Poland was the first modern democracy. According to Oxford Professor Norman Davis, Poland had “the first constitution of its type” in Europe. In 1683, Poland defended Europe against the Ottoman Empire at the Gates of Vienna. After founding the first constitutional republic, Poland was partitioned by Austria, Prussia and Russia and disappeared from the European maps. After World War I a Chicago funded brigade helped Pilsudski successfully defeat Russia. A new Poland emerged.
During World War II, Poles pilots successfully defended London from the Nazis. The Polish Army freed the Monte Cassino monastery in Italy. After World War II, Chicago Polish Americans sent food, clothing and cash to help the growing union movement of Solidarity. When Poland formed another democratic government, Polish Americans again sent professionals to aid the transition to a capitalistic economy. Finally, during the last recession, nearly a hundred thousand Poles returned from America to rebuild Poland. This secret bridge between Poland and America has strengthened and renewed Poles over two hundred years.
At the gates of Vienna in 1683 King Sobieski led the European knights against the Turkish Ottoman Empire Muslims and the Pasha Mustafa. Sobieski suffered life ending injuries in the protection of freedom and independence of our culture, history, religion and way to exist. For centuries Muslims attacked the borderlands of Eastern Poland in droves, raiding cities, killing cattle and citizens, burning homes, and stealing whatever they could.
For centuries before the Polish modern democracy, Poland offered freedom of religion. That’s why thirty percent of most Polish cities were Jewish. Polish Jews were encouraged to live in peace, to practice their religion, to establish themselves, and to trade. Also, at the end of the seventeenth century, nearly 30,000 Scots migrated to Poland to escape the British Commonwealth.
Constitution of 3 May 1791, King Stanislaw August Poniatowski by Jan Matejko
In 1782, after the U.S. Revolutionary War of Independence from The British, Kosciuszko returned to Poland. Tadeusz brought to Poland what Washington and the U.S. founding fathers gave the thirteen colonies that became the U.S. Following the constitutional democracy, U.S. Brigadier General Kosciuszko bravely fought three European armies unsuccessfully. No one came to Poland’s defense. The end result was Austria, Prussia and Russia partitioning Poland. Then Poland disappeared from the European map.
U.S. Brigadier General Tadeusz Kosciuszko at the Battle of Raclawice 4 April 1794 by Jan Matejko
From 1792 until 1918, the Roman Catholic Church held the Polish culture, history, and language in its hands. The Polish Roman Catholic Church kept Poland alive in the hearts of its disenfranchised citizens. That’s why Poles have such a deep devotion for and faith in the Roman Catholic Church.
During World War I, Chicago Polish Americans funded a brigade that joined the American, British and French in freeing Europe. After the armistice, President Wilson allowed this Chicago Polish American brigade to join Pilsudski, the first Marshall of Poland. Together the Chicago Polish American brigade and Marshall Pilsudski successfully defeated the Russians. After of century of indignity, Poland was again independent. Thanks to Paderewski and Wilson in the treaty of Versailles, Poland’s sovereignty was confirmed.
After the Polish independence from Austria, Prussia and Russia, Paderewski played concerts to raise American funds. Thus, Poland had the money to rebuild from the ashes of occupation. In New York City’s Carnegie Hall, my mother heard Paderewski play his piano concert. People were mesmerized by this bright, handsome diplomat and president, who took up the cause of a free Poland.
During and after World War II, Chicago and American again assisted Poland. During the 1950s and 1960s, my father’s altar boy friend and elementary and high school classmate, Archbishop Alfred Abramowicz sent from Chicago to Gdansk shipping containers of food and clothing. Through Polish Catholic Charities these goods were distributed to the many dioceses and parishes of Poland.
In World War II the Polish Air Force defended London. Because the Polish pilots had already fought over Poland and France, they were the best. Only the aces were still alive. My brother-in-law’s uncle fought in the Polish squadron of the Royal Air Force. Uncle Wysocki had few kind words for the British. The British rewarded the Polish pilots by refusing them citizenship. After World War II, Chicago and America opened their arms widely. The U.S. welcomed the patriotic Polish pilots to new homes.
From 1962 to 1963, the Communists held Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski in house arrest. When he was freed Wyszynski celebrated the 966 millennial history of Poland’s Christianization. The Cardinal revitalized Poland. In 1966, Stefan and the Polish bishops re-baptized, re-confirmed, re-married, and re-ordained every Catholic. The farmers, miners, professionals, shipbuilders, and students realized they were all Polish Catholics with a deep history together. Polish Catholics realized there were more Poles than communist military and police. The sons and the daughters of this 1966 Polish Catholic revival celebrating one thousand years as Catholics became a movement known as Solidarity or Solidarnosc.
