Poland

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Overview

Bordered by Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, and Russia, this Eastern European country became independent in 1918 after World War I. This lasted two decades, before Germany invaded Poland in September 1939. At the end of World War II, the Soviets occupied Poland and began imposing Communist control over the government, first turning around a difficult post-war economy and then almost destroying it, due to over-borrowing and mismanagement. In 1978, a Polish bishop became Pope John Paul II, instilling pride among his countrymen. But rising prices of consumer goods, including meat, created considerable hardship among workers, prompting coal miners and shipyard workers to stage a series of strikes across the country. Lech Walesa, one of the Solidarity movement’s leaders, went on to negotiate an end to the strike and ensure workers’ rights throughout the country.

 
The victory was short-lived, as Poland’s government declared martial law and brutally cracked down on dissidence of any kind, which endangered relations with the US and other countries. But by 1989, with communism waning in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, the Polish government was forced to recognize Solidarity. In the two decades since then, Poland has conducted free and fair elections, restored its international relations, and begun a free market economy.
 
President Obama renounced plans to build a missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland, which had been proposed during the Bush Administration. The Polish government expressed disappointment and suggested that they will press the US to not abandon its prior commitments to NATO. The construction of a missile defense system would serve as a partial security guarantee for Eastern European countries against a resurgent Russia. Poland has also been supportive of US goals in the Iraq War, becoming one of the major sites for “extraordinary renditions” to “black” CIA sites, which have been linked to torture and other human rights violations. In addition, Poland’s ambassador was injured in Iraq in October 2007, raising questions about US security company Blackwater’s effectiveness in the region.
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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: This Eastern European nation stretches low and flat from the Baltic Sea in the north, rising gradually to the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains and the Sudeten range in the south.

 
Population: 38.5 million
 
Religions: Roman Catholic 96.3%, other (Eastern Orthodox, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Lutherans, Greek Catholic, Old Catholic Mariavits, Pentecostals, Polish Catholic) 2%, Jewish 0.08%.
 
Ethnic Groups: Polish 96.7%, German 0.4%, Belarusian 0.1%, Ukrainian 0.1%, other 2.7%.
 
Languages: Polish (official) 94.7%, German 1.7%, Belarusian 0.8%, Ukrainian 0.4%, Kashubian 0.2%, Romani (Baltic, Carpathian, Sinte, Vlax, Lower) 0.1%, Lower Silesian.
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History

According to its written history, Poland began with the reign of Mieszko I, who brought Christianity to the country in 966 AD. However, archeological evidence suggests that the Slavic people, who originally settled the area, had already been in Poland for thousands of years. Culturally, these tribes were Celtic, Germanic and Baltic, and migrated throughout the territories constituting Poland from about 400 BC.

 
A number of these tribes began to form small dominions in the 8th century, and these coalesced into larger ones over the next one hundred years. In the 10th century, one of the Slavic tribes called the Polans, meaning “people of the fields,” began to bring together even more tribes to form what would become the nation of Poland.
 
The Polanie tribe conquered and merged with other Slavic tribes as Mieszko I assumed the throne as a pagan king. His introduction to Christianity came through his wife, Dubrawka, a Czech Christian princess. During this time, Poland was considered a friend of the Holy Roman Empire, and with its help, Mieszko was able to transform Poland into a powerful European nation.
 
In the coming years, many wars and changes in leadership left Poland vulnerable to attacks from all sides. In 1034, the Piast monarchy collapsed, and Poland was ravaged by rebellion, as well as external forces, such as the Bohemians.
 
By the 13th century, Poland’s political and social systems shifted to one of land ownership and feudalism. Its borders were strengthened during this period, but repeated Mongol invasions weakened many principalities. The church continued to grow in influence, spreading the word through monastic schools and taking part in writing laws, records and documents.
 
During the 14th century, the Polish kingdom began to fragment, losing Pomerania and Silesia, and leaving half of the Polish population outside the borders of the kingdom. Germany was expanding rapidly during this time and controlled much of the area around the Vistula. Although Poland flirted with unification with Hungary, nothing materialized, and instead Poland was left open to uniting with Lithuania.
 
Major construction projects were undertaken during the 14th century, including Gothic churches, castles, fortifications and homes for the wealthy. The Polish state reached its zenith under the Jagiellonian dynasty in the years following the union with Lithuania in 1386 and the subsequent defeat of the Teutonic Knights at Grunwald in 1410.
 
The Polish monarchy again went into decline and ended up partitioning itself between Prussia, Russia and Austria in 1795. This state lasted until the early part of the 20th century, when US President Woodrow Wilson made Poland’s independence one of the 14 points he announced during World War I. As a result, many Polish-American soldiers enlisted in the US Army to help the war effort.
 
Poland achieved independence on November 3, 1918. The Treaty of Versailles, signed in 1919, confirmed this declaration. Poland received territories that had been partitioned off to Germany and Austria. Józef Piłsudski, a former war hero, became head of the government.
 
In 1939, under constant threat from Germany, Poland entered into a full military alliance with Britain and France. On August 23, 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union signed the Ribbentrop-Molotov nonaggression pact, which secretly provided for the dismemberment of Poland into Nazi and Soviet-controlled zones.
 
On September 1, 1939, Hitler invaded Poland from the west, and on September 17, Soviet troops invaded from the east, beginning the planned occupation under the terms of the Ribbentrop-Molotov agreement. When Germany turned around and attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941, Poland was completely occupied by German troops.
 
The Poles formed an underground resistance movement and a government in exile, first in Paris and later in London, which was eventually recognized by the Soviet Union. In April 1943, the Soviet Union broke relations with the Polish government in exile after the German military announced that they had discovered mass graves of murdered Polish army officers at Katyn in the USSR. In July 1944, the Soviet Red Army entered Poland and established a communist-controlled “Polish Committee of National Liberation” at Lublin.
 
As the Germans retreated in January 1945, they leveled Warsaw. During the war, about 6 million Poles were killed, and 2.5 million were deported to Germany for forced labor. More than 3 million Jews (all but about 100,000 of the Jewish population) were killed in death camps like those at Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Majdanek.
 
After the Yalta Conference in February 1945, the Polish Provisional Government of National Unity was formed. The US recognized the new Polish government in July of that year. Although the Yalta Conference called for free elections, Poland’s first post-war elections, held in January 1947, were dominated by the communists, who quickly established their own regime.
 
Communists continued to influence Poland’s political landscape until October 1956, when there were riots by workers in Poznan after the 20th (“de-Stalinization”) Soviet Party Congress in Moscow. For a time Communist rule relaxed somewhat. But in 1968, student protests were suppressed, and an “anti-Zionist” campaign initially directed against Gomulka supporters within the party eventually led to the emigration of much of Poland’s remaining Jewish population.
 
High prices for consumer goods led to more strikes in Gdansk, Gdynia, and Szczecin in December 1970. Many expressed deep dissatisfaction with living and working conditions in the country. During the first half of the 1970s, Poland’s economy grew faster than any other country in the world. However, over-borrowing and mismanagement caused much of this growth to be squandered. Economic growth flat-lined by 1979.
 
In October 1978, the Bishop of Krakow, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, became Pope John Paul II, head of the Roman Catholic Church. Polish Catholics rejoiced at the elevation of a Pole to the papacy and greeted his June 1979 visit to Poland with much pride and celebration.
 
By July 1980, Poland’s debt stood at more than $20 billion. At this time, the government increased meat prices, which led to a chain reaction of strikes across the nation. By the end of August, coalmines across the country were shut down. On August 31, 1980 workers at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk, led by an electrician named Lech Walesa, signed a 21-point agreement with the government that ended their strike. Similar agreements were signed at Szczecin and in Silesia. Among the provisions was the guarantee that workers could form unions and strike. After the Gdansk agreement was signed, a new national union movement, called “Solidarity,” swept across Poland.
 
The Soviet Union began to worry about the government’s authority and quickly built up military forces along its shared border with Poland. In February 1981, Defense Minister Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski assumed the position of prime minister, and in October 1981, he also was named first secretary of the United Worker’s Party. At the first Solidarity National Congress in September-October 1981, Lech Walesa was elected national chairman of the union.
 
On December 12-13, the Polish government declared martial law and used the army to crush the union. Many of Solidarity’s leaders were arrested or detained. The United States and other Western countries imposed economic sanctions against the Polish regime and against the Soviet Union, but unrest in Poland continued for several years thereafter.
 
Martial law was rescinded slowly in a series of steps. In December 1982, martial law was suspended, and a small number of political prisoners were released. Although martial law formally ended in July 1983 and a general amnesty was enacted, several hundred political prisoners remained in jail.
 
In July 1984, another general amnesty was declared, and two years later, the government had released nearly all political prisoners. The authorities continued, however, to harass dissidents and Solidarity activists. Solidarity remained proscribed and its publications banned. Independent publications were censored.
 
The spring and summer of 1988 saw strikes across Poland, and the government was forced to recognize Solidarity. Interior Minister Kiszczak began talks with Lech Walesa, eventually leading to an agreement for partly open National Assembly elections. In June of that year, elections produced a Sejm (lower house) with one-third of the seats going to communists and one-third going to the two parties that had previously been coalition partners. The remaining one-third of the Sejm and all seats in the Senate were freely contested; almost all of these seats were won by Solidarity candidates.
 
The roundtable agreement called for a communist president, and on July 19, the National Assembly, with the support of some Solidarity deputies, elected General Jaruzelski to that office. But the communists repeatedly failed to form governments.
 
On August 19, President Jaruzelski asked journalist/Solidarity activist Tadeusz Mazowiecki to form a government, and on September 12, the Sejm voted approval of Prime Minister Mazowiecki and his cabinet. For the first time in more than 40 years, Poland’s government was led by non-communists.
 
In December 1989, the Sejm helped approve government reforms that rapidly transformed the country’s economy to one of the free market, removed references to the role of the Communist Party in Poland’s political affairs, and renamed the country the Republic of Poland. The Polish United Workers’ (Communist) Party dissolved itself in January 1990, creating in its place a new party, Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland. Most of the property of the former Communist Party was turned over to the state.
 
