had been available under the socialist government were reduced. They included free tuition at universities and other schools, free medical care and medications, and subsidized child-care institutions. These circumstances, combined with inflation, have put family budgets under pressure and have made assistance from extended family members appreciated.

Many families share housing with several generations because the persistent housing shortage, low incomes, and high rents leave them no choice. Such arrangements not only provide care for grandchildren, but also serve as a factor in decreasing financial burdens for the retirees who are limited to their small pensions (Trafiałek 1997; Dyczewski, 1994). Such arrangements are determined by economic conditions and serve all generations involved. They also enable adult children (mostly women) to serve as caregivers to their ailing parents.

Several studies conducted before 1989 pointed out that families were characterized by a similarity of values that persisted across generations. This phenomenon was interpreted as an outcome of intergenerational transmission of values prompted by long years of hardships and adversity (e.g., political instability, wars, control by foreign rulers, low standard of living). As the country makes the transition to democracy and capitalism, it is expected that people will modify their values and emphasize self-expression, a better quality of life, and more

table 2Urban and rural families by number of children in percent, Poland
families by number of children
yeartotal = 100%no children1 child2 children3 children4 children & more
1970 - total8,197,00020.530.827.112.6 9.0
urban 4,361,00020.034.729.410.6 5.1
1978 - total9,435,00022.234.928.1 9.6 5.2
urban5,530,00036.927.423.2 8.4 4.1
1988 - total*10,226,191**29.324.624.7 8.1 3.3
urban6,344,00029.024.624.7 8.1 3.3
rural3,862,00043.119.421.310.5 5.7
1995 - total10,533,42823.636.229.0 8.2 2.8
urban6,644,18623.836.229.0 8.2 2.8
rural3,889,24223.228.726.013.6 8.5
* - data for 1988 include children 24 years of age and younger, living with parents in the same household
** - excludes children over 24 years of age (adults in the same, or a separate household)
source:based on data from the following sources:
rocznik statystyczny 1981 (statistical yearbook 1981). warsaw: central statistical office, 1981: 54.
rocznik statystyczny 1990 (statistical yearbook 1990). warsaw: central statistical office, 1990: 53.
rocznik statystyczny 2000 (demographic yearbook 2000). warsaw: central statistical office, 2000: 93.

significance of individuals' rights and privileges than duties and obligations. Such a switch in values is expected to widen the generation gap.

Mate Selection

The Polish population, socially, is highly heterogeneous (the same race, the same ethnic origin, the same nationality; the majority are practicing Catholics). The population is also highly socially mobile, mainly from rural to urban areas (horizontal mobility). Among the main characteristics for mate selection is similarity of urban or rural origin, similar educational level, and emotional involvement. Poles believe in love. Young rural men have difficulties finding spouses because more young women migrate to the cities to avoid the hard work of farming.

Young people are sexually active. A 1999 public opinion survey reported that 66 percent of secondary school pupils admitted to having sexual intercourse (CBOS [Młodzież] 1999). Compared with Western numbers, out-of-wedlock births are low (see Table 1). If a young woman becomes pregnant, the couple generally marries. Some tend to interpret those figures as an indication of being faithful to traditional family values. Those who experiment in alternative lifestyles face ethical and religious scorn; these lifestyles include living together (cohabiting couples in 1995 constituted 1.7 percent of the total) and same-sex couples. They are exceptions. The prevailing tradition is of heterogeneous and formally married couples, mostly in a church ceremony. The housing shortage adds another constraint to these experiments.

The younger generations of school graduates encounter obstacles in finding their first jobs. In a 2001 survey, a high percentage (68%) of people between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four wanted to emigrate to Western European countries to find more job opportunities (Bińczak 2001). This trend will make young people's choice of mates even less predictable and will weaken family ties.

Gender Roles and the Family; Spouses as Coproviders

In Polish families, traditionally, home is the stage for gender-related division of labor in spite of the high rate of women's full-time employment outside the home, including married women with children. Under socialism, usually both spouses were gainfully employed as the norm. Almost exclusively, the household chores and childcare responsibilities were and are placed on shoulders of women. Husbands assist working wives with household chores only sporadically. The higher the educational level of spouses, the more men are involved in household duties. Judging by studies on time budget, women have less available leisure time than do men, while men work longer hours at paid employment (CBOS [Kobiety] 1999).

Before 1989, almost all working-age citizens were expected to work, with few exceptions (e.g., university studies, illness). Women, however, continue to face a conflict between their maternal role and their occupational pursuits. The incentives and benefits offered for having a family and children resulted in a reverse effect on women's occupational roles, placing them in positions of constant role conflict, caused by combined family and employment responsibilities. After 1989, some women are rebelling against being forced to work and are trying to take advantage of the free choices that arrived with democracy by not working and having to cope without the state's assistance. However, low incomes, inflation, and unemployment forced many women (including those who are married with children) to seek work. According to a comparative study (1964–1998) among the most appreciated values of married life were having children and working (earning money) together with a spouse, to make ends meet. This manifests an expectation that both, husband and wife, will be working outside the home. In spite of an existing division of labor at home, most of the mothers opt for partnership in marriage, where the husband shares equally the decision-making and household duties with his wife (Łobodzińska 1970; OBOP 1998).

Occupational success is identified with higher education. Parents tend to influence children to pursue their schooling. Parents' intention is to secure their daughters' future economic independence through education (which will make them eligible for employment). Simultaneously, they urge the girls into types of education that ensure their future secondary roles in the economy. Young women tend to select occupations less in demand and with lower pay. Division of labor is thus passed from one generation to the next. More women attend universities, and more of them graduate. Among employees (also among the unemployed) are higher numbers of women with secondary education and with university degrees.

Working Mothers, Working Women

Women's employment, in comparison with that of men, increased steadily after World War II. National statistics indicated that in 1950 women constituted 30.6 percent of the total number of employees. In 1960 the figure was 33.1 percent; in 1970 it was 39.4 percent; in 1980 it was 43.5 percent; in 1990 it was 46.0 percent; and in 1999 it was 48.2 percent (Rocznik Statystyczny 2000). Although women represent a growing percentage of all workers, there are higher numbers of unemployed women than unemployed men (in 2001 unemployed women represented 60 percent of the total number of unemployed). Polish legislation, when applied to working conditions, protects all women, including pregnant women and working mothers, from circumstances interfering with their (present or future) maternal roles. This plan creates a bias among employers who try to avoid hiring women because they are stereotyped as unreliable workers. It is a long tradition in Poland that women's individual needs and interests were secondary to the needs of the family, the nation, and the state. After 1989, such trends intensified. Polish men, dominating the public and political domain, are inefficient in managing the challenges of democracy and the free market (Łobodzińska 2000a). During intense political competition, reproductive rights became a bone of contention, moving the focus away from solutions to political and economic problems associated with women's employment. Under the circumstances of failure, it was easier to shift responsibility for unacceptable changes onto the shoulders of women. This translates into an informally sanctioned lack of occupational retraining programs for women, which escalates their unemployment. There is a silent acceptance of discriminatory hiring practices, limited sources of childcare and kindergartens, and obstruction of regulations aimed at protecting working pregnant women and working mothers taking care of small children. When businesses must reduce the numbers of workers, women are first to go. New and developing plants hire only a limited number of women (Titkow 2000; Malinowska 1995).

Women, in spite of achieving higher educational levels than men, are mainly occupied in lower priority industries: in food and clothing industries, in services, as mid-level clerical and health care personnel, teachers, and selected types of professionals (physicians, teachers in higher education, economists, etc.). Women's salaries on the average are about 30 percent lower then men's wages.

When comparing women's employment in particular age groups, in the same age category, a lower percentage of women are working than are men (see Table 3). Besides unemployment, women's maternal roles interrupt their employment (between 20–24) to take care of small children. They return to work when the children are older. Also, a proportionally lower percentage of women are economically active in older age categories because they cannot find work or must retire early.

Women's organizations try to retrain women to improve their marketable skills to prepare them for occupations that are more in demand and assure higher pay. At present, family policy and social services addressing family needs and securing equal opportunities for working mothers appears at the bottom of the political agenda (Karpiński 1995; Majman 2000).


bińczak, h. (2001). "migracje zarobkowe. młodzi liczą na pracę w unii" (economic migration. the young ones expect to find work in european union). rzeczpospolita 95.

cbos (public opinion research centre). (1999). kobiety o podziale obowiązków domowych w rodzinie (women about division of labor in household chores). bulletin no. 16. warsaw: author.

cbos (public opinion research centre). (1999). młodzieżożyciu seksualnym (youth about sexual behavior). bullletin no. 98. warsaw: author.

cbos (public opinion research centre). (2001). chłopiec czy dziewczynka? polacy o dzieciach (boy or girl? poles about children). bulletin no. 26. warsaw: author

domański, h. (1999). zadowolony niewolnik idzie do pracy (a satisfied slave goes to work). warsaw: the institute of philosophy and sociology of the polish academy of sciences.

dyczewski, l. (1994). ludzie starzy i staro w społeczeństwie i kulturze (old people and old age in society and culture). lublin: kul

"jobs, please." (2001). the economist 358(8215):49.

karpiński, e. c. (1995). "do polish women need feminism? recent activity of the parliamentary women's group." canadian woman studies 16(1):91–94.

Łobodzińska, b. (1970). małżeństwo w miecie (marriage in the city). warsaw: pwn

Łobodzińska, b., ed. (1995). family, women and employment in central-eastern europe. contributions in sociology no. 112. westport, ct: greenwood publishing group.

Łobodzińska, b. (1997). "family, women and employment in poland and other central european countries:

TABLE 3 Employment in Poland, 1999*
Age Men (%) Women (%)
15-17 5.2 1.9
18-19 28.3 31.7
20-24 75.0 61.3
25-29 93.0 74.5
30-34 95.1 79.5
35-39 94.0 83.3
40-44 89.2 82.5
45-49 84.4 75.6
50-54 70.9 57.8
55-59 49.1 29.2
60-64 29.2 10.9
65 + 12.2 5.4
* - These figures include currently employed and those registered as unemployed and seeking employment.
SOURCE: Kobiety na rynku pracy (Women in the workforce)
Warsaw: Central Statistical Office (GUS), October 2000.

ideology of equality and reality of discrimination." the polish review 42(4):447–470

Łobodzińska, b. (2000a). "polish women's gender-segregated education and employment." women's studies international forum 23(1):49–71.

Łobodzińska, b. (2000b) "domestic and external perception of family and women's issues in poland and in other post-socialist countries." the polish review 45(3): 258–302.

malinowska, e. (1995). "socio-political changes in poland and the problem of sex discrimination." women's studies international forum 18(1):35–43.

rocznik statystyczny (statistical yearbook). (2000).warsaw: central statistical office.

titkow, a. (2000). "kobieta pod presją, super kobieta, czy kobieta dokonująca wyborów" (a woman under pressure, a super-woman, or a woman making decisions). paper presented at the 58th annual meeting of the polish institute of arts and sciences in america, june 16-18, kraków.

trafiałek, e. (1997). "główne wyznaczniki statusu ekonomicznego ludzi starszych w polsce" (leading indicators of the economic status of the elderly in poland). in przygotowanie do staroci, ed. m. dzięgielewska. Łódz: zakład owiaty dorosłych uniwersytetu Łódzkiego.

wciórka, b. (1999). sytuacja mieszkaniowa w polsce (housing situation in poland). bulletin no. 2451.warsaw: cbos (public opinion research centre).

wciórka, b. (2001). co zawdzięczamy swoim babciom i dziadkom? (what do we owe to our grandmas andgrandpas?). bulletin no. 102. warsaw: cbos (center for social opinion research).

Other Resources

cbos (public opinion research centre). (2000). o polskich rodzinach: preferowany model z dwojgiem dzieci (about polish families: a preferred model with two children). warsaw: onet—wiadomoci. available from

centre for europe's children. (1999). monee regionalmonitoring report 6: women in transition. available from

majman, s. (2000). "i am polish woman, hear me roar." the warsaw voice 21(604). available from

montgomery, k. (2001). "raport jest, aborcje też są" (the report is here, abortions are here also). gazeta wyborcza. available from

obop. (1998). małżeństwo i życie rodzinne w opiniachpolaków (marriage and family life in the poles' opinions). available from

"wydarzenia" (events). (2001). oka biuletyn, april. available from

barbara ŁobodziŃska
(with assistance from mirosŁawa Łukaszewicz, wiesŁaw ŁagodziŃski, and boŻena gŁÓwczyŃska)

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Bigos (Polish Hunter's Stew)...................................... 114
Pierogi (Dumplings) .................................................. 115
Golabki (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls) ................................ 116
Cheesecake ............................................................... 117
Noodles with Poppy Seeds........................................ 118
Dried Fruit Compote ................................................. 118
Mushroom Barley Soup............................................. 119
Kielbasa and Cabbage............................................... 119
Veal Meatballs with Dill............................................. 121
Stuffed Eggs.............................................................. 121


Poland is in Eastern Europe. It is a little smaller than New Mexico, and has lowlands, a narrow coastal area with rocky cliffs, and a southern region rich with minerals and fertile farmland.

Poland struggles with air and water pollution. In the late 1990s, Poland ranked twelfth in the world in industrial carbon dioxide emissions. Water pollution in the Baltic Sea off the coast of Poland is ten times higher than in the ocean at large. Environmental protection was a high priority for the government at the beginning of the twenty-first century.


The Roman Catholic rituals of feasting and fasting, introduced to Poland around a.d. 900, have had a strong influence on Polish food traditions. During the fasts no meat is eaten, so many meatless and fish dishes have become a part of Polish cookery.

Located between two powerful neighbors, Germany and Russia, Poland was forced to form many political alliances throughout its history. These influenced its food customs. For example, the marriage of King Zygmunt to the Italian princess Bona Sforza in the sixteenth century brought Italian food customs to Poland, including the introduction of salad. Since that time, the people of Poland, known as Poles, have called salad greens wloszcycna ("Italian things"). Other foreign dishes that were brought to Poland included goulash (stew) from Hungary, pastry from France, andborscht (beet soup) from Ukraine. However, all these foreign dishes have become part of a unique Polish cooking style.


The cereal grains, grown on Poland's rich agricultural land, are among the country's most important dietary staples. These include wheat, rye, buckwheat, and barley. They find their way into dark bread, noodles, dumplings, and other everyday foods.

Other important agricultural products include potatoes, beets, cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, and cucumbers. Boiled potatoes are the most commonly eaten side dish with meat, poultry, or fish. Cucumbers, seasoned with the herb, dill, are the raw ingredients of dill pickles, for which the Poles are known throughout the world. Cucumbers are also eaten in a salad with sour cream, another staple of the Polish diet. Vegetables are usually eaten boiled.

Meat is an important part of the Polish diet. Pork is the most popular meat, and the most commonly eaten meat dish is a fried, breaded pork cutlet served with thick sauce. Beef, ham, and sausage are also eaten regularly. The meat stew called bigos is often called the national dish of Poland. Other famous Polish dishes are golabki (cabbage leaves stuffed with ground meat and rice) and golonka (fresh ham served with horse-radish). Poles also like to eat smoked and pickled fish, especially herring.

Most Polish meals start with one of Poland's many soups. These range from clear broth to thick soup so hearty it could be a meal in itself. The best known is the beet soup called borscht.

Poles love desserts, especially cakes. Popular cakes include cheesecake, sponge cake, poppy seed cake, and a pound cake called babka. Special cakes are baked for feast days and weddings.

Popular beverages include coffee, tea, milk, buttermilk, and fruit syrup and water. However, vodka distilled from rye is known as the national drink.

Bigos (Polish Hunter's Stew)


  • 8 slices of bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 pound boneless, lean pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped, or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 onions, quartered
  • ½ pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup canned beef broth
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups canned sauerkraut, rinsed under water and drained well
  • 2 medium apples, cored and sliced
  • 2 cups Italian-style whole tomatoes with juice
  • 1 cup cooked ham, diced
  • 1½ cups cooked Polish sausage, coarsely sliced


  1. Fry bacon pieces in Dutch oven or large saucepan over high heat for about 3 minutes.
  2. Carefully drain off some of the fat, leaving just enough to coat the bottom of the pot.
  3. Add pork, garlic, onions, and mushrooms, and, stirring constantly, fry until meat is browned on all sides, about 5 minutes.
  4. Reduce heat to medium. Add beef broth, sugar, bay leaves, drained sauerkraut, apples, and tomatoes with juice. Bring the mixutre to a boil, increasing heat if necessary.
  5. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer stew for about 1½ hours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
  6. Add cooked ham and sausage, and stir.
  7. Cover and continue to simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes more to blend flavors.
  8. Remove bay leaves and discard before serving.

Serves 8 to 10.

Pierogi (Dumplings)

Ingredients for dough

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 egg
  • Dash of salt
  • ½ cup water

Ingredients for filling

  • 3 medium apples, peeled, cored, and cut up in small pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons plain breadcrumbs
  • Sour cream or confectioners sugar as garnish


  1. Make dough: Combine the flour with the egg, a dash of salt, and as much water as needed to form a smooth, loose dough that is easy to handle.
  2. Roll with a rolling pin or bottle until it is very thin. Using a drinking glass or biscuit cutter, cut out circles 2 inches in diameter.
  3. Make filling: Mix the cut-up apples with the breadcrumbs.
  4. Assemble pierogi: Place a spoonful of apple mixture in the center of each dough circle.
  5. Fold the dough circle in half and press around the edges firmly to seal.
  6. Fill a large pot with water and heat until the water begins to boil.
  7. Drop the pierogi gently into the boiling water and cook until they float to the surface.
  8. Remove with a slotted spoon, allow the water to drain off, and place the pierogi on a serving platter.
  9. Top with sour cream or confectioners' sugar.

Makes 5 or 6 servings.

Christmas Eve supper menu


Carp in horseradish sauce

Mushroom soup

Noodles with honey and poppy seeds

Pickled herring

Fruit compote (stewed fruit)

Poppy seed rolls

Golabki (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls)


  • 1 head cabbage
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 2 cans concentrated tomato soup


  1. Pour boiling water over the cabbage to loosen the leaves.
  2. Remove a few leaves at a time as they soften.
  3. Place the rice in 1 cup of water and boil 10 minutes.
  4. Sauté the onions in butter until partly browned.
  5. Combine with the rice, meat, egg, salt, pepper, and garlic powder; mix well.
  6. Place some of the meat mixture on the stem of a cabbage leaf and roll over once. (Part of the thick stem section can be cut off first for easier rolling.) Tuck in the sides of the leaf and finish rolling.
  7. If needed, fasten rolled leaf with a toothpick.
  8. To cook, place the slices of bacon with a few cabbage leaves and any leftover small leaves at the bottom of the baking dish.
  9. Place the rolls on top, cover with the tomato soup, and place any leftover cabbage leaves on top.
  10. Cover with a lid or foil and bake about 2 to 2½ hours at 300°F.

Serves 6.


Poland is a heavily Roman Catholic country, and many Poles observe Catholic fast days by not eating meat. Traditionally, many meat substitutes have been made from mushrooms.

The two most important holidays are Christmas and Easter. The traditional Christmas Eve dinner consists of twelve or thirteen courses. There is one for each of the twelve apostles (Jesus of Nazareth's followers) in the New Testament of the Bible. Sometimes there is a thirteenth course for Jesus. No meat is eaten at this meal. The main dish is carp or pike (two types of fish). Carp is served with a sweat-and-sour sauce or a spicy horseradish sauce. Other traditional dishes include mushroom soup, sauerkraut, pierogi (Polish dumplings), noodles with honey and poppy seeds, and poppy-seed rolls. Cookies and cakes are also served, and some cookies are used to decorate the Christmas tree.

Easter is the second most important religious feast of the year. The fast of Lent is broken with Easter breakfast, and feasting continues through the day. Traditionally, a roasted lamb was served for Easter. In recent years, a lamb made of sugar or butter has replaced the real lamb. Meats served for Easter in modern Poland include roast turkey, ham, sausage, veal, or a roast pig. Painted hard-boiled Easter eggs are part of the celebration, and everyone eats part of an egg. Easter sweets include babka (rich pound cake), cheesecake, and mazurek (a Polish shortbread).



  • ½ cup raisins
  • 3 Tablespoons flour, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 3 packages cream cheese (8-ounces each), softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon grated lemon peel


  1. Soak the raisins in hot water for 15 minutes. Pay dry and coat with 2 Tablespoons of flour. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  3. Beat the egg whites and salt until stiff.
  4. Place the egg white mixture in the freezer for 5 minutes.
  5. Combine the cream cheese, sugar, egg yolks, and remaining flour; beat until smooth.
  6. Stir in the raisins and lemon peel.
  7. Carefully fold in the egg whites.
  8. Pour the mixture into a greased and floured 9-inch springform pan (a special baking pan with a removable bottom).
  9. Bake for 45 minutes, then turn the oven off and leave the cake in the oven until it cools.

Noodles with Poppy Seeds


  • 1 package (16-ounce) shell or ribbon macaroni, cooked
  • 1 can (12½-ounce) poppy seed pastry filling
  • 4 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 cup heavy cream or half and half
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • 2 Tablespoons butter or margarine


  1. Cook noodles according to directions on package.
  2. Meanwhile, combine poppy seed filling, honey, and cream in a mixing bowl and stir until smooth. Stir in raisins.
  3. Melt butter in double boiler. Add poppy seed mixture and heat thoroughly.
  4. Pour poppy seed mixture over hot, drained noodles and serve immediately.

Serves 10 to 12.

Dried Fruit Compote

Dried Fruit Compote is usually served at the end of Christmas Eve dinner.


  • 1 pound prunes, pitted
  • 1 pound dried mixed fruit
  • ½ pound dried apricots
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ lemon
  • 5 cloves
  • 1-inch cinnamon stick
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 10 cups boiling water
  • 4 fresh apples, peeled, cored and sliced


  1. Combine prunes, mixed fruit, apricots, lemon juice, ¼ lemon, cloves, cinnamon, and sugar in a pot. Pour boiling water over the fruits to cover.
  2. Cover the pot and let stand overnight (at least 4 hours), covered.
  3. Add the apples, and simmer the mixture on medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Taste and season with sugar and lemon if necessary. Allow to cool to room temperature and serve.


Poles like to eat hearty, filling meals, and they eat four meals a day. Sniadanie (shnah DAHN-yeh, breakfast) is eaten between 6 and 8 a.m. It includes many of the same breakfast foods eaten in the United States, such as scrambled or soft-boiled eggs, rolls with butter, bagels, and, in winter, hot cereal. However, cheese and ham or other meats are also served. Coffee, cocoa, or tea with milk is served, or even hot milk by itself. Between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., a light meal, or "second breakfast," is eaten. It is similar to lunch in the United States and may consist of a sandwich, soup, fried eggs, or a plate of cold meats. Children usually take sandwiches to school for their midday meal. The main meal of the day is obiad (oh-BEE-ahd, dinner), served in the late afternoon (usually between 4 and 6 p.m.). There is usually at least one meat dish, boiled vegetables or salad, some form of potatoes, soup, and a grain dish or dumplings (pierogi ). The Poles like both their meat and vegetables cooked until they are very tender. A sweet dessert, usually cake, is served at the end, with a beverage.

The last meal of the day is a light wieczerza (wee-CHAIR-zah, supper), served at about 8 or 9 p.m. in the evening. It includes a hot or cold main dish, pickled vegetables, a dessert, and hot tea with lemon or hot cocoa.

When they have to "eat on the run," Poles can pick up an inexpensive meal or snack at small places called milk bars (bar mleczny ). Western-style fast foods, including pizza and hamburgers, are also available. A popular Polish "fast food" is flaki, a dish made from tripe (cow stomach). It is either boiled or fried with carrots or onions.

Mushroom Barley Soup


  • 4 cans beef broth
  • ½ cup pearl barley
  • ½ pound mushrooms
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 Idaho potatoes, cubed
  • 2 large carrots, sliced
  • 2 parsnips, sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh dill, minced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Brush the mushrooms to clean off any grit, and rinse them under running water.
  2. Chop them into half-inch pieces.
  3. Bring beef broth to a boil. Add the barley, and boil for 10 minutes.
  4. Add remaining ingredients, and simmer for 1 hour.
  5. Serve with crusty bread.

Serves 8 to 10.

Kielbasa and Cabbage


  • 1 small head cabbage, coarsely-diced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 small potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon caraway seed
  • 1½ pounds kielbasa sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 can (14-ounce) chicken broth


  1. Place the vegetables, seasonings, and sausage in a crockpot.
  2. Pour in the chicken broth.
  3. Cover.
  4. Cook on low 6 to 10 hours, or on high 2 to 4 hours.

Serves 4.

Veal Meatballs with Dill


  • 2 slices white bread, soaked in milk and slightly dried
  • ½ medium onion, finely-chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • 1½ Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup beef or chicken bouillon
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh dill, chopped


  1. Mix the bread with the onions, egg, and meat thoroughly. Add salt and pepper.
  2. Form small balls from the mixture and roll them in flour.
  3. Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat, and add meatballs. Brown the meatballs on all sides.
  4. Pour the bouillon over the veal balls, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  5. Place on a warm serving platter.
  6. Add the rest of the flour to the pan drippings and bring to a boil.
  7. Remove from heat and season with salt, adding the sour cream and dill. Pour over meat.

Makes 4 servings.

Stuffed Eggs


  • 7 eggs
  • 3 Tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • 4 Tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 Tablespoon dill, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon chives, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons butter


  1. Wash the eggs, place in a pot, and cover with cold water. Heat until the water boils and cook over low heat for 10 minutes.
  2. Remove the pot from the heat and drain the water. Place the pot with the eggs in the sink under cold running water to cool the eggs.
  3. Peel the eggs, and carefully slice each egg lengthwise into halves, being careful not to break the whites.
  4. Scoop out the yolks. Place them in a bowl and mash them with a fork.
  5. Mix 1 Tablespoon of the breadcrumbs and the rest of the ingredients except the butter into the egg yolks.
  6. Spoon the mixture back into the egg white halves. Sprinkle with the remaining breadcrumbs, and flatten with a knife.
  7. Heat the butter in a large skillet. Carefully add the eggs, stuffing side down, and sauté them until golden.

Serves 7 to 10 as a snack.


More than half of Poland's land is used for farming. Polish farms don't produce as large a crop as farms in other parts of the world, because of poor soil and lack of rainfall. In the late 1990s, Polish farmers began to use more mechanical farming aids, such as tractors, which helped to improve the size of the crops. Polish farmers grow fruits and vegetables. Since the 1950s, Poland has been forced to import wheat, since it can't produce enough on its own.



Davidson, Alan. The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Gorgey, Maria de. A Treasury of Polish Cuisine. New York: Hippocrene Books, 1999.

Halvorsen, Francine. Eating Around the World in Your Neighborhood. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1998.

Nowakowski, Jacek, and Marlene Perrin. Polish Touches: Recipes and Traditions. Iowa City: Penfield Press, 1996.

Webb, Lois Sinaiko. Holidays of the World Cookbook for Students. Phoenix: Oryx Press, 1995.

Zamojska-Hutchins, Danuta. Cooking the Polish Way. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, 1984.