In Nowa Huta, a Krakow bishop named Karol Wojtyla had Sunday services. He said Mass in the rain and in the snow on a concrete block in a town without a church. U.S. Archbishop Alfred brought a special gift. From the Chicago parish workers, Abramowicz gave a suitcase filled with U.S. hundred dollar bills. Alfred told Karol to build the Church of the Arch. Thus, the Communist ideal town without a parish now had a new sanctuary.
When this Polish bishop Wojtyla returned to Poland as Pope John Paul II, Abramowicz came with more funds to help Krakow. In the “Nine Days That Changed the World,” Archbishop Alfred provided the money for logistics, platforms and security. During this triumphant papal visit, one out of every four Poles saw their beloved native son and world leader in person. By continuing what Wyszynski and Wojtyla began in the revitalization of 1966, Pope John Paul II asked Poles to have a peaceful nonviolent revolution. In Krakow’s Curia, the Pope ordered that no blood shall be shed.
Poles showed that a national labor union was more powerful than all the Russian military. Chicago and its unions provided the financial and technical materials to build a strong national Polish movement. This was the beginning of the end for the repressive Communist regime.
The Poles had suffered long lines for basic commodities. Polish Americans did what they could for the homeland by sending shipping containers of personal packages. Communists could not provide a good economy for Poland. Combined with the overspending on the military by the Russians, the communist socialist system collapsed from within.
A decade after John Paul II’s triumphant return to Poland as pope, the Berlin Wall fell on the ninth of November, 1989. In unison, the Bishop in Rome, Pope John Paul II, a Gdansk electrician who jumped over the fence, Lech Walesa, and the Chicago archbishop with the cash from Chicago Polish Americans, Alfred Abramowicz, ended Polish communism. Of course there was some help along the way from Presidents Carter and Reagan and British Prime Minister Thatcher. In the end, it was really the secret bridge of Poles and Polish Americans initiated by Kosciuszko and the founder of the American Cavalry Pulaski in the eighteenth century that set the wheels of Polish freedom in motion.
It is no mere coincidence that following this destruction of the Berlin Wall separating East and West that Hungary, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, three Baltic States, Romania, and Ukraine became independent democracies. This was accomplished largely without the help of Europe. These were self-contained movements within each of the central European countries. It was the example of Polish Solidarity, the people’s labor movement that freed central Europe from Communism. Polish leadership and the help of Polish Americans accomplished a new free democratic capitalistic country. And the other central European neighbors merely modelled what they witnessed in Poland. Freedom is contagious.
During the Solidarity led government, again Chicago and the U.S. assisted Poland. America sent its bankers, economists, professors, and professionals to help. Together Poland and the U.S. set up the economic shock. This started Poland on its way to a modern industrial democratic country for the inefficiency of the socialist state. I witnessed firsthand the hardship in 1989. There was the slow transition to a vibrant modern nation state. Back then the Polish roads were poor. The Polish banks had long lines. Using a Polish telephone was an adventure. Finding commonly available commodities in the Polish stores was unusual. However, there were free flea markets. Many of the new markets were sellers with goods available from the trunks of cars. But the Polish people were smiling with their new found freedom. There was an air of hope for change for a better life ahead. Poles were proud again.
In 2008, when the U.S. economy had went into freefall, brought on by the push to give house loans to people who could not afford them, Poles left America in droves. From 2008 to 2009, close to 100,000 Polish Americans from Chicago returned to rebuild Poland. These engineers and professionals brought the skills and the economic know how to make Poland what it is today. The new homes, shopping malls, schools, churches and universities were made by Poles and Polish Americans. Every innovation from the media to markets to industrial parks to snow removal and sanitation was copied during lessons learned in America where Poles had businesses and contributed to the U.S. economy.
After Poland lifted itself out of economic disaster, the European Union lent Poland considerable funds. Note that these were European Union loans in the form of bonds, not the outright gifts that Americans gave during the entire twentieth century. The European Union floated these financial obligations. Poland must repay these with interest. The European Union banks gave money after the fact that Poland was already an economic success. For over a decade, Poland was well on its way to economic recovery. In fact, for the past twenty-five years, Poland was the most dynamic European economy.
Poland has a right to its sovereignty and it has the responsibility to find its own way. Past behavior is the best prediction of the future. Poland can only look to Poles and Polish Americans. Given how European Union members have been making some questionable policy decisions with regards to culture, family, and religion, this is even more crucial.
For five centuries Poland has guarded Europe from the Ottoman Empire. Now the European Union wants Poland to take Muslims into its country. For half a millennium Muslims killed Poles. Even today Muslims are not widely accepted, nor tolerated by Poles. Poles are largely Roman Catholics and homogenously Caucasian. Although tolerant of other cultures and religions, Poles look suspiciously at people who want to slay them to get into heaven. Poles have long memories that have saved their lives over a millennium.