In May 1990, elections produced victories for most of the Solidarity candidates. The cabinet was reshuffled in July, and the national defense and interior affairs ministers (holdovers from the previous communist government) were among those replaced. In October 1990, the constitution was amended to shorten Jaruzelski’s presidential term. In December, Lech Walesa became the first popularly elected president of Poland.
 
Under Walesa, Poland’s economy expanded, welcoming private enterprise and introducing world prices. Poland’s first free parliamentary elections were held in 1991. More than 100 parties participated, representing a full spectrum of political views. No single party received more than 13% of the total vote.
 
Since 1991, Poland has conducted six general parliamentary elections and four presidential elections, all free and fair. The post-Solidarity center-right and post-Communist center-left have each controlled the parliament and the presidency since 1991. Most recently, Poles elected Law and Justice (PiS) candidate and Warsaw Mayor Lech Kaczynski to a five-year term as president. Kazcynski narrowly defeated Civic Platform (PO) candidate Donald Tusk and was sworn in December 23, 2005.
 
PiS earned the most votes in September 25, 2005 parliamentary elections. Frustrated by its inability to achieve its legislative program alone, PiS formed a formal coalition government with Self-Defense (SO) and the League of Polish Families (LPR) in April 2006. In July 2006, Prime Minister Marcinkiewicz resigned and was replaced by PiS party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski as Prime Minister. Parliamentary elections were held again in October 2007, and Donald Tusk of the Civic Platform party was elected prime minister in November 2007.
 
In 2008, historians from the Institute of National Remembrance published a book, SB a Lech Wałęsa. Przyczynek do biografii (“Lech Wałęsa & SB”), which claimed that in the 1970s the former Solidarity leader was a secret informer for the Polish communist secret police (Służba Bezpieczeństwa) under the codename “Bolek.”
 
History of Poland (Wikipedia)
Poland History (Virtual Jewish Library)
History of Poland (HistoryWorld.net)
Lech Walesa (Wikipedia)
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History of U.S. Relations with Poland

There is evidence of Polish immigration to America as early as 1609, when some Poles were contracted as skilled craftsmen for the Jamestown colony. One of the most famous early Poles was the nobleman Casimir Pulaski, who fought on the American side during the Revolutionary War and whose death is still celebrated on October 11 by the American Polish community. 

 
The largest immigration wave began in the latter half of the 19th century and continued until the commencement of World War I. Although confusion over the nationality of Polish immigrants led to large under-reporting (Poland did not exist as a nation for much of the modern era), an estimated 2.5 million Poles came to America during this period. This massive influx of Catholics into a Protestant nation inevitably caused friction, and the difficulties facing the Polish immigrants prompted them to bond together to form a cohesive Polish American community, or Polonia as it is known. 
 
The Immigration Act of 1924 cut immigration drastically, although dissidents and refugees did make their way to America through the end of communism. Now, with the borders once again open, young Poles are coming to America to seek work, although the immigration quotas have kept numbers down. 
 
The US established diplomatic relations with the Polish Republic in April 1919. 
 
After Gomulka came to power in 1956, relations with the United States began to improve. But when the Polish government began to support the Soviet Union in its politics, as well as its anti-Semitic leanings, relations between the two countries stagnated.
 
US-Polish relations improved significantly after Gierek succeeded Gomulka and expressed his interest in improving relations with the United States. A consular agreement was signed in 1972.
 
In 1974, Gierek was the first Polish leader to visit the United States, signaling his intent to build stronger relations.
 
The Solidarity movement in 1980 raised hopes that progress could be made in international and domestic relations. During this time, the United States provided $765 million in agricultural assistance to Poland. However, human rights and individual freedom issues did not improve. The US revoked Poland’s most-favored-nation (MFN) status in response to the Polish government’s decision to ban Solidarity.
 
MFN status was reinstated in 1987, and diplomatic relations were upgraded at that time.
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Current U.S. Relations with Poland

 Noted Polish-Americans:

Arts and Entertainment
Tamara de Lempicka – Polish-born Art Deco artist
Gilda Gray – Polish-born American actress who popularized the “shimmy” in the 1920s.
Ted Knight born Tadeusz Władysław Konopka – American-born Emmy award winning film and television actor
John Krasinski – American-born half Polish actor, best known for his role as Jim on The Office
Rose Marie – American-born half Polish TV and film actress, known for her childhood performing career and her role as Sally on The Dick Van Dyke Show
Adrianne Palicki – American-born TV actress best known for her starring role on Friday Night Lights
John Ratzenberger – American-born TV actor, best known for his role as Cliff on Cheers
Janusz Kamiński – Polish-born cinematographer and film director who won Oscars for his cinematography in Saving Private Ryan (1998) and Schindler’s List (1993).
Gore Verbinski – American-born half-Polish director, best known for directing the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy
Larry Wachowski and Andy Wachowski – American-born directors of The Matrix
Josh Groban – American-born half-Polish singer and songwriter.
Jan A. P. Kaczmarek – Polish-born film composer who won an Academy Award in 2005 for Finding Neverland
Gene Krupa –American-born half-Polish big band drummer
Liberace – American-born, half-Polish entertainer
Ray Manzarek – American-born The Doors keyboardist and co-founder
Johnny Rzeznik – American-born lead singer of the Goo Goo Dolls
Richie Sambora – American-born half-Polish guitarist for Bon Jovi
Bobby Vinton – American-born pop singer
Pat Sajak – American-born host of the popular and long-running television game show Wheel of Fortune
Martha Stewart – American-born business magnate, author, editor, former stock broker, model, and homemaking advocate
 
Sports
Mike Krzyzewski – American-born head coach of the Duke University men's basketball team and the 2008 gold medal-winning U.S. men's Olympic basketball team
Tara Lipinski – American-born Olympic Gold Medalist figure skater and celebrity
 
Science
Casimir Funk, born Kazimierz Funk – Polish-American biochemist, generally credited with the first formulation of the concept of vitamins in 1912
Aleksander Wolszczan – Polish-born astronomer who was the first to discover extrasolar planets and pulsar planets
 
Military and Government
Włodzimierz Krzyżanowski - Polish-born military leader and a Union general in the American Civil War
Kazimierz Pułaski - Polish-born soldier and politician who has been called "the father of American cavalry." From 1777 until his death, Pułaski fought in the American Revolutionary War for the independence of the United States.
Matt Urban – American-born U. S. Army officer; most decorated serviceman according to the Guinness Book of World Records
 
Miscellaneous
Steve Wozniak – American-born co-founder of Apple
George Adamski – Polish-born American citizen who was one of the first people to publicly claim to have seen and photographed UFOs
Leon Czolgosz – American-born assassin of U.S. President William McKinley
Theodore Kaczynski – American-born terrorist (Unabomber)
 
Author/Writer
Andrew Nagorski – Polish-American non-fiction/fiction author and award winning senior editor of Newsweek magazine
 
 
Jewish Polish-Americans
Art and Entertainment
Daniel Libeskind – Polish-born architect; winner of the 2003 competition for the reconstruction of the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan
David Seymour - Polish-born Jewish photographer & photojournalist, best known for his photographs of the Spanish Civil War
David Geffen - half-Polish American-born Jewish record executive, film producer, theatrical producer and philanthropist
Neil Diamond – American-born Jewish singer-songwriter and occasional actor
Aaron Spelling – American-born half-Polish Jewish film and television producer
Jack Warner – Polish-Jewish president and driving force behind the highly successful development of Warner Brothers Studios in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California
Samuel Goldwyn – Polish-born Jewish film producer and founding contributor of several motion picture studios
Pia Zadora – American-born half-Polish actress and singer
Debra Messing – American-born Jewish actress of Polish and Russian descent, best known for her role as Grace on Will and Grace
Sarah Silverman – American-born Jewish comedian of Polish and Russian descent
David Arquette – American-born half-Polish Jewish actor
Paul Newman – American-born half-Polish Jewish American actor, film director, entrepreneur, humanitarian, and auto racing enthusiast
Jack Benny – half-Polish Jewish American comedian, vaudevillian, and actor for radio, television, and film.
Billy Wilder – Polish-born screenwriter, film director, and producer whose career spanned more than 50 years and 60 films
 
Science
Albert Abraham Michelson - Polish-born Jewish American physicist. Awarded the Nobel Prize in physics (1907) for work done on the measurement of the speed of light. He was also the first American to receive a Nobel Prize in the sciences.
 
Authors
J.D. Salinger –American-born, Jewish, half-Polish author, best known for his 1951 novel Catcher in the Rye
Arthur Miller – American-born Jewish playwright and essayist who wrote The Crucible and Death of a Salesman
 
Miscellaneous
Reuben Mattus – Polish-born Jewish founder of the Häagen-Dazs company
Max Factor, Sr, born Maximilian Factorowitz – Polish-born founder of Max Factor cosmetics company
 
Since 1989, the US and Poland have enjoyed warm bilateral relations. Each succeeding government since that time has supported a continued American military and economic presence in Europe. Poland has also been a strong supporter of the Global War on Terror, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, and coalition efforts in Iraq.
 
Poland cooperates closely with American diplomacy on issues such as democratization, nuclear proliferation, human rights, regional cooperation in Central and Eastern Europe, and UN reform. The Polish government had also expressed willingness to host part of the United States’ new missile defense system (see Controversies).
 
Poland has been a major recipient of US arms sales this decade, according to the Congressional Research Service. From 2000-2003 more than $3 billion in weapons and military equipment was sold to Poland, making it the top recipient among all European countries.
 
In the 2000 US census,8,977,235 people identified themselves as being of Polish ancestry. 
 
In 2006, 210,152 Americans visited Poland. The number of tourists has increased erratically since 2002, when 160,936 Americans traveled to Poland.
 
In 2006, 137,588 Poles visited the US. Tourism has grown consistently since 2002, when 108,707 Poles came to America.
 
