Monday, September 11, 2017


Jestem  Żydem a Polska jest moją Ojczyzną.... I am a Jew and Poland is my homeland - these words of Artur Szyk perfectly illustrate his mutually inclusive identities which infused his art for four decades.
As many of you know the Artur Szyk exhibit at the New York Historical Society will be opening on September 15, 2017 and will continue through January 21, 2018. Although this is not a large exhibit, it will give you a clear idea of some aspects of his work.  

Artur Szyk was extremely well known during his lifetime - not only for his illumination of the Statut of Kalisz or the Book of Esther - but also for his caricatures of Hitler and Mussolini.  He also prepared a number of illustrations which appeared in the Polish Pavilion at the New York World's Fair of 1939.  

However, this artist, who had fought by using his art from 1919 through 1945 - is completely unknown (except for specialists or Jewish scholars) in contemporary Poland and barely known in the United States.  There are four reasons for this 
1- His service in the Polish Army during the Polish Bolshevik War of1919-1920 - vide his anti-Bolshevik poster

2- His service to Inter-war Poland - both creating illustrations of Piłsudski and the work for the Polish Pavilion (among others)

3-  The fact that in the period of 1939-1941, i.e. while the Soviet Union was allied with Germany - he depicted Stalin in that role vide the following depictions of Stalin and Hitler together

 Image result for artur szyk stalin
(There was a series of illustrations showing Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini and Petain.  The second illustration in this group is entitled Poland Greets Her Good Neighbors)
4- The fact that he allied himself with the Polish Government in Exile in London and was sent by them to the US to continue his anti-Hitler work in the US
5- The fact that he did not return to Poland after the war 
6- The fact that he supported the creation of the State of Israel
all led to knowledge about him being suppressed in Poland - to the extent that even the director of Muzeum Dworku Paderewskiego did not know that the Paderewski Illustration in the museum was by Szyk (this in 2015!!!)

An illustrated brochure - in both English and Polish, prepared by the Piłsudski Institute and Krystyna Piórkowska will be available at various Polish and Polonia organizations in the New York area  - including
  • the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland 
  • the Polish Cultural Institute
  • the Kosciuszko Foundation (both New York and Washington,DC locations)
  • at St. Stanislaus B&M Church (Manhattan)
  • as well as the Piłsudski Institute in America.
Feel free to stop by any of these locations after September 14th to pick up a copy.... or check at your local Polonia organization to see if they have a copy available.

Do visit the exhibit and to read the brochure which will serve to introduce Artur Szyk.

Congratulations to Irving Ungar, curator of the exhibit.

Consulate General of Poland - Madison Avenue and 37th Street (Jan Karski Corner)
Polish Cultural Institute - 60 East 42nd Street Suite 3000
Kosciuszko Foundation - 15 East 65th Street 
St. Stanislaus Church - 101 East 7th Street 

Piłsudski Institute of America - 138 Greenpoint Avenue Brooklyn 

Monday, July 31, 2017


Piotr Wandycz, a premier historian of contemporary Polish and Central European history and a true scholar and gentleman, died on Saturday, July 29 in Hamden, CT.

His funeral will take place at 10:00AM on Tuesday, August 1 at St. Rita’s Church in Hamden.

Born in Kraków and his early years were spent in Lwów, he completed his studies in post-war London and came to the United States.  Professor Wandycz taught at Indiana University and the transferred to Yale University.

He was mentor to a number of scholars, including Professor Anna Cienciała, who completed her doctoral thesis under his guidance.  He authored over a dozen books and some four hundred articles. 
Professor Wandycz was a member of many scholarly organizations, had received various awards, and a number of honorary doctorates from celebrated institutions – including the Sorbonne and the Uniwersytet Jagieloński. 

He also received the Krzyż Komandorski z Gwiazdą Orderu Odrodzenia Polski (Commander’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta) – his achievements were such that even the Polonia Restituta does not fully recognize them.

Cześć jego pamięci.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


Published on the six-month anniversary of Franciszek Herzog’s death.

In 2012, shortly after my discovery in the US National Archives, of the coded letters sent from Oflag 64, I spoke with an Associated Press reporter working on the story of the declassified files.  He wanted to see a copy of these materials, and so I went to the AP offices near Hudson Yards in New York.  During the course of our meeting he mentioned that the AP was also speaking to the son of one of the Katyń victims.  Little did I know that this was Franciszek Herzog, who had for years been actively been involved in the Związek Harcerstwa Polskiego (ZHP - Polish Scouting) in the United States, and was one of its mainstays.