Web Sites

Epicurious. [Online] Available (accessed February 7, 2001).

SOAR (online recipe archive). [Online] Available (accessed February 7, 2001).

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Relations between Poles and Russians have never been easy. Despite their close linguistic and ethnic ties, differences rather than similarities characterize the relationship between them. In religious denomination, political tradition, worldview, even the alphabets in which they write their related languages, Poles and Russians are clearly distinct. Russia took its form of Christianity during the late ninth century from Byzantium while Poland was christened by emissaries from the pope almost a century later. Russia came to be the very essence of autocratic rule under Ivan IV and the Romanovs, while Poland developed in an opposite direction, toward a highly decentralized polity linked with Lithuania and dominated by the nobility. Throughout history, Poland has tended to see itself as the easternmost outpost of Western values and traditions: unlike Russia, Poland participated in the Renaissance and Reformation. Defining themselves as Europeans, Poles have often depicted their Eastern neighbors as barbarians and schismatics. Russians returned the favor, describing Poles as flighty, hysterical, and treacherous.

muscovy and poland-lithuania

The first significant clashes between the Polish state and Muscovy occurred after the Union of Lublin (1569). During the 1550s and 1560s Muscovy had pursued an aggressive westward policy, seizing some Lithuanian lands. When Muscovite political authority dissolved into anarchy during the Time of Troubles during the early seventeenth century, Poland was ready to fish in troubled Russian waters. Polish nobles and Jesuits supported the first "False Dmitry," who claimed to be Ivan IV's son and triumphantly entered Moscow in 1605. In great part because of the large Polish retinue and openly Catholic sympathies of "Dmitry," he was soon deposed and murdered. But Polish interference in confused Muscovite politics continued. Most spectacularly, King Sigismund III of Poland succeeded in having his son Wladyslaw proclaimed tsar in 1610. The Polish presence in Moscow was not to last; by 1613 the Poles had been slaughtered or forced to flee, and Mikhail Romanov was elected tsar.

As Russia recovered and expanded under the Romanovs, Poland grew weaker. Poland's highly decentralized government and elected king meant that the central government could not impose its will on the provinces. Increasingly, power devolved to the local magnates, further weakening the center. The anti-Polish rebellion of Bohdan Khmelnitsky in 1648 allowed Muscovy to extend its power into the Ukraine with the Treaty of Pereiaslavl (1654). Additional Polish territory, including the cities of Smolensk and Kiev, was lost to the Russians during the following decade.

the eighteenth century

The eighteenth century witnessed further Polish descent into anarchy. Already during the 1690s Polish king Jan Sobieski had complained of his inability to force the Polish magnates to obey him. Worse was to come. The fact that Polish kings were elected allowed Poland's neighbors to put up their own candidates in the hope of influencing future policy. Poland also had the misfortune to be placed geographically between three rising absolutist statesPrussia, Russia, and Habsburg Austria. In 1764, St. Petersburg succeeded in placing its candidate on the Polish throne. Stanisl-aw-August Poniatowski, a former lover of Catherine the Great, was to be the last Polish king.

partitions and russian rule

The impetus toward partition came not from Russia, but from Poland's western neighbor, Prussia. That state's ambitious ruler, Frederick II ("the Great") suggested a dividing up of Polish territory to prevent destabilizing "anarchy." In the first Partition of Poland (1772), Russia absorbed some thirteen percent of the commonwealth's territory. The shock of the partition fueled a push for serious political reforms, including a strengthening of the central government and the king. The partitioning powers, including Russia, feared a strong Poland.

They were particularly disturbed by the fruitful efforts of the Four-Years-Sejm, including the Polish constitution of May 3, 1791. Once again using the excuse of Polish anarchy, Prussia and Russia seized more Polish territory in the Second Partition of 1793, calling forth a Polish national uprising. However, the heroic efforts of insurrectionist Tadeusz Kosciuszko could not prevent the Third Partition of 1795, after which Poland disappeared from the European map for more than a century.

After the Napoleonic wars, borders between the partitioning powers were altered significantly, bringing a large portion of ethnic Poland under Russian rule. The majority of Poles thus became subjects of the Russian tsar. Tsar Alexander I afforded the Kingdom of Poland considerable rights and autonomy. The Poles enjoyed their own coinage, legal system, army, legislature, and constitution. Disagreements between Warsaw and St. Petersburg over the limits of Polish autonomy exploded into the open during the November Uprising

of 1830, which lasted well into the following year. After Nicholas I put down this insurrection, he abolished the Kingdom of Poland's legislature, constitution, and army. Still, legal and administrative differences existed between Russian and Polish provincesthough these differences would be considerably narrowed after the crushing of the subsequent January 1863 uprising.

The final half century of Romanov rule over much of historic Poland has generally been characterized as a period of Russification. Certainly, St. Petersburg viewed Poles en masse as at least potentially disloyal subjects, and Polish culture was kept on a very tight leash. Poles in the Russian Empire could not use their native tongue in education at any level except the most elementaryand even here Russian was often introduced. In the so-called Western Provinces (present-day western Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus) even speaking Polish in public could lead to fines or worse. Still, there was no systematic attempt to Russify the Polish nation in the sense of total cultural (or religious) assimilation. Rather, Russification amounted to a severe limiting of Polish civil and cultural rights in this period.

world war i and independence

The outbreak of World War I transformed relations between the partitioning powers and Poles. Now securing the loyalty of Poles became a paramount consideration for both Russia and the Central Powers. The Russian commander-in-chief, Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolayevich, issued a manifesto in mid-August 1914, holding out the postwar promise of a unified Polish state under the Romanov scepter. In the end, force of arms decided the issue: By autumn 1915 Russian armies had for the most part been pushed out of ethnic Poland. With the Bolsheviks' coming to power in October 1917 and the subsequent Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (March 1918), all hopes of continued Russianor Sovietdomination over Poland came to an end. In late 1918 Poland regained its independence.

Relations between Poland and the fledgling Soviet state got off to a very bad start. Moscow was vitally interested in exporting revolution to Western Europe, most likely by way of Poland. Further, the unclear borders between Poland and its neighbors to the east presented a serious potential for conflict. Historically, Poles had been very prominent as landowners and townspeople in these border regions between ethnic Poland and ethnic Russia. Thus Poles figure in early Soviet propaganda as portly mustachioed noblemen bent on enslaving Ukrainian or Belarusian peasants. Between 1919 and 1921 Soviet Russia and newly independent Poland clashed on the battlefield, the Poles occupying Kiev and, at the opposite extreme, the Red Army getting all the way to the Vistula River in central Poland. In March 1921, both sides, exhausted for the moment, signed the Peace of Riga.

The USSR was not satisfied with the treaty's terms. In particular, hundreds of thousands of ethnic Belarusians and Ukrainians ended up on the Polish side of the frontier, providing the USSR with a would-be constituency for extending the border westward. Nor did relations between Poland and the USSR improve in the interwar period. The two primary politicians of interwar Poland, Józef Pil-sudski and Roman Dmowski, both despised and feared the Soviet state. The Communist Party was outlawed in Poland, and many Polish communists fled to the USSR, often straight into the Gulag. Even Adolf Hitler's coming to power in 1933 did not bring the USSR and Poland closer. Rather, the later 1930s witnessed the Great Purges in the USSR and a downward spiral in Polish politics toward an increasingly vicious form of Polish chauvinism and official anti-Semitism.

Poland was stunned by the Molotov-Ribbentropp Pact of August 1939. This agreement between Josef Stalin's USSR and Hitler's Germany demonstrated that their mutual enmity toward the Polish state outweighed ideological differences. The pact allowed Hitler to invade on September 1, 1939, and the Red Army, following a secret protocol, occupied eastern Poland later that month. Once again Poland disappeared from the map. When the Polish state was resurrected in 1945, it was devastated. The large and vibrant Polish Jewish community had been all but wiped out during the Holocaust, some three million non-Jewish Poles had lost their lives, and the capital city Warsaw was a wasteland, systematically destroyed by the Germans in retaliation for the Warsaw Uprising of August 1944. Polish nationalists and some Western writers contend that the Red Army, by that time nearing the eastern outskirts of the city, could have prevented the Nazi devastation of the city. Others argue that the Red Army had been successfully repulsed by the Germans. In any case, the failure of the Soviets to move into Warsaw allowed the Nazis to massacre Polish fighters who might very well have opposed the imposition of communist rule.

people's poland

Having liberated Poland from the Nazis, Stalin was determined to see a pro-Soviet government installed there. Despite the tiny number of native Polish communists and little support for communist or pro-Soviet candidates, intimidation and rigged voting placed a Stalinist Polish government, led by Bolesl-aw Bierut, in power in 1948. Bierut launched a crash industrialization drive, attempted to collectivize Polish agriculture, and jailed many Catholic clergymen. After Bierut's death in 1956, leadership passed to the more flexible Wladyslaw Gomulka who allowed Poles a considerable amount of cultural and economic leeway while reassuring Moscow of People's Poland's stability.

Unfortunately for Gomulka, Poles compared their economic and cultural situation not with that in the USSR, but with conditions in the West. As the 1960s progressed, the relative backwardness of Poland compared with Germany or the United States only increased. Domestically, internal party tensions led to an ugly state-sponsored anti-Semitic episode in 1968, during which Poland's few remaining Jewsmost highly assimilatedwere hounded out of the country. Thus, Gomulka's position was already weak before the notorious price hikes on basic foodstuffs of December 1970 that led to rioting and his replacement by Edward Gierek. Gierek promised prosperity, but was never able to deliver. In 1980, price increases caused civil disturbances and his resignation.

The discontent of 1980 also spawned something quite new: the Polish trade union Solidarity. This first independent trade union in a communist bloc country appeared in late 1980, was banned just more than one year later, and was resurrectedmore properly, relegalizedduring the late 1980s. Solidarity represented a novel phenomenon for a People's Democracy: a popular and independent trade union that brought together intellectuals and workers. The outlawing of Solidarity by General Wojciech Jaruzelski in December 1981 was a desperate measure taken, according to Jaruzelski himself, to forestall an actual Soviet invasion of the country. One may doubt Jaruzelski's account, but tensions between the USSR and Poland certainly ran high, and the threat of invasion cannot be entirely discounted. Ultimately, however, Jaruzelski's attempt to save People's Poland failed. Early in 1989 Solidarity was relegalized and in summer of that year the communists handed over power to Tadeusz Mazowiecki, the first noncommunist prime minister since the 1940s. The refusal of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to intervene in Polish affairs made possible this peaceful transfer of power.

Relations between Poland and Russia during the 1990s have been remarkably positive, considering the amazing changes brought by that decade. Despite grumbling and even saber rattling from Moscow over Poland's plans to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), in the end NATO expansion took place in 1999 without a hitch. At the same time, economic and cultural links between Moscow and Warsaw have weakened considerably as Poland has turned toward the West both institutionally (NATO, European Union) and culturally (learning English instead of Russian). Still, the correct if not always cordial relations between the two countries during the 1990s give reason for hope that the two largest Slavic nations will finally be able to both live together and prosper.

See also: catholicism; lithuania and lithuanians; nationalism in the soviet union; nationalism in tsarist empire; organic statute of 1832; poles; polish rebellion of 1863; polish-soviet war; sarmatians; time of troubles


Davies, Norman. Heart of Europe: A Short History of Poland. (1984). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Gross, Jan. (1988). Revolution from Abroad: The Soviet Conquest of Poland's Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Jedlicki, Jerzy. (1999). A Suburb of Europe: Nineteenth-Century Polish Approaches to Western Civilization. Budapest: Central European University Press.

Polonsky, Antony. (1972). Politics in Independent Poland 19211939: The Crisis of Constitutional Government. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press.

Snyder, Timothy. (2003). The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 15691999. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Walicki, Andrzej. (1991). Russia, Poland, and Universal Regeneration: Studies on Russian and Polish Thought of the Romantic Epoch. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.

Wandycz, Piotr. (1974). The Lands of Partitioned Poland, 17951918. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

Theodore R. Weeks

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Official name: Republic of Poland

Area: 312,685 square kilometers (120,728 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Mount Rysy (2,499 meters/8,199 feet)

Lowest point on land: Raczki Elblaskie (2 meters/6.6 feet below sea level)

Hemispheres: Northern and Eastern

Time zone: 1 p.m. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 689 kilometers (428 miles) from east to west; 649 kilometers (403 miles) from north to south

Land boundaries: 2,888 kilometers (1,794 miles) total boundary length; Russia 206 kilometers (128 miles); Lithuania 91 kilometers (57 miles); Belarus 605 kilometers (376 miles); Ukraine 428 kilometers (266 miles); Slovakia 444 kilometers (276 miles); Czech Republic 658 kilometers (409 miles); Germany 456 kilometers (283 miles)

Coastline: 491 kilometers (305 miles)

Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)


Poland is an unbroken plain in Eastern Europe extending from the shore of the Baltic Sea to the Carpathian Mountains. It covers an area of 312,685 square kilometers (120,728 square miles), or slightly less than the state of New Mexico.


Poland has no territories or dependencies.


Poland's continental climate is modified by westerly winds. Summers are generally cool, with only the southern portions of the country experiencing notable humidity. Winters can be frigid. Average temperatures are 6°C to 1°C (2130°F) in January and 13°C 24°C (55°F 75°F) in July. Annual average precipitation ranges from 50 centimeters (20 inches) in the lowlands to 135 centimeters (53 inches) in the mountains. For the country as a whole, the average annual precipitation is 64 centimeters (25 inches).


Differences in climate and terrain occur in bands that extend from east to west. The coastal area lacks natural harbors except those at Gdansk-Gdynia and Szczecin. The vast plains south of the coast and its adjoining lake district have more fertile soil, a longer growing season, and a denser population than the northern regions. The southern foothills and mountains contain most of the country's mineral wealth and much of this land has attracted the greatest concentration of industry and people.


Poland is bordered by the Baltic Sea to the north.

Sea Inlets and Straits

The major ocean inlets bordering the Polish coast are the Pomeranian Bay in the west and the Gulf of Gdansk in the east.

Coastal Features

Poland's coastline is a narrow lowland dotted with bays, lakes, and promontories (high rocky cliffs).


The lake district of northeast Poland is subdivided into two smaller regions. The Pomeranian district has over four thousand lakes, occupying over 115,000 hectares (290,000 acres); the Masurian district has over twenty-five hundred lakes, which cover almost 142,000 hectares (355,000 acres). Most of the lakes are small and shallow; nearly a dozen, however, including some very small ones, have depths exceeding 50 meters (164 feet).


By far the greatest portion of the country drains northwestward to the Baltic Sea by way of the Vistula (Wisla) and Oder (Odra) Rivers. Most other rivers in Poland join the Vistula and Oder systems. The Vistula and its tributaries drain the country's largest basin, an area that includes practically all of the southeastern and east-central regions and much of the northeast as well. The Vistula rises in the Tatra Mountains in the south, flows northward, and drains into the Baltic Sea at the Gulf of Gdansk (Danzig). One of its tributaries, the Bug, forms about 280 kilometers (174 miles) of Poland's eastern border. The Oder, which together with the Neisse (Nysa) River forms most of the border between Poland and Germany, is fed by several other rivers and streams, including the Warta, which drains a large section of central and western Poland. The Oder reaches the Baltic Sea through the harbors and bays north of Szczecin.


There are no deserts in Poland.


Poland's average elevation is 173 meters (567 feet); more than 90 percent of the country lies below 300 meters (984 feet). The single largest region is the central lowlands area, which accounts for three-fourths of Poland's territory. Extending over the entire country in an east-west band, it is narrow in the west but expands to both the north and the south as it extends eastward. At the eastern border, it includes nearly all the terrain from the northeastern tip of the country to about 200 kilometers (124 miles) from the southeastern corner.

When the most recent glacier receded several millennia ago, it left behind the hills, forests, and lakes north of the central lowlands. The effects of glaciation dominate the terrain for about 200 kilometers (124 miles) inland from the Baltic Sea in the western part of the country, but for a much shorter distance in the east. There are large areas of swampland in the northern lake district because of poor drainage, and land here has been hard to reclaim.

The foothills of the Tatra Mountains and Sudeten Mountains to the south of the central lowlands blend into the other mountains in the extreme south and in the southwestern corner of the country.


Mount Rysy, the country's highest peak at 2,499 meters (8,199 feet), is in the Tatra (Tatry) range of the Carpathian Mountains. Six other peaks in the Polish portion of the Tatras reach 1,900 meters (6,233 feet) or more. The Sudeten Mountains are lower, with only one peak exceeding 1,600 meters (5,249 feet). Most of the more rugged slopes are in the Tatra Mountains; many slopes in the Sudeten range are gentle and have been cultivated or used as meadows and pastures on dairy farms.


Over twenty-five hundred caves have been identified in Poland, most clustering in the south-central part of the country, in the western Tatra Mountains and the Kraków region.


Only 3 percent of Poland's terrain rises above 500 meters (1,640 feet). These small highland areas in the Carpathian and Sudeten (Sudety) Mountains extend across the country parallel to the southern border in a belt roughly 90 to 120 kilometers (55 to 74 miles) wide.


Gdansk is known for its historic gateways, including the landmark sixteenth-century Green Gate and High Gate and the fifteenth-century Crane Gate, which was rebuilt following World War II (193945).


In 98 a.d., the Roman historian Tacitus recorded the name of Poland's longest river, the Vistula. One of the early Germanic tribes who had settled in the region, the Goths, gave the river its name.



McLachlan, Gordon W. Off the Beaten Track: Poland. Old Saybrook, CT: Globe Pequot Press, 1995.

Salter, Mark. Poland: The Rough Guide. New York: Penguin Books, 1996.

Stephenson, Jill, and Alfred Bloch. Poland. New York: Hippocrene Books, 1993.

Web Sites

Polish Home Page. (accessed April 22, 2003).

Warsaw Travel Guide. (accessed April 22, 2003).

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Poland was divided between Germany, Russia, and Austria-Hungary when psychoanalysis came into being at the beginning of the twentieth century. Ludwig Jekels, a follower of Freud, practiced psychoanalysis in Austrian Poland in the clinic he directed outside Lvov, a city that has been Ukrainian since 1945 but was Austro-Hungarian at the start of the twentieth century. Jekels was joined by Hermann Nunberg until the latter emigrated to the United States. We also have to thank him for the first publications in Polish dating from 1908. Between 1911 and 1914, three titles appeared in the Polish Psychoanalytic Library.

After World War I psychoanalysis went through a dynamic period of development in the new Polish state. As a result of its many publications and conferences, its influence extended to the medical world and the cultural life of the country. The majority of Polish analysts at the time were trained in the Berlin Institute. Two names stand out: Roman Markuszewicz and Gustav Bychowski. The first published an apologetic work in 1926 on psychoanalysis and its therapeutic function and, ten years later, a critical work: "Toward a Revision of the Fundamental Freudian Notion." Bychowski was trained in Berlin and published on methaphysics and schizophrenia there before returning to Poland to take up a position in Warsaw as a university professor. There he published on the psychoanalytic aspect of the psychoses. The following names are also worthy of note: Stefan Borowiecki, Maurycy Bornsztajn, Jan Kuchta, Rudolf Kesselring, Wladislaw Matecki, Joseph Mirski, Norbert Praeger, Adam Wisel, and Leopold Wolowicz.

Eugénie Sokolnicka deserves a special mention. She trained in Zurich, Vienna, and Budapest between 1911 and 1920 but, not being a physician, she failed to find her place in the Warsaw psychoanalytic milieu of 1920. Freud, who had been her analyst, advised her to go to Paris, where she arrived in 1921. She met with no better success in the Paris medical world, but she analyzed René Laforgue andÉdouard Pichon. She did, however, take an active part in founding the Paris Psychoanalytic Society in 1926 and became its first vice-president.

World War II and the ensuing communist régime reduced this first development to dust and it took another ten years before the Polish psychoanalytic movement again showed signs of life. Three young psychiatrists went to train in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, where psychoanalysis was leading an underground existence. The first of these, Jan Malewski, went first to Prague and then, more importantly, to Budapest, where for ten years he alternated six months of analysis with Imre Hermann and six months of activity in Poland. The second, Zbigniew Sokolik, had Theodor Dosuzkov as his analyst in Prague. The third, Michael Lapinski, was analyzed in Prague by Otakar Kucera.

Greater freedom of circulation between eastern countries and later between them and the West fostered a new period of development for psychoanalysis: Young psychiatrists and psychologists in analysis went on to become the active practitioners of contemporary Polish psychoanalysis. In this climate the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA) elected two direct associate members at the 1989 Congress in Rome: Elzbieta Bohomolec, a psychiatrist who was analyzed by Michael Lapinski in Warsaw and who was in supervision in Berlin; and Katarzyna Walewska, a psychologist in analysis in Warsaw and then in Paris, and who was in supervision in Warsaw and London. They are at the root of two psychoanalytic groups. The first, the Polish Society for the Development of Psychoanalysis, was founded in 1991; the second, the Institute of Psycho-analysis and Psychotherapy, was founded in 1992. The names of these two groups clearly reflect the nuance that distinguishes them: increasing the number of practitioners for the first, the quality of the training for the second. Members from both groups work together in the Raztów Center for Psychotherapy of Neuroses, founded in 1965 by Jan Malewski. Having been prohibited during and after World War II, psychoanalysis began to be taught in the psychology faculties of Warsaw, Krakow, and Lublin in 1961. Psychotherapeutic practice has developed in these cities and in Gdansk.

Only Zbigniew Sokolik has remained in Warsaw. Michael Lapinski emigrated to Australia in 1983 and became a member of the Australian Psychoanalytic Society. Jan Malewski settled in Heidelberg in 1975 and became a member of the German Psychoanalytic Association. At the same timeémigrés who fled the Nazi persecutions, like Hanna Segal, have reestablished contacts with Poland. Analysts from the international analytic community have visited Poland to give clinical and theoretical training in psychoanalysis. The vitality of the Polish group was demonstrated in 1991 at Pototsk, near Warsaw, on the occasion of the third seminar for East Europeans, a seminar that was organized under the auspices of the European Federation of Psychoanalysis.

Michel Vincent


Bychowski, Gustav. (1952). Psychotherapy of psychosis. New York, London: Grune and Stratton.

. (1954) On the handling of some schizophrenic defence mechanisms and reaction patterns. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 35, 2, 147-153.

. (1966). Obsessive compulsive façade in schizophrenia. With commentary by M. Wexler. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 47, 2-3, 189-202.

Diatkine, Gilbert, et al. (1993). La psychanalyse en Europe orientale, in Diatkine, Gilbert; Le Goues, Gerard; and Reiss-Schimmel, Ilana (Eds.), La psychanalyse et l'Europe de 1993. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

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312,680sq km (120,726sq mi)



capital (population):

Warsaw (1,638,000)


Multiparty republic

ethnic groups:

Polish 98%, Ukrainian 1%


Polish (official)


Christianity (Roman Catholic 94%, Orthodox 2%)


Zloty = 100 groszy

Republic in Europe. The Republic of Poland is mostly lowland, forming part of the great European plain. The n, lagoon-lined, Baltic Sea coast includes the ports of Gdańsk and Szczecin, and the mouths of the Vistula and Oder rivers. There are many lakes, especially in the ne. The central plains include Poland's capital, Warsaw, and the cities of Poznań, Łódź and Lublin. Poland's best farmland is in the se Polish uplands. Beyond the cities of Katowice and Kraków, the land rises to Mount Rysy, at 2499m (8,199ft), in the Carpathian Mountains. In the sw lies the region of Silesia, and its capital Wrocław.

Climate and Vegetation

Poland has a continental climate, with warm summers and bitterly cold, snowy winters. The n coast is much milder than the s highlands. Forests cover c.30% of Poland. Nearly 50% of the land is arable.

History and Politics

In the 9th century ad, Slavic tribes unified the region. The Piast dynasty came to power. In 1025, Boleslav I became the first king of Poland, but the kingdom disintegrated in the 12th century. Ladislas I reunified Poland in 1320, but the dynasty collapsed under the might of the Teutonic Knights. The 16th-century rule of the Jagiellon dynasty is regarded as Poland's ‘golden age’. In 1569, Poland and Lithuania were united. In John II's reign, Sweden, Russia, and Turkey all plundered Poland. John III Sobieski restored some prestige, but his death brought division. After the War of the Polish Succession (1733–35), Russia dominated Polish affairs. In 1772 and 1793, Austria, Prussia and Russia partitioned Poland. The defeat of a Polish revolt in 1795 led to further partition, and Poland ceased to exist. The Congress of Vienna (1814–15) established a small, semi-independent Polish state based on Kraków. Polish uprisings in 1848 and 1863 against Russian dominance led to more impositions.

In World War I, Poland initially fought with Germany against Russia, but Germany later occupied Poland. Poland regained its independence in 1918. In 1920, Poland recaptured Warsaw from Russia. In 1921, Poland became a republic. The 1920s and 1930s were a period of dictatorship and military rule.

In September 1939, following a secret pact between Hitler and Stalin, Germany invaded and Poland was partitioned between the Soviet Union and Germany. Britain declared war. Following the German invasion of the Soviet Union, all of Poland fell under German rule. The Nazis established concentration camps, such as Auschwitz, in which more than 6 million Poles perished. Only 100,000 Polish Jews, from a pre-war community of more than 3 million, survived the Holocaust. Polish resistance intensified. In 1944, a provisional government was established. The Germans ruthlessly crushed the Warsaw Uprising (August–October 1944).

In 1945, Poland regained its independence. It lost land in the e to the Soviet Union, but gained sections of Prussia from Germany. In 1949, Poland joined the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON). In 1952, Poland became a People's Republic, modelled on the Soviet constitution. It was a founder member (1955) of the Warsaw Pact.

Uprisings in 1956 led to the formation of a more liberal administration, led by Władysław Gomułka. The collectivization of agriculture reversed, and restrictions on religious worship were relaxed. Inflation and recession during the 1970s led to further riots and political protests. In 1980 striking dockers in Gdańsk, led by Lech Wałesa, formed a trade union called Solidarity, which gained popular support. In 1981, General Jaruzelski declared martial law: Solidarity was banned and its leaders arrested. Continuing recession and civil unrest led to the lifting of martial law in 1983.

Following reforms in the Soviet Union, Jaruzelski legalized Solidarity, which won free elections in 1989. In 1990, the Communist Party disbanded and Wałesa became president. In 1995 elections, the leader of the Democratic Left Alliance, Aleksander Kwaśsniewski, defeated Wałesa. In 1996, Poland joined the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Poland faced huge problems in the transition to a market economy. The Solidarity Electoral Alliance (AWS), a centre-right coalition, won elections in 1997. In 1999, Poland became a member of NATO. Kwaśsniewski was re-elected in 2000. Poland is expected to join the European Union in 2004.


Before World War II, Poland had a mainly agricultural economy. Under communism, industry expanded greatly. Today, 27% of the workforce is employed in agriculture and 37% in industry. Upper Silesia is the richest coal basin in Europe. Poland is the world's fifth-largest producer of lignite and seventh-largest producer of bituminous coal. Copper ore is also a vital mineral resource. Manufacturing accounts for c.24% of exports. Poland is the world's fifth-largest producer of ships. Agriculture remains important. Major crops include barley, potatoes and wheat. The transition to a free-market economy has doubled unemployment and increased foreign debt. Economic growth, however, is slowly returning (2000 GDP per capita, US$8500).