 
US-Poland Missile Deal Irks Russia (by Michele Kelemen, NPR)
Poland Eyes Better US-Russia Relations (Benjie Telleron, All Headline News)
U.S. Arms Sales: Agreements with and Deliveries to Major Clients, 1996-2003 (by Richard Grimmett, Congressional Research Service) (PDF)
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Where Does the Money Flow

From 2004 to 2008, US imports from Poland included other industrial machinery, increasing from $124.1 million to $165.3 million; electrical equipment, rising from $65.5 million to $207.2 million; other parts and accessories, moving up from $48.4 million to $80.3 million; and furniture, household items, and baskets, increasing from $107.5 million to $195.0 million.

 
During the same period, American imports on the decline included automotive tires and tubes, which decreased from $23.6 million to $2.2 million; coal and related fuels, falling from $173.9 million to $30.5; measuring, testing and control instruments, moving down from $113.1 million to $74.2 million; and iron and steel products, decreasing from $23.9 million to $10.1 million.
 
Top US exports to Poland included passenger cars (new and used), moving up from $33.0 million to $309.6 million; military aircraft, rising from $0 to $1.1 trillion; and pulpwood and woodpulp, increasing from $48.9 million to $92.1 million.
 
During the same period, US exports to Poland on the decline included meat and poultry, decreasing from $44.6 million to $4.2 million; cotton fiber cloth, falling from $1 million to $259,000;.military trucks and armored vehicles, moving down from $8.4 million to $0. 
 
In 2007, the US sold $132.5 million of defense articles and services to Poland. That same year, the US gave Poland $30.5 million in aid, divided between Foreign Military Financing ($28.5 million), and International Military Education and Training ($2.1 million). 
 
In the 2008 budget estimate, the US gave $29 million, once again divided between Foreign Military Financing ($27 million), and International Military Education and Training ($2 million). 
 
The 2009 budget request allocated $29.2 million in aid to Poland, divided between Foreign Military Financing ($27 million) and International Military Education and Training ($2.2 million).
 
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Controversies

US Missile Defense System in Poland Raises Controversy with Russia

In March 2008, President George W. Bush announced that the United States had agreed to help the Polish military in exchange for the right to install a US missile defense system in the country. The Polish military’s equipment would be upgraded to be able to defend against short and medium-range missile attacks, most likely from Patriot 3 or THAAD missiles. The US missile shield also would protect against long-range missiles. However, Poland has argued that Russia has threatened to target Poland with nuclear missiles if it allows missile interceptors to be based in its country. The US has said the system is aimed at Iran and North Korea. President Barack Obama has renounced plans to build the missile defense system in Eastern Europe. Obama has said that a shield based on the Navy’s Aegis system would be better equipped to deal with countries such as Iran. Rather than interceptor missiles and a radar system in Poland, the new plans will use a network of smaller, more modern missiles based on ships and land. The announcement from Obama came on September 17, 2009, which was the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939. Many Poles felt the announcement was historically insensitive and others claimed that Poland was being treated as a second-class ally by the US.
 
Obama Shifts Focus Of Missile Shield (by Michael D. Shear and Ann Scott Tyson, Washington Post)
 
Blackwater “Not Fit to Work in Iraq”
In October 2007, Poland’s Ambassador, General Edward Pietrzyk, was seriously injured when three car bombs went off and attackers opened fire on his vehicle. Three others were killed, including a Polish bodyguard. Ten more were wounded. US Embassy officials dispatched Blackwater helicopters to evacuate the ambassador and others. Blackwater was not involved in protecting the Polish convoy. Pietrzyk suffered minor burns over 20% of his body, including his head and right arm and leg. Shortly after the assault, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said that Blackwater “is not fit to work in Iraq,” since it has lost 190 people to violence in the region. It is assumed that the Polish ambassador was targeted to punish Poland’s alliance with the US-led coalition forces in Iraq. Poland moved its embassy to the Green Zone.
 
Renditions to Poland and Other Countries Stirs Controversy with EU
In December 2005, reports surfaced that the US had detained several top al-Qaeda suspects in secret prisons in Poland and Romania, eliciting dismay from European Union countries. Media reports have linked CIA aircraft to airports in Finland, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, and Spain, and suggest that these planes are carrying suspected terrorists to “black” sites there. These “renditions” have helped “save European lives,” according to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. But they have put pressure on governments across Europe. Political fallout from renditions in Italy, Sweden and Germany has made it more difficult for these countries to cooperate in future counterterrorism exercises with US intelligence, and threatens to stop the flow of information between allies. Human Rights Watch has said that Poland was the source of nearly a quarter of detainees held in such camps over the past eight years.
US Treatment of Terror Suspects and US-EU Relations (by Mary Crane, Council on Foreign Relations)
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Human Rights

The State Department reports that conditions inside Polish prisons and detention centers remained generally poor. Overcrowding and inadequate medical treatment were among the main problems.

 
According to the State Department, “Pretrial detention was a serious problem that contributed to overcrowding and deterioration of detention facilities. The judiciary remained inefficient and lacked resources and public confidence. Corruption within the police force was widespread, and there was a public perception that police were unduly influenced by political pressures.
 
“The law allows electronic surveillance for crime prevention and investigations. However, there was no independent judicial review of surveillance activities, nor was there any control over the use of information obtained by monitoring private communications.”
 
The law provides for freedom of speech and of the press. However, in practice, holdover Communist-era laws and regulations restricted these freedoms. For example, libel and some forms of defamation are criminal offenses; a person who insults or humiliates a constitutional institution is subject to a fine or imprisonment of up to two years; insulting a public official is subject to a fine or imprisonment of up to one year; and offending the object or spirit of a place of worship in public is punishable by a fine or a two-year prison term. Libel suits against journalists are common.
 
The law provides for freedom of association, and according to the State Department, “the government generally respected these rights in practice.”
 
There were reports of occasional anti-Semitic incidents, including occasional desecration of Jewish cemeteries. Poland’s politics remained vulnerable to charges of extremism, intolerance, and anti-Semitism. According to the State Department, “the law prohibits hate speech, including dissemination of anti-Semitic literature. The government publicly criticized anti-Semitic acts and supported tolerance in education.
 
“Corruption was believed to be pervasive throughout government and society. The World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators reflected that corruption was a problem.”
 
According to the State Department “domestic violence against women continued to be a serious problem.” In addition, “the NGO Women’s Rights Center reported that police were occasionally reluctant to intervene in domestic violence incidents if the perpetrator was a member of the police or if victims were unwilling to cooperate.”
 
The State Department found that “women held lower-level positions and frequently were paid less then men for equivalent work, were fired more readily, and were less likely to be promoted.”
 
Furthermore, the State Department noted that “poland remained a source, transit point, and destination for trafficked persons, primarily women and girls, but to a lesser extent, boys and men for forced labor. Internal trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation also occurred.”
 
According to the State Department “there were incidents of racially motivated violence and verbal and physical abuse directed at Roma and persons of African, Asian, or Arab descent. The Ukrainian and Belarusian minorities also continued to experience petty harassment and discrimination.”
 
In its report, the State Department stated “societal discrimination against Roma continued. In some cases local officials discriminated against Roma by not providing adequate social services. Romani leaders complained of widespread discrimination in employment, housing, banking, the justice system, the media, and education.”
 
In addition the State Department found that “during the year there were some reports of skinhead violence and societal discrimination against persons based on their sexual orientation.”
 
Additionally, the State Department reported “there were some reports of discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS. According to the Government AIDS Center, there were two reported incidents of discrimination during the year. One case involved police discrimination and the other a healthcare institution which refused to treat the persons living in a homeless shelter if they did not provide a certificate that they are HIV negative.”
 
According to the State Department “the law provides that all workers, including civilian employees of the armed forces, police, and frontier guard, have the right to establish and join trade unions. While many workers exercised this right in practice, many small and medium-sized firms discriminated against those who attempted to organize labor. As a rule, newly established small and medium-sized firms were nonunion, while privatized formerly state-owned enterprises frequently continued union activity.”
 
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors

Victor Ashe

Victor Ashe served as the US Ambassador to Poland from June 23, 2004, until February 6, 2009. Ashe graduated from the Hotchkiss School, in Lakeville, Connecticut, in 1963 and from Yale University with a BA in History in 1967. He received his law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 1974. He is currently licensed to practice law in Tennessee.
 
In 1965, Ashe served as an intern in the office of Congressman Bill Brock, where he helped write a tax sharing for education bill. In 1967, he was a staff assistant in the office of Republican Senator Howard Baker. From 1967 to 1973, Ashe served as a member of the US Marine Corps Air Reserves.
 
In 1968, Ashe was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives. In 1975, he was elected to the state Senate, where he served for nine years. From 1985-1987, under President Ronald Reagan, Ashe served as the executive director of the Americans Outdoors Commission chaired by then-Governor (now US Senator) Lamar Alexander.
 
Ashe was elected mayor of Knoxville, TN in November 1987, serving 16 years. In 1995, Ashe was elected president of the US Conference of Mayors.
 
He was appointed by both President George H. W. Bush and President Bill Clinton to the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations. President Clinton later nominated Ashe to the AmeriCorps board of directors, which was confirmed by the US Senate.
 
President George W. Bush appointed Ashe to the board of directors of Fannie Mae in 2001, where he served until May 24, 2004.
 
Ashe has donated $11, 450 to various Republican candidates and causes, including Lamar Alexander, Fred Thompson, Richard Lugar and George W. Bush. He was also Bush’s former roommate, and a member of the Skull and Bones Society at Yale. 
 
Victor Ashe (Wikipedia)
 
 
Hugh S. Gibson
Appointment: [Apr 16, 1919]
Presentation of Credentials: May 2, 1919
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, May 3, 1924
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; commission not of record; took oath of office on Apr 16, 1919. Recommissioned on Jun 26, 1919, after confirmation.
 
Alfred J. Pearson
Appointment: Apr 2, 1924
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 26, 1924
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 18, 1925
 
John B. Stetson, Jr.
Appointment: Jul 3, 1925
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 29, 1925
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 29, 1929
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 17, 1925.
 
Alexander P. Moore
Appointment: Jan 31, 1930
Note: Died in the United States before taking oath of office.
 