Poles do not want the self-inflicted ills that Great Britain, France, and Germany have with Muslim terrorists murdering the citizens. Background checks miss 75% of at-risk, so the political double speak is outright dishonest. Monthly Muslim terrorist incidents constantly remind Poland of the foolhardy European policy decisions.
The European uniformed leadership has for decades made unwise and poor choices. Currently, the Germans are deporting sixty-five percent of the Muslim migrants back to the Middle East. These Muslim migrations have less to do with the war, than trying to escape unrealistic economic conditions of extreme poverty and starvation that are brought on by myopic, selfish, self-centered Muslim leadership.
European Union countries have a negative birth rate. This means that there are fewer children than parents in most European countries. There is also almost limited religious participation in most European Union countries. If the European Union was forthright, then why are the European economies floundering, their birth rates flagging, and their populaces suffering terrorist bombings and killings?
Pope John Paul II during his last visit to Poland, standing on the tarmac in Krakow with the wind blowing through his hair and twirling his vestments, begged Poland to be the moral compass of Europe. John Paul II demanded that Poles be the conscience and the soul of Europe leading it into the next century. The growing European secularism is more bankrupt and much worse than the socialistic vacuum of the Nazi or Communist eras. So Poles are right in clinging to their culture, history, religion and sovereignty.
Today, Americans are having North Atlantic Treaty Organization military exercises in Poland. Many of the American military are Illinois National Air and Army Guard units. When the U.S. needed allies in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, the Polish troops were at the U.S. soldiers’ side. Now America is returning the favor. There are plans to move American bases from Germany into Poland to protect its partner. The European Union can make their overtures. Poles know that when they need help they can always turn to Chicago and the United States for help. History repeats itself.
Poles lead the central European countries that have for a millennium protected the rest of Europe so it can have its freedom. At the Battle of Monte Cassino in World War II, it was the Polish Army who took out the Nazis. The Australians, British, Canadians, and New Zealanders failed. But the Poles, who suffered heavy losses, were the heroes. I lost a cousin-in-law there. He is buried in the Loreto Italy World War II Cemetery on the fourth of July 1944, America’s Independence Day.
So there is little that the European Union can do to interfere with Poland. Given what Europe has done for Poland over the last two centuries, Poland should not expect much from the European Union. Poland thrives because of its free floating currency. The Polish Zloty is one of the strongest currencies. The Polish economy is the only European Union country with positive growth from 1990 to present. Poles are industrious, wise people who look behind, in front and to both sides before they act. Poland will chart its own future as it has made its own past.
Robert John Zagar is an officer of the Circuit Court of Cook County Juvenile Division, the “first” juvenile court in the world. He is a registered clinical psychologist, certified school psychologist, neuropsychologist and industrial psychologist. Robert is a professor at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. His testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime Terrorism and Homeland Security resulted in 4 US Presidential executive orders releasing over 6K nonviolent federal prisoners, 2 U.S. Supreme Court decisions (Miller v Alabama, Graham v Florida) requiring 2,500 juveniles sentence to life in prison without parole to be re-sentenced, and 1 Act of Congress on predictive analytics for service personnel and veterans. His work in Chicago saved 324 lives and over 2 billion U.S. dollars targeting high risk teens with summer jobs, mentors and anger management and releasing 56% of nonviolent offenders without return to court. His book, Predicting and Preventing Homicide a Cost Effective Empirical Approach from Infancy to Adulthood, resulted in the founding of the Crime Laboratory at the University of Chicago. President Clinton thought his books was “persuasive and convincing” while Chicago Mayor Daley thanked him for his research and wished him future success.
Robert received his doctorate from Northwestern University in research design and statistics, and a master’s degree in public health during a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Illinois Medical Center. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Rush Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center, and two years premedical and basic medical sciences. Robert worked as an economist for the Illinois Department of Labor Employment Security Actuarial Services. He has been on featured in the international media regularly. Robert’s dad was one of the first U.S. Navy Seals working behind enemy lines in the Sino American Cooperative Organization charged with destroying railroads and coastal shipping and providing the US fleet with the eyes and the ears in the South China Sea. His mom was a US Navy Wave. A dozen other family members served at the sergeant level in the U.S. Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy.
Agata Karolina Szkotak Zagar is one of triplets born in Dabrowa Tarnowska, the province of Malopolska, Poland. She completed a business degree at the University of Illinois at Chicago Business School and a master’s in business degree at the Heller Business School of Roosevelt University. She is the CEO of Actuarial Risk Tests LLC www.standardpredictor.com. She and Robert founded the Society of the Friends of Radgoszcz, a nonprofit organization to benefit the children and families in Poland. Robert and Agata are active members of the University Club of Chicago and the Holy Name Cathedral Parish.