Political map

Physical map


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Culture Name


Alternative Names

Polanie, Polen, Poliane, Pologne, Polonia, Polska, Republic of Poland, and Rzeczpospolita Polska


Identification. Polanie was derived in the tenth century from the name of a Slavonic tribe near Poznan. It means dwellers or people of the field, meadow, or plain.

There are five Polish regional cultural traditions with associated dialects. Poles residing abroad could be considered as a sixth group. Regional cultural differences, identification, and dialects are becoming increasingly less noticeable and less important.

Location and Geography. Poland is located in Central Europe. It covers 120,700 square miles (312,680 square kilometers). On the north Poland is bordered by the Baltic Sea, Russia, and Lithuania; on the east by Belarus and Ukraine; on the south by Slovakia and the Czech Republic; and on the west by Germany. Originally, the capital was Cracow (Kraków), but in 1611 it was moved to Warsaw (Warszawa), the current seat of government.

Seventy-five percent of the land lies below 650 feet (200 meters). The Baltic Sea forms a natural northern border, and the Sudetes and Carpathians form the southern border. Poland does not have any natural borders on the east or west. Polish wars and large scale changes in the borders, both ethnically and politically, have been to the east and west while the northern and southern borders have changed little over the past one thousand years.

Demography. In 2000, the estimated population was about 39.4 million. Of this, 38.1 to 38.5 million were ethnic Poles. Worldwide there are an additional 13 million Poles who live abroad. Due to Poland's history of shifting borders and the changes over time in the ethnic policies pursued by both foreign and Polish governments, it is difficult to establish the exact size of ethnic groups. Many individuals have the right to claim membership in several groups while others may not wish to have their ethnic affiliation recorded.

The largest ethnic minorities include approximately 400,000 Germans and perhaps an equal number of Ukrainians, followed by 275,000 Belarussians, then 25,000 Roma (Gypsies), and 13,500 Lithuanians. The over three million people of the Jewish population that inhabited Poland before World War II has been reduced to some six thousand to ten thousand people.

Linguistic Affiliation. Polish belongs to the west Slavic group of languages of the Indo-European language family, which in turn is part of the Nostratic macrofamily. Poles use the Latin alphabet. Literary Polish developed during the sixteenth century and is based on the speech of educated city people, upper class usage, and the Great Polish and Little Polish Dialects. Starting in the nineteenth century, technological and cultural changes introduced a new vocabulary. During the 1920s and 1930s, there was an attempt to coin and introduce a Polish-derived vocabulary for the newly diffused technology. Otherwise, the new vocabulary is taken from German, Latin, Russian, and English. The spelling of diffused words is changed to reflect the Polish alphabet.

Geographical areas have distinct speech patterns. Most Poles can identify people's places of origin by their speech. The major dialects are: Great Polish in the northwest centered on Poznań; Kuyavian, east of "Great Poland"; and Little Polish, around Cracow. Kashubian, with about 200,000 speakers along the Baltic coast, has its own orthography and literature. The Slovincian dialect of Kashubian could be considered a separate language. A similar linguistic separation can be made regarding the Górale, or "Highlanders," of Podhale. The Mazurians and Silesians, in areas that before World War II were politically separated from Poland, spoke an archaic Polish with many words and expressions borrowed from German. Starting in 1918 with the regaining of Polish independence, the leveling influences of school, the military, mass media, urbanization, and mass migration of population have reduced the differences between regional dialects so that spoken and written language is nearly standardized.

Symbolism. Poland's flag consists of two equal-sized horizontal bars. The upper bar is white and the lower red. The coat-of-arms is a white eagle on a red field. Legend has it that while hunting the first king of the Poles encountered a huge white eagle making a strange cry and hovering over a nest of young. Such white birds were not known in the land and the King took it as an omen. The national anthem, Jeszcze Polska nie Zginȩła ("Poland Has Not Yet Perished"), was written in 1797 by an émigré soldier-poet, Józef Wybicki, serving in the Polish legions of Napoleon Bonaparte's army in Italy. It was adopted in 1918.

Polish identity is rooted in its past. Some see Poland as the bulwark of Christendom. If the Poles had not defeated the Muslim Crimean Tatars and Turks during King Jan III Sobieski's raising of the Turkish siege of Vienna in 1683, Christianity would have been supplanted by Islam. Poland's role as guardian of western European civilization against the Russians and later the Bolsheviks is commemorated by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the center of Warsaw.

Others view Poland as the suffering Christ among nations raising the torch of liberty and independence for themselves and others. This position is exemplified in the slogan "For your freedom and ours" and popularized by Polish romantics such as authors Zygmunt Krasiński, Adam Mickiewicz, and Juliusz Slowacki, as well as musician Frédéric Chopin and political leaders such as Józef Pilsudski.

There is an emotional bond between the Catholic Church and Poles. This bond was formed because for the last several centuries Poland's main enemies were Orthodox Russians and Protestant Germans. In this context, a Pole was a Catholic and a Catholic was a Pole. The bond was strengthened because individuals persecuted by the authorities could seek succor and solace from the Church. Further, during communist times, the Church was the one institution that presented an independent voice.

History and Ethnic Relations

Poland is an example par excellence of the imagined community and of the ability of nationalism to shape the world. Poland exists because individuals voluntarily fought for a free and united Poland. History is one of the themes used to create a commonality and a feeling of pride. Poles consider themselves to be members of a community.

Emergence of the Nation. No one knows when or where the ancestors of modern Poles originated. It is clear that they were living somewhere on the Eurasian continent and diverged from other Slavs. However, there is no certainty regarding their presence east of the Elbe and Oder Rivers before the eighth century.

The traditional date for the founding of the Polish state is the beginning of written Polish history in 956 c.e., when Prince Mieszko I married a Bohemian princess and accepted Christianity. Mieszko's son, Boleslaw Chrobry (Boleslaw the Brave), was the first crowned Polish king. His armies reached Prague and Kiev and exemplified the next one thousand years of Polish history. At times, the Poles fought with the Swedes and Balts to the north, and the Czechs and Turks to the south, but there was almost constant strife with the Germans to the west and the Russian states to the east. Sometimes the wars were between only two enemies, and sometimes two would join in attacking the third. In 1226, Prince Conrad of Mazovia, Poland, invited the Teutonic Knights, a primarily German crusading order, to help fight the Prussians, a group of Balts living in what eventually became East Prussia. In 1382, the Lithuanian Grand Duke Jagiello (Jogailo) married Jadwiga of Anjou, a Polish princess who was crowned king [sic] in Cracow in 1385. This marriage joined Lithuania and Poland in a personal union, wherein one individual rules two states. The Treaty of Lublin, 1569, created the Republic of Poland-Lithuania. At its peak in 16341635, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonweath stretched from the Baltic to the Black Seas and encompassed Latvia, Lithuania, and much of present day Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, and Estonia, as well as scattered territories in some other countries. Political and territorial decline then set in.

The nobility held absolute power of life and death over the serfs tied to their land. The clergy, merchants in the cities (the burghers), and the Jews were protected by royal charters, but were a minuscule portion of the population. After 1572, Poland's kings were elected viritim ; that is, they were voted upon directly by the mounted assembly of the entire nobility. The kings acted more like managers than rulers. In 1652, the Sejm, Poland's parliament, introduced the liberum veto, which mandated that all legislation had to pass unanimously. The country lost independence and unity when Austria, Prussia, and Russia divided the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth among themselves. The country was divided on three occasions, in 1772, 1793, and 1795.

For brief periods, there were two small Polish states under foreign domination. The first Polish state was the Duchy of Warsaw, 1807-1813, created by Napoleon from Prussian territory inhabited by Poles. The second, with limited territory and sovereignty, was established at the Congress of Vienna. The Congress Kingdom, 18151864, was ruled by the Russian czar in a personal union. After an unsuccessful insurrection, it was incorporated into Russia as a province.

Poland declared independence in 1918. World War I was ending and the partitioning powers were collapsing. Austria disintegrated and Imperial Germany was weakened. Russia had survived two revolutions and was in the midst of a civil war. The Poles defeated the Germans and the Federal Socialist Republic of the Russian Soviets, the precursor of the Soviet Union. Between 1918 and 1939, the Polish government worked to unify the country economically, politically, socially, and ethnically.

On 1 September 1939, Germany attacked Poland and, seventeen days later, so did the Soviet Union. The zones of occupation had been demarcated in the Hitler-Stalin Pact of 23 August 1939. Most of the Polish military personnel became prisoners of war. However, some escaped to neutral countries, and others were able to reach England or France where they continued fighting against the Germans. Some stayed in Poland and became guerilla fighters, forming the nucleus of the Home Army (AK) with allegiance to the government in exile in London.

Both occupying powers ruled harshly. The Germans attempted to kill all Roma, Jews, and educated Poles. The Nazi intent was to reduce Poles to unskilled laborers. The Soviet killed twenty-two thousand Polish officers and deported 1.5 million civilians, primarily the educated and business people, to Siberia.

After Germany attacked the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, the Soviets raised a Polish army. Two divisions totaling seventy-five thousand men transferred to the Middle East in 1942 and eventually fought in Italy. Others founded the army of Communist Poland.

In 1944, the Polish Home Army staged an uprising in Warsaw. Receiving no Soviet assistance, the uprising was crushed. The Germans then razed much of Warsaw, singling out structures of historical importance.

In 1945, Poland regained political unity, albeit as a Soviet satellite. The country had to cede some of its eastern territory to the Soviet Union and, as compensation, acquired territory that had been German in 1939. Poland, for the first time in its history, did not have significant ethnic and religious minority populations. In 1989, the Soviets no longer supported the Polish Communist government, and the Poles began a shift to democracy and a market economy.

National Identity. Polish nationalism fed on the country's history of deprivation and want. It has a militant and even truculent attitude. There is a feeling that Poles have been suffering unduly.

The first manifestation of Polish nationalism was during the Confederation of Bar in 1768 when there was an attempt to reform the political system. In the Constitution of 3 May 1791, the burghers were enfranchised to expand the definition of the nation. General Tadeusz Koéciuszko's Manifesto of Polaniec in 1794 took the first steps to include the largest group of the population, the peasants.

Until 1795, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth had to integrate and unify a state made up of many ethnic and religious groups. The term nation was used to refer only to the politically powerful multi-ethnic nobility. Since the nobles constituted some 8 to 12 percent of the population, this meant that the vast majority was excluded.

In 1795, the issue became how to leave multiethnic empires, on what basis to form and determine the boundaries of the reconstituted state, and how to govern it. Because of repression and unsuccessful revolts, many Poles, in order to escape imprisonment or to obtain a university education, went abroad and were exposed to French and German ideas. Many adopted the position that a nation is like a kin group with common descent, language, and culture, and that it has a right by primordial occupancy to its native soil. They adopted the ideology that ethnic groups have a right to an independent state, that a state's population should be composed of members of a single nation, and that a state should encompass all members of the ethnic group.

The Nationalists, led by Roman Dmowski, conceived the nation as a distinct ethnic community which had an inalienable right to its ancestral territory. They saw the German empire as the principal enemy and were prepared to accept national autonomy under Russian suzerainty. Domestically they were strident, harsh, and intolerant, especially to other ethnic groups.

The independence camp, led by Pilsudski, conceived the nation as a spiritual community united by culture and history. They were prepared to fight all who stood in the way of Polish independence. They saw Russia as the principal enemy and were prepared to cooperate with Austria and Germany. Domestically they were relatively mild and tolerant.

Today the popular feeling is that a Pole is anyone who has Polish ancestry and exhibits Polish cultural traits, speaks Polish, and acts according to Polish norms.

Ethnic Relations. After 1939, due to the Soviet and German genocides, changes in the country's boundaries, migration, and the expulsion of ethnic peoples by the Communist government of Poland, the country became an almost monoethnic society. Current estimates of the combined non-Polish ethnic populations range between less than one million to more than two million, or between 2 and 5.5 percent of the country's inhabitants.

Some fifteen ethnic groups are numerous enough to be recognized and to appear in statistics. The Germans, Belarussians, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, and Jews have states where members of their nationality are the majority and can be appealed to for political help.

The Belarussians and Lithuanians are the indigenous people in Poland's northeast. Both groups have adjacent states where their ethnic group constitutes the majority. Both groups have schools that teach in their respective languages. Because of a history of emigration, many Lithuanians have relatives in the United States.

For the past one thousand years, Germans and Poles have at times fought wars and ruled one another. In 1945, the Poles expelled five million Germans living in areas which were formerly part of Germany. The Germans remaining in Poland are the largest physical presence and most important political minority in the country.

For centuries, the Poles have ruled territories inhabited by the Ukrainians. In 1947, as a way of crushing the Ukrainian resistance movement, the majority of the population was transferred from their homeland in southeastern Poland to scattered locations in the western territories taken over from Germany. As a result, many Ukrainians assimilated into Polish society.

The Roma came to Poland in the sixteenth century. They were one of the groups the Nazis attempted to exterminate. In 1994, the Association of the Roma in Poland organized an observance of the Nazi actions at the Auschwitz concentration camp. A growing number of Roma have entered Poland since 1990.

The earliest record of a Jew in Poland is in a letter written in 977 c.e. from the Pope instructing the king not to be overly friendly to a Jew. The first ghetto in Poland was created in the fourteenth century when Jews from Spain and Western Europe immigrated and asked for a sector of the city where they could live according to their religion and laws. The request was granted by King Kazimierz III. Until the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was tolerant toward the Jews and even invited them to come and settle. The relationship deteriorated as the fortunes of the Commonwealth declined, and there was a massive immigration of Jews from Germany, and later, from Lithuania and Russia. Relations were exacerbated by the Russian czarist policy of discrimination against Jews and stirring up ethnic antagonisms. The first organized anti-semitic pogrom was in 1881. The last one was on 4 July 1946 in Kielce when forty-two Jews were killed. During World War II, the Soviet Union deported people to central Asia and the Nazis operated death camps. Of the more than three million Jews in Poland in 1939, ninety thousand were left by the end of the war. The government-sponsored anti-semitic campaign of 19681969 drove out most of those who remained.

Prior to 1989, the Communist government at times denied the very existence of national minorities in Poland. When minorities were recognized, each acknowledged minority could be represented by only one organization and with one publication. As a result, between 1956 and 1981, there were only six organizations. After 1989, the right to free association resulted in the establishment of approximately two hundred ethnic organizations. There is legislation establishing the right to study and be taught in one's native language. Likewise, minorities have the right to access mass media, including local public radio and television, and to use their native language in broadcasting.

Since 1993, minority parties are exempt from the requirement that political parties must get a specified percentage of votes to obtain membership in the Sejm. On the local level, minorities have the right to participate in self-government. Little is known about how the laws and regulations are actually implemented.

As of 1995, there are a half million illegal aliens in Poland. Most of them came from eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

The vast majority of the urban population lives in apartments and relies on mass transportation. The increasing ownership and use of private automobiles has produced associated traffic and parking problems.

In most Polish cities, there are three types of areas or "cities." The "socialist city" was constructed after World War II to accommodate the influx of people caused by industrialization. The general appearance of this city was heavily influenced by what was in practice in the Soviet Union. The city has broad streets and large public spaces. Housing consists of four- or five-story apartment buildings. Typically, construction was shoddy. Apartments commonly consist of two or three rooms plus a kitchen and a bathroom. All apartments have access to gas, electricity, and municipal water and most have central heating. There is minimal space for parking and children's play. The center of the city is devoted to government buildings, not to commercial outlets and the service sector. Places of employment, especially industry, are located some distance from dwellings.

The "capitalist/industrial city" was constructed during the nineteenth century and up to 1939. Architecturally, western European influences are noted. One difference from the "socialist city" is that the buildings represent a great variety of architectural characteristics. The interior space is much less standardized. Much space is devoted to commercial activities and, in the older parts of the city, industrial plants abut residential areas.

The "medieval city" was built during the feudal period. Building styles and town plans reflect practices and theories current in western Europe at that time. Most of the surviving structures are palaces or public buildings. Only a very few houses of merchants or people of modest means still exist.

Polish cities suffered heavy damage during World War II. Some, such as Gdańsk, Szczeczin, and Wroclaw, were heavily damaged by fighting, and the Germans deliberately razed most of Warsaw. Consequently, buildings and areas that appear ancient are often products of post-World War II construction. This was done by the Communist government to emphasize the nation's will to survive despite attempts to destroy it.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. The mainstays of the Polish diet are meat, bread, and potatoes. For many Poles, dinner is not dinner without meat, primarily pork. Bread is consumed and treated with reverence. In the past, if a piece of bread fell on the ground, it was picked up with reverence, kissed, and used to make the sign of a cross. Peasants trace a cross on the bottom of a loaf of bread with a knife before slicing it. Poles consume three-hundred pounds of potatoes per capita per year. Vegetables consumed are local cool weather crops such as beets, carrots, cabbage and legumes (beans, peas, lentils). Another important source of nutrition is milk in various forms such as fresh or sour milk, sour cream, buttermilk, whey, cheese, and butter.

The Polish daily meal sequence is dependent upon the family and the season; however, typically it starts with a substantial breakfast eaten between five and eight a.m.. Eggs, meat, bread, cheese, and cold cuts may be served. Between nine and eleven in the morning, people may have a second breakfast similar to an American bag lunch. Dinner, the main meal of the day, is served between one and five in the afternoon and contributes 40 to 45 percent of the calories for the day. It consists of a large bowl of soup, a main course, and dessert. Salads, when served, are eaten with the main course. On Sundays, appetizers may start the meal. The last meal of the day is a light supper eaten between six and eight in the evening. It may be a repeat of the breakfast menu or include cold fresh water fish, aspic dishes, and cooked vegetable salads. Additionally, there may be a sweet dish such as pancakes or rice baked with apples or other fruit.

Tea and coffee are served after meals. People differentiate between tea made from tea leaves and that made from herbs or fruits. In many dialects, the two types of teas have different names. Tea is consumed more frequently and coffee is viewed as slightly special. Vodka was first distilled in Poland in the sixteenth century and is consumed with food, commonly sausage, dill pickles, or herring, as a chaser.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Namedays and weddings center on individuals. Because common first names are noted in published calendars along with holidays, people know when to acknowledge an individual's nameday. Such celebrations typically feature poultry, cakes, and other party foods. At weddings, the bride and groom are greeted with bread and salt (the essentials of life) upon their return from church.

The Christmas season is the traditional time for baking cookies, honey-spice cakes, and cheese-dough apple cakes. Among the oldest and most traditional Christmas treats are honey-rye wafers and poppy seed or nut crunch. Babka, a cake, is another traditional dish that must be taller than it is wide and it must be narrower at the top than at the bottom.

The most solemn family gathering of the year is the Christmas Eve supper. Family gather to share the oplatek, a thin white wafer sometimes called angel bread, followed by an odd number of meatless dishes. However, fish is permitted. Traditional dishes include noodles with poppy seeds and wheat pudding.

For Christmas Day dinner, many feel that game adds a special touch of the outdoors and make a special effort to obtain half a hare for the pâté.

Pączki (Polish style donuts) are the traditional pastry eaten on Shrove Tuesday and on Fat Thursday (the beginning of the pre-Lenten Mardi Gras season). At Easter the tradition is to consume food blessed on Holy Saturday. One standard item is hard-boiled eggs. Easter breakfast features fresh meat, game, and smoked meats. There is a tradition of roasted suckling pig with a red egg in its snout.

During fall harvest festivals, the fruits of the fields are blessed, and cereals and bread made from freshly threshed wheat are eaten as well as placed on graves on All Saint's Day. On Saint Martin's Day, the traditional food is a goose.

Basic Economy. Poland is changing from an economy where the state sector, dominated to one where the economy is controlled privately. In 1989, 95 percent of those employed were in the state sector, which generated 90 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) and received 85 percent of individuals' investment funds. By 1997, 67 percent of those employed were in the private sector, which was producing 63 percent of the GDP. In 1999, the private sector, generated about 70 percent of economic activity.

In 1996, 44 percent of those employed were in service occupations, 30 percent in industry and construction, and 26 percent in agriculture. The latter produces only 5 percent of the GDP. Polish farms are small, inefficient, lack capital, and have surplus labor. The main products are potatoes, fruits, vegetables, wheat, poultry, eggs, pork, beef, milk, and cheese. The average farm sells most of its products and buys about a fourth of the food consumed by the family.

Land Tenure and Property. While a few state farms remain, the vast majority of farm land is privately owned. City apartments are being privatized. Most of the industrial enterprises in the politically "sensitive sectors" such as coal, steel, telecommunications, aviation, and banks are still owned by the government.

Commercial Activities. Poland produces agricultural products, minerals, coal, salt, sulfur, copper, manufactured, goods, glass, textiles, beverages, machinery, and ships.

Major Industries. Between 1945 and 1989, the government's centralized planning system mobilized resources but could not ensure their efficient use. It made huge strides in helping to develop heavy industry but neglected farming, consumer goods, and housing. Their efforts also hurt the environment. After 1989, there was a reduction of the state-owned sector balanced by the development of the private. Poland has privatized medium and small state-owned enterprises and passed a liberal law for the establishment of new companies. The major industries are machine building, iron and steel, coal mining, chemicals, shipbuilding, food processing, glass, beverages, and textiles.

Trade. Since 1989, the main effort has been to shift Poland's international trade from countries that were part of the Soviet Union and its erstwhile satellites to other countries, especially member states of the EU.

By 1997, Poland exported mainly to Germany, Russia, Italy, Ukraine, the Netherlands, and France. Its main exports are manufactured goods, chemicals, machinery and equipment, food, and live animals, and mineral fuels. It imports primarily from Germany, Italy, Russia, France, United Kingdom, and the United States. Poland's main imports are manufactured goods, chemicals, machinery and equipment, mineral fuels, food, and live animals.

Division of Labor. In the cities, both men and women are employed outside the home. However, there is a male bias in employment. Proportionately, more women are unemployed than men. In rural areas, women participate fully in farm work, both in the fields and in the house. Additionally, women operate a large number of farms.

Polish women perform "the second shift"; the phenomenon of simultaneously managing an external job and a household. Shopping, especially for groceries, and housework are considered women's jobs. A man will do almost anything not to cook, wash dishes, or clean house.

Social Stratification

The strong and rigid social stratification that marked Poland prior to 1939 has all but disappeared. This has happened because during World War II, both the Nazis and the Communists deliberately killed educated Poles. At the end of the war, the intelligentsia was greatly reduced in numbers. For forty-five years, the Communist government pursued policies intended to reduce social classes. They fostered education and the economic and educational advancement of peasants and workers. With the government's success in creating industrial jobs, there has been a great movement of rural people to cities.

Classes and Castes. Currently there are six strata or groupings: peasants, workers, intelligentsia, szlachta (nobles or gentry), the nomenclatura (the ruling group during the existence of the communist government), and a nascent middle class. The workers and intelligentsia have increased both numerically and proportionately. The ruling class that held power during Communist rule is fighting to regain political power and maintain economic power. The szlachta may still constitute some 10 to 15 percent of the population, but their significance has been practically eliminated. People starting businesses are just beginning to differentiate themselves.

Symbols of Social Stratification. During Communist rule, the general population assumed many of the customs of the szlachta. Thus, the common way of addressing someone is as pan (male) or pani (female), terms that formerly were used among and toward members of the szlachta. For people who are above the peasant and worker classes, men kiss women's hands and follow current fashions in dress. Since social status does not necessarily correlate with high income, there is a discrepancy between status and consumption. The educated and the szlachta stress politeness and social graces to differentiate themselves from the uneducated and the newly rich.

Political Life

Government. The highest law is the Constitution of 16 October 1997. The Polish government is divided into three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. The executive branch includes a president, a prime minister, two deputy prime ministers, and a cabinet or council of ministers. The president, who is the chief of state, is elected by a popular vote for a five-year term. The prime minister and the deputy prime ministers are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Sejm. The prime minister nominates and the president appoints the members of the council of ministers who are then approved by the Sejm.

The legislative branch consists of two houses: the one hundred seat Senate whose members are elected for four-year terms by a majority vote from the provinces, and the four hundred sixty-seat Sejm whose members serve four years and are elected to ensure proportional representation. Four seats are constitutionally reserved for ethnic German parties.

Leadership and Political Officials. There are a great many political parties. Most of them are still in the process of being formed, developing ideologies, and establishing a solid basis among the voters. Ideologically some are successor parties of the Communist party and others are post-Solidarity parties. In addition, there are a great many minor parties; some have an ideological basis and some reflect the ambitions of a popular individual.

Social Problems and Control. The Polish legal system is a combination of the continental system of law (Napoleonic Code) and holdovers from Communist legal theory. Under the continental civil law, interpretation of the law by judges is not a major factor and the rule of precedent is not an important element.

Since 1989, the Polish legal system has undergone significant transformation as part of a larger democratization process. There is some judicial review of legislative acts and court decisions can be appealed to the European Court of Justice in Strasbourg, France. Poland has a commercial code that meets the European Union (EU) standards and, on 26 May 1981, Poland ratified The United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG).

A still controversial issue is the treatment of former Communist government officials, especially the members the secret police. Debate centers around barring them from holding public office or positions of trust and whether Communist government officials who committed crimes should be held accountable now.

An issue gaining in importance is the treatment of people with different sexual orientation. The legal system, the society, and especially the Catholic Church are intolerant toward them. Yet there is a world-wide trend to legitimize these types of minorities and incorporate them into society with full civil and legal rights.

Military Activity. Poland is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). It has an army, a navy, and an air defense force. In 1998, Poland spent 2.2 percent of its GDP (3.3 billion dollars) on the military. At the end of the twentieth century Poland had no serious military threats or international disputes.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

The government's social welfare system is insufficiently funded and needs a comprehensive overhaul to adjust to changing political and economic conditions.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are involved in aiding children, family and general social welfare. In 1984, Poland was the first central/eastern European country to pass a law making NGOs possible. They have about two million members. By 1998, about twenty-six thousand NGOs were operating. NGOs may register as either associations or foundations. Both types of organizations may provide services.

There is a NGO support industry. In 1993, an informal coalition of Polish NGOs, the Forum of Nongovernmental Initiatives (FIP), was created, and the Network of Information and Support Center for the Nongovernmental Organizations (SPLOT) was established in 1994.

In general, NGOs try to satisfy local needs. More than 90 percent of Poland's NGOs are active in education (including social as well as general education); social welfare; and family, children and young people. Most of their funding comes from donations by corporations and individuals, the central government, international NGOs, and their own business activities.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. Traditionally, the woman's place was in the home, and her rule in household matters was absolute. By 1979, women were 43.4 percent of the work force, in 1988, 45 percent, and in 1996, 46 percent. According to a study, women employed outside the home averaged 6.5 hours on the job and 4.3 hours on housework, while women without jobs spent 8.1 hours on housework.