John N. Willys
Appointment: Mar 8, 1930
Presentation of Credentials: May 24, 1930
Termination of Mission: Left post May 30, 1932
 
F. Lammot Belin
Appointment: Nov 2, 1932
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 13, 1932
Termination of Mission: Recess appointment expired, Mar 4, 1933
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate.
 
James Michael Curley
Note: Not commissioned; nomination withdrawn before the Senate acted upon it.
 
John Cudahy
Appointment: Jun 13, 1933
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 6, 1933
Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 23, 1937
 
Anthony J. Drexel Biddle, Jr.
Appointment: May 4, 1937
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 2, 1937
Termination of Mission: Left London, Dec 1, 1943
Note: Biddle left Warsaw, Sep 5, 1939, and followed the Government of Poland first to France (Sep 1939–Jun 1940) and later to England (where Biddle arrived Mar 14, 1941). Rudolf E. Schoenfeld opened the Embassy near the Government of Poland established in England, making his initial call as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim on Sep 21, 1940. Biddle was also commissioned to Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and Yugoslavia; resident at London during his service near those governments. Rudolf E. Schoenfeld was serving as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim when the mission of the Embassy near the Government of Poland established in England was terminated on Jul 5, 1945, on which date the Embassy in Warsaw was re-established with Ambassador Lane in charge pending presentation of his letter of credence.
 
Arthur Bliss Lane
Appointment: Sep 21, 1944
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 4, 1945
Termination of Mission: Left post Feb 24, 1947
 
Stanton Griffis
Appointment: May 15, 1947
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 9, 1947
Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 21, 1948
 
Waldemar J. Gallman
Appointment: Jul 7, 1948
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 15, 1948
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 8, 195
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Mar 2, 1949.
 
Joseph Flack
Appointment: Sep 20, 1950
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 30, 1950
Termination of Mission: Left Poland, Apr 22, 1955
 
Joseph E. Jacobs
Appointment: Apr 1, 1955
Presentation of Credentials: May 23, 1955
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 23, 1957
 
Jacob D. Beam
Appointment: Jun 26, 1957
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 9, 1957
Termination of Mission: Left post Nov 30, 1961
 
John M. Cabot
Appointment: Jan 30, 1962
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 2, 1962
Termination of Mission: Left post Sep 24, 1965
 
John A. Gronouski
Appointment: Sep 11, 1965
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 7, 1975
Termination of Mission: Left post May 26, 1968
 
Walter J. Stoessel, Jr.
Appointment: Jul 24, 1968
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 12, 1968
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 5, 1972
 
Richard T. Davies
Appointment: Dec 2, 1972
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 5, 1973
Termination of Mission: Left post Feb 5, 1978
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Feb 8, 1973.
 
William E. Schaufele, Jr.
Appointment: Feb 3, 1978
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 30, 1978
Termination of Mission: Left post Sep 11, 1980
 
Francis J. Meehan
Appointment: Oct 2, 1980
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 27, 1980
Termination of Mission: Left post Feb 11, 1983
 
Note: The following officers have served as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim: Herbert E. Wilgis, Jr. (Feb–Jul 1983); and John R. Davis, Jr. (Sep 1983–Jan 1987).
 
John R. Davis, Jr.
Appointment: Feb 5, 1988
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 17, 1988
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 20, 1990
Note: Designated Chargé d’Affaires on Jan 9, 1987.
 
Thomas W. Simons, Jr.
Appointment: Aug 6, 1990
Presentation of Credentials: Sept 11, 1990
Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 28, 1993
 
Nicholas Andrew Rey
Appointment: Nov 22, 1993
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 21, 1993
Termination of Mission: Left post Oct 25, 1997
 
Daniel Fried
Appointment: Nov 10, 1997
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 27, 1997
Termination of Mission: Left post May 6, 2000
 
Christopher Robert Hill
Appointment: May 31, 2000
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 27, 2000
Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 14, 2004
 
Victor Henderson Ashe
Appointment: May 26, 2004
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 17, 2004
Termination of Mission: Feb. 6, 2009
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Poland's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Wilczek, Piotr

Since October 21, 2016, the ambassador to the United States from Poland has been Piotr Wilczek, a literary scholar with no previous diplomatic experience. He succeeded Ryszard Schnepf, who was also a former academic turned diplomat. Despite his lack of experience, Wilzcek has already earned praise back home for his spirited defense of Poland’s right-populist government against a critical article in The Washington Post.

 

Born on April 26, 1962, in Chorzów, Poland, Piotr Wilczek is a literary scholar, intellectual historian, writer, and translator. He earned his degrees in Polish and Modern Literature at the University of Silesia, including an M.A. in Polish and Cultural Studies in 1986, a Ph.D. in the History of Polish Literature in 1992, and a habilitation in the Humanities in 2001. He also earned a diploma in Neo-Latin Studies at the University of Lodz (Poland) in 1989. Wilzcek did postgraduate work at Oxford University in 1988 and at the Warburg Institute of the University of London in 1996.

 

Hired by his alma mater, Wilzcek was a professor of Literature at the University of Silesia from 1986 to 2008, where he also served as dean of the Faculty of Languages from 2002 to 2008. His interests include comparative literature, the problems of translation, philology, and intellectual history.

 

Wilczek is no stranger to the United States. From 1998 to 2001, he taught Polish literature, culture and language as a visiting professor at Rice University in Houston (1998-1999), the University of Illinois (1999-2001), and the University of Chicago (2000-2001). In addition, he conducted research as a visiting scholar at Boston College from 2008 to 2010, and at Cleveland State University in 2012.

 

In 2008, he joined the University of Warsaw’s new, experimental Artes Liberales program as the first director of Collegium Artes Liberales (College of Liberal Arts and Sciences). Since 2010, he has also been in charge of the Artes Liberales Doctoral Studies Program. At the time of his appointment as ambassador to the United States, he was the head of the university’s Centre for Research on the Reformation and Intellectual Culture in Early Modern Europe.

 

Wilczek is a member of the American Study Group at the Polish Institute of International Affairs, where experts, journalists, and academics discuss political and cultural developments in the United States and analyze their implications for Poland, Europe, and the trans-Atlantic alliance. From October 2014 to October 2016, he was representative in Poland of the Kosciuszko Foundation, a New York-based non-profit dedicated to educational, cultural, and artistic exchange between the U.S. and Poland. He also served as president of the Foundation’s affiliate in Warsaw, and as president of the board of the Foundation’s alumni association from March 2013 to February 2017.

 

Piotr Wilczek has written or edited 22 published monographs and more than 100 journal articles, both in English and Polish. Among his works is (Mis)translation and (Mis)interpretation: Polish Literature in the Context of Cross-Cultural Communication (2005). He belongs to numerous professional groups and associations and is a board member of various international scholarly journals, book series, advisory councils, and academic and educational initiatives. In addition to his native Polish, Wilczek is proficient in English, Latin, Russian, and German. He also serves as Poland’s ambassador to the Bahamas.

-Matt Bewig

 

To Learn More:

Official Biography

Piotr Wilczek CV (2015)

Piotr Wilczek CV (2009)

Statement before the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations, State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee (pdf) 

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Poland's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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Comments

Jean Banas 2 years ago
I am a professional artist of Polish descent. Both of my parents were born in Poland. I have created an abstracted painting of the bombed city of Warsaw after the German blitzkrieg in Sept. 1939. My inspiration was the historical novel, "The Zookeeper's Wife", by Diane Ackerman. I wish to lend my painting for display at the Polish Embassy in the US, or for exhibit in the American Embassy in Poland. Thank you for your consideration. Jean Banas

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U.S. Ambassador to Poland

Mull, Stephen
ambassador-image

Getting expelled from the country is usually a disastrous way for a young foreign service officer to end only his second foreign posting, and would seem to foreclose a return assignment—unless your name is Stephen Mull. Nominated by President Obama on July 10 to be the next ambassador to Poland, Mull was expelled by the communist government there in 1986. Mull appeared at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on September 12.

 

Born April 30, 1958, in Reading, Pennsylvania, to mother Faith M. Spracklin, Stephen Mull recalled for a hometown reporter that he wanted a diplomatic career as early as elementary school. Mull graduated from Reading High School in 1976 and earned a BS in International Politics at Georgetown University in 1980.

 

Mull joined the Foreign Service in March 1982, and holds the rank of Career Minister. His first overseas assignment was to serve as a consular officer in the Bahamas from 1982 to 1984, where he met and married Cheri Stephan, herself the daughter of career diplomats. His second overseas posting was as second secretary in Poland from 1984 to 1986, during the period of martial law and the repression of the Solidarity labor union movement, where he did such a good job of reporting on Solidarity activities that the Polish government accused him of espionage and ordered him to leave the country three weeks before his term was up; he stayed and left on schedule.

 

From Poland Mull was sent to do a similar job in apartheid South Africa, where he served as political officer in the Black Politics Unit at the embassy in Pretoria, from 1986 to 1990. Back in the States, Mull was deputy director of the State Department Operations Center from 1991 to 1993. He then returned to Poland to find the dissidents he had been reporting on were now part of the government; he served as political counselor at the embassy in Warsaw from 1993 to 1997.

 

Back in Washington, Mull was director of the Office of Southern European Affairs from 1997 to 1998 and deputy executive secretary of state from 1998 to 2000. For his first posting to Asia, Mull was deputy chief of mission at the embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, from 2000 to 2003.

 

Mull served his first ambassadorship as ambassador to Lithuania from 2003 to 2006. He then took a series of headquarters assignments, starting with service as acting assistant secretary of state for Political-Military Affairs from January 2007 through August 2008, as senior advisor to Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns from August 2008 to June 2010, and as executive secretary of the State Department from June 2010 to August 2012. In addition, at the beginning of the Obama administration, he exercised the authority of the Office of the Under Secretary for International Security Affairs and Arms Control pending the arrival of the permanent under secretary.

 

Mull is a member of the Policy Council of the Una Chapman Cox Foundation, a private non-profit dedicated to a strong Foreign Service. Mull and wife Cheri Stephan have one child, Ryan,.

-Matt Bewig

 

Official Biography

Bush Taps Native of City for Post (by Don Spatz, Reading Eagle)

Testimony Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (2012, pdf)

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Overview

Bordered by Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, and Russia, this Eastern European country became independent in 1918 after World War I. This lasted two decades, before Germany invaded Poland in September 1939. At the end of World War II, the Soviets occupied Poland and began imposing Communist control over the government, first turning around a difficult post-war economy and then almost destroying it, due to over-borrowing and mismanagement. In 1978, a Polish bishop became Pope John Paul II, instilling pride among his countrymen. But rising prices of consumer goods, including meat, created considerable hardship among workers, prompting coal miners and shipyard workers to stage a series of strikes across the country. Lech Walesa, one of the Solidarity movement’s leaders, went on to negotiate an end to the strike and ensure workers’ rights throughout the country.

 
The victory was short-lived, as Poland’s government declared martial law and brutally cracked down on dissidence of any kind, which endangered relations with the US and other countries. But by 1989, with communism waning in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, the Polish government was forced to recognize Solidarity. In the two decades since then, Poland has conducted free and fair elections, restored its international relations, and begun a free market economy.
 
President Obama renounced plans to build a missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland, which had been proposed during the Bush Administration. The Polish government expressed disappointment and suggested that they will press the US to not abandon its prior commitments to NATO. The construction of a missile defense system would serve as a partial security guarantee for Eastern European countries against a resurgent Russia. Poland has also been supportive of US goals in the Iraq War, becoming one of the major sites for “extraordinary renditions” to “black” CIA sites, which have been linked to torture and other human rights violations. In addition, Poland’s ambassador was injured in Iraq in October 2007, raising questions about US security company Blackwater’s effectiveness in the region.
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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: This Eastern European nation stretches low and flat from the Baltic Sea in the north, rising gradually to the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains and the Sudeten range in the south.

 
Population: 38.5 million
 
Religions: Roman Catholic 96.3%, other (Eastern Orthodox, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Lutherans, Greek Catholic, Old Catholic Mariavits, Pentecostals, Polish Catholic) 2%, Jewish 0.08%.
 
Ethnic Groups: Polish 96.7%, German 0.4%, Belarusian 0.1%, Ukrainian 0.1%, other 2.7%.
 
Languages: Polish (official) 94.7%, German 1.7%, Belarusian 0.8%, Ukrainian 0.4%, Kashubian 0.2%, Romani (Baltic, Carpathian, Sinte, Vlax, Lower) 0.1%, Lower Silesian.
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History

According to its written history, Poland began with the reign of Mieszko I, who brought Christianity to the country in 966 AD. However, archeological evidence suggests that the Slavic people, who originally settled the area, had already been in Poland for thousands of years. Culturally, these tribes were Celtic, Germanic and Baltic, and migrated throughout the territories constituting Poland from about 400 BC.

 
A number of these tribes began to form small dominions in the 8th century, and these coalesced into larger ones over the next one hundred years. In the 10th century, one of the Slavic tribes called the Polans, meaning “people of the fields,” began to bring together even more tribes to form what would become the nation of Poland.
 
The Polanie tribe conquered and merged with other Slavic tribes as Mieszko I assumed the throne as a pagan king. His introduction to Christianity came through his wife, Dubrawka, a Czech Christian princess. During this time, Poland was considered a friend of the Holy Roman Empire, and with its help, Mieszko was able to transform Poland into a powerful European nation.
 
In the coming years, many wars and changes in leadership left Poland vulnerable to attacks from all sides. In 1034, the Piast monarchy collapsed, and Poland was ravaged by rebellion, as well as external forces, such as the Bohemians.
 
By the 13th century, Poland’s political and social systems shifted to one of land ownership and feudalism. Its borders were strengthened during this period, but repeated Mongol invasions weakened many principalities. The church continued to grow in influence, spreading the word through monastic schools and taking part in writing laws, records and documents.
 
During the 14th century, the Polish kingdom began to fragment, losing Pomerania and Silesia, and leaving half of the Polish population outside the borders of the kingdom. Germany was expanding rapidly during this time and controlled much of the area around the Vistula. Although Poland flirted with unification with Hungary, nothing materialized, and instead Poland was left open to uniting with Lithuania.
 
Major construction projects were undertaken during the 14th century, including Gothic churches, castles, fortifications and homes for the wealthy. The Polish state reached its zenith under the Jagiellonian dynasty in the years following the union with Lithuania in 1386 and the subsequent defeat of the Teutonic Knights at Grunwald in 1410.
 
The Polish monarchy again went into decline and ended up partitioning itself between Prussia, Russia and Austria in 1795. This state lasted until the early part of the 20th century, when US President Woodrow Wilson made Poland’s independence one of the 14 points he announced during World War I. As a result, many Polish-American soldiers enlisted in the US Army to help the war effort.
 
Poland achieved independence on November 3, 1918. The Treaty of Versailles, signed in 1919, confirmed this declaration. Poland received territories that had been partitioned off to Germany and Austria. Józef Piłsudski, a former war hero, became head of the government.
 
In 1939, under constant threat from Germany, Poland entered into a full military alliance with Britain and France. On August 23, 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union signed the Ribbentrop-Molotov nonaggression pact, which secretly provided for the dismemberment of Poland into Nazi and Soviet-controlled zones.
 
On September 1, 1939, Hitler invaded Poland from the west, and on September 17, Soviet troops invaded from the east, beginning the planned occupation under the terms of the Ribbentrop-Molotov agreement. When Germany turned around and attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941, Poland was completely occupied by German troops.
 
The Poles formed an underground resistance movement and a government in exile, first in Paris and later in London, which was eventually recognized by the Soviet Union. In April 1943, the Soviet Union broke relations with the Polish government in exile after the German military announced that they had discovered mass graves of murdered Polish army officers at Katyn in the USSR. In July 1944, the Soviet Red Army entered Poland and established a communist-controlled “Polish Committee of National Liberation” at Lublin.
 
As the Germans retreated in January 1945, they leveled Warsaw. During the war, about 6 million Poles were killed, and 2.5 million were deported to Germany for forced labor. More than 3 million Jews (all but about 100,000 of the Jewish population) were killed in death camps like those at Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Majdanek.
 
After the Yalta Conference in February 1945, the Polish Provisional Government of National Unity was formed. The US recognized the new Polish government in July of that year. Although the Yalta Conference called for free elections, Poland’s first post-war elections, held in January 1947, were dominated by the communists, who quickly established their own regime.
 
Communists continued to influence Poland’s political landscape until October 1956, when there were riots by workers in Poznan after the 20th (“de-Stalinization”) Soviet Party Congress in Moscow. For a time Communist rule relaxed somewhat. But in 1968, student protests were suppressed, and an “anti-Zionist” campaign initially directed against Gomulka supporters within the party eventually led to the emigration of much of Poland’s remaining Jewish population.
 
High prices for consumer goods led to more strikes in Gdansk, Gdynia, and Szczecin in December 1970. Many expressed deep dissatisfaction with living and working conditions in the country. During the first half of the 1970s, Poland’s economy grew faster than any other country in the world. However, over-borrowing and mismanagement caused much of this growth to be squandered. Economic growth flat-lined by 1979.
 
In October 1978, the Bishop of Krakow, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, became Pope John Paul II, head of the Roman Catholic Church. Polish Catholics rejoiced at the elevation of a Pole to the papacy and greeted his June 1979 visit to Poland with much pride and celebration.
 
By July 1980, Poland’s debt stood at more than $20 billion. At this time, the government increased meat prices, which led to a chain reaction of strikes across the nation. By the end of August, coalmines across the country were shut down. On August 31, 1980 workers at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk, led by an electrician named Lech Walesa, signed a 21-point agreement with the government that ended their strike. Similar agreements were signed at Szczecin and in Silesia. Among the provisions was the guarantee that workers could form unions and strike. After the Gdansk agreement was signed, a new national union movement, called “Solidarity,” swept across Poland.
 
The Soviet Union began to worry about the government’s authority and quickly built up military forces along its shared border with Poland. In February 1981, Defense Minister Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski assumed the position of prime minister, and in October 1981, he also was named first secretary of the United Worker’s Party. At the first Solidarity National Congress in September-October 1981, Lech Walesa was elected national chairman of the union.
 
On December 12-13, the Polish government declared martial law and used the army to crush the union. Many of Solidarity’s leaders were arrested or detained. The United States and other Western countries imposed economic sanctions against the Polish regime and against the Soviet Union, but unrest in Poland continued for several years thereafter.
 
Martial law was rescinded slowly in a series of steps. In December 1982, martial law was suspended, and a small number of political prisoners were released. Although martial law formally ended in July 1983 and a general amnesty was enacted, several hundred political prisoners remained in jail.
 
In July 1984, another general amnesty was declared, and two years later, the government had released nearly all political prisoners. The authorities continued, however, to harass dissidents and Solidarity activists. Solidarity remained proscribed and its publications banned. Independent publications were censored.
 
The spring and summer of 1988 saw strikes across Poland, and the government was forced to recognize Solidarity. Interior Minister Kiszczak began talks with Lech Walesa, eventually leading to an agreement for partly open National Assembly elections. In June of that year, elections produced a Sejm (lower house) with one-third of the seats going to communists and one-third going to the two parties that had previously been coalition partners. The remaining one-third of the Sejm and all seats in the Senate were freely contested; almost all of these seats were won by Solidarity candidates.
 
The roundtable agreement called for a communist president, and on July 19, the National Assembly, with the support of some Solidarity deputies, elected General Jaruzelski to that office. But the communists repeatedly failed to form governments.
 
On August 19, President Jaruzelski asked journalist/Solidarity activist Tadeusz Mazowiecki to form a government, and on September 12, the Sejm voted approval of Prime Minister Mazowiecki and his cabinet. For the first time in more than 40 years, Poland’s government was led by non-communists.
 
In December 1989, the Sejm helped approve government reforms that rapidly transformed the country’s economy to one of the free market, removed references to the role of the Communist Party in Poland’s political affairs, and renamed the country the Republic of Poland. The Polish United Workers’ (Communist) Party dissolved itself in January 1990, creating in its place a new party, Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland. Most of the property of the former Communist Party was turned over to the state.
 