The socialist government offered women opportunities for higher education and employment. In 1990, for every 100 males who completed higher education there were 89 women. On average, women and men have accumulated the same 11.1 years of education. However, women's earnings are lower. Between 1982 and 1993, women earned only 66 to 67 percent of men's wages. This was due in part to women choosing careers in badly paid sectors of the economy. Seventy percent of the women worked in health, social security, finance, education, and retail sales, but only 15 percent of graduates in technical subjects were women. Even in the better paid sectors of the economy, women were primarily in administration or worked as semiskilled workers.

Women operate a significant percentage of farms; in 1992 they operated 20 percent of farms. Almost 70 percent of female farmers were single and more than 40 percent were age 60 or older. Usually the children have moved away and the husband has died or is unable to farm.

The reorientation of Poland's economy from a socialist command model to a capitalistic market driven one has had a disproportionate impact on women. Despite the fact that women make up less than 50 percent of the workforce, 55 percent of the unemployed are women.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. Women live in a male-oriented society with few groups working to change the national attitudes. They are subject to family violence at home and sexual harassment in the work place. They also have less access to credit and jobs. Very few women have achieved top leadership positions in politics, business, and the professions. They are excluded from leadership in the Catholic Church.

Among the peasants and workers, there is a strong patriarchal ideology and the husband is apt to regard himself as superior and the master. The wife is expected to make it clear that her husband is the head of the family. However, a man will not make important decisions without consulting his wife. In upper class and intelligentsia families the relationship is more equal, and a man places great value on his wife's opinions and counsel.

One area where there is significant disagreement and change is regarding women's reproductive rights. Under socialist governments, sex education in schools was minimal and, while contraceptive devices and medication and abortions were available, their accessability varied over time and from place to place. During socialist times abortions were common and, at times, their numbers approached those of live births. After 1989, severe restrictions were imposed, especially on abortions. The law of 20 November 1996 allows abortions in the first trimester and beyond the twelfth week in cases of rape or incest, provides for free abortions to women meeting specified conditions, and enjoins the Ministry of Education to enforce sexual education programs in schools.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. People typically married before age twenty. Unmarried women over twenty were considered spinsters, and bachelors in their late twenties were subjected to public censure and mockery. Both men and women expect to marry, have children, and have only one spouse for a lifetime. Marriage has always been viewed as a holy responsibility, and it is commonly believed that the unmarried or the never married cannot be really happy and will have difficulty obtaining salvation.

Traditionally, most marriages were arranged to improve family fortunes. Love was not important. Formal divorce was difficult. However, one way to escape was for one member of the couple to move, ostensibly to earn money in a distant locale, and to not return.

Domestic Unit. Ideally, the domestic unit is a three-generation extended family consisting of the married couple, their children and the husband's parents. However, in 1991, over 6 percent of families consisted of a single mother with one or more children. Ten percent of all mothers are single, and many of them have never been married.

Inheritance. Traditionally, a father could divide the inheritance any way he saw fit. Now there are legal restrictions, especially on the division of real estate. The rural inheritance system does not work well. Often properties are inherited by several heirs. One heir takes possession and is expected to make cash payments to the others. Because of frequent changes in governments and in legal and monetary systems, this generates ill will and interminable arguments regarding equitable division of inheritances.

Kin Groups. Poles recognize kinship through both genders and use the same kin terms for both father's and mother's relatives, but differentiate between genders and generations. When individuals attempt to manipulate the formal economic and political systems, they try to utilize kin ties to do so. Groups of relatives assemble for formal occasions, especially for funerals and weddings.


Infant Care. According to Polish tradition, a pregnant woman should not look at the disabled, mice, or fire in order not to damage the infant. Pregnancies are hidden as long as possible, and people avoid talking about them to guard against jealousy, witchcraft, and the evil eye. There are no professional midwives. An older respected womanbabka or baba aids in the delivery. Breast-feeding is seen as beneficial and healthy. In the Lublin area, boys are fed for three years, and in Kujawy, all infants for two. Newborns sleep with the mother until they are christened, usually three or four weeks, with six weeks being the usual maximum. Afterwards infants sleep in a cradle. Selection of godparents is important, because the child is assumed to acquire the characteristics of the same sex godparent. The godfather provides the swaddling cloth. The infant is clothed in a shirt, cap, and diapers and then wrapped in the cloth. For boys, an important event is the first haircut, usually at about three years.

Child Rearing and Education. Poles emphasize good manners and etiquette. Children who misbehave are called "impolite." Boys, in particular, are raised to be brave, independent, self-reliant, and tough. Patriotism is also stressed. Farming people and workers use physical punishment while upper classes tend to rely on psychological sanctions. The father is the stern disciplinarian, an authoritarian who should be respected and obeyed. In the middle and upper class, the mother is in charge of the children's education, and the development of their patriotism. Ideally, the mother is kind and nurturing, and mediates between the father and the children. In many urban families both parents are employed outside the home and the grandparents play an important role in raising the children.

Having established the National Education Commission in 1770, Poland has a long tradition of formal schooling. Education suffered after the country was partitioned. The partitioning powers tried to impose their culture and language on the Poles. The Germans devoted the most attention to education and, by 1911, illiteracy had been eliminated in their territory. In the Russian-controlled areas, schools were relatively few, children were taught in Russian, and Polish was treated as a foreign language.

With the reestablishment of independence in 1918, there was a concerted effort to educate the population. By 1939, illiteracy had been reduced to 12 percent and was less than 1 percent in 2000. There are nursery schools, eight-year primary schools, secondary schools, and universities. Secondary schools offer basic vocational training, vocational and technical training, and general college preparatory education. State schools at all levels are free and attendance to age eighteen is obligatory.

Higher Education. The Cracow Academy was founded in 1364 (called the Jagiellonian University after 1400) and is one of the oldest universities in Europe. By 1939, Poland had six universities, including the Catholic University in Lublin, which later became the only private university in the Communist block. By 1989, the country had ten universities and a number of specialized schools geared to the needs of agriculture, industry, medicine, and teaching.


There is great stress on being polite and courteous. Men are expected to kiss ladies' hands and to behave with decorum. An acceptable gift for women is an odd number of flowers, regardless of whether a woman is the recipient or presenter. Most men consider themselves judges of a fine drink, and for men the standard gift is alcohol. One must always drink from a glass, never directly from a bottle.


Religious Beliefs. Approximately 95 percent of Poland's inhabitants are Roman Catholics, with about 75 percent attending church services regularly. The other 5 percent are Eastern Orthodox, Protestants and other Christian religions. Judaism and Muslim are the largest non-Christian religions.

Religious Practitioners. There is a hierarchy of priests, monks, and nuns as appropriate in the Roman Catholic Church along with ministers of other Christian denominations. On rare occasions, one may still encounter witches and fortune tellers.

Rituals and Holy Places. The Catholic church has formal religious services and practices, and it encourages preservation of folk culture, such as the common roadside shrines built and maintained by the people and the large annual pilgrimages to shrines such as Czȩstochova, Kalwaria, Lanckorona, and Piekarnie Śląskie. Traditionally on the Feast of the Purification, 2 February, the priests bless the gromnica, the candle used to ward off lightning, sickness, and general misfortune.

In rural areas, there are religious practices based on the annual cycle of the growing seasons and associated farming practices and to ensure good luck. When cleaning house in preparation for Christmas, a corner is left unswept lest some happiness is thrown out. There are many local variations of Christmas activities, but one common thread is bringing samples of crops into the house and sharing food with animals. The ubiquitous custom is the evergreen, or fir tree, found even in Orthodox Jewish homes during the feast of Hanukkah.

Easter was the time of Resurrection both of Christ and of nature. A common rural custom is to sprinkle water on the ground to ensure a bountiful harvest. A popular extension of this practice is the dousing of people with water. In many areas, there are follow-up festivities on Easter Monday, dyngus day.

In celebration of the shortest night of the year on Saint John's Eve, 23 June, people build bonfires and jump over them to gain purification and protection from evil. In many areas, people float flower garlands in rivers. Traditionally, haying also starts about this time and 29 June was a time for fairs.

In the fall, 28 October is devoted to Saint Jude, the patron of things most difficult to achieve and solutions to problems that seem hopeless. During World War II, Saint Jude was the patron of Underground Poland and is still considered the protector of Polish exiles and homeless wanderers worldwide. On All Saints' Day, 1 November, and All Souls' Day, 2 November, people place candles in cemeteries and at places of torment and execution.

Death and Afterlife. Death is visualized as a tall, slender woman dressed in a white sheet and carrying a scythe. Nothing could stop her, but animals could warn of her approach. People preferred that death be speedy and painless and that it come as a result of illness rather than without warning. The dying individual was placed on the ground, and doors and windows were opened so that the soul could go to heaven. The dead may be buried in their Sunday best.

Traditionally, a house where someone died was considered unclean and was marked with a cloth nailed to the door, black if the deceased was an older married man or woman, green if a young man, and white if a young girl. White cloth and flowers were considered symbols of mourning. Survivors did not wear red. The casket was made from boards with no knots from an evergreen tree. The deceased was placed on a plank or in the coffin between two chairs in the main room of the house. Coins were placed in the hand, mouth, or left armpit so that the deceased has been paid and has no reason to return. Candles were lit and left burning, especially the first night. It was believed that the soul stays around the body so food and drink were left in the open. The wake pusta noc involved singing and wailing to keep away any bad spirits. It was the beggars' job to do the majority of lamenting. If an enemy came to the wake, it was considered to be a pardon.

At the funeral, people said goodbye, women by putting their hand on the coffin and men by placing their cap on it. The coffin was closed with wooden pegs. The coffin was taken out of the house feet first, and the cattle and bees had to be notified of their master's demise. Once the coffin was in the grave those present (except family members) threw dirt in the grave. The soul went to the Creator then returned to the body until the priest threw dirt on the coffin. At that point, the soul went to Saint Peter to find out its fateheaven or hell.

Tombstones were for important people. The common marker was a birch cross giving the name, date, and prayer requests as well as a shrub or a plant. Kasza (porridge) was featured at the funeral feast along with vodka with honey. Beggars were fed as well. Masses were said for the dead on the third, seventh, ninth, and fortieth day after death. On the first anniversary of death, there was a large meal for relatives, friends, and beggars.

Medicine and Health Care

In cases of illness, people use both modern and folk medicine and seek help from practitioners of both. Reliance on folk medicine has been lessening, and modern medicine with physicians, nurses, clinics, pharmacies, and sanatoria is the norm. A recent development is the addition of the speciality of family physician.

Formally, there are two types of modern health care. One is provided by dentists and physicians in private practice on a fee basis to those able to pay. The other is by the national and regional governments. This system is in trouble due to insufficient and shrinking resources and is considered unsatisfactory by the patients, the health care workers, and the state. Patients complain of no continuity of treatment and care, difficult access to specialists, and problems meeting various legal requirements. All health care workers, from the physicians to the lowest employee, complain of low salaries and prestige.

Secular Celebration

The national holidays are Constitution Day, 1 May (1791) and Independence Day, 11 November (1918).

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. In the last ten years, there has been a fundamental shift in the constraints faced by artists. Before 1989, art was heavily subsidized by the state, but demands were made on artists to produce propaganda materials. In addition, art was subject to political censorship. Certain topics and ways of presenting works of art were forbidden and, if violated, could expose the artist to legal sanctions, including prison sentences. Some artists never displayed their art publicly. With the fall of socialism, both state support and censorship, except in certain areas such as pornography, have disappeared. Consequently, artists are more free politically but have fewer resources.

Literature. Oral literature was the earliest genre. In the preliterate days and among the peasants much later, folk songs, legends, poetry, jokes, and riddles were important artistic expressions. Folk songs dealt with universal themes such as love, sorrow, and lack of freedom. Tales and legends dealt with the doings of kings, contests between knights and dragons, and the exploits of ancient robbers and bandits as well as with the lives of saints. Political jokes and stories and urban legends deal with current events and circulate nationwide.

Initially, Polish literature was written in Latin and can be said to have begun with the annals of the tenth century. Literature in Polish began and enjoyed a "golden age" in the sixteenth century with the writing of Mikolay Rej, who wrote exclusively in Polish and has been called the father of Polish literature, and Jan Kochanowski, the first genuine and great Polish poet. In the seventeenth century, Wespazjan Kochowski wrote the first messianic interpretation of Poland's destiny, a theme developed during the romantic period by Adam Mickiewicz, Juliusz Slowacki, and Zygmunt Krasiński. In the twentieth century, three Polish writers were awarded Nobel prizes: Henryk Sienkiewicz, 1905; Wladyslaw Reymont, 1924; and Czeslaw Milosz, 1980. Between 1940 and 1989, there were severe political restrictions on what could be published. At the end of the twentieth century the main constraint is economical, based on what the public will buy.

Graphic Arts. The Poles have participated in all the great art movements of Western culture. One of Poland's early notable sculptors, Wit Stwosz (Veit Stoss), lived during the fifteenth century. The wooden altar tryptich in the Church of the Virgin Mary in Cracow is his most famous work. The first noted painter was the Italian, Bernardo Bellotto, who in the late eighteenth century painted Polish life. Painting developed in the second half of the nineteenth century with Jan Matejko and Henryk Siemiradzki being the best known. The portraitist Stanislaw Wyspiański was also active in drama and design.

Performance Arts. Theater and movies have a special potency in Polish society. People tend to see their own life and history as filled with drama and romance, and they love theater. Attending a performance, whether a play, a movie, a concert or ballet, is an important social activity, and people tend to see it as a serious and edifying experience rather than mere entertainment.

The first public theater in Poland was established in 1763. This spurred great popularity of drama and especially comedy in the second half of the eighteenth century. There were some very influential and important playwrights. Franciszek Zablocki produced very high level comedies. His best known is the "Flirting Dandy." Mickiewicz's Dziady ("Forefathers' Eve") combined folklore and mystic atmosphere to create a new kind of romantic drama and offered a new formula for national destiny. Its visionary third part was published in 1832. Franciszek Bohomolec satirized the aristocracy and Wojciech Boguslawski wrote a popular national comic opera. During the nineteenth century almost all poets wrote poetry in dramatic form. Some of the most important dramatists were Aleksander Fredro, Slowacki, and Stanislaw Wyspianski. During the twenty years between the world wars, there were no major dramatic developments. The best plays were written by novelists. After World War II, the Communist government attempted to use the theater for propaganda purposes, with indifferent success. There has been a revival since 1989.

Polish ballet was built on folk dances but is primarily an urban enjoyment. Between the world wars, it generally had low standards. After World War II, it received considerable state support and much was done to improve it. It emphasizes classical and folk dancing, but some modern ballet themes are present.

Music has had few official constraints. It is founded on the rhythms and melodies of folk music adapted for performance in gentry homes and reaches back to the middle ages. A distinctive Polish church music was flourishing during the Renaissance. The first major Polish opera was staged in 1794. The famous composer Frederic Chopin is considered the musical embodiment of Polishness. After World War II, there was a lively revival of music in Poland. All branches of music are well represented. Popular music is strongly influenced by western styles. Polish jazz is excellent and has a reputation for experiment.

Polish cinema goes back to 1909, but it began to attract international attention only after World War II. The directors best known abroad are Andrzej Wajda and Roman Polanski. After 1989, people tended to curtail consumer spending and movie audiences shrank. In the 1970s, there were two-thousand five hundred movie theaters but by 1992, there were fewer than one thousand. Foreign films have great appeal. In 1992, of 122 new titles shown, fifteen were Polish and eighty-nine were recent American films. The remainder were of Australian, English, Finnish, French, German, and Japanese productions. Since 1989, about one half of the films have been co-productions with foreign partners.

Radio and television are attractive sources of entertainment and information. Television provides quality cinema and a wide variety of programs in several languages through cable, local channels, and satellite hookups. Most families own a VCR. In 1990, over 6,000 companies sold and rented video cassettes. There is legislation to curb video piracy and an association has been formed to protect copyrights.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

Over the centuries, Poles have made notable contributions to the sciences, including the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (Mikolaj Kopernik); Alfred Korzybski, the founder of general semantics; economists Oscar Lange and Michael Kalecki; Nobel Prize winner Maria Curie-Skodowski; and the anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski.

Between 1945 and 1989, the social sciences were subjected to severe restrictions and neglect. There was censorship of publications and restrictions were placed on travel and research topics. Topics of research were circumscribed and certain areas could not be investigated. Since 1989, the political constraints have been lifted and the main problem is to obtain funding for research and publication.


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Curtis, Glenn E., ed. Poland: A Country Study, 1994.

Davies, Norman. Heart of Europe: A Short History of Poland, 1984.

Dunn, Elizabeth. "Employee Reciprocity, Management Philosophy: Gift Exchange and Economic Restructuring in Poland." The Anthropology of East Europe Review: Central Europe, Eastern Europe and Eurasia, 18 (1): 7379, 2000.

Erdmann, Yvonne. "The Development of Social Benefits and Social Policy in Poland, Hungary and the Slovak Republic Since the System Transformation." East European Quarterly, 32 (3): 301314, 1998.

Knab, Sophie Hodorowicz. Polish Herbs, Flowers & Folk Medicine, 1995.

Polish Customs, Traditions and Folklore, 1993.

Lemnis, Maria, and Henryk Vitry. Old Polish Traditions: In the Kitchen and at the Table, 1996.

Mucha, Janusz. "Getting out of the Closet: Cultural Minorities in Poland Cope with Oppression." East European Quarterly, 31 (3): 299309, 1997.

Simoncini, Gabrielle. "National Minorities of Poland at the End of the Twentieth Century." The Polish Review, 43 (2):173193, 1998.

Sosnowski, Alexandra. "Polish Cinema Today: A New Order in the Production, Distribution, and Exhibition of Film." The Polish Review 40 (3): 315329, 1995.

Titkow, Anna. "Polish Women in Politics: An Introduction to the Status of Women in Poland." In Women in the Politics of Postcommunist Eastern Europe, 2432, 1998.

Wierzbicka, Anna. Understanding Cultures Through Their Key Words: English, Russian, Polish, German, and Japanese, 1997.

Wierzbicki, Zbigniew T. "Monographs on the Rural Community in Poland." Eastern European Countryside, 3: 2338, 1997.

Zuzowski, Robert. "Poland: Spin-Doctors' State." Political Change in Eastern Europe Since 1989: Prospects for Liberal Democracy and a Market Economy, 7195, 1998.

Andris Skreija

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Before World War II (193945), over 30 percent of the people living within the boundaries of Poland were non-Poles. As a result of World War II, and of the boundary changes and population transfers that followed, only about 2 percent of Poland's population today is non-Polish. Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Belarusans, Germans, and Slovaks are the most numerous minorities.

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Polandunironed, viand •prebend •beribboned, riband •husband • house husband •unquestioned • escutcheoned •brigand, ligand •legend •fecund, second, split-second •millisecond • nanosecond •microsecond • rubicund • jocund •Langland • garland • parkland •Cartland, heartland •headland • Shetland • Lakeland •mainland •eland, Leland, Wieland, Zealand, Zeeland •Greenland • heathland • Cleveland •Friesland • Queensland • midland •England • Finland • Maryland •dryland, highland, island •Iceland • Holland • dockland •Scotland •foreland, Westmorland •Auckland, Falkland •Portland • Northland •lowland, Poland, Roland •Oakland • Copland • Newfoundland •woodland • Buckland • upland •Jutland, Rutland •Ireland • moorland •Cumberland, Northumberland •Sunderland • Switzerland •Sutherland • Hammond •almond, Armand •Edmund, Redmond •Desmond, Esmond •Raymond • Grimond • Richmond •Sigmund • Sigismund • Osmond •Dortmund • unsummoned •diamond • gourmand • unopened •errand, gerund •reverend • Bertrand • dachshund •unchastened •old-fashioned, unimpassioned •unsanctioned •aforementioned, undermentioned, unmentioned •unconditioned • unsweetened •unenlightened • unleavened •self-governed • unseasoned •wizened • thousand

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POLAND , republic in E. Central Europe; the kingdom of Poland and the grand duchy of Lithuania united formally (Poland-Lithuania) in 1569. This article is arranged according to the following outline:

the early settlements
jewish legal status
economic activity
cultural and social life
1569–1648: colonization of the ukraine
internal jewish life
from chmielnicki to the first partition
after partition
independent poland
holocaust period
    Reichsgau Wartheland
        physical annihilation
    Reichsgau Danzig-Westpreussen
    Regierungsbezirk Zichenau (Ciechanow)
    Regierungsbezirk Kattowitz (East Upper Silesia)
    General Government
        warsaw district
        lublin district
        cracow district
        radom district
        galicia district
    Bezirk Bialystok
    Generalbezirk Litauen and Weissrussland
    Generalbezirk Wolhynien-Podolien
    Demographic Total
    Jewish Resistance
    Jewish-Polish Relations during the War
after world war ii
    Rescue of Jewish Children
    Renewal of Jewish Life
    Cultural, Religious, and Economic Life
    The Flight from Poland
    Anti-Jewish Excesses
    The Soviet Example
    Final Liquidation
    Later Developments
relations with israel
    The Change of 1950
    Improved Relations in 1956
    The Six-Day War
    Emmigration to Israel
    Trade Relations

the early settlements

While Jews had visited the kingdom of Poland and been economically active there at an early stage of the country's consolidation, from the tenth century approximately, they had no contact with the grand duchy of Lithuania until King Gedimin conquered the regions of Volhynia and Galicia (as it was later called) in 1321.

Jews came to Poland mainly from the west and southwest and from the very beginning were of *Ashkenazi culture. Those in the regions conquered by Gedimin had come there from the south and the southeast, chiefly from *Kiev, and were thus influenced to a large degree by Byzantine Jewish culture patterns; some think that they could have had traces of *Khazar ethnic descent and culture patterns. Jews in the region of *Lvov and its environs were of the same provenance to a large extent. In the end the western Ashkenazi culture became dominant.

Polish-Jewish legendary tradition tells about a Jewish merchant, Abraham Prochownik (unlikely to mean "the gunpowder man," which would be completely anachronistic, but probably, "the dust-covered," an epithet found in the early Middle Ages in relation to merchants), who was offered the Polish crown around the middle of the ninth century, before Piast, the first, legendary, Polish king, ascended to the throne. According to another legend, at the end of the ninth century a Jewish delegation in Germany appealed to Prince Leszek to admit them to Poland. The request was granted after prolonged questioning, and later on privileges were granted to the immigrants. Although almost certainly formulated in their present version in the 16th–17th centuries – at a time of fierce struggle between Jewish and Christian townsmen (see below) – the legends do transmit meaningful historic elements. Jews did first come to Poland as transient, dust-covered merchants, and they did come there to escape the suffering and pressure brought to bear on them in the lands of the German Empire. The theories of some historians, that place-names like Żydowo, Żydatycze, Żydowska Wola, and Kozarzów indicate the presence of Jewish villages and peasants and even the presence of Khazar settlements in the regions where they are found, have been thoroughly disproved. The first Jews that the Poles encountered must certainly have been traders, probably slave traders, of the type called in 12th-century Jewish sources Holekhei Rusyah (travelers to Russia). Some of them may have stayed for years in Poland, giving rise to the legends and fixing their dates. The chronicler Cosmas of Prague relates that the persecutions of the First Crusade caused Jews to move from *Bohemia to Poland in 1098. From this point undisputed and datable information on Jews in Poland begins to appear. According to the chronicler Vincent Kadlubek, under Boleslav iii heavy penalties were laid on those who harmed Jews bodily.

The first sizable groups and fixed communities of Jews settled and established themselves in the region of Silesia, then part of Polish society and culture but later Germanized. A large part of Jewish settlement in what was later consolidated as the kingdom of Poland came from Silesia, and a great proportion of the immigration from further west and from the southwest passed through it. As late as the 15th century Silesian Jewry kept its ties with Poland. Jewish settlement grew steadily, though at first slowly, in Polish principalities to the east of Silesia. Excavations in *Great Poland and near *Wloclawek have unearthed coins with Hebrew inscriptions issued under the princes Mieczyslaw iii (1173–1209), Casimir ii the Just (1177–94), Boleslav the Curly (1201), and Leszek the White (1205). Some inscriptions directly concern the ruler, like the Hebrew legend "Mieszko King of Poland" (משקא קרל פולסקי) or "Mieszko Duke" (משקא דוכוס); others include the names and titles of the Jewish *mintmasters, one of them even with its honorific title of *nagid; "of the [coining] house of Abraham the son of Isaac Nagid" (דבי אברהם בר יצחק נגיד); another showing that the Jewish mintmaster was settled in Poland: "Joseph [of] Kalisz" (יוסף קאליש). Minting money was an important social and economic function, and as some of the inscriptions indicate, these finds are evidence of a circle of rich and enterprising Jewish merchants in the principalities of great Poland and Mazovia in the 12th century, some of them in close contact with the princely courts, some priding themselves on their descent from old Jewish families or on their own role in Jewish leadership. Rulers were quick to realize what they could gain from such immigrants; in 1262 Prince Boleslav the Shy forbade a monastery in *Lesser Poland to take Jews under its sovereignty.

By that time, however, a new era had already begun in the history of the colonization of Poland in general and of the settlement of Jews in it in particular. From 1241 onward the Mongol invasions caused heavy losses in life and destruction to property in Poland. Subsequently, the princes of Poland eagerly sought immigrants from the west, mainly from Germany, and gave them energetic assistance to settle in the villages and towns. Various organized groups settled in the cities that were granted the privilege of living according to German Magdeburg *Law; thus Polish towns became prevailingly German in origin and way of life. Though the children of the immigrants became gradually Polonized, the traditions and social attitudes of the German town remained an active force and basic framework of town life in Poland of the 15th to 17th centuries. From the Jewish point of view the most important, and harmful, result of this basic attitude of the Polish towns was the tradition of the *guilds against competition and against new initiative in individual commercial enterprise and the activities of craftsmen. The townsmen also inherited a direct and bitter legacy of hatred of the Jews and the baleful and deeply rooted German image of the Jew.

Jews did not only come to Poland in the wake of the German Drang nach Osten, tracts of which are found in the 13th-century Sefer Ḥasidim, for instance, in the description of the creation of a new settlement in a primeval forest by Jews (Sefer Ḥasidim, ed. J. Wistinetzki (1924), 113, no. 371). For them the move was a continuation of and linking with earlier Jewish settlement in Poland. They also had compelling reasons stemming from the circumstances of their life in Western and Central Europe to leave their homes there and go to Poland-Lithuania. Their insecure position in this region was a compound of the atmosphere of fear and danger generated by the *Crusades, the insecurity of settlement caused by the *expulsions, the wave of massacres in Germany in particular between 1298 and 1348 (see *Rindfleisch; *Armleder; *Blood Libel; *Black Death; *Host, Desecration of), the insecurity and popular hatred in Germany and German-Bohemian-Moravian towns in the second half of the 14th century and the first half of the 15th, the tensions and dangers created by the *Hussite revolution and wars in Bohemia-Moravia and southern Germany in the early 15th century, and the worsening situation of Jews in the kingdoms of Christian Spain after the massacres of 1391. All these factors, combined with the success of the settlers in Poland-Lithuania, induced large and variegated groups of Jewish immigrants from various countries – Bohemia-Moravia, Germany, Italy, Spain, from colonies in the Crimea – to go to Poland-Lithuania long after the original German drive had died out. As Moses b. Israel *Isserles put it in the 16th century, "it is preferable to live on dry bread and in peace in Poland" than to remain in better conditions in lands more dangerous for Jews" (Responsa, no. 73). He even coined a pun on the Hebrew form of Poland (Polin), explaining it as deriving from two Hebrew words, poh lin ("here he shall rest").