In May 1990, elections produced victories for most of the Solidarity candidates. The cabinet was reshuffled in July, and the national defense and interior affairs ministers (holdovers from the previous communist government) were among those replaced. In October 1990, the constitution was amended to shorten Jaruzelski’s presidential term. In December, Lech Walesa became the first popularly elected president of Poland.
 
Under Walesa, Poland’s economy expanded, welcoming private enterprise and introducing world prices. Poland’s first free parliamentary elections were held in 1991. More than 100 parties participated, representing a full spectrum of political views. No single party received more than 13% of the total vote.
 
Since 1991, Poland has conducted six general parliamentary elections and four presidential elections, all free and fair. The post-Solidarity center-right and post-Communist center-left have each controlled the parliament and the presidency since 1991. Most recently, Poles elected Law and Justice (PiS) candidate and Warsaw Mayor Lech Kaczynski to a five-year term as president. Kazcynski narrowly defeated Civic Platform (PO) candidate Donald Tusk and was sworn in December 23, 2005.
 
PiS earned the most votes in September 25, 2005 parliamentary elections. Frustrated by its inability to achieve its legislative program alone, PiS formed a formal coalition government with Self-Defense (SO) and the League of Polish Families (LPR) in April 2006. In July 2006, Prime Minister Marcinkiewicz resigned and was replaced by PiS party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski as Prime Minister. Parliamentary elections were held again in October 2007, and Donald Tusk of the Civic Platform party was elected prime minister in November 2007.
 
In 2008, historians from the Institute of National Remembrance published a book, SB a Lech Wałęsa. Przyczynek do biografii (“Lech Wałęsa & SB”), which claimed that in the 1970s the former Solidarity leader was a secret informer for the Polish communist secret police (Służba Bezpieczeństwa) under the codename “Bolek.”
 
History of Poland (Wikipedia)
Poland History (Virtual Jewish Library)
History of Poland (HistoryWorld.net)
Lech Walesa (Wikipedia)
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History of U.S. Relations with Poland

There is evidence of Polish immigration to America as early as 1609, when some Poles were contracted as skilled craftsmen for the Jamestown colony. One of the most famous early Poles was the nobleman Casimir Pulaski, who fought on the American side during the Revolutionary War and whose death is still celebrated on October 11 by the American Polish community. 

 
The largest immigration wave began in the latter half of the 19th century and continued until the commencement of World War I. Although confusion over the nationality of Polish immigrants led to large under-reporting (Poland did not exist as a nation for much of the modern era), an estimated 2.5 million Poles came to America during this period. This massive influx of Catholics into a Protestant nation inevitably caused friction, and the difficulties facing the Polish immigrants prompted them to bond together to form a cohesive Polish American community, or Polonia as it is known. 
 
The Immigration Act of 1924 cut immigration drastically, although dissidents and refugees did make their way to America through the end of communism. Now, with the borders once again open, young Poles are coming to America to seek work, although the immigration quotas have kept numbers down. 
 
The US established diplomatic relations with the Polish Republic in April 1919. 
 
After Gomulka came to power in 1956, relations with the United States began to improve. But when the Polish government began to support the Soviet Union in its politics, as well as its anti-Semitic leanings, relations between the two countries stagnated.
 
US-Polish relations improved significantly after Gierek succeeded Gomulka and expressed his interest in improving relations with the United States. A consular agreement was signed in 1972.
 
In 1974, Gierek was the first Polish leader to visit the United States, signaling his intent to build stronger relations.
 
The Solidarity movement in 1980 raised hopes that progress could be made in international and domestic relations. During this time, the United States provided $765 million in agricultural assistance to Poland. However, human rights and individual freedom issues did not improve. The US revoked Poland’s most-favored-nation (MFN) status in response to the Polish government’s decision to ban Solidarity.
 
MFN status was reinstated in 1987, and diplomatic relations were upgraded at that time.
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Current U.S. Relations with Poland

 Noted Polish-Americans:

Arts and Entertainment
Tamara de Lempicka – Polish-born Art Deco artist
Gilda Gray – Polish-born American actress who popularized the “shimmy” in the 1920s.
Ted Knight born Tadeusz Władysław Konopka – American-born Emmy award winning film and television actor
John Krasinski – American-born half Polish actor, best known for his role as Jim on The Office
Rose Marie – American-born half Polish TV and film actress, known for her childhood performing career and her role as Sally on The Dick Van Dyke Show
Adrianne Palicki – American-born TV actress best known for her starring role on Friday Night Lights
John Ratzenberger – American-born TV actor, best known for his role as Cliff on Cheers
Janusz Kamiński – Polish-born cinematographer and film director who won Oscars for his cinematography in Saving Private Ryan (1998) and Schindler’s List (1993).
Gore Verbinski – American-born half-Polish director, best known for directing the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy
Larry Wachowski and Andy Wachowski – American-born directors of The Matrix
Josh Groban – American-born half-Polish singer and songwriter.
Jan A. P. Kaczmarek – Polish-born film composer who won an Academy Award in 2005 for Finding Neverland
Gene Krupa –American-born half-Polish big band drummer
Liberace – American-born, half-Polish entertainer
Ray Manzarek – American-born The Doors keyboardist and co-founder
Johnny Rzeznik – American-born lead singer of the Goo Goo Dolls
Richie Sambora – American-born half-Polish guitarist for Bon Jovi
Bobby Vinton – American-born pop singer
Pat Sajak – American-born host of the popular and long-running television game show Wheel of Fortune
Martha Stewart – American-born business magnate, author, editor, former stock broker, model, and homemaking advocate
 
Sports
Mike Krzyzewski – American-born head coach of the Duke University men's basketball team and the 2008 gold medal-winning U.S. men's Olympic basketball team
Tara Lipinski – American-born Olympic Gold Medalist figure skater and celebrity
 
Science
Casimir Funk, born Kazimierz Funk – Polish-American biochemist, generally credited with the first formulation of the concept of vitamins in 1912
Aleksander Wolszczan – Polish-born astronomer who was the first to discover extrasolar planets and pulsar planets
 
Military and Government
Włodzimierz Krzyżanowski - Polish-born military leader and a Union general in the American Civil War
Kazimierz Pułaski - Polish-born soldier and politician who has been called "the father of American cavalry." From 1777 until his death, Pułaski fought in the American Revolutionary War for the independence of the United States.
Matt Urban – American-born U. S. Army officer; most decorated serviceman according to the Guinness Book of World Records
 
Miscellaneous
Steve Wozniak – American-born co-founder of Apple
George Adamski – Polish-born American citizen who was one of the first people to publicly claim to have seen and photographed UFOs
Leon Czolgosz – American-born assassin of U.S. President William McKinley
Theodore Kaczynski – American-born terrorist (Unabomber)
 
Author/Writer
Andrew Nagorski – Polish-American non-fiction/fiction author and award winning senior editor of Newsweek magazine
 
 
Jewish Polish-Americans
Art and Entertainment
Daniel Libeskind – Polish-born architect; winner of the 2003 competition for the reconstruction of the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan
David Seymour - Polish-born Jewish photographer & photojournalist, best known for his photographs of the Spanish Civil War
David Geffen - half-Polish American-born Jewish record executive, film producer, theatrical producer and philanthropist
Neil Diamond – American-born Jewish singer-songwriter and occasional actor
Aaron Spelling – American-born half-Polish Jewish film and television producer
Jack Warner – Polish-Jewish president and driving force behind the highly successful development of Warner Brothers Studios in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California
Samuel Goldwyn – Polish-born Jewish film producer and founding contributor of several motion picture studios
Pia Zadora – American-born half-Polish actress and singer
Debra Messing – American-born Jewish actress of Polish and Russian descent, best known for her role as Grace on Will and Grace
Sarah Silverman – American-born Jewish comedian of Polish and Russian descent
David Arquette – American-born half-Polish Jewish actor
Paul Newman – American-born half-Polish Jewish American actor, film director, entrepreneur, humanitarian, and auto racing enthusiast
Jack Benny – half-Polish Jewish American comedian, vaudevillian, and actor for radio, television, and film.
Billy Wilder – Polish-born screenwriter, film director, and producer whose career spanned more than 50 years and 60 films
 
Science
Albert Abraham Michelson - Polish-born Jewish American physicist. Awarded the Nobel Prize in physics (1907) for work done on the measurement of the speed of light. He was also the first American to receive a Nobel Prize in the sciences.
 
Authors
J.D. Salinger –American-born, Jewish, half-Polish author, best known for his 1951 novel Catcher in the Rye
Arthur Miller – American-born Jewish playwright and essayist who wrote The Crucible and Death of a Salesman
 
Miscellaneous
Reuben Mattus – Polish-born Jewish founder of the Häagen-Dazs company
Max Factor, Sr, born Maximilian Factorowitz – Polish-born founder of Max Factor cosmetics company
 
Since 1989, the US and Poland have enjoyed warm bilateral relations. Each succeeding government since that time has supported a continued American military and economic presence in Europe. Poland has also been a strong supporter of the Global War on Terror, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, and coalition efforts in Iraq.
 
Poland cooperates closely with American diplomacy on issues such as democratization, nuclear proliferation, human rights, regional cooperation in Central and Eastern Europe, and UN reform. The Polish government had also expressed willingness to host part of the United States’ new missile defense system (see Controversies).
 
Poland has been a major recipient of US arms sales this decade, according to the Congressional Research Service. From 2000-2003 more than $3 billion in weapons and military equipment was sold to Poland, making it the top recipient among all European countries.
 
In the 2000 US census,8,977,235 people identified themselves as being of Polish ancestry. 
 
In 2006, 210,152 Americans visited Poland. The number of tourists has increased erratically since 2002, when 160,936 Americans traveled to Poland.
 
In 2006, 137,588 Poles visited the US. Tourism has grown consistently since 2002, when 108,707 Poles came to America.
 