The results of this immigration were evident almost immediately. In 1237 Jews are mentioned in Plock. The Jewish community of *Kalisz bought a cemetery in 1283, so it must have been organized some time before, as the fact that the first writ of privileges for Jews was issued in 1264 by the prince of Kalisz also tends to show (see below). A Judengasse (*Jewish Quarter) is mentioned in *Cracow in 1304, lying between the town market and the town walls, but there must have been a community in Cracow long before then for about 1234 "Rabbi Jacob Savra of Cracow that sits in Poland, a great scholar and fluent in the entire Talmud" put forward his own opinion against that of the greatest contemporary scholars of Germany and Bohemia. In 1356 there is a record of the Jewish community at *Lvov; in 1367 at *Sandomierz; in 1379 at *Poznan; in 1387 at Pyzdry; and about 1382 at *Lyuboml. In the grand duchy of Lithuania Jewish communities are found in the 14th century at *Brest-Litovsk (1388), *Grodno (1389), and *Troki (1398). The volume of immigration grew continuously. By the end of the 15th century more than 60 Jewish communities are known of in united Poland-Lithuania. They were dispersed from Wroclaw (*Breslau) and *Gdansk in the west to *Kiev and *Kamenets Podolski in the east. The number of Jews living in Poland by that date is greatly disputed: At the end of the 15th century there were between 20,000 and 30,000.

jewish legal status

The foundations of the legal position of the Jews in Poland were laid down in the 13th to 15th centuries. The basic "general charters" of Jews in Poland have their origin in the writ issued by Prince *Boleslav v the Pious of Kalisz in 1264. This "statute of Kalisz" (Pol. Statut kaliski) – as it is called in literature – was also an "immigrant" from the countries which Jews left to come to Poland, being based on the statute of Duke Frederick ii of Austria and on derivative statutes issued in Bohemia and Hungary. The Jews are seen, accepted, and defended as a group whose main business is *moneylending against pledges. With the unification of Poland into a kingdom, King *Casimir iii the Great strongly favored the Jewish element in the cities of Poland, the German element having proved untrustworthy under his father, the unifier of Poland, Ladislaus I Lokietek.

Casimir broadened the statute of Kalisz while ratifying it for the Jews of his kingdom (in 1334, 1364, and 1367). Yet basically the same conception of the Jews as *servi camerae regis and as protected moneylenders remains throughout. The legal status of the Jews changed considerably in Poland, but not through any central reinterpretation of their rights and standing, which remained in theory based on and conceived of in terms of the Boleslavian-Casimirian statutes, codified and ratified by King Casimir iv Jagello in 1453. Throughout the 14th century, there was opposition to Jews accepting landed property as security for loans; while throughout the 15th century town and church tried to insist that Jews should wear the distinctive *badge.

On several occasions these undercurrents broke out in sharp and violent decisions and action. During the Black Death "All Jews … almost throughout Poland were massacred" (omnes judaei … fere in tota Polonia deleti sunt; Stanislas of Olivia in his Chronica Olivska, for the year 1349). The martyrs were defined by German Jews as "the communities and kingdom of Cracow, its scholars and population" (S. Salfeld, Das Martyrologium des Nuernberger Memorbuches (1898), 82). By that time hatred of the Jews was also widespread among the nobility. In the statute of Lesser Poland of 1347, paragraph 26 claims that "the aim of the perfidious Jews is not so much to take their faith away from the Christians as to take away their wealth and property." In 1407 the Cracow populace was diverted by the spectacle of a Jewish moneylender being led through the streets adorned with a crown set with forged coins – he was accused of forging currency – to be horribly tortured and burned in public. The citizens of Cracow claimed as early as 1369 that the Jews were "dominating" the town and complained of their cruelty and perfidy. In the main King Ladislaus ii Jagello was hostile to Jews, though some of them were numbered among his financial and business agents, like Volchko, whom the king hoped in vain to bring over to Christianity.

Church circles were very active in their opposition to the Jews. Many priests and directors of monasteries, who had originally come from Germany, brought to Poland the hostile traditions concerning the city-dwelling accursed Jew. As early as 1267 the Polish Church Council of Wroclaw (Breslau) outlined its anti-Jewish policy; its main aim was to isolate the Jews as far as possible from the Christians, not only from the communion of friendship and table but also to separate them in quarters surrounded by a wall or a ditch: "for as up to now the land of Poland is newly grafted on to the Christian body, it is to be feared that the Christian people will more easily be misled by the superstitions and evil habits of the Jews that live among them" (quum adhuc Terra Polonica sit in corpore christianitatis nova plantatio, ne forte eo facilius populus christianus a cohabitantium Iudeorum superstitionibus et pravis moribus inficiatur; Aronius, Regesten, 302 no. 724). With various modifications, this was restated in subsequent Church councils. In the 15th century this ecclesiastical attitude found new and influential expression. Cardinal Zbigniew *Oleśnicki and the chronicler Jan *Długosz were the main leaders of the anti-Jewish faction. When Jewish representatives came to King Casimir iv Jagello to obtain the ratification of their charters, Oleśnicki opposed it vehemently. He invited to Poland "the scourge of the Jews," John of *Capistrano, fresh from his "success" in engineering a *Host desecration libel which resulted in the burning of many Jews and expulsion of the community of Wroclaw. In vain Capistrano tried to influence the king not to ratify the Jewish charters. Oleśnicki himself wrote to the king in support of his effort: "Do not imagine that in matters touching the Christian religion you are at liberty to pass any law you please. No one is great and strong enough to put down all opposition to himself when the interests of the faith are at stake. I therefore beseech and implore your royal majesty to revoke the aforementioned privileges and liberties. Prove that you are a Catholic sovereign, and remove all occasion for disgracing your name and for worse offenses that are likely to follow" (Monumenta Mediaevi, ed. Szugski, Codex Epistolaris s. xv, t. ii past posterior p. 147). As a result of this pressure, the Nieszawa statute of 1454 decreed the repeal of all Jewish charters, but the repeal was short-lived. Perhaps central to the definition of the status of the Jews was the decision of King Sigismund i in 1534 that the Jews need not carry any distinguishing mark on their clothing. Despite the contrary resolution of the Sejm (Diet) of *Piotrkow in 1538, the king's decision remained.

Major changes in the status of the Jews occurred throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, but they came about either through the issuance of particular writs of rights by kings for towns and communities – both in favor of Jews as well as to their detriment (e.g., the privilegia de non tolerandis judaeis given to many towns in Poland) – or through the action of various magnates, whose power was continuously growing in Poland in these centuries. Some of the latter, nicknamed Krolewięta ("kinglets"), granted Jews many and costly rights in the new municipal settlements they were erecting on their expansive estates – the "private townships" of Poland, so-called in distinction to the old "royal townships." To a slight degree, change resulted from the new economic activity of the Jews, mainly in the east and southeast of Poland-Lithuania, and their move toward colonization there.

The foundations of the legal status of the Jews in the grand duchy of Lithuania were laid by Grand Duke Vitold in writs of law granted to the Jews of Brest-Litovsk in 1388 and to the Jews of Grodno in 1389. Though formally based on the rights of the Jews of Lvov in Poland, in letter and spirit these charters reveal an entirely different conception of the place of Jews in society. The writ for the Grodno community states that "from the above-mentioned cemetery – in its present location as well as on ground that might be bought later – and also from the ground of their Jewish synagogue, no taxes whatsoever will have to be given to our treasury." Not only are the Jewish place of worship and cemetery tax free – a concession that indicates interest in having Jewish settlers in the town – but also "what is more, we permit them to hold whatever views they please in their homes and to prepare at their homes any kind of drink and to serve drinks brought from elsewhere on the condition that they pay to our treasury a yearly tax. They may trade and buy at the market, in shops and on the streets in full equality with the citizens; they may engage in any kind of craft." Thus, in granting the Jews complete freedom to trade and engage in any craft, the grand duke gave them economic equality with the Christian citizens. He also envisaged their having agricultural or partially agricultural occupations: "As to the arable lands as well as grazing lands, those that they have now, as well as those that they will buy later, they may use in full equality with the townspeople, paying like them to our treasury." The Jews are here considered as merchants, craftsmen, and desirable settlers in the developing city. As the grand duchy merged with Poland to an ever-increasing degree, in particular in the formal, legal, and social spheres, the basic concepts of the servi camerae also influenced the status of Lithuanian Jews (as was already hinted at in the formal reference to the rights and status of the Jews of Lvov). In spite of this, the general trend in Lithuanian towns and townships remained the same as that expressed in the late 16th-century charters. In 1495 the Jews were expelled from Lithuania. They were brought back in 1503: all their property was returned and opportunities for economic activity were restored.

Thus, on the threshold of the 16th century, the gradually merging grand duchy of Lithuania and kingdom of Poland had both a fully worked out legal concept of the status of the Jews. In Poland, the whole conception was medieval to the core: Legally and formally the attitude to the Jews remained unchanged from their first arrival from the west and southwest. In Lithuania, on the other hand, from the start the formal expressions reveal a conception of a Jewish "third estate,"

equal in economic opportunity to the Christian townspeople. Particular legal enactments in Poland took cognizance of the change in the economic role of the Jews in Polish society. In Lithuania the formal enactments were always suited to their economic role, and to a large extent the dynamics of 16th- and 17th-century development could be accommodated in the old legal framework.

economic activity

From the very first the Jews of Poland developed their economic activities through moneylending toward a greater variety of occupations and economic structures. Thus, by the very dynamics of its economic and social development, Polish Jewry constitutes a flat existential denial and factual contradiction of the antisemitic myth of "the Jewish spirit of usury." On the extreme west of their settlement in Poland, in Silesia, although they were mainly engaged in moneylending, Jews were also employed in agriculture. When the Kalisz community in 1287 bought a cemetery it undertook to pay for it in pepper and other Oriental wares, indicating an old connection with the trade in spices. As noted above, the Jewish mintmasters of the 12th century must undoubtedly have been large-scale traders. In 1327 Jews were an important element among the participants at the *Nowy Sacz fair. Throughout the 14th and 15th centuries Jews were occupied to a growing degree in almost every branch of trade pursued at that time. Jews from both the grand duchy of Lithuania and Poland traded in cloth, dyes, horses, and cattle (and on a fairly large scale). At the end of the 15th century they engaged in trade with Venice, Italy, with Kaffa (Feodosiya), and with other Genoese colonies in the Crimea, and with Constantinople. Lvov Jews played a central role in this trade, which in the late 15th and early 16th centuries developed into a large-scale land-transit trade between the Ottoman Empire and Christian Europe. Through their participation in this trade and their contacts with their brethren in the Ottoman Empire, many Jewish communities became vital links in a trade chain that was important to both the various Christian kingdoms and the Ottoman Empire. Lithuanian Jews participated to the full and on a considerable scale in all these activities, basing themselves both on their above-mentioned recognized role in Lithuanian civic society and on their particular opportunities for trade with the grand principality of *Moscow and their evident specialization in dyes and dyeing. Obviously, in all these activities, all links with Jewish communities in Central and Western Europe were beneficial.

During all this period Jews were engaged in moneylending, some of them (e.g., Jordanis *Lewko, his son Canaan, and Volchko) on a large scale. They made loans not only to private citizens but also to magnates, kings, and cities, on several occasions beyond the borders of Poland. The scope of their monetary operations at their peak may be judged by the fact that in 1428 King Ladislaus ii Jagello accused one of the Cracow city counselors of appropriating the fabulous sum of 500,000 zlotys which the Jews had supplied to the royal treasury.

To an increasing extent many of the Jewish moneylenders became involved in trade. They were considered by their lords as specialists in economic administration. In 1425 King Ladislaus ii Jagello charged Volchko – who by this time already held the Lvov customs lease – with the colonization of a large tract of land: "As we have great confidence in the wisdom, carefulness, and foresight of our Lvov customs-holder, the Jew Volchko … after the above-mentioned Jew Volchko has turned the above-mentioned wilderness into a human settlement in the village, it shall remain in his hands till his death." King Casimir Jagello entrusted to the Jew Natko both the salt mines of Drohobycz (*Drogobych) and the customs station of Grejdek, stating in 1452 that he granted it to him on account of his "industry and wisdom so that thanks to his ability and industry we shall bring in more income to our treasury." The same phenomenon is found in Lithuania. By the end of the 15th century, at both ends of the economic scale Jews in Poland were becoming increasingly what they had been from the beginning in Lithuania: a "third estate" in the cities. The German-Polish citizenry quickly became aware of this. By the end of the 15th century, accusations against the Jews centered on unfair competition in trade and crafts more than on harsh usury. Not only merchants but also Jewish craftsmen are mentioned in Polish cities from 1460 onward. In 1485 tension in Cracow was so high that the Jewish community was compelled to renounce formally its rights to most trades and crafts. Though this was done "voluntarily," Jews continued to pursue their living in every decent way possible. This was one of the reasons for their expulsion from Cracow to Kazimierz in 1495. However, the end of Jewish settlement in Cracow was far from the end of Jewish trade there; it continued to flourish and aggravate the Christian townspeople, as was the case with many cities (like *Lublin and *Warsaw) which had exercised their right de non tolerandis Judaeis and yet had to see Jewish economic activity flourishing at their fairs and in their streets.

cultural and social life

In Poland and Lithuania from the 13th century onward Jewish culture and society were much richer and more variegated than has been commonly accepted. Even before that, the inscriptions on the bracteate coins of the 12th century indicate talmudic culture and leadership traditions by the expressions used (rabbi, רַבִּי, nagid, נָגִיד). About 1234, as mentioned, Jacob Savra of Cracow was able to contradict the greatest talmudic authorities of his day in Germany and Bohemia. In defense of his case he "sent responsa to the far ends of the west and the south" (E.E. Urbach (ed.), in Sefer Arugat ha-Bosem, 4 (1963), 120–1). The author of Sefer Arugat ha-Bosem also quotes an interpretation and emendation that "I have heard in the name of Rabbi Jacob from Poland" (ibid., 3 (1962), 126). Moses Zaltman, the son of *Judah b. Samuel he-Ḥasid, states: "Thus I have been told by R. Isaac from Poland in the name of my father.… thus I have been told by R. Isaac from Russia.… R. Mordecai from Poland told me that my father said" (Ms. Cambridge 669. 2, fol. 69 and 74). This manuscript evidence

proves conclusively that men from Poland and from southern Russia (which in the 13th century was part of the grand duchy of Lithuania) were close disciples of the leader of the *Ḥasidei Ashkenaz. The names of Polish Jews in the 14th century show curious traces of cultural influence; besides ordinary Hebrew names and names taken from the German and French – brought by the immigrants from the countries of their origin – there are clearly Slavonic names like Lewko, Jeleń, and Pychacz and women's names like Czarnula, Krasa, and even Witoslawa. Even more remarkable are the names of Lewko's father, Jordan, and Lewko's son, Canaan or Chanaan, which indicate a special devotion to Ereẓ Israel.

By the 15th century, relatively numerous traces of social and cultural life in the Polish communities can be found. In a document from April 4, 1435, that perhaps, preserves the early *Yiddish of the Polish Jews, the writer, a Jew of Breslau, addresses "the Lord King of Poland my Lord." The closing phrases of the letter indicate his Jewish culture: "To certify this, have I, the above mentioned Jekuthiel, appended my Jewish seal to this letter with full knowledge. Given in Breslau, on the first Monday of the month Nisan, in Jewish reckoning five thousand years and a hundred years and to that hundred the ninety-fifth year after the beginning and creation of all creatures except God Himself " (M. Brann, Geschichte der Juden in Schlesien, 3 (1901), Anhang 4, p. lviii).

(דש צו בקינטניש האבע איך אֵי גננטר יקותיאל מיין יודיש זיגל אנ דיזן בדיבֿא מיט רעכטר ווישן גהאנגן. גגעבן צו בריסלא אנדעמא אירשטן מאנטאג דש מאנדש ניֿסן איין יידישר צאל בֿונץ טאוזנט יאר אינ הונדרט יאר אונ דר צו אין צעמא בֿינווא אונ׳ נויינציקשטן יאר נאך אנבגינן אונ' שיפֿפונגא אללר קריאטייר זונצו גוטא אליין)

Though Israel b. Ḥayyim *Bruna said of the Jews of Cracow, "they are not well versed in Torah" (Responsa, no. 55, fol. 23b), giving this as his reason for not adducing lengthy talmudic arguments in his correspondence with them, he was writing to one of his pupils who claimed sole rabbinical authority and income in the community of Poznan (ibid., no. 254, fol. 103b). Israel b. Pethahiah *Isserlein of Austria writes, "my beloved, the holy community of Poznan." Two parties in this community – the leadership, whom Isserlein calls "you, the holy community," and an individual – were quarreling about taxation and Isserlein records that both sides submitted legal arguments in support of their cases (Terumat ha-Deshen, Pesakim u-Khetavim, no. 144). Great scholars like Yom Tov Lipmann *Muelhausen, who came to Cracow at the end of the 14th century, and Moses b. Isaac Segal *Mintz, who lived at Poznan in 1475, must certainly have left traces of their cultural influence there. Some of the responsa literature contains graphic descriptions of social life. "A rich man from Russia" – either the environs of Lvov in Poland or of Kiev in Lithuania – asked Israel Bruna, "If it is permissible to have a prayer shawl of silk in red or green color for Sabbath and the holidays" (Responsa, no. 73, fol. 32b), a desire fitting a personality of the type of Volchko. Something of the way of life of "the holy company of Lvov" can be seen from the fact that their problem was the murder of one Jew by another in the Ukrainian city of *Pereyaslav-Khmelnitski. As the victim lay wounded on the ground, a third Jew, Naḥman, called out to the murderer, Simḥah: "Hit Nisan till death" and so he was killed by being beaten on his head as he lay there wounded. The victim was a totally ignorant man, "he couldn't recognize a single [Hebrew] letter and has never in his life put on tefillin." The murderer was drunk at the time and the victim had started the quarrel; they were all in a large company of Jews (ibid., no. 265, fol. 110a–b). The rough social and cultural climate of Jewish traders in the Ukraine in the middle of the 15th century is here in evidence. Moses Mintz describes from his own experience divorce customs in the region of Poznan (Responsa (Salonika, 1802), no. 113, fol. 129b). He also describes interesting wedding customs in Poland which differed in many details from those of Germany: "when they accompany the bride and bridegroom to the ḥuppah they sing on the way … they give the bridegroom the cup and he throws it down, puts his foot on it and breaks it, but they pour out the wine from the cup before they give it to the bridegroom. They have also the custom of throwing a cock and also a hen over the head of the bride and bridegroom above the canopy after the pronouncing of the wedding blessings" (ibid., no. 109, fol. 127a). Thus, in the western and central parts of Poland there is evidence of an established and well developed culture and some learning, contrasting sharply with the rough and haphazard existence of Jews living southwards from Lvov to Pereyaslav-Khmelnitski.

Jewish culture in Poland and in Lithuania seems to have had a certain rationalist, "Sephardi" tinge, as evidenced both by outside reports and by certain tensions appearing in the second half of the 16th century. At the beginning of the 16th century the Polish chronicler Maciej Miechowicz relates that in Lithuania, "the Jews use Hebrew books and study sciences and arts, astronomy and medicine" (Tractatus de duabus Sarmatiis (1517), ii: 1, 3). The cardinal legate Lemendone also notes that Lithuanian Jews of the 16th century devote time to the study of "literature and science, in particular astronomy and medicine." At the end of the 15th century, Lithuanian Jews took part in the movement of the *Judaizers in Muscovite Russia, whose literature shows a marked influence of rationalistic Jewish works and anti-Christian arguments. The Jewish community of Kiev – in the 15th and early 16th centuries within the grand duchy of Lithuania – was praised by a Crimean Karaite in 1481 for its culture and learning. In about 1484 another Karaite, Joseph b. Mordecai of Troki, wrote a letter to Elijah b. Moses *Bashyazi (Mann, Texts, 2 (1935), 1149–59) telling about a disputation on calendar problems between him and "the Rabbanites who live here in Troki, Jacob Suchy of Kaffa (Feodosiya) and Ozer the physician of Cracow" (ibid., 1150). He closes his letter with ideas showing a decided rationalist tendency, "The quality of the sermon will be through the quality of the subject, therefore as we have none such more important than the Torah, for in it there is this teaching that brings man straight to his scientific and social success and the chief of its considerations is that man should achieve his utmost perfection, which is spiritual success; and this will happen when he attains such rational concepts as the soul, the active reason, can attain, for the relation between a phenomenon and its causes is a necessary relation, i.e., the relation of the separate reason to the material reason is like the relation of light to sight" (ibid., 1159).

In Poland a dispute between two great scholars of the 16th century – Solomon *Luria and Moses *Isserles – brings to the surface elements of an earlier rationalist culture. Luria accuses yeshivah students of using "the prayer of Aristotle" and accuses Isserles of "mixing him with words of the living God … [considering] that the words of this unclean one are precious and perfume to Jewish sages" (Isserles, Responsa, no. 6). Isserles replies: "All this is still a poisonous root in existence, the legacy from their parents from those that tended to follow the philosophers and tread in their steps. But I myself have never seen nor heard up till now such a thing, and, but for your evidence, I could not have believed that there was still a trace of these conceptions among us" (ibid., no. 7). Writing around the middle of the 16th century, Isserles tells unwittingly of a philosophizing trend prevalent in Poland many years before. A remarkable case of how extreme rationalist conceptions gave way to more mystic ones can be seen in Isserles' pupil, Abraham b. Shabbetai *Horowitz. Around 1539 he sharply rebuked the rabbi of Poznan, who believed in demons and opposed *Maimonides: "As to what this ass said, that it is permissible to study Torah only, this is truly against what the Torah says, 'Ye shall keep and do for it is your wisdom and understanding in the eyes of the gentiles.' For even if we shall be well versed in all the arcana of the Talmud, the gentiles will still not consider us scholars; on the contrary, all the ideas of the Talmud, its methods and sermons, are funny and derisible in the eyes of the gentiles. If we know no more than the Talmud we shall not be able to explain the ideas and exegetical methods of the Talmud in a way that the gentiles will like – this stands to reason" (see mgwj, 47 (1903), 263). Yet this same man rewrote his rationalistic commentary on a work by Maimonides to make it more amenable to traditionalistic and mystic thought, declaring in the second version, "The first uproots, the last roots." Later trends and struggles in Jewish culture in Poland and Lithuania are partly traceable to this early and obliterated rationalistic layer (see below).

Polish victories over the Teutonic Order in the west and against Muscovite and Ottoman armies in the east and southeast led to a great expansion of Poland-Lithuania from the second half of the 16th century. In this way Poland-Lithuania gained a vast steppeland in the southeast, in the Ukraine, fertile but unpacified and unreclaimed, and great stretches of arable land and virgin forest in the east, in Belorussia. The agricultural resources in the east were linked to the center through the river and canal systems and to the sea outlet in the west through land routes. These successes forged a stronger link between the various strata of the nobility (Pol. szlachta) as well as between the Polish and Lithuanian nobility. In 1569 the Union of Lublin cemented and formalized the unity of Poland-Lithuania, although the crown of Poland and the grand duchy of Lithuania kept a certain distinctness of character and law, which was also apparent in the *Councils of the Lands and in the culture of the Jews (see below). With the union, Volhynia and the Ukraine passed from the grand duchy to the crown. The combined might of Poland-Lithuania brought about a growing pacification of these southeastern districts, offering a possibility of their colonization which was eagerly seized upon by both nobility and peasants.

1569–1648: colonization of the ukraine

The Polish nobility, which became the dominant element in the state, was at that time a civilized and civilizing factor. Fermenting with religious thought and unrest which embraced even the most extreme anti-trinitarians; warlike and at the same time giving rise to small groups of extreme anarchists and pacifists; more and more attracted by luxury, yet for most

Wojewódstwo Before 1569 c. 1648
(district) Places Numbers Places Numbers
Total24c. 4,00011551,325

of the period developing rational – even if often harsh – methods of land and peasant exploitation; despising merchandise yet very knowledgeable about money and gain – this was the nobility that, taking over the helm of state and society, developed its own estates in the old lands of Poland-Lithuania and the vast new lands in the east and southeast. Jews soon became the active and valued partners of this nobility in many enterprises. In the old "royal cities" – even in central places like Cracow, which expelled the Jews in 1495, and *Warsaw, which had possessed a privilegium de non tolerandis Judaeis since 1527 – Jews were among the great merchants of clothing, dyes, and luxury products, in short, everything the nobility desired. Complaints from Christian merchants as early as the beginning of the 16th century, attacks by urban antisemites like Sebastian *Miczyński and Przecław *Mojecki in the 17th century, and above all internal Jewish evidence all point to the success of the Jewish merchant. The Jew prospered in trade even in places where he could not settle, thanks to his initiative, unfettered by guilds, conventions, and preconceived notions. The kesherim, the council of former office holders in the Poznan community, complain about the excessive activity of Jewish intermediaries, "who cannot stay quiet; they wait at every corner, in every place, at every shop where silk and cloth is sold, and they cause competition through influencing the buyers by their speech and leading them to other shops and other merchants." The same council complains about "those unemployed" people who sit all day long from morning till evening before the shops of gentiles – of spice merchants, clothes merchants, and various other shops – "and the Christian merchants complain and threaten." There was even a technical term for such men, tsuvayzer, those who point the way to a prospective seller (Pinkas Hekhsherim shel Kehillat Pozna, ed. D. Avron (1966), 187–8 no. 1105, 250 no. 1473, 51 no. 1476). Miczyński gives a bitter description of the same phenomenon in Cracow in 1618. Large-scale Jewish trade benefited greatly from the trader's connections with their brethren both in the Ottoman Empire and in Germany and Western Europe. It was also linked to a considerable extent with the *arenda system and its resulting great trade in the export of agricultural products.

Through the arenda system Jewish settlements spread over the country, especially in the southeast. Between 1503 and 1648 there were 114 Jewish communities in the Ukraine, some on the eastern side of the River Dnieper and list by S. Ettinger, in Zion, 21 (1956), 114–8); many of these were tiny. The table Growth of Jewish Settlement shows the main outlines of the dynamics of Jewish settlement in these regions of colonization (ibid., p. 124).

The further the move east and southward, the greater the relative growth in numbers and population. The Jewish arenda holders, traders, and peddlers traveled and settled wherever space and opportunity offered.

Life in these districts was strenuous and often harsh. The manner of Jewish life in the Ukraine, which as we have already seen was uncouth, was both influenced and channeled through Jewish participation in the defense of newly pacified land. Meir b. Gedaliah of Lublin relates "what happened to a luckless man, ill, and tortured by pain and suffering from epilepsy.… When there was an alarm in Volhynia because of the Tatars – as is usual in the towns of that district – when each one is obliged to be prepared, with weapon in hand, to go to war and battle against them at the command of the duke and the lords; and it came to pass that when the present man shot with his weapon, called in German Buechse, from his house through the window to a point marked for him on a rope in his courtyard to try the weapon as sharpshooters are wont to do, then a man came from the market to the above mentioned courtyard … and he was killed [by mistake]." The rabbi goes on to tell that a Christian, the instructor and commander of this Jew, was standing in front of the courtyard to warn people not to enter. The Jew was "living among the gentiles in a village" with many children (Meir b. Gedaliah of Lublin, Responsa, no. 43). There is reference to an enterprising group of Jews who went to Moscow with the armies of the Polish king during war, selling liquor (one of them had two cartloads) and other merchandise to the soldiers (ibid., no. 128). Among the Cossack units there was a Jew about whom his Cossack colleagues "complained to God … suddenly there jumped out from amongst our ranks a Jew who was called Berakhah, the son of the martyr Aaron of Cieszewiec." This Jew was not the only one in the ranks of the Cossacks, for – to allow his wife to marry – one of the witnesses says that "he knew well that in this unit there was not another Jewish fighter who was called Berakhah" (ibid., no. 137). Life in general was apt to be much more violent than is usually supposed: Even at Brest-Litovsk, when the rebbe of the community saw a litigant nearing his door, he seized a heavy box and barricaded himself in for fear of harm (ibid., no. 44).

Arenda did more than give a new basis to the existence of many Jewish families; it brought the Jews into contact with village life and often combined with aspects of their internal organizational structure. Thus, the Jew Nahum b. Moses, as well as renting the mills, the tavern, and the right of preparing beer and brandy, also rented for one year all milk produce of the livestock on the manors and villages. Elaborate and complicated arrangements were made for payment and collection of these milk products (S. Inglot, in: Studja z historji społecznej i gospodarczej poświęcone prof. Franciszkowi Bujakowi (1931), 179–82; cf. 205, 208–9). In contact with village life, the Jew sometimes formed a sentimental attachment to his neighbors and his surroundings. In 1602 a council of leaders of Jewish communities in Volhynia tried to convince Jewish arendars to let the peasants rest on Saturday though the Polish nobleman would certainly have given them the right to compel them to work: "If the villagers are obliged to work all the week through, he should let them rest on Sabbath and the Holy Days throughout. See, while living in exile and under the Egyptian yoke, our parents chose this Saturday for a day of rest while they were not yet commanded about it, and heaven helped them to make it a day of rest for ever. Therefore, where gentiles are under their authority they are obliged to fulfill the commandment of the Torah and the order of the sages not to come, God forbid, to be ungrateful [livot לִבְעֹט] to the One who has given them plenty of good by means of the very plenty he has given them. Let God's name be sanctified by them and not defiled" (H.H. Ben-Sasson, in Zion, 21 (1956), 205).

The interests of the Jews and Polish magnates coincided and complemented each other in one most important aspect of the economic and social activity of the Polish-Lithuanian nobility. On their huge estates the nobles began to establish and encourage the development of new townships, creating a network of "private towns." Because of the nature of their relationship with their own peasant population they were keen to attract settlers from afar, and Jews well suited their plans. The tempo and scale of expansion were great; in the grand duchy of Lithuania alone in the first half of the 17th century between 770 and 900 such townships (miasteczki) existed (S. Aleksandrowicz, in: Roczniki dziejów społecznych i gospodarczych, 27 (1965), 35–65). For their part, the Jews, who were hard pressed by the enmity of the populace in the old royal cities, gladly moved to places where they sometimes became the majority, in some cases even the whole, of the population. Since these were situated near the hinterland of agricultural produce and potential customers, Jewish initiative and innovation found a new outlet. Through charters granted by kings and magnates to communities and settlers in these new towns, the real legal status of the Jews gradually changed very much for the better. By the second half of the 17th century everywhere in Poland Jews had become part of "the third estate" and in some places and in some respects the only one.

Jews continued to hold customs stations openly in Lithuania, in defiance of the wishes of their leaders in Poland (see Councils of the Lands). Many custom station ledgers were written in Hebrew script and contained Hebrew terms (see R. Mahler, in yivo Historishe Shriftn, 2 (1937), 180–205). Sometimes a Jew is found with a "sleeping partner," a Pole or Armenian in whose name the customs lease has been taken out. That some customs stations were in Jewish hands was also of assistance to Jewish trade.

This complex structure of large-scale export and import trade, the active and sometimes adventurous participation in the colonization of the Ukraine and in the shaping of the "private cities," in the fulfilling of what today we would call state economic functions, created for the first time in the history of Ashkenazi Jewry a broad base of population, settlement distribution, and means of livelihood, which provided changed conditions for the cultural and religious life of Jews. Even after the destruction wrought by the *Chmielnicki massacres enough remained to form the nucleus of later Ashkenazi Jewry. The later style of life in the Jewish *shtetl was based on achievements and progress made at this time.

internal jewish life

The Councils of the Lands, the great superstructure of Jewish *autonomy, were an outgrowth of such dynamics of economy and settlement. Beginning with attempts at centralized leaderships imposed from above, appointed by the king, they ended with a central elected Jewish leadership. The aims, methods, and institutions of this leadership were intertwined with the new economic structure. Great fairs – notably those of Lublin and Jaroslaw – since they attracted the richest and most active element of the Jewish population, also served as the meeting place of the councils. Throughout its existence the Council of the Province of Lithuania cooperated with its three (later five) leading communities through a continuous correspondence with them and between each of them and the smaller communities under its authority. Here the council was adapting the organizational methods of large-scale trade to the leadership structure. The concern of the councils with the new economic phenomena, like arenda, is well known. They also concerned themselves with matters of security and morals which arose from the thin spread of Jewish families in Christian townships and villages. On the whole, up to 1648 a sense of achievement and creativity pervades their enterprises and thought. A preacher of that time, Jedidiah b. Israel *Gottlieb, inveighed against a man's gathering up riches for his children, using the argument of the self-made man: "The land is wide open, let them be mighty in it, settle and trade in it, then they will not be sluggards, lazy workers, children relying on their father's inheritance, but they themselves will try … to bring income to their homes, in particular because every kind of riches coming through inheritance does not stay in their hands … easy come, easy go.… through their laziness … they have to be admonished … to be mighty in the land through their trading: their strength and might shall bring them riches" (Shir Yedidut (Cracow, 1644), Ẓeidah la-Derekh, fol. 24a).

This buoyancy was based on a continuous growth of population throughout the 16th and the first half of the 17th centuries, due both to a steady natural increase thanks to improving conditions of life and to immigration from abroad resulting from persecution and expulsions (e.g., that from Bohemia-Moravia for a short period in 1542). As noted, the growth was most intensive in the eastern and southeastern areas of Poland-Lithuania, and it was distributed through the growing dispersion of Jews in the "private cities" and in the villages. At the end of the 16th century, Great Poland and Masovia (Mazowsze) contained 52 communities, Lesser Poland 41, and the Ukraine, Volhynia, and Podolia about 80; around 1648, the latter region had 115 communities. From about 100,000 persons in 1578 the Jewish population had grown to approximately 300,000 around 1648. It is estimated that the Jews formed about 2.5–3% of the entire population of Poland, but they constituted between 10% and 15% of the urban population in Poland and 20% of the same in Lithuania.

The dynamics of Jewish economic life are evident not only in the variety and success of their activities, but also in certain specific institutions and problems that reveal the tension behind their strain for economic goals which tended to entail risks. By the end of the 16th century, Jews were borrowers rather than lenders. Seventeenth-century antisemites – Miczyński and Mojecki – accused Jews of borrowing beyond their means and deceiving Christian lenders. From their accusations it is clear that much of this credit was not in ready cash but in goods given to Jewish merchants on credit. Borrowing was a real problem with which the Jewish leadership was much concerned. Many ordinances of the Councils of the Lands, of the provincial councils, and of single communities are preoccupied with preventing and punishing bankruptcy. Great efforts were devoted to prevent non-payment of debts to Christians in particular. Young men who were building up a family were especially suspected of reaching beyond their means. These ordinances tell in their own way the story of a burgeoning economy which is strained to dangerous limits, inciting in particular the young and the daring. A good name for credit was then a matter of life and death for the Jewish merchant. The great halakhist Solomon Luria was prepared to waive an ancient talmudic law in favor of the lender because "now most of the living of the Jews is based on credit; whereas most of those called merchants have little of their own and what they have in their hands is really taken from gentiles on credit for a fixed period – for they take merchandise [on credit] till a certain date – it is not seemly for a judge to sequester the property of a merchant, for news of this may spread and he will lose the source of his living and all his gentile creditors will come on him together and he will be lost, God forbid, and merchants will never trust him again. I myself have seen and heard about many merchants – circumcised and uncircumcised – to whom, because people said about them that they are a risk, much harm was caused and they never again could stand at their posts" (Yam shel Shelomo, Bava Kamma, ch. 1, para. 20). Because of the importance of credit the practice of a Jew lending on interest to another Jew became widespread in Poland-Lithuania despite the fact that it was contrary to Jewish law (see *usury). This necessitated the creation there of the legal fiction of hetter iskah, formulated by a synod of rabbis and leaders under the chairmanship of Joshua b. Alexander ha-Kohen *Falk in 1607. Widespread credit also led to the use of letters of credit specific to the Jews of Poland, the so-called *mamram (Pol. membrana, membran; Heb. ממרמ״א, ממרים, ממרנ״י, in initials: מ״מ, ממ״א): the Jew would sign on one side of the paper and write on the other side "this letter of credit obliges the signed overleaf for amount x to be paid on date y."

Jewish cultural and social life flourished hand in hand with the economic and demographic growth. In the 16th and early 17th centuries Poland-Lithuania became the main center of Ashkenazi culture. Its *yeshivot were already famous at the beginning of the 16th century; scholars like *Ḥayyim b. Bezalel of Germany and David b. Solomon *Gans of Prague were the pupils of *Shalom Shakhna of Lublin and Moses Isserles of Cracow, respectively. Mordecai b. Abraham *Jaffe; Abraham, Isaiah, and Jacob b. Abraham *Horowitz; Eliezer b. Elijah *Ashkenazi; *Ephraim Solomon b. Aaron Luntshits; and Solomon Luria were only a few of the great luminaries of talmudic scholarship and moralistic preaching in Poland-Lithuania of that time. Councils of the Lands and community ordinances show in great detail if not the reality at least the ideal of widespread Torah study supported by the people in general. This culture was fraught with great social and moral tensions. Old Ashkenazi ascetic ideas did not sit too well on the affluent and economically activist Polish-Lithuanian Jewish society. Meetings with representatives of the Polish *Reformation movement, in particular with groups and representatives of the anti-trinitarian wing like Marcin Czechowic or Szymon *Budny, led to disputations and reciprocal influence. Outstanding in these contacts on the Jewish side was the Karaite Isaac b. Abraham *Troki, whose Ḥizzuk Emunah sums up the tensions in Jewish thought in the divided Christian religious world of Poland-Lithuania. It was Moses Isserles who formulated the Ashkenazi modifications and additions to the code of the Sephardi Joseph Caro. Isaiah b. Abraham ha-Levi *Horowitz summed up in his Shenei Luhot ha-Berit the moral and mystic teaching of the upper circles of Ashkenazi Jewry. Yet his writings, and even more so the writings of Isserles, give expression to the tensions and compromises between rationalism and mysticism, between rich and poor, between leadership and individual rights. To all these tensions, Ephraim Solomon Luntshits gave sharp voice in his eloquent sermons, standing always on the side of the poor against the rich and warning consistently against the danger of hypocrisy and self-righteousness. Fortified and wooden synagogues expressed the needs and the aesthetic sense of Jewish society of that time. In the old "royal cities" magnificent synagogue buildings were erected as early as the 16th century (e.g., the Rema synagogue at Cracow and the Great Synagogue of Lvov). Hebrew manuscripts were brought from abroad and some of them illuminated in Poland. Jewish printing developed early and many beautiful works were published. Various sources describe carnival-like Purim celebrations, and the fun, irony, and joy of life expressed in now lost folk songs and popular games and dramas.

from chmielnicki to the first partition

The *Chmielnicki revolt and massacres of 1648–49, the Tatar incursions from Crimea, and the subsequent war with Moscow combined with the Swedish War to bring on the Jews of

Region Percentage of communities of less than 500 Percentage of communities of more than 500
Great Poland91.78.3
Lesser Poland76.523.5
Region Arenda and Alcoholic Beverages Trade Transportation Crafts Professions Unspec.
Great Poland1.86.141.712.438.0
Lesser Poland3.

Poland-Lithuania approximately 30 years of bloodshed, destruction, and suffering. Thousands were killed, thousands forced to adopt Christianity. At the end of these convulsions, Poland-Lithuania had lost much territory in the east which of course was also lost for Jewish life and settlement. Thousands of refugees thronged westward, bringing heavy pressure to bear on charity and the very structure of Jewish society. The arrangements of the Councils of the Lands to prevent competition for arenda had to stand the severe test of diminished opportunities and increasing demand. Contemporary figures like Nathan Nata *Hannover saw in this catastrophe a fissure in Jewish life and institutions, as indicated by the tenor of his chronicle, Yeven Metsulah. In reality, Jewish cultural and social life in the second half of the 17th century and in the 18th continued to a considerable extent along the lines developed in the great era of the 16th and first half of the 17th centuries. Recent research has shown that *Pinsk, a community in the east of Lithuania, recovered from its troubles more completely and at greater speed than had been known before. But the dynamism had gone out of institutions and activities; inertia set in. Much that had been full of imminent promise of development and change before the disasters tended now to be petrified. Tensions that had been submerged in the buoyant pre-Chmielnicki times became more open, causing dissension and revolt. The councils and communities were burdened with the growing debts incurred mostly to meet unexpected demands for defense against multiplying libels and massacres, but at the same time the oligarchic structure within the community and the councils and the dominating attitude adopted by the larger communities toward the smaller ones – in Lithuania in particular – caused the lower strata of the population and the members of the smaller communities to suspect their intentions and greatly resent the increasingly heavy tax burden. Jewish economic activity continued to develop, though Jews in the "private towns" and on arenda in the villages came to feel more and more the heavy and capricious hand of the Polish nobles, who by that period had lost the vigor of earlier times and become tyrannical, petty lords.

Despite the loss of territory and the worsening of conditions, the Jewish population in Poland-Lithuania continued to grow both absolutely and, from many aspects, in its relative strength in the country. With the abolition of the Councils of the Lands in 1764, a census of the Jewish population was taken. Jews tried to evade being counted by any means available for they were certain that the purpose of the census was to impose heavier taxation on them, as they had every reason to suspect the intentions of the authorities. For this reason at least 20% should be added to the official figures. Accordingly in 1764 there were 749,968 Jews over a year old in Poland-Lithuania: 548,777 of them in Poland and 201,191 in Lithuania; 16.5% of the Jewish population of Poland lived in western Poland, 23.5% in Lesser Poland, and 60% in the Ukraine and neighboring districts; in Lithuania 77% lived in the western part and only 23% in the eastern, Belorussian districts. Taking into account the overall population of Poland, it can be seen that the concentration of Jewish population had shifted eastward in the 18th century to an even greater extent than in the early and successful 17th century. The census also shows that Jews lived mostly in small communities. (See Table 2: Distribution of Jews in Poland.)

As the entire Christian urban population of Poland-Lithuania was estimated at that time to be about half a million, and as the Jews were concentrated mainly in the townships and "private towns," there emerges a clear picture of a predominantly Jewish population in the smaller Polish-Lithuanian urban centers, at least 70% to 90% in many of these places.

The economic structure of the Jewish population at this time is shown in Table 3.

Although the predominance of unspecified professions does indicate the impoverishment of the Jews, it is largely an aspect of the evasive attitude toward the census. As this table does not include the village Jews, among whom the occupations of arenda and the production and sale of alcoholic beverages certainly predominated, only the following economic conclusions can be drawn with certainty: A considerable proportion of the Jews were engaged in crafts, and arenda and alcoholic beverages became more important as sources of livelihood as the Jews moved eastward and into villages (according to R. Mahler, Yidn in Amolikn Poyln in Likht fun Tsifern, 1958).

The Jewish population of Poland-Lithuania was still seething with creativity and movement in the 18th century. The messianic claims of *Shabbetai Ẓevi not only stirred the masses of Jews in 1665–66 but also left a deep impression on later generations. This is evident in the suspicion expressed about itinerant *maggidim (it was also demanded that they be supervised), who were suspected of disseminating heretical and critical ideas. The personality and movement of Jacob *Frank made the greatest impact on the distressed population of Podolia, in the extreme southeast. From the same region too arose *Israel b. Eliezer Ba'al Shem Tov and the movement of *Ḥasidism he originated. Talmudic scholarship and traditional ways of life, which continued to flourish throughout the period, found a supreme exemplar in the vigorous personality and influence of *Elijah b. Solomon Zalman, the Gaon of Vilna, and in the way of life and culture originated by him and his circle in the Mitnaggedic Lithuanian yeshivot. At that time too the first influences of *Haskalah and *assimilation began to appear in Poland-Lithuania.

With the partitions of Poland (beginning in 1772), the history of ancient Jewish Poland-Lithuania comes to an end. During the agony of the Polish state, several of its more enlightened leaders – e.g., H. Kołłąntaj and T. *Czacki – tried to "improve the Jews," i.e., improve their legal and social status in the spirit of western and European enlightened absolutism. With the dismemberment of Poland-Lithuania, their belated efforts remained suspended. Even when broken up and dispersed, Polish-Lithuanian Jewry was not only the majority and the cultural source of Jewish society in czarist Russia, but those elements of it which came under Prussia and Austria also served later as the reservoir of Jewish spirit and manpower which resisted the ravages of assimilation and apostasy in the German and Austrian communities in the late 18th and 19th centuries.

[Haim Hillel Ben-Sasson]

after partition

The geographic entity "Poland" in this part of the article refers to that area of the Polish commonwealth which, by 1795, had been divided between Austria and Prussia and which subsequently constituted the basis of the grand duchy of Warsaw, created in 1807. Following the Congress of *Vienna in 1815 much of this area was annexed to the Russian Empire as the semi-autonomous Kingdom of Poland, also known as Congress Poland. The kingdom constituted the core of ethnic Poland, the center of Polish politics and culture, and an economic area of great importance. It is to be distinguished from Austrian Poland (Galicia), Prussian Poland (Poznan, Silesia, and Pomerania), and the Russian northwestern region also known as Lithuania-Belorussia.

During and after the partitions the special legal status enjoyed by the Jews in Poland-Lithuania came under attack – while disabilities remained, efforts were made to break down the Jews' separateness and transform them into "useful" citizens. This new notion, brought to Poland from the west and championed by Polish progressives with the support of the tiny number of progressive Jews, advocates of the Haskalah, was clearly expressed during the debates on the Jewish question at the Four-Year Sejm (1788–92). The writings of H. Kołłąntaj and M. *Butrymowicz demanded the reform of Jewish life, meaning an end to special institutions and customs (from the kahal to the Jewish beard), sentiments to be expressed later on

Year Number of Jews Percentage
Year Number of Jews Percentage

by S. Staszic and A.J. *Czartoryski. The attack on "l'état dans l'état" as Czartoryski put it in 1815, was accompanied by an attack against Jewish economic practices in the village, which, it was claimed, oppressed and corrupted the peasantry. From Butrymowicz, writing in 1789, to the writings of Polish liberals and Jewish assimilationists in the inter-war period, there runs a common assumption: the Jews suffer because they persist in their separateness – let them become like Poles and both they and Poland will prosper. This assumption was also shared by many antisemites of the non-racist variety.

Some effort was made during the 19th century to implement this belief. For example, the kahal, symbol of Jewish self-government, was abolished in 1822, and a special tax on Jewish liquor dealers forced many to abandon their once lucrative profession. On the other hand Jews were encouraged to become agriculturalists and were granted, in 1826, a modern rabbinical seminary which was supposed to produce enlightened spiritual leaders. Moreover, in 1862 the Jews of Poland were "emancipated," meaning that special Jewish taxes were abolished and, above all, that restrictions on residence (Jewish ghettos and privilegium de non tolerandis Judaeis) were removed. Nonetheless, the legal antisemitism of Russia's last czars was also introduced into Poland: in 1891 aspects of N. *Ignatiev's *May Laws were extended to Congress Poland, resulting in the expulsion of many Jews from the villages, and in 1908 school quotas (*numerus clausus) were officially implemented. In sum, during the 19th and early 20th centuries the policy of the carrot and the stick was employed. By the end of the pre-World War i era the stick had prevailed, making the legal status of Polish Jewry nearly identical to that of Russian Jewry. The efforts to assimilate Polish Jewry by legislation aimed at making it more productive and less separatist had virtually no impact on the Jewish masses.

The "Jewish question" in Poland and the legal efforts to deal with it were to a certain extent the result of the Jews' special demographic and economic structure. From the demographic point of view two striking tendencies may be observed. First, the natural increase of Polish Jews was greater than that of non-Jews, at least during most of the 19th century, leading to an increasing proportion of Jews within the population as a whole. In 1816 Jews constituted 8.7% of the population of the kingdom; in 1865, 13.5%. In 1897, despite the effects of large-scale Jewish emigration, 14 out of every 100 Polish citizens were Jews. This increase, attributable in part to the low Jewish death rate, was accompanied by the rapid urbanization of Polish Jewry. A few examples may suffice to illustrate this important process. Table 4 demonstrates the growth of Warsaw Jewry, where restrictions on residence were not entirely lifted until 1862.

A similar trend is found in Lodz, the kingdom's second city (see Table 5).

This remarkable urbanization – the result of government pressure, a crisis in the traditional Jewish village professions, and the economic attractions of the growing commercial and industrial centers – had the following impact on the Jewish population: In 1827, according to the research of A. Eisenbach, 80.4% of the Jews lived in cities and the rest in villages, while in 1865 fully 91.5% of Polish Jewry lived in cities. In the same year 83.6% of the non-Jewish population lived in the countryside. As early as 1855 Jews constituted approximately 43% of the entire urban population of the kingdom, and in those cities where there were no restrictions on Jewish settlement the figure reached 57.2%. The Jews, traditionally scattered, could claim with some justification that, by the end of the century, the cities were their "territory."

This demographic tendency meant that the traditional Jewish economic structure also underwent certain changes. Jews, of course, had always predominated in trade; in 1815, for example, 1,657 Polish Jews participated at the Leipzig fair compared with 143 Polish gentiles. During the course of the century, as the Jews became more and more dominant in the cities, their role in urban commercial ventures became more pronounced. Thus, in Warsaw, at the end of the century, 18 out of 26 major private banks were owned by Jews or Jewish converts to Christianity. A wealthy Jewish merchant and financial class emerged, led by such great capitalists as Ivan *Bliokh and Leopold *Kronenberg, who played a role in the urbanization and industrialization of Poland. On the other hand, the vast majority of Jews engaged in commerce very clearly belonged to the petty bourgeoisie of shopkeepers (of whom, in Warsaw in 1862, nearly 90% were Jews) and the like. In the same year, according to the calculations of the economic historian I. *Schiper, more than two-thirds of all Jewish merchants were without substantial capital.

Two tendencies must be emphasized with regard to the Jewish economic situation in the kingdom. First, it became apparent by the end of the century that the Jews were gradually losing ground to non-Jews in trade. Thus, for every 100 Jews in Warsaw in 1862, 72 lived from commerce, while in 1897 the figure had dropped to 62. For non-Jews, on the other hand, the percentage rose from 27.9 in 1862 to 37.9 in 1897. The rise of a non-Jewish middle class, with the resulting increase in competition between Jew and gentile, marks the beginning of a process which, as we shall see, gained impetus during the interwar years. Second, there was a marked tendency toward the "productivization" of Polish Jewry, that is, a rise of Jews engaged in crafts and industry. The following figures, which relate to the whole of Congress Poland, are most revealing: in 1857 44.7% of all Jews lived from commerce and 25.1% from crafts and industry, while in 1897 42.6% were engaged in commerce and 34.3% in crafts and industry. In this area, as in trade, the typical Jew was far from wealthy. For every wealthy Jew like Israel Poznański, the textile tycoon from Lodz, there were thousands of Jewish artisans (some 119,000, according to the survey of the *Jewish Colonization Association (ica) in 1898) who worked in tiny shops with rarely more than one hired hand. It is noteworthy that for various reasons – the problems of Sabbath work, the antisemitism of non-Jewish factory owners, fear of the Jewish workers' revolutionary potential – a Jewish factory proletariat failed to develop. Even in Lodz and Bialystok the typical Jewish weaver worked in a small shop or at home, not in a large factory. One further development should be mentioned. By the end of the century a numerically small but highly influential Jewish professional class had made its appearance, particularly in Warsaw. This class was to provide the various political and cultural movements of the day, Jewish and non-Jewish, with many recruits, as well as to provide new leadership for the Jewish community.

The Jews, therefore, constituted an urban, middle class and proletarian element within the great mass of the Polish peasantry. There existed in Poland a long tradition of what might be called a "Polish orientation" among Jews, dating back to the Jewish legion which fought with T. *Kościuszko in 1794 and continuing up to the enthusiastic participation of a number of Jews in J. *Piłsudski's legions. The Polish-Jewish fraternization and cooperation during the Polish uprising of 1863 is perhaps the best example of this orientation, which held that Polish independence would also lead to the disappearance of antisemitism. The idea of Jewish-Polish cultural assimilation took root among the Jews of the kingdom far earlier than in Galicia, not to mention multi-national Lithuania-Belorussia. *Izraelita, the Polish-Jewish periodical advocating assimilation, began publication in 1866, and a number of Jewish intellectuals like Alexander Kraushar hoped for the eventual merging of the Jews into the Polish nation. Such men took comfort from the views of a few Polish intellectuals, notably the poet Adam *Mickiewicz, who hoped and worked for the same event. The slogan "for our and your freedom" had considerable influence within the Polish-Jewish intelligentsia by the century's end.

The Jewish masses, however, had nothing to do with such views, knew nothing of Mickiewicz, knew little if any Polish, and remained (as the assimilationists put it) enclosed within their own special world. Here, too, as was the case regarding the economic stratification of Polish Jewry, a thin stratum separated itself from the mass. It was usually the offspring of the wealthy (Kraushar's father, for example, was a banker) who championed the Polish orientation, while the typical Jewish shopkeeper or artisan remained Yiddish-speaking and Orthodox. On the Polish side, too, Mickiewicz was a voice crying in the wilderness. It is true that the great wave of *pogroms in the Russian Empire was concentrated in the Ukraine and Bessarabia (although Russian Poland was not wholly spared); nor was there anything in Poland resembling the expulsion of the Jews from Moscow in 1891. Indeed, Russian antisemitism led to the influx of so-called Litvaks into the kingdom. But the rise of Polish national fervor, accompanied by the development of a Polish middle class, naturally exacerbated Polish-Jewish relations. The founding of the National Democratic Party (*Endecja) in 1897 was symptomatic of the growing antisemitism of the period. The economic and political roots of this antisemitism (not to mention the traditional religious factor) were clearly expressed in 1912, when the Jews' active support of a Socialist candidate in elections to the *Duma resulted in an announced boycott of Jewish businesses by the National Democrats. On the eve of World War i relations between Poles and Jews were strained to the utmost, a state of affairs which led to a decline in the influence of the assimilationists and a rise in that of Jewish national doctrines.