 
US-Poland Missile Deal Irks Russia (by Michele Kelemen, NPR)
Poland Eyes Better US-Russia Relations (Benjie Telleron, All Headline News)
U.S. Arms Sales: Agreements with and Deliveries to Major Clients, 1996-2003 (by Richard Grimmett, Congressional Research Service) (PDF)
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Where Does the Money Flow

From 2004 to 2008, US imports from Poland included other industrial machinery, increasing from $124.1 million to $165.3 million; electrical equipment, rising from $65.5 million to $207.2 million; other parts and accessories, moving up from $48.4 million to $80.3 million; and furniture, household items, and baskets, increasing from $107.5 million to $195.0 million.

 
During the same period, American imports on the decline included automotive tires and tubes, which decreased from $23.6 million to $2.2 million; coal and related fuels, falling from $173.9 million to $30.5; measuring, testing and control instruments, moving down from $113.1 million to $74.2 million; and iron and steel products, decreasing from $23.9 million to $10.1 million.
 
Top US exports to Poland included passenger cars (new and used), moving up from $33.0 million to $309.6 million; military aircraft, rising from $0 to $1.1 trillion; and pulpwood and woodpulp, increasing from $48.9 million to $92.1 million.
 
During the same period, US exports to Poland on the decline included meat and poultry, decreasing from $44.6 million to $4.2 million; cotton fiber cloth, falling from $1 million to $259,000;.military trucks and armored vehicles, moving down from $8.4 million to $0. 
 
In 2007, the US sold $132.5 million of defense articles and services to Poland. That same year, the US gave Poland $30.5 million in aid, divided between Foreign Military Financing ($28.5 million), and International Military Education and Training ($2.1 million). 
 
In the 2008 budget estimate, the US gave $29 million, once again divided between Foreign Military Financing ($27 million), and International Military Education and Training ($2 million). 
 
The 2009 budget request allocated $29.2 million in aid to Poland, divided between Foreign Military Financing ($27 million) and International Military Education and Training ($2.2 million).
 
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Controversies

US Missile Defense System in Poland Raises Controversy with Russia

In March 2008, President George W. Bush announced that the United States had agreed to help the Polish military in exchange for the right to install a US missile defense system in the country. The Polish military’s equipment would be upgraded to be able to defend against short and medium-range missile attacks, most likely from Patriot 3 or THAAD missiles. The US missile shield also would protect against long-range missiles. However, Poland has argued that Russia has threatened to target Poland with nuclear missiles if it allows missile interceptors to be based in its country. The US has said the system is aimed at Iran and North Korea. President Barack Obama has renounced plans to build the missile defense system in Eastern Europe. Obama has said that a shield based on the Navy’s Aegis system would be better equipped to deal with countries such as Iran. Rather than interceptor missiles and a radar system in Poland, the new plans will use a network of smaller, more modern missiles based on ships and land. The announcement from Obama came on September 17, 2009, which was the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939. Many Poles felt the announcement was historically insensitive and others claimed that Poland was being treated as a second-class ally by the US.
 
Obama Shifts Focus Of Missile Shield (by Michael D. Shear and Ann Scott Tyson, Washington Post)
 
Blackwater “Not Fit to Work in Iraq”
In October 2007, Poland’s Ambassador, General Edward Pietrzyk, was seriously injured when three car bombs went off and attackers opened fire on his vehicle. Three others were killed, including a Polish bodyguard. Ten more were wounded. US Embassy officials dispatched Blackwater helicopters to evacuate the ambassador and others. Blackwater was not involved in protecting the Polish convoy. Pietrzyk suffered minor burns over 20% of his body, including his head and right arm and leg. Shortly after the assault, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said that Blackwater “is not fit to work in Iraq,” since it has lost 190 people to violence in the region. It is assumed that the Polish ambassador was targeted to punish Poland’s alliance with the US-led coalition forces in Iraq. Poland moved its embassy to the Green Zone.
 
Renditions to Poland and Other Countries Stirs Controversy with EU
In December 2005, reports surfaced that the US had detained several top al-Qaeda suspects in secret prisons in Poland and Romania, eliciting dismay from European Union countries. Media reports have linked CIA aircraft to airports in Finland, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, and Spain, and suggest that these planes are carrying suspected terrorists to “black” sites there. These “renditions” have helped “save European lives,” according to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. But they have put pressure on governments across Europe. Political fallout from renditions in Italy, Sweden and Germany has made it more difficult for these countries to cooperate in future counterterrorism exercises with US intelligence, and threatens to stop the flow of information between allies. Human Rights Watch has said that Poland was the source of nearly a quarter of detainees held in such camps over the past eight years.
US Treatment of Terror Suspects and US-EU Relations (by Mary Crane, Council on Foreign Relations)
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Human Rights

The State Department reports that conditions inside Polish prisons and detention centers remained generally poor. Overcrowding and inadequate medical treatment were among the main problems.

 
According to the State Department, “Pretrial detention was a serious problem that contributed to overcrowding and deterioration of detention facilities. The judiciary remained inefficient and lacked resources and public confidence. Corruption within the police force was widespread, and there was a public perception that police were unduly influenced by political pressures.
 
“The law allows electronic surveillance for crime prevention and investigations. However, there was no independent judicial review of surveillance activities, nor was there any control over the use of information obtained by monitoring private communications.”
 
The law provides for freedom of speech and of the press. However, in practice, holdover Communist-era laws and regulations restricted these freedoms. For example, libel and some forms of defamation are criminal offenses; a person who insults or humiliates a constitutional institution is subject to a fine or imprisonment of up to two years; insulting a public official is subject to a fine or imprisonment of up to one year; and offending the object or spirit of a place of worship in public is punishable by a fine or a two-year prison term. Libel suits against journalists are common.
 
The law provides for freedom of association, and according to the State Department, “the government generally respected these rights in practice.”
 
There were reports of occasional anti-Semitic incidents, including occasional desecration of Jewish cemeteries. Poland’s politics remained vulnerable to charges of extremism, intolerance, and anti-Semitism. According to the State Department, “the law prohibits hate speech, including dissemination of anti-Semitic literature. The government publicly criticized anti-Semitic acts and supported tolerance in education.
 
“Corruption was believed to be pervasive throughout government and society. The World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators reflected that corruption was a problem.”
 
According to the State Department “domestic violence against women continued to be a serious problem.” In addition, “the NGO Women’s Rights Center reported that police were occasionally reluctant to intervene in domestic violence incidents if the perpetrator was a member of the police or if victims were unwilling to cooperate.”
 
The State Department found that “women held lower-level positions and frequently were paid less then men for equivalent work, were fired more readily, and were less likely to be promoted.”
 
Furthermore, the State Department noted that “poland remained a source, transit point, and destination for trafficked persons, primarily women and girls, but to a lesser extent, boys and men for forced labor. Internal trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation also occurred.”
 
According to the State Department “there were incidents of racially motivated violence and verbal and physical abuse directed at Roma and persons of African, Asian, or Arab descent. The Ukrainian and Belarusian minorities also continued to experience petty harassment and discrimination.”
 
In its report, the State Department stated “societal discrimination against Roma continued. In some cases local officials discriminated against Roma by not providing adequate social services. Romani leaders complained of widespread discrimination in employment, housing, banking, the justice system, the media, and education.”
 
In addition the State Department found that “during the year there were some reports of skinhead violence and societal discrimination against persons based on their sexual orientation.”
 
Additionally, the State Department reported “there were some reports of discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS. According to the Government AIDS Center, there were two reported incidents of discrimination during the year. One case involved police discrimination and the other a healthcare institution which refused to treat the persons living in a homeless shelter if they did not provide a certificate that they are HIV negative.”
 
According to the State Department “the law provides that all workers, including civilian employees of the armed forces, police, and frontier guard, have the right to establish and join trade unions. While many workers exercised this right in practice, many small and medium-sized firms discriminated against those who attempted to organize labor. As a rule, newly established small and medium-sized firms were nonunion, while privatized formerly state-owned enterprises frequently continued union activity.”
 
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors

Victor Ashe

Victor Ashe served as the US Ambassador to Poland from June 23, 2004, until February 6, 2009. Ashe graduated from the Hotchkiss School, in Lakeville, Connecticut, in 1963 and from Yale University with a BA in History in 1967. He received his law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 1974. He is currently licensed to practice law in Tennessee.
 
In 1965, Ashe served as an intern in the office of Congressman Bill Brock, where he helped write a tax sharing for education bill. In 1967, he was a staff assistant in the office of Republican Senator Howard Baker. From 1967 to 1973, Ashe served as a member of the US Marine Corps Air Reserves.
 
In 1968, Ashe was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives. In 1975, he was elected to the state Senate, where he served for nine years. From 1985-1987, under President Ronald Reagan, Ashe served as the executive director of the Americans Outdoors Commission chaired by then-Governor (now US Senator) Lamar Alexander.
 
Ashe was elected mayor of Knoxville, TN in November 1987, serving 16 years. In 1995, Ashe was elected president of the US Conference of Mayors.
 
He was appointed by both President George H. W. Bush and President Bill Clinton to the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations. President Clinton later nominated Ashe to the AmeriCorps board of directors, which was confirmed by the US Senate.
 
President George W. Bush appointed Ashe to the board of directors of Fannie Mae in 2001, where he served until May 24, 2004.
 
Ashe has donated $11, 450 to various Republican candidates and causes, including Lamar Alexander, Fred Thompson, Richard Lugar and George W. Bush. He was also Bush’s former roommate, and a member of the Skull and Bones Society at Yale. 
 
Victor Ashe (Wikipedia)
 
 
Hugh S. Gibson
Appointment: [Apr 16, 1919]
Presentation of Credentials: May 2, 1919
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, May 3, 1924
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; commission not of record; took oath of office on Apr 16, 1919. Recommissioned on Jun 26, 1919, after confirmation.
 
Alfred J. Pearson
Appointment: Apr 2, 1924
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 26, 1924
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 18, 1925
 
John B. Stetson, Jr.
Appointment: Jul 3, 1925
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 29, 1925
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 29, 1929
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 17, 1925.
 
Alexander P. Moore
Appointment: Jan 31, 1930
Note: Died in the United States before taking oath of office.
 