In comparison with Russia, specifically Jewish political movements had a late start in the kingdom. The Haskalah, progenitor of modern Jewish political movements, was far less influential in Poland than in Galicia or Russia. Warsaw, unlike *Vilna, Lvov, and other great Jewish cities, did not become a center of the Enlightenment; its Jewish elite, like the elite in Germany, tended toward assimilation. True, the city of *Zamosc was, for a time, a thriving Haskalah center, but Zamosc was part of Galicia from 1772 to 1815 and followed the Galician rather than the Polish pattern. Later on, the pioneers of Jewish nationalism and Jewish Socialism came from the northwest region (Belorussia-Lithuania) or the Ukraine. While in Lithuania the Jewish intelligentsia, though Russianized, remained close to the masses, in Poland the intelligentsia was thoroughly Polonized. Its members tended, therefore, to enter Polish movements, such as the Polish Socialist Party (*pps). Thus the *Bund, although it succeeded in spreading into Poland in the early 20th century, remained very much a Lithuanian movement. It is striking that the so-called Litvaks played a major role in spreading the ideas of Jewish nationalism to Poland; it was they, for example, who led the Warsaw Ḥovevei Zion (*Ḥibbat Zion) movement, the precursor of modern Zionism. On the eve of World War i, however, Jewish political life in Poland was well developed. The Bund had developed roots in such worker centers as Warsaw and Lodz, while the Zionists felt strong enough to challenge, albeit unsuccessfully, the entrenched assimilationist leadership of the Warsaw Jewish community.

independent poland

As a result of World War i and the unexpected collapse of the three partitioning powers, Poland was reconstituted as a sovereign state. The final boundaries, not determined until 1921, represented something of a compromise between the federalist

City Percentage of Jews in 1921 Percentage of Jews in 1931
Religion Natural Increase
Roman Catholic13.1
Greek Catholic12.5
Greek Orthodox16.7

dreams of Pilsudski and the more ethnic Polish conception of R. *Dmowski. To Congress Poland, purely Polish save for its large Jewish minority, were added Galicia, Poznania, Pomerania, parts of Silesia, areas formerly part of the Russian northwestern region, and the Ukrainian province of Volhynia. The new state was approximately one-third non-Polish, the important minorities being the Ukrainians, Jews, Belorussians, and Germans.

The heritage of the war years was a particularly tragic one for Polish Jewry. The rebirth of Poland, which many Jews had hoped for, was accompanied by a campaign of terror directed by the Poles (as by the invading Russian army in the early years of the war) against them. The Jews too often found themselves caught between opposing armies – between the Poles and the Lithuanians in Vilna, between the Poles and the Ukrainians in Lvov, and between the Poles and the Bolsheviks during the war of 1920. And it is probably no accident that the two major pogroms of this period, in Lvov in 1918 and in Vilna in 1919, occurred in multi-national areas where national feelings reached their greatest heights. The triumph of Polish nationalism, far from leading to a rapprochement between Jews and Poles, created a legacy of bitterness which cast its shadow over the entire interwar period. For the Poles the war years proved that the Jews were "anti-Polish," "pro-Ukrainian," "pro-Bolshevik," etc. For the Jews the independence of Poland was associated with pogroms. The legal situation of the Jews in independent Poland was, on the surface, excellent. The Treaty of Versailles, concluded between the victorious powers and the new states, included provisions protecting the national rights of minorities; in the Polish treaty Jews were specifically promised their own schools and the Polish state promised to respect the Jewish Sabbath. The Polish constitution, too, declared that non-Poles would be allowed to foster their national traditions, and formally abolished all discrimination due to religious, racial, or national differences. The Jews were recognized by the state as a nationality, something the Zionists and other Jewish nationalists had long fought for. There were great hopes that the Jews would be allowed to develop their own national institutions on the basis of national autonomy.

These hopes were not fulfilled. The two cornerstones of Jewish autonomy – the school and the *kehillah – were not allowed to develop freely. The state steadfastly refused to support Jewish schools, save for a relatively small number of elementary schools closed on Saturday which possessed little Jewish content. The Hebrew-language *Tarbut schools, along with the Yiddish-language cysho (see *Education) network, were entirely dependent on Jewish support, and the diplomas issued by the Jewish high schools were not recognized by the Ministry of Education. The Jewish schools were successful as pedagogical institutions, but the absence of state support made it impossible for them to lay the foundation for a thriving Jewish national cultural life in Poland. As for the kehillah, projected by Jewish nationalists as the organ of Jewish national autonomy on the local level, it was kept in tight check by the government. While elections to the kehillah were made democratic, enabling all Jewish parties to participate on a basis of equality, the government constantly intervened to support its own candidates, usually those of the Orthodox *Agudat Israel. By the same token the government controlled the budgets of the kehillot. These institutions remained essentially what they had been in the preceding century, concerned above all with the religious life of the community.

Far from barring discrimination against non-Poles, the policy of the interwar Polish state was to promote the ethnic Polish element at the expense of the national minorities, and above all at the expense of the Jews, who were more vulnerable than the essentially peasant Slav groups. The tradition of numerus clausus was continued at the secondary school and university level, efforts were made to deprive the "Litvaks" of Polish citizenship, local authorities attempted to curb the use of Yiddish and Hebrew at public meetings, and the Polish electoral system clearly discriminated against all the minorities. All Jewish activities leading toward the advancement of Jewish national life in Poland were combatted; the government favored Zionism only insofar as it preached emigration to Ereẓ Israel, and in domestic politics tended to support the traditional Orthodoxy of Agudat Israel. Worst of all was the economic policy of the state.

According to official statistics, most likely too low, Jews made up 10.5% of the Polish population in 1921. The density of their urban settlement was related to the general development of the area. In less developed regions, such as East Galicia, Lithuania, and Volhynia, the Jewish percentage in the cities was very high, while in more developed areas, such as Central Poland (the old Congress Poland), the existence of a strong native bourgeoisie caused the Jewish percentage to be lower. As for the Jewish village population, it too was higher in backward areas, since the number of cities was naturally less. There were, therefore, substantial Jewish village populations in Galicia and Lithuania but not in the old Congress Poland (with the exception of Lublin province, economically backward in comparison with the other provinces of the region). The most striking development in the demography of Polish Jewry between the wars is the marked loss of ground in the cities. Table 6 illustrates this point. (See Map: Poland, 1931 and Map: Jews in Poland.)

Among the factors contributing to this decline was the Polish government's "colonization" policy in non-Polish areas, its changing of city lines to diminish the Jewish proportion, and Jewish emigration (though with America's gates shut this last factor was not very significant). Another major cause would appear to be the low Jewish natural increase, caused by a low birth rate. (Table 7 presents the natural increase of four major religious groups in interwar Poland.) Thus the process of Jewish population expansion in Poland ended, itself the victim of urbanization (which led, in turn, to a low birth rate). If the cities were Judaized during the 19th century, they were Polonized in the 1920s and 1930s.

The demographic decline of Polish Jewry was paralleled by a more serious economic decline. On the whole, Polish Jews between the wars continued to work at the same trades as their 19th-century predecessors and the tendency toward "productivization" also continued. The vast majority of those engaged in industry were artisans, among whom tailors predominated; those working in commerce were, above all, shopkeepers. What distinguished the interwar years from the prewar era was the antisemitic policy of the Polish state, which Jewish leaders accused of leading to the economic "extermination" of Polish Jewry. Jews were not employed in the civil service, there were very few Jewish teachers in the public schools, practically no Jewish railroad workers, no Jews employed in state-controlled banks, and no Jewish workers in state-run monopolies (such as the tobacco industry). In a period characterized by economic étatisme, when the state took a commanding role in economic life, such official discrimination became disastrous. There was no branch of the economy where the state did not reach; it licensed artisans, controlled the banking system, and controlled foreign trade, all to the detriment of the Jewish element. Its tax system discriminated against the urban population, and its support of peasant cooperatives struck at the Jewish middleman. Such specific legislation as the law compelling all citizens to rest on Sunday helped to ruin Jewish commerce by forcing the shopkeeper to rest for two days and to lose the traditionally lucrative Sunday trade.

More natural forces were also at work in the decline of the Jews' economic condition, e.g., the continued development of a native middle class, sponsored by the government but not created by it. According to research carried out by the *yivo in 113 Polish cities between 1937 and 1938, the number of Jewish-owned stores declined by one, while the number of stores owned by Christians increased by 591. In the western Bialystok province, to cite another example, the number of the Jewish-owned stores declined between 1932 and 1937 from 663 to 563, while the number of Christian-owned stores rose from 58 to 310. These figures reflect both the impact of antisemitism (in the late 1930s the anti-Jewish boycott became effective) and the impact of the developing Polish (and Ukrainian) middle class.

The Jews' economic collapse in the interwar period bears witness to the disaster, from the Jewish point of view, inherent in the rise of exclusive nation-states on the ruins of the old multinational empires. Jews were employed in the old Austrian public schools of Galicia, but not in the Polish state-operated schools. They worked as clerks in the railroad offices of Austrian Galicia, but not in Poland. Thousands of Jewish cigarette factory workers in the old Russian Empire were dismissed when the Polish state took over the tobacco monopoly. It also demonstrates the extremely vulnerable position of the Jews vis-à-vis the other Polish minorities, largely peasant nations which did not compete with the Polish element. The urban Jewish population found itself in a situation in which the traditional small businessman was being squeezed out, while the policy of the state also ruined the wealthy Jewish merchant and industrialist. This was then the end of a process already discernible in the late 19th century, immeasurably speeded up by a state which wanted to see all key economic positions in the hands of "loyal" elements, i.e., Poles.

What was the Jews' political response to this situation? In the beginning of the interwar period the *General Zionists emerged as the strongest force within the Jewish community, thus reflecting the general trend in Eastern Europe toward nationalism and, in the Jewish context, reflecting the impact of the terrible war years. In the 1919 Sejm elections the list of the Temporary Jewish National Council, dominated by General Zionists, received more than 50% of those votes cast for Jewish parties. In 1922, when Jewish representation in the Sejm reached its peak, the percentage of General Zionists (together with the *Mizrachi) among the Jewish deputies was again over 50% (28 out of 46). The Jewish Club (Koło) in the Sejm, which claimed to speak for all Polish Jewry, was naturally dominated by General Zionists, who with considerable justice regarded themselves as the legitimate spokesmen of the community. General Zionism in Poland was divided into two schools, that of "Warsaw-St. Petersburg" and that of "Lvov-Cracow-Vienna." The former came of age in the revolutionary atmosphere of the czarist regime and consequently tended to be more extreme in its demands than the Galicians, who had learned their politics in the Austrian Reichsrat. The clash between Yiẓḥak *Gruenbaum, leader of the Warsaw faction, and Leon *Reich of Lvov was well expressed in the negotiations carried on between the Jewish Sejm Club and the Polish government in 1925. Gruenbaum, rejecting negotiations with antisemites and offering instead the idea of a national minorities bloc, found himself outnumbered in the club by adherents of Reich's position, namely that negotiations should be carried on in order to halt the deterioration of the Jewish position. In the end neither Gruenbaum's minorities bloc nor Reich's negotiations caused any improvements; the tragedy of Jewish politics in Poland was that the government would not make concessions to the Jews so long as it was not forced to do so, and the Jews, representing only 10% of the population, could find no allies.

All General Zionists agreed on the importance of "work in the Diaspora," though Gruenbaum, the central figure in this work, was castigated by Palestinian pioneers as the apostle of "Sejm-Zionismus." They did not agree, however, on various aspects of Zionist policy; the efforts to broaden the *Jewish Agency and the nature of the Fourth *Aliyah caused a split within the Warsaw Zionists, Gruenbaum leading the attack on Chaim *Weizmann and upholding the young pioneering emigration while his opponents defended the "bourgeois" aliyah and Weizmann's conciliatory tactics toward non-Zionist Jewry. Gruenbaum's faction, Al ha-Mishmar ("On Guard"), remained in the minority throughout the 1920s, but the so-called radical Zionists returned to power in the 1930s following the failure of the Agency reform, the crisis in the Fourth Aliyah, and the stiffening of the British line in Palestine. The General Zionists, of course, did not monopolize Jewish political life in interwar Poland. On the right, non-Zionist Orthodoxy was represented by the Agudat Israel, which succeeded in dominating the Jewish kehillot, but its generally good relations with the government did not stem the antisemitic tide. On the left the dominant Jewish party was the Bund, which had disappeared in Russia but survived to play its last historic role as the most important representative of the Jewish proletariat in Poland. The Bund, like Gruenbaum's Zionist faction, also recognized the need for allies in the struggle for a just society in which, its leaders hoped, Jews would be able to promote their Yiddish-based culture. Such allies were sought on the Polish left rather than among the disaffected minorities, but the Polish Socialist Party (pps), for reasons of its own, had no desire to be branded pro-Jewish. Unable to create a bloc with the Polish proletariat, the Bund devoted itself to promoting the interests of the Jewish working class and took a great interest in the development of Yiddish culture. Despite the fact that this party, too, was split into factions (the split turned chiefly on different attitudes toward the international Socialist movement), it was to grow in influence. Sharing the left with the Bund, though overshadowed by it in terms of worker allegiance, were the various Socialist Zionist parties, ranging from the non-Marxist *Hitaḥadut to the leftist *Po'alei Zion (the Po'alei Zion movement had split into right and left factions in 1920; in Poland the left was dominant, at least in the 1920s). The moderate Socialist Zionists were concerned mainly with the pioneering emigration to Ereẓ Israel, while the Left Po'alei Zion steered a perilous course of non-affiliation either with the Zionist organization or with the Socialist International. Its ideological difficulties with the competition of the anti-Zionist Bund (which went so far as to brand Zionism as an ally of Polish antisemitism) sentenced the Left Po'alei Zion to a relatively minor role among the Jewish proletariat, though its influence among the intelligentsia was by no means negligible.

Two other Jewish parties deserve mention. The Polish Mizrachi, representing the Zionist Orthodox population, enjoyed a very large following (eight of its representatives sat in the Sejm in 1922). The Mizrachi usually cooperated with the General Zionists, though its particular mission was to safeguard the religious interests of its followers in Ereẓ Israel and in the Diaspora. The *Folkspartei, on the other hand, never managed to make an impression on political life in Poland, though its intellectual leadership was extremely influential on the cultural scene. Both anti-Zionist and anti-Socialist, it could never attain a mass following.

The economic collapse of Polish Jewry, together with the rise of virulent antisemitism, led to the radicalization of Jewish politics in Poland. Extreme solutions to the Jewish question gained more adherents as the parliamentary approach clearly failed to lead anywhere; hence the growth of the pioneering Zionist movements – *He-Ḥaluẓ, HeḤaluẓ ha-Ẓa'ir, *Ha-Shomer ha-Ẓa'ir, and others – resulting in the large-scale emigration to Ereẓ Israel in the mid-1930s, and also the inroads of Communism among the Jewish youth. Another symptom of this radicalization was the great success of the Bund in the 1930s; by the late 1930s the Bund had "conquered" a number of major kehillot and was probably justified in considering itself the strongest of all Jewish parties. This spectacular success did not occur as a result of any apparent party success, since the efforts to improve the lot of the Jewish proletariat and to forge a bloc with the Polish left had failed. Rather, the Bund's success may be attributed to the rising protest vote against attempts to mollify the regime and in favor of an honorable defense, no matter how unavailing, of Jewish interests. Within the Zionist movement the process of radicalization was very clearly illustrated by the decline of the General Zionists and the rise of the Socialists and the Revisionists. In the elections to the 18th*Zionist Congress, held in 1933, the labor Zionists of Central Poland received 38 mandates and the General Zionists only 12. The same congress seated 20 Polish Revisionists, whose growing strength faithfully reflected the mood of Polish Jewry. In short, a transformation may be discerned of what might be called the politics of hope into the politics of despair. The slogans of ḥaluẓiyyut ("pioneering"), evacuation, and Communist ideology became more and more palatable as the old hopes for Jewish autonomy and the peaceful advancement of Jewish life in a democratic Poland disappeared.

By the late 1930s the handwriting was clearly on the wall for Polish Jewry, though no one could foresee the horrors to come. The rise of Hitler in Germany was paralleled by the appearance of Fascist and semi-Fascist regimes in Eastern Europe, not excepting Poland. A new wave of pogroms erupted along with a renewed anti-Jewish boycott, condoned by the authorities. The Jewish parties were helpless in the face of this onslaught, especially as the disturbances in Ereẓ Israel resulted in a drastic decline in aliyah. The political dilemma of Polish Jewry remained unresolved; finding no allies, Jewish parties could do little to influence the course of events. It should be recalled, however, that the role of these parties was greater than the narrow word "political" implies. Their work in raising the educational standards of Polish Jewry was remarkable, and the Jewish youth movements were able to supply to the new generation of Polish Jews a sense of purpose and a certain vision of a brighter future.

Polish Jewish history, from 1772 to 1939, reveals an obvious continuity. The Jews remained a basically urban element in a largely peasant country, a distinct economic group, a minority whose faith, language, and customs differed sharply from those of the majority. All attempts to break down this distinctiveness failed, and the Jews naturally suffered for their obvious strangeness. A thin layer of assimilated, or quasi-assimilated, Jews subsisted throughout the entire period, but the masses were relatively unaffected by the Polish orientation. In the end all suffered equally from Polish antisemitism. There were also several basic discontinuities. The rise of an exclusively national Polish state in 1918 was a turning point in the deterioration of the Jews' position, though the signs of this deterioration were already visible in the late 19th century. The rise of a native middle class, encouraged by state policy, put an end to the Jews' domination of trade and forced them into crafts and industry, resulting in the emergence of a large Jewish proletariat. Politically speaking perhaps the greatest change was the triumph within the community of Jewish nationalism, whether Zionist, Bundist, or Folkist, at the expense of the traditional assimilationist or Orthodox leadership. In this sense Polish Jewry followed the same course of development as the other peoples of Eastern Europe. It was a tragic paradox that these nationalist parties, which extolled the principle of activism and denounced the passivity of the Jewish past, also depended for their effectiveness on outside forces. Neither the Polish government nor the Polish left proved to be possible allies in the struggle for survival.

[Ezra Mendelsohn]

holocaust period

The outbreak of the war (Sept. 1, 1939) and the invasion of Poland by German troops were marked by immediate heavy loss of civilian (especially Jewish) life and material damage. Military operations caused the death of 20,000 Jews, while bombing destroyed some 50,000 Jewish-owned houses, factories, workshops, and stores in about 120 Jewish communities, in some of which 90–95% of the houses went up in flames. In Warsaw alone, in the first month of the war, 30% of the Jewish buildings were destroyed when entire Jewish neighborhoods burned down. A tremendous stream of refugees sought shelter in the large cities, particularly in Warsaw. Subsequently, tens of thousands of Jewish enterprises not destroyed in the bombing were now lost in liquidation measures, bringing the total amount of Jewish property and business concerns lost or destroyed to an estimated 100,000. Jewish losses on the battlefield totaled 32,216 dead (officers and enlisted men) and another 61,000 taken prisoner, the majority of whom died in captivity.

Military operations were still going on when the German army and sd Einsatzkommandos undertook a campaign of bloody repression (see *Holocaust, General Survey). They usually arrested a group of Jews or Poles, who were kept as hostages and eventually shot. Sometimes mock executions were staged, in which the victims stood for hours in suspense anticipating execution. Pious Jews had their beards removed by blunt instruments, which tore their skin, or had their beards burned off. Swastikas were branded on the scalps of some victims; others were subjected to "gymnastics," such as "riding" on other victims' backs, crawling on all fours, singing and dancing, or staging fights with one another. The Nazis took a special sadistic pleasure in violating religious feelings, deliberately choosing Jewish religious holidays on which to carry out their assaults.

They instituted a special campaign of burning down synagogues, or, after destroying their interiors, turned them into stables, warehouses, bathhouses, or even public latrines (see *Synagogues, Desecration and Destruction of). At *Bedzin the synagogue at the old market place was set on fire on Sept. 9, 1939. The flames spread to the neighboring Jewish houses, and as the area was cordoned off by soldiers and ss-men who did not permit anyone to escape or to fight the fire, 56 houses were burned down, and several hundred persons were burned to death. In some places, e.g., *Wloclawek and *Brzeziny, the president or rabbi of the community was forced to sign a "confession" that the Jews themselves started the fire and to pay heavy fines as punishment for the "arson." The tenants of the houses burned down were brought before a military court. Any Jew who tried to enter a burning synagogue in order to save the Torah scrolls was either shot or thrown into the flames. In many places the military staged autos-da-fé of Torah scrolls, Hebrew books, and other religious articles, and forced the Jews to sing and dance around the flames and shout that the Jews were to blame for the war. The Jewish communities were also compelled to bear the cost of tearing down the remaining walls of the houses and clearing the rubble. It is estimated that several hundred synagogues were destroyed in the first two months of the occupation.

At the same time, mass arrests of Jews were carried out in which thousands of men, women, and children were interned in "civilian prison camps" set up in synagogues, churches, movie houses, and the like, or put behind barbed-wire fences on open lots and exposed to the soldiers' cruelty and torture. Afterward the prisoners were sent on foot to larger centers (such as *Wegrow, *Lomza, *Sieradz, *Tomaszow Mazowiecki), where some were set free and others put on forced labor or deported to Germany. In the latter instance their transport to Germany was used for propaganda purposes, as in the case of groups of Jews from Kalisz and Wieruszow who were borne around German towns in trucks bearing the inscription: "These are the Jewish swine who shot at German soldiers."

Precise instructions issued by the High Command of the Wehrmacht on July 24, 1939, for the internment of civilian prisoners provided for the arrest of Jews and Poles of military age at the outset of the invasion. In practice, however, a wild huntdown of Jews was made, without regard to age. In the campaign of terror that followed, hundreds of civilians, Poles, and Jews (in *Czestochowa, *Przemysl, *Bydgoszcz, and Dynow) were slaughtered outright or imprisoned in buildings which were sealed and then set on fire or blown up, the imprisoned dying a horrible death (in Dynow, Lipsk-Kielecki, Mszczonow). No precise figures are available on the number of victims in this period of terror. In the rampage of persecution throughout Poland, people were taken off the streets or dragged from their homes and put on forced labor. They were tortured and beaten, and deprived of their human dignity when forced to perform such acts as cleaning latrines with their bare hands or, in the case of women, washing the floor with their own underwear. Normal life was paralyzed by the arbitrary arrests for forced labor even at a later stage, when forced labor was "regulated" and the still-existing communities or the Judenraete (see *Judenrat) had to provide labor contingents on the basis of an understanding reached with the various German offices or commands.

The systematic robbery of Jewish property involved the closing of all the Jewish shops in many towns, or enforced sale of the wares at nominal prices or against worthless receipts. To facilitate the identification of Jewish property, the chief of the civilian administration attached to the army, Hans *Frank, issued an order (Sept, 8, 1939) for all Jewish stores to display a Star of David or other appropriate inscriptions on their stores by the following day. Practically all Jewish communities were also forced to make large "contributions" of money, gold, silver, and jewelry. In many towns compulsory contributions were paid several times over. Large sums were extorted from wealthy individuals under threat of imprisonment. Whenever a Nazi "visit" to the offices of the communities took place, all the money in their safes was confiscated, e.g., in Warsaw on Oct. 5, 1939, when 100,000 zlotys ($20,000) were taken in this manner. "Legal" forms of robbery were also instituted. The civilian administrators attached to the occupation forces issued orders restricting the sums Jews could hold in their bank accounts, while the accounts themselves were blocked. Restrictions were also placed on the amount of cash a Jew could keep in his home. Jewish-owned property was frozen, Jews were prohibited from engaging in the textile and leather business, and their inventories were registered with the Nazi authorities. Any infringement entailed heavy punishment, including death.

Two decrees by Hitler (Oct. 8 and 12, 1939) provided for the division of the occupied areas of Poland into the following administrative units: (a) Reichsgau Wartheland, which included the entire Poznan province, most of the Lodz province, five Pomeranian districts, and one county of the Warsaw province; (b) the remaining area of Pomerania, which was incorporated into the Rechsgau Danzig-Westpreussen; (c) Regierungsbezirk Zichenau (Ciechanow) consisting of the five northern counties of Warsaw province (*Plock, *Plonsk, Sterpe, *Ciechanow, *Mlawa), which became a part of East Prussia; (d) Regierungsbezirk Kattowitz – or unofficially Ost-Oberschlesien (East Upper Silesia) – which included *Sosnowiec, Bedzin, *Chryzanow, and *Zawiercie counties and parts of *Olkusz and Zywiec counties; (e) the General Government of Poland, which included the central Polish provinces and was subdivided into four districts, Warsaw, Lublin, *Radom, and Cracow.

The areas listed under (a)–(d) were incorporated into the Reich. After the outbreak of the Soviet-German War, the Polish territories previously occupied by the Russians were organized as follows: (f) Bezirk Bialystok, which included the Bialystok, *Bielsk Podlaski, *Grajewo, Lomza, *Sokolka, *Volkovysk, and Grodno counties and was "attached" (not incorporated) to East Prussia; (g) Bezirke Litauen und Weissrussland – the Polish part of White Russia (today western Belorussia), including the Vilna province, which was incorporated into the Reichskommissariat Ostland; (h) Bezirk Wolhynien-Podolien – the Polish province of Volhynia, which was incorporated into the Reichskommissariat Ukraine; and (i) East Galicia, which was incorporated into the General-Government and became its fifth district.

The Jewish population of this entire area was 3,351,000, of whom 2,042,000 came under Nazi rule and 1,309,000 under Soviet occupation in September 1939. The ultimate fate of the Jewish population under Nazi rule was the same in all the areas, though the various administrative areas differed in the degree and pace of persecution, depending on local leadership (a Nazi principle of administration).

Reichsgau Wartheland

The area was subdivided into three Regierungsbezirke ("administrative districts") – Poznan, *Inowroclaw, and Lodz. On Sept. 1, 1939, it had 390,000 Jews (including 4,500 in Poznan, 54,090 in Inowroclaw, and 326,000 in the Lodz district – 233,000 in the city of Lodz). Like all Polish areas incorporated into the Reich, Wartheland was from the beginning designated to become "judenrein" (*Heydrich's "Schnellbrief " of Sept. 21, 1939). In a secret order to the *rsha (Reichssicherheitshauptamt – Reich Security Main Office) and the high *ss and police officials, issued on Oct. 30, 1939, *Himmler fixed the period of November 1939–February 1940 for clearing the incorporated areas of their entire Jewish population and the majority of their Polish population as well. A similar decree was issued on Nov. 4, 1939, by Wartheland's Gauleiter Arthur Greiser.