John N. Willys
Appointment: Mar 8, 1930
Presentation of Credentials: May 24, 1930
Termination of Mission: Left post May 30, 1932
 
F. Lammot Belin
Appointment: Nov 2, 1932
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 13, 1932
Termination of Mission: Recess appointment expired, Mar 4, 1933
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate.
 
James Michael Curley
Note: Not commissioned; nomination withdrawn before the Senate acted upon it.
 
John Cudahy
Appointment: Jun 13, 1933
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 6, 1933
Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 23, 1937
 
Anthony J. Drexel Biddle, Jr.
Appointment: May 4, 1937
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 2, 1937
Termination of Mission: Left London, Dec 1, 1943
Note: Biddle left Warsaw, Sep 5, 1939, and followed the Government of Poland first to France (Sep 1939–Jun 1940) and later to England (where Biddle arrived Mar 14, 1941). Rudolf E. Schoenfeld opened the Embassy near the Government of Poland established in England, making his initial call as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim on Sep 21, 1940. Biddle was also commissioned to Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and Yugoslavia; resident at London during his service near those governments. Rudolf E. Schoenfeld was serving as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim when the mission of the Embassy near the Government of Poland established in England was terminated on Jul 5, 1945, on which date the Embassy in Warsaw was re-established with Ambassador Lane in charge pending presentation of his letter of credence.
 
Arthur Bliss Lane
Appointment: Sep 21, 1944
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 4, 1945
Termination of Mission: Left post Feb 24, 1947
 
Stanton Griffis
Appointment: May 15, 1947
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 9, 1947
Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 21, 1948
 
Waldemar J. Gallman
Appointment: Jul 7, 1948
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 15, 1948
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 8, 195
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Mar 2, 1949.
 
Joseph Flack
Appointment: Sep 20, 1950
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 30, 1950
Termination of Mission: Left Poland, Apr 22, 1955
 
Joseph E. Jacobs
Appointment: Apr 1, 1955
Presentation of Credentials: May 23, 1955
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 23, 1957
 
Jacob D. Beam
Appointment: Jun 26, 1957
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 9, 1957
Termination of Mission: Left post Nov 30, 1961
 
John M. Cabot
Appointment: Jan 30, 1962
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 2, 1962
Termination of Mission: Left post Sep 24, 1965
 
John A. Gronouski
Appointment: Sep 11, 1965
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 7, 1975
Termination of Mission: Left post May 26, 1968
 
Walter J. Stoessel, Jr.
Appointment: Jul 24, 1968
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 12, 1968
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 5, 1972
 
Richard T. Davies
Appointment: Dec 2, 1972
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 5, 1973
Termination of Mission: Left post Feb 5, 1978
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Feb 8, 1973.
 
William E. Schaufele, Jr.
Appointment: Feb 3, 1978
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 30, 1978
Termination of Mission: Left post Sep 11, 1980
 
Francis J. Meehan
Appointment: Oct 2, 1980
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 27, 1980
Termination of Mission: Left post Feb 11, 1983
 
Note: The following officers have served as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim: Herbert E. Wilgis, Jr. (Feb–Jul 1983); and John R. Davis, Jr. (Sep 1983–Jan 1987).
 
John R. Davis, Jr.
Appointment: Feb 5, 1988
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 17, 1988
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 20, 1990
Note: Designated Chargé d’Affaires on Jan 9, 1987.
 
Thomas W. Simons, Jr.
Appointment: Aug 6, 1990
Presentation of Credentials: Sept 11, 1990
Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 28, 1993
 
Nicholas Andrew Rey
Appointment: Nov 22, 1993
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 21, 1993
Termination of Mission: Left post Oct 25, 1997
 
Daniel Fried
Appointment: Nov 10, 1997
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 27, 1997
Termination of Mission: Left post May 6, 2000
 
Christopher Robert Hill
Appointment: May 31, 2000
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 27, 2000
Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 14, 2004
 
Victor Henderson Ashe
Appointment: May 26, 2004
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 17, 2004
Termination of Mission: Feb. 6, 2009
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Poland's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Wilczek, Piotr

Since October 21, 2016, the ambassador to the United States from Poland has been Piotr Wilczek, a literary scholar with no previous diplomatic experience. He succeeded Ryszard Schnepf, who was also a former academic turned diplomat. Despite his lack of experience, Wilzcek has already earned praise back home for his spirited defense of Poland’s right-populist government against a critical article in The Washington Post.

 

Born on April 26, 1962, in Chorzów, Poland, Piotr Wilczek is a literary scholar, intellectual historian, writer, and translator. He earned his degrees in Polish and Modern Literature at the University of Silesia, including an M.A. in Polish and Cultural Studies in 1986, a Ph.D. in the History of Polish Literature in 1992, and a habilitation in the Humanities in 2001. He also earned a diploma in Neo-Latin Studies at the University of Lodz (Poland) in 1989. Wilzcek did postgraduate work at Oxford University in 1988 and at the Warburg Institute of the University of London in 1996.

 

Hired by his alma mater, Wilzcek was a professor of Literature at the University of Silesia from 1986 to 2008, where he also served as dean of the Faculty of Languages from 2002 to 2008. His interests include comparative literature, the problems of translation, philology, and intellectual history.

 

Wilczek is no stranger to the United States. From 1998 to 2001, he taught Polish literature, culture and language as a visiting professor at Rice University in Houston (1998-1999), the University of Illinois (1999-2001), and the University of Chicago (2000-2001). In addition, he conducted research as a visiting scholar at Boston College from 2008 to 2010, and at Cleveland State University in 2012.

 

In 2008, he joined the University of Warsaw’s new, experimental Artes Liberales program as the first director of Collegium Artes Liberales (College of Liberal Arts and Sciences). Since 2010, he has also been in charge of the Artes Liberales Doctoral Studies Program. At the time of his appointment as ambassador to the United States, he was the head of the university’s Centre for Research on the Reformation and Intellectual Culture in Early Modern Europe.

 

Wilczek is a member of the American Study Group at the Polish Institute of International Affairs, where experts, journalists, and academics discuss political and cultural developments in the United States and analyze their implications for Poland, Europe, and the trans-Atlantic alliance. From October 2014 to October 2016, he was representative in Poland of the Kosciuszko Foundation, a New York-based non-profit dedicated to educational, cultural, and artistic exchange between the U.S. and Poland. He also served as president of the Foundation’s affiliate in Warsaw, and as president of the board of the Foundation’s alumni association from March 2013 to February 2017.

 

Piotr Wilczek has written or edited 22 published monographs and more than 100 journal articles, both in English and Polish. Among his works is (Mis)translation and (Mis)interpretation: Polish Literature in the Context of Cross-Cultural Communication (2005). He belongs to numerous professional groups and associations and is a board member of various international scholarly journals, book series, advisory councils, and academic and educational initiatives. In addition to his native Polish, Wilczek is proficient in English, Latin, Russian, and German. He also serves as Poland’s ambassador to the Bahamas.

-Matt Bewig

 

To Learn More:

Official Biography

Piotr Wilczek CV (2015)

Piotr Wilczek CV (2009)

Statement before the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations, State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee (pdf) 

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Poland's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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Comments

Jean Banas 2 years ago
I am a professional artist of Polish descent. Both of my parents were born in Poland. I have created an abstracted painting of the bombed city of Warsaw after the German blitzkrieg in Sept. 1939. My inspiration was the historical novel, "The Zookeeper's Wife", by Diane Ackerman. I wish to lend my painting for display at the Polish Embassy in the US, or for exhibit in the American Embassy in Poland. Thank you for your consideration. Jean Banas

Leave a comment

U.S. Ambassador to Poland

Mull, Stephen
ambassador-image

Getting expelled from the country is usually a disastrous way for a young foreign service officer to end only his second foreign posting, and would seem to foreclose a return assignment—unless your name is Stephen Mull. Nominated by President Obama on July 10 to be the next ambassador to Poland, Mull was expelled by the communist government there in 1986. Mull appeared at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on September 12.

 

Born April 30, 1958, in Reading, Pennsylvania, to mother Faith M. Spracklin, Stephen Mull recalled for a hometown reporter that he wanted a diplomatic career as early as elementary school. Mull graduated from Reading High School in 1976 and earned a BS in International Politics at Georgetown University in 1980.

 

Mull joined the Foreign Service in March 1982, and holds the rank of Career Minister. His first overseas assignment was to serve as a consular officer in the Bahamas from 1982 to 1984, where he met and married Cheri Stephan, herself the daughter of career diplomats. His second overseas posting was as second secretary in Poland from 1984 to 1986, during the period of martial law and the repression of the Solidarity labor union movement, where he did such a good job of reporting on Solidarity activities that the Polish government accused him of espionage and ordered him to leave the country three weeks before his term was up; he stayed and left on schedule.

 

From Poland Mull was sent to do a similar job in apartheid South Africa, where he served as political officer in the Black Politics Unit at the embassy in Pretoria, from 1986 to 1990. Back in the States, Mull was deputy director of the State Department Operations Center from 1991 to 1993. He then returned to Poland to find the dissidents he had been reporting on were now part of the government; he served as political counselor at the embassy in Warsaw from 1993 to 1997.

 

Back in Washington, Mull was director of the Office of Southern European Affairs from 1997 to 1998 and deputy executive secretary of state from 1998 to 2000. For his first posting to Asia, Mull was deputy chief of mission at the embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, from 2000 to 2003.

 

Mull served his first ambassadorship as ambassador to Lithuania from 2003 to 2006. He then took a series of headquarters assignments, starting with service as acting assistant secretary of state for Political-Military Affairs from January 2007 through August 2008, as senior advisor to Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns from August 2008 to June 2010, and as executive secretary of the State Department from June 2010 to August 2012. In addition, at the beginning of the Obama administration, he exercised the authority of the Office of the Under Secretary for International Security Affairs and Arms Control pending the arrival of the permanent under secretary.

 

Mull is a member of the Policy Council of the Una Chapman Cox Foundation, a private non-profit dedicated to a strong Foreign Service. Mull and wife Cheri Stephan have one child, Ryan,.

-Matt Bewig

 

Official Biography

Bush Taps Native of City for Post (by Don Spatz, Reading Eagle)

Testimony Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (2012, pdf)

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