Arrangements were made for the transfer of 100,000 Jews from its territory during this period. In fact, more than 50 Jewish communities were deported wholly or in part to the Lublin district between the fall of 1939 and May 1940; the larger communities among those deported were Poznan, Kalisz, Ciechocinek, *Gniezno, Inowroclaw, Nieszawa, and *Konin. In some towns the deportation was carried out in stages, with a small number of Jews remaining, engaged in work for the Nazi authorities. In some instances, the regime of terror drove the Jews to desperation, so that they chose "voluntary" exile. This happened in *Lipno and in Kalisz, where many Jews, unable to withstand the persecution, fled from the city in October and November 1939. In Lodz, over 10,000 Jews, including most of the Jewish intelligentsia, were deported in December 1939. For weeks the deportees were kept at assembly points, and had to supply their own means of subsistence, though they had been deprived of all their valuables. Large assembly points were located at Kalisz, Sieradz, and Lodz. There, the Selektion ("selection") took place in which able-bodied men, aged 14 and over, were sent to labor camps which had been established in the meantime, while women, children, and old men were deported in sealed freight cars to the Lublin and *Kielce areas. This occurred in the severe winter of 1939–1940, and upon arrival at their destination, some of the deportees were dead, others nearly frozen, or otherwise seriously ill. The survivors were bereft of clothing, food, and money. A few found refuge with relatives or friends, but most of them had to find places in the crowded synagogues and poorhouses. For the Jewish communities of the Lublin and Radom districts, the influx of deportees was a very heavy burden. Most of the deportees perished before mass deportation began.


At this time, a second campaign was launched to concentrate the Jewish population in ghettos. The first ghetto in Wartheland was established at Lodz, on orders given by Polizeipraesident (Chief of Police) Johannes Schaefer (Feb. 8, 1940). By the latter half of 1940, all the Jewish communities that had survived the mass deportations were sealed off in ghettos. Lodz ghetto had a population of 162,000 on the day of its establishment (May 1, 1940). The large ghettos in Wartheland included *Pabianice (with about 8,500 persons), *Kutno (7,000), *Belchatow (5,500), *Ozorkow (4,700), *Zelow (4,500), *Zdunska Wola (10,000), Wloclawek (where 4,000 were left after the deportations), and *Wielun (4,000). Lodz became a central ghetto (Gaughetto) for the entire province, absorbing Jews sent from ghettos that were liquidated or reduced in size, as well as from the Reich, *Vienna, and *Prague. Between Sept. 26 and Oct. 9, 1941, 3,082 Jews from Wloclawek and the vicinity arrived at Lodz Ghetto, and between Oct. 17 and Nov. 4, 1941, approximately 20,000 arrived from Vienna, Prague, Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Cologne, Emden, Duesseldorf, and Luxembourg. From May to August 1942, 14,440 "selected" Jews from liquidated ghettos arrived at Lodz.

From the end of 1942 until its liquidation in August 1944, Lodz was the only remaining ghetto in Wartheland. Its comparatively long existence was due to the fact that it became one of the largest industrial plants working for the Wehrmacht or private contractors. In August 1943, some 76,000 workers (about 85% of the entire ghetto population) were employed in 117 warehouses. According to the Nazi Ghettoverwaltung ("ghetto administration"), the total wages and production in 1942 reached a value of 27,862,200 rm ($5,572,440). Large tailor shops also existed at Pabianice, Belchatow, Ozorkow, and other ghettos in the Lodz district. Lodz Ghetto bore the imprint of its Judenaeltester ("Jewish elder") Mordecai *Rumkowski, who at an early stage imposed his rule over the ghetto. The ghetto was administered by division of the population into various socio-economic groups, each with a different status, in accordance with their status in the ghetto hierarchy or their usefulness for the war industry. In those areas of ghetto life in which the Nazis allowed the Jews autonomy, Rumkowski held absolute power.

physical annihilation

Partial liquidation actions affecting certain categories of Jews, such as the sick and the old, began in Wartheland as early as the fall of 1940 (in Kalisz). In September or October 1941, experiments in the murder of Jews were carried out in Konin county, where Jews were forced into ditches and covered over with wet quicklime. On Dec. 8, 1941, the murder camp at *Chelmno began operation. On Jan. 2, 1942, Greiser's Erlass, die Entjudung des Warthelands betref-fend ("Decree on Clearing all Jews from the Wartheland") was issued. In December 1941, the remaining Jews from *Kolo and Dabie were deported to Chelmno, followed in January 1942 by the inmates of the ghettos of Izbica Kujawska and other places. From Jan. 16 until mid-May 1942, numerous transports of Jews were dispatched from Lodz Ghetto to Chelmno. By May some 55,000 were murdered there. Between March and September 1942, all the remaining ghettos, with the exception of Lodz, were evacuated. Lodz ghetto was the scene of a bloody "action" against children under 10 years of age, the old, and the sick, resulting in the murder of 16,500 persons.

In mid-1943, Himmler and Albert Speer (Reich Minister for Armament and War Production) entered a long-drawnout contest over the disposition of Lodz Ghetto. Himmler sought to incorporate the ghetto industries into the ss camp combine in the Lublin district, while Speer tried to retain a monopoly over this important industrial center. Their rivalry prolonged the existence of Lodz Ghetto until the summer of 1944, by which time Germany's strategic situation had deteriorated to such an extent that the evacuation of Poland was imminent. In August 1944, Lodz, the only ghetto still left in Europe, was liquidated and all its inmates, some 68,500 Jews, were deported to *Auschwitz.

Reichsgau Danzig-Westpreussen

This area, with a total Jewish population of 23,000, had few and small Jewish communities; e.g., *Danzig, *Torun, and *Bydgoszcz. The province became "judenrein" at a comparatively early stage. The Jews and Poles were exposed to a campaign of terror from the very beginning, which resulted in the massacre of part of the Jewish inhabitants. Others fled from the area, and the rest were deported to the General Government. The last transport of Jews (some 2,000 persons) from Danzig and Bydogszcz, including the surviving Jews of *Koenigsberg, arrived at the Warsaw Ghetto on March 10, 1941.

Regierungsbezirk Zichenau (Ciechanow)

According to the 1931 census, there was a Jewish population of 80,000 in the area of this newly created administrative district. In the first weeks of the occupation, a large number of Jews from the towns near the German-Soviet demarcation line, e.g., *Ostrow Mazowiecka, Przasnysz, *Ostroleka, and *Pultusk, were forced to cross over to the Soviet zone. Their expulsion was accompanied by acts of terror, such as forcing the Jews to cross the Bug or the Narew rivers and opening fire on them, so that some people drowned or were shot to death. This group shared the fate of all the other Polish refugees in the Soviet Union. At the end of February 1941, about 10,000 Jews from Plock and Plock county were driven out, first passing through the Dzialdowo transit camp, where they were tortured and robbed, and from there to various towns in the Radom district, where within a year most of them died of starvation and disease. In Ciechanow, Mlawa, Plonsk, Strzegowo, and Sierpc, the Jews were segregated into ghettos, along with the few Jews left in towns whose Jewish populations had largely been expelled to the Soviet Union in the fall of 1939. These ghettos situated in the administrative area of East Prussia, ruled by the notorious Erich Koch, endured particularly harsh and bloodthirsty treatment, and the murder of members of the Judenrat and ghetto police was a frequent occurrence. In the fall of 1942 the ghettos were liquidated and the Jews dispatched to *Treblinka.

Regierungsbezirk Kattowitz (East Upper Silesia)

According to statistics published by the "Central Office of the Councils of Elders of the Jewish Communities in East Upper Silesia," comprising 32 communities, a Jewish population of 93,628 existed in these communities in March 1941. The largest among these were Bedzin (25,171), Sosnowiec (24,149), Chrzanow (8,229), Zawiercie (5,472), *Dabrowa Gornicza (5,564), and *Oswiecim (6,454). Jews played an important role in the life of this highly industrialized region (in mining, metallurgy, and textiles), and were heavily hit by the early-instituted "Aryanization" process.

A special office, the Dienststelle des Sonderbeauftragten der rrss und Chefs der deutschen Polizei fuer fremdvoelkischen Einsatz in Oberschlesien, headed by Gen. Albrecht Schmelt (and commonly referred to as the Schmelt Organization), was in charge of sending the comparatively large number of skilled Jewish workers to German firms in Silesia and the Reich. No German firm was permitted to employ Jewish workers without the consent of the Schmelt Organization, and the latter maintained complete control over the Jewish "work effort." The German firms paid the Jewish workers at the normal rate (in this the Katowice (Kattowitz) area differed from the other occupied areas), but the workers received only a part of their wages and the firms had to submit the remainder to the Dienststelle. In 1942 the Schmelt Organization controlled 50,570 Jewish workers. When the evacuation of Jews from East Upper Silesia took place (starting May–June 1942), the Jewish workers were deported to Auschwitz, which was the major concentration camp as well as the largest industrial combine in Silesia.

The chairman of the Central Office of the Councils of Elders in Sosnowiec, Moshe Merin, exercised a decisive influence on the internal affairs of the Jewish communities and had considerable authority over the Judenraete (the Jewish councils). The formal ghettoization of East Upper Silesia did not take place until a comparatively late date. In Bedzin and Sosnowiec, for example, a closed ghetto was not established until May 1943, but it was liquidated by August 1943. These ghettos also absorbed the Jews left over from previous Aussiedlungen ("evacuation actions"). Merin was a consistent protagonist of the strategy of "rescuing" Jews by voluntarily providing the Nazi Moloch with contingents of victims to give others the chance of survival. He carried out this policy to its extreme, lending his own active cooperation, as well as that of the ghetto police, to the Aussiedlungsaktionen.

General Government

Originally, the General Government consisted of four districts, Warsaw, Lublin, Radom, and Cracow. When the district of Galicia was added, the Jewish population reached 2,110,000. The transfer of the administration from military to civilian authorities, which took place at the end of October 1939, did not alleviate the harsh conditions, for the uncontrolled terror of the first period was then replaced by "legally" imposed restrictions and persecution. The first proclamation, issued by General Governor Hans *Frank on Oct. 26, 1939, stated that "there will be no room in the General Government for Jewish exploiters," and from the very first day of his rule, Frank inundated the Jewish population with a flood of anti-Jewish measures. The personal rights of Jews were severely curtailed in all spheres of private and social life. Jews were deprived of freedom of movement, the right to dispose of their property, exercise their professions, and benefit from their labor. They were denied social and medical insurance benefits (which the antisemitic regime in Poland had granted them), religious observance (ritual slaughter and public worship), and a normal school education for their children. Finally, they lost the right to dispose of their own persons. Jews could no longer associate freely and Jewish societies, institutions, and organizations were disbanded and their property confiscated. The Judenrat, a quasi-representative body of the Jews, was established in their place by the Nazi authorities.

warsaw district

This district was divided into 10 counties, Warsaw, Garwolin, *Grojec, *Lowicz, *Skierniewice, *Sochaczew, Blonie, Ostrow Mazowiecki, *Minsk Mazowiecki, *Siedlce, and *Sokolow Podlaski. In the first half of 1940 the total Jewish population of this district was 600,000, of whom 400,000 lived in Warsaw. Its Jews were concentrated into ghettos in the western counties in 1940, and in the eastern counties in the fall of 1941. The Warsaw Ghetto was established on Nov. 15, 1940. The ghettos in the western part were of short duration. From the end of January to the beginning of April 1942, 72,000 Jews from this area were brought into the Warsaw Ghetto, where they lacked even the most rudimentary means for existence. With their arrival, the total number of refugees in the ghetto rose to 150,000, but the population was being constantly decimated by starvation and disease.

In the fall of 1941, the Jews in each of the eastern counties were concentrated into between five and seven ghettos. This step was in fact in preparation for Aussiedlungsaktionen which began with the Warsaw Ghetto on July 22, 1942, and continued until Oct. 4–6, 1942. In the General Government these actions, under the code name of "Einsatz Reinhard," were always carried out by special commando units (see Reinhard *Heydrich and *Holocaust, General Survey), headed by the ss and police chief of the Lublin district, Odilo *Globocnik. A decree issued by Frank on June 3, 1942, transferred the civilian authority's jurisdiction over the Jewish population in the General Government to Wilhelm Krueger, its chief of ss and police.

On the eve of its destruction, the Warsaw Ghetto contained 450,000 Jews, of whom approximately 300,000 were deported to Treblinka by Sept. 21, 1942. Officially, 35,639 Jews remained in Warsaw as workers in German factories, employees of the Judenrat, or policemen. In fact, some 60,000 were left, including those in hiding. It is to be noted that Himmler's order to Krueger of July 19, 1942, formally fixed the date of Dec. 31, 1942, as the final date for "cleansing" the General Government of the Jews. Between July 19 and 24, 1942, the Jews of *Otwock, Minsk Mazowiecki, and Siedlce were deported. Between September 22 and 27, most of the ghettos in the Sokolow Podlaski, Wegrow, and Minsk Mazowiecki counties were liquidated, followed, in the last days of October, by the remaining ghettos in the Warsaw district. Small groups of Jews tried to hide out on the "Aryan" side or in the countryside. In order to lull the intended victims into a false sense of security, Krueger issued a decree (Oct. 28, 1942) when the annihilation of the Jewish population in the district had been almost completed, providing for "residential quarters" in Warsaw and Siedlce. His aim was to influence the Jews in hiding to believe that these "newly established ghettos" which had already passed through a partial liquidation would now be a safe haven for the survivors. In this he was largely successful. The intolerable conditions in which the Jews found themselves, hiding out in the forests amid a hostile population, induced them to seek out and settle in the new "residential quarters." Only a short while later they were deported. The "new" Siedlce Ghetto, for example, did not last a month, and by November 25, Siedlce was judenrein. In November, too, the liquidation of most of the Jewish labor camps was begun and after "selections" the workers were deported to the Warsaw Ghetto. In the course of the Aktion on Jan. 18–19, 1943, the ss men met with armed resistance from the Jewish Fighting Organization and were forced to cease action for the time being. The Warsaw Ghetto, according to Himmler's decree (Feb. 16, 1943), was to be liquidated at the earliest possible date, and the workers and machinery were to be transferred to the Lublin ss camps.

lublin district

The 10 counties in the Lublin district – Lublin, *Biala Podlaska, *Bilgoraj, *Chelm, *Hrubieszow, *Janow Lubelski, *Krasnystaw, *Pulawy, *Radzyn, and *Zamosc – had a Jewish population of 250,000 in March–April 1941, including 55,000 refugees and deportees. In the beginning, the eastern part of the Lublin district was regarded as a "Jewish reservation" and Jews from parts of Poland that had been incorporated into the Reich, as well as from the Reich itself, from the Czech Protectorate of Bohemia-Moravia, and from *Austria were deported there on a systematic basis. Jozefow, lzbica Lubelska, Krasnystaw, and Zamosc were some of the towns which served as concentration points for these deportees. The local population was also displaced, generally in order to make room for the new arrivals. Even after this plan for the "Jewish reservation" had been given up, tens of thousands of Jews deported from Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Austria continued to stream into the district, to be "evacuated" to the *Belzec death camp, whose murder installations began functioning in March 1942.

The Nazi ideologists also regarded Lublin as a reservoir of "World Jewry," which presumably maintained secret links with Jewish communities everywhere (see *Hitler). As a result, the Lublin district was turned into an experimental station for various Nazi schemes for the annihilation of Polish Jewry. It was the headquarters of "Einsatz Reinhard" from where its "action groups" began their destructive march through the General Government. The first ghetto in the district was set up in the city of Lublin in April 1941. Since the area designated for the ghetto was too small to hold the approximately 45,000 Jews who were in Lublin at the time, the Nazi authorities forced over 10,000 to leave the city "voluntarily" and move to other towns in the district. The restricted area of the ghetto and its dense population caused epidemics and a high rate of mortality. In November and December 1941 there were 1,227 cases of typhus and the mortality rate that year was three times that of a year before the war (40.8 per 1,000).

In the second half of 1940, about 50 forced labor camps for Jews were established in the Lublin district for local Jews and Jews from other districts. In the winter of 1940–41, there were over 12,000 Jews in these camps. Many succumbed to the intolerable living and working conditions – starvation; wretched accommodations (usually in decrepit old barracks, stables, and barns); lack of hygiene; strenuous work (regulating rivers, draining swamps, and digging canals); and inhuman treatment by the camp commanders. In Osowa camp, 47 inmates were shot in July 1941 after two or three of them had contracted typhus. The Judenraete in ghettos from which the workers had come organized aid for them. The Warsaw Judenrat, for example, spent 520,000 zlotys ($104,000) in aid to the camps in 1940, and the Lublin Judenrat, 150,000 zlotys ($30,000). The "evacuation" campaign in this district preceded those in other parts of the General Government. In the period from March 17 to April 20, 1942, 30,000 Jews from Lublin Ghetto were deported to Belzec and murdered there, while 4,000 others were deported to the Majdan Tatarski Ghetto close to Lublin, which existed until Nov. 9, 1942. In the same period, 3,400 Jews from Piaski and 2,200 from Izbica were dispatched to Belzec, preceded by about 17,000 Jews from Pulawy county (May 6–12). The ghettos which had thus been made judenrein became temporary collection points for Jews deported from the Reich, the Protectorate, and Vienna, and after a short stay there they were sent on to Belzec to be murdered.

Krueger's decree of Oct. 28, 1942, set up eight ghettos in the Lublin district, and like the ghettos in the Warsaw district, their existence was of short duration. By Dec. 1, 1942, five ghettos were left (Piaski, Wlodawa, Izbica, *Lukow Lubelski, and Miedzyrzec Podlaski) and the last of these was liquidated in July 1943. The Jewish workers remained in the concentration and labor camps until November 1943. On Nov. 3–7, 1943, 18,000 Jews were murdered in *Majdanek concentration camp, over 13,000 in the Poniatowa camp, and approximately 10,000 in the Trawniki camp, to which several thousands of Jews had been deported from Warsaw after the ghetto revolt in April 1943.

cracow district

The Cracow district, consisting of 12 counties (Cracow, Debica, *Jaroslaw, *Jaslo, *Krosno, Miechow, *Nowy Sacz, Nowy Targ, *Przemysl, *Sanok, and *Tarnow), had a prewar Jewish population of over 250,000. By May 1941 this number dwindled to 200,000, in spite of the additional influx of 20,000 refugees and deportees from the incorporated areas, including Silesia, Lodz, and Kalisz, in the fall of 1939 and spring of 1940. The expulsion of Jews from the Cracow district, where the General Government capital was situated, was accelerated. In the first few months, Jews living in the border towns along the San River were expelled to the Soviet zone. From the spring of 1940 to November 1941, Jews living in the spas and summer resorts in Nowy Sacz and Nowy Targ counties were expelled, and from May 1940 to April 1941, 55,000 Jews left Cracow voluntarily or were driven out. The Jewish population thus became concentrated in an ever-decreasing number of places – in Cracow county, in seven townships and 10 villages, in Nowy Sacz in five places, and in the Nowy Targ county in seven.

The first ghetto was established in March 1941 in the Podgorze quarter of Cracow. A wall sealed it off from the rest of the city and the gates of the wall had the form of tombstones. The first "evacuations" took place in Cracow Ghetto, which underwent three such actions, on May 30–31, October 28, 1942, and March 13–14, 1943. In the final evacuation, 2,000 Jews were murdered on the spot, about 2,000 were deported to Auschwitz, and approximately 6,000 were sent to the nearby camp in *Plaszow, located on the site of two Jewish cemeteries. The first Aktion in Tarnow took place on June 11–13, 1942, involving 11,000 Jews. The Jews of Przemysl county were murdered on July 27–August 3 (after 10,000 Jews from the county had been concentrated in the city). At the beginning of August, the Jews from Jaroslaw were deported to Belzec, followed at the end of that month by deportation of the Jews from Cracow county, where at an earlier date the Jews from the ghettos in *Bochnia, *Wieliczka, and Skawina had been concentrated. In September 1942 approximately 11,000 Jews from Sanok county (earlier concentrated at a camp at *Izyaslav (Zaslav) were deported to Belzec or shot in the surrounding forests. That month the ghettos in Tarnow county were finally liquidated.

Krueger's decree of Oct. 28, 1942, setting up six ghettos in the Cracow district (Cracow, Bochnia, Tarnow, Rzeszow, Debica, and Przemysl), was immediately followed by murder "actions" there. From June to November 1942, a total of over 100,000 Jews were murdered, and by Jan. 1, 1943, according to official figures, 37,000 destitute Jews were left in "residual ghettos" and a number of camps. There were over 20 labor camps in the Cracow district, the largest at *Mielec (with 3,000 Jewish inmates on the day of its liquidation, Aug. 24, 1944) – and others in Pustkow (1,500), Rozwadow (1,200), Szebnie (2,000–2,500), and in Plaszow with two branches in Prokocim and Biezanow. Plaszow, a collection point for the Jews who survived the liquidation of ghettos and camps in the entire district, had 20,000 imprisoned there in the fall of 1943. In March 1944, large transports were sent from Plaszow to Auschwitz, Stutthof, Flossenburg, and *Mauthausen, while the 567 Jews left were liquidated in January 1945 together with the rest of the Jewish survivors from the Cracow district.

radom district

The newly created Radom district, comprising the larger part of the Kielce province and parts of the Lodz and Warsaw provinces, had a Jewish population of about 360,000 on Sept. 1, 1939. In this district too the evacuation of the Jews proceeded at a rapid pace. First of all, the district had been heavily bombarded, and there were cities and towns in which up to 80% of the Jewish population had lost their homes and sought refuge elsewhere. Secondly, the deportations from the incorporated areas, the Protectorate (an undetermined number from Prague), and Vienna brought into the district large numbers of homeless Jews – 4,000 from Wartheland, about 10,000 from the Plock county, and 4,000 from Vienna. In 1941, the total number of refugees and deportees reached 70–75,000 (over 20% of the local Jewish population). In 1940–41, a kind of internal expulsion process went on in the district, e.g., in December 1940, when 2,000 Jews were expelled from Radom, and in October 1941, when several thousand were driven out from Tomaszow Mazowiecki.

The ghettos in this district were created at an earlier stage than in other parts of the General Government – in *Piotrkow at the end of October 1939, and in *Radomsko at the end of December that year. Ghettos were set up in March–April 1941 in the three large cities of the Radom district – in Radom (which in January 1941 had 28,000 Jews), Czestochowa (36,000), and Kielce (20,000). At the end of 1940 the ghetto of Tomaszow Mazowiecki was established (this town had 16,500 Jews in June 1940), divided into three different sections (the Radom Ghetto also consisted of two sections in two different quarters of the city). Many places were in ruins, causing severe overcrowding in the ghettos, and in some of the smaller ghettos there were as many as 12–30 persons to a room. In order to prepare for the Aussiedlungen, the Nazis concentrated the Jews in a few ghettos. In the first stage, the Jews who were still living in villages were expelled to the neighboring towns. In the second stage, the Jewish population from the smaller towns was concentrated in the large ghettos, and each of the 10 counties had several concentration points assigned to it. At the end of this stage, over 20,000 Jews were living in a few large, heavily guarded ghettos.

The first deportation, to Treblinka, took place on Aug. 5, 1942, in Radom. The Kielce Ghetto inhabitants were deported on August 20–24, and the Czestochowa Ghetto inhabitants, between Sept. 2 and Oct. 5, 1942. By Nov. 7, 1942, most of the Jews had been deported to Treblinka. On Jan. 1, 1943, according to a German source, there were only 29,400 Jews left in the four ghettos ("residential districts") in Radomsko, Sandomierz, *Szydlowiec, and Ujazd, provided for in Krueger's second decree (Nov. 10, 1942). These ghettos came to an end in January 1943. Only the Jewish slave laborers in the labor camps were left, mainly near the industrial concerns of Radom, Kielce, Czestochowa, Ostrowiec-Swietokrzyski, Skarzysko-Kamienna, Blizyn, Piotrkow, Tomaszow Mazowiecki, and other towns. These were in fact concentration camps run by the district ss and police chiefs, to whom the German factory owners directly paid the fees for exploitation of Jewish manpower (as was the case in the other districts also). Some of these camps went through a series of transfers and "selections" but continued to exist until the second half of 1944. The German Hasag factories in Czestochowa were still functioning as late as January 1945.

galicia district

The district of Galicia, established in August 1941, comprised the *Stanislav and *Tarnopol provinces and the eastern part of the Lvov province, and consisted of 16 counties. The 1931 census report indicated a Jewish population in this area of 500,000. As a result of the great influx of refugees from Nazi-occupied Poland in the fall of 1939, the number of Jews had considerably increased, and it is estimated that at the outbreak of German-Soviet hostilities, there were 600,000–650,000 Jews in the area, taking into account the natural increase from 1931 to 1941. The German invasion was accompanied from the very beginning by the mass murder of Jews, initiated and perpetrated by local Ukrainians with the support and participation of the Einsatzkommandos and the German army. Pogroms took place in Lvov (on the "Petlyura Days," July 25 and 27), in Tarnopol, *Zolochev, and *Borislav. Many of the Jews living in the countryside, about 25% of the total Jewish population, were murdered in this period.

In the part of Galicia temporarily occupied by the Hungarian army (Kolomyya, Borshchev, and *Gorodenka), the situation was quite different, the Hungarian commanders taking the Jews under their protection and preventing murders from taking place. During the short period of German military occupation, until Aug. 1, 1941, when its civilian administration took over, several tens of thousands of Jews were killed. The civilian administration immediately introduced the anti-Jewish legislation applying to the General Government. In fact, some of the provisions of this legislation were applied even before a "legal" framework was created. The first ghettos were set up in the beginning of October at Stanislav (for about 30,000 Jews) and Tarnopol (18,000). These were followed in the spring of 1942 by ghettos in Kolomyya and Kolomyya county, and at *Chortkov. By the second half of 1942, ghettos existed in all the cities and towns, and a large part of their population had already been deported to Belzec. The last ghetto to be established was the one at Lvov, in August–September 1942, after several postponements. This came after the great Aussiedlung action, 36,000 surviving out of a population of about 150,000. Krueger's decree of Nov. 10, 1942, provided for 32 ghettos in the Galicia district, in Lvov, Stanislav, Tarnopol, Chortkov, *Stry, *Drogobych, *Sambor, Borshchev, *Zholkva, *Brody, Rava-Russkaya, *Rogatin, and *Skalat.

Large-scale physical extermination campaigns began in the second half of 1941 and were initially directed mainly against Jews in the professions and intellectuals. During the High Holiday period, on Oct. 12, 1941, about 10,000 Jews were shot to death at the Jewish cemetery of Stanislav. In November numerous executions took place in Lvov, when the first attempt was made to organize a ghetto there, and mass shootings occurred in Kolomyya county in December of that year. This is only a partial listing and it is estimated that some 100,000 Jews were murdered in July 1941–March 1942. In the latter month, the extermination camp at Belzec went into operation and from then until the end of 1942, about 300,000 Jews – 50% of the Jewish population of the district – were deported to Belzec or shot on the spot, or taken away for execution in the forests. The others remained for a short while in the ghettos and labor camps, and by June 1943 they were all liquidated. According to ss-GruppenfuehrerFritz *Katzmann's report on the "Final Solution" in Galicia, only 21,000 Jews were left in Galicia, distributed in over 21 camps, the largest of which was the Janowska Street camp in Lvov. Selected workers from liquidated ghettos were transferred to this camp in Lvov, while those who were no longer fit for work