Many members of Polonia in the United States were aware of Franciszek Herzog’s engagement in Scouting, almost none, however, were aware of his link to Katyń or more specifically of his attempts to have the US government publicly confirm Soviet responsibility….

Franciszek Herzog, Jr. was the son of Captain Franciszek Herzog.  Upon the invasion of Poland by the Soviet Union on September 17, 1939, the Soviets began accumulating information about these prisoners as well as their families.  Thus, the prisoners were allowed to write letters to their families, and received responses from them.  In this manner, the Soviets garnered the home addresses of the prisoner’s families…  As a result, on several days, in the early morning hours of late winter and early spring of 1940, NKVD officers arrived at the homes of these families and informed them that they had two hours to prepare for travel.  These families, consisting of women and children, as well as some elderly men and women, were loaded into boxcars and travelled into the depths of the USSR – to various of the Soviet ‘stans’ where they were offloaded, either in kolkhozes or in open fields.  They were then told they were to work as lumberjacks (one can just imagine these women wielding handsaws) or in the fields.  In most cases, they first shared a room with locals (if there were any) and then built peat sod huts, which were half submerged in the ground.

These were the conditions that faced Franciszek Herzog’s mother and her children.  His mother did not survive this period and young Franciszek, together with his older sibling, managed to join the group of orphans whom the Polish delegates had located at various orphanages throughout the Soviet Union, and others who had arrived at Jangi Jul on their own.  These children as well as mothers with children were then transported out of the Soviet Union across the Caspian Sea to Pahlevi, Iran and dispersed throughout the world (Kenya, Rhodesia, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Mexico were some of the nations were these refugee women and children were sent) and one small group of children was hosted by a Maharajah in India.  One of the members of this last group was Franciszek Herzog. 

His route then led to the Middle East and Great Britain, where he completed his studies and having immigrated to the United States, he settled in Connecticut.

As readers, you are now asking –  “why is Franciszek Herzog important enough to write about and why is he a singular Child of Katyń…”

By 1990 Gorbachev had delivered what was referred to as File No. 1, and which had lain in the safe of the Communist Party Secretary in Moscow since 1940.  That file contained the document signed by all the Party Presidium members and which condemned the Katyń, Ostashkov and Starobielsk prisoners to death.

The fact is, that the United States clearly knew that the Soviets had committed the crime. The Madden Committee had reached that conclusion based on its hearings in 1951 and 1952. 
As a naturalized citizen of the USA, Franciszek Herzog believed that he had the right to demand accountability from the President of the United States and the Department of State for the actions and statements of the Government of the United States.   Although there were any number of children and widows of Katyń victims residing in the US, none of them felt confident enough to demand such accountability.

Franciszek Herzog did demand accountability, and the letters he sent to the Department of State over a period of months remained unanswered, until he wrote a final letter in which he advised the Department that he was now including Senator Dodd of Connecticut in the correspondence.  At that point, the Department of State did proceed to prepare a flimsy response stating it had not been clear who had committed the Massacre.

These documents – both Franciszek Herzog’s letters demanding an apology from the Department of State to the Families of the Katyń Victims as well as the quasi-throttled response with its weak excuses were part of the material declassified (yes, his letters were classified) and the Associated Press included this as the lead to its story on this declassification and posting.

The main photograph in the story was a closeup of Franciszek Herzog holding a photo of his father next to his face appeared in thousands of newspapers throughout the world.

Although Franciszek Herzog’s efforts to have the US confirm Soviet guilt were never acknowledged by the Polish government – during his lifetime, they were acknowledged after his death.  He was awarded the Officers Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland for his efforts in propagating the truth about Katyn and for his work with Polish Scouting in the US.

Franciszek Herzog died on February 3, 2017.

Sunday, July 31, 2016


Dzieje Najnowsze of the Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Sciences (Issue no 2 of 2016) has published the Polish language article containing groundbreaking research on Reverend Orlemanski.  The English abstract appears below.

As this journal is not readily available in the US an English abstract of the material is included. 

If you wish to purchase a copy a link to the publishing house (Wydawnictwo DIG) can be found below.

Not Simply a Visit With Stalin – Rev. Stanislaus Orlemanski and His Brothers

For the past 71 years the life of Rev. Stanislaus Orlemanski has been described by a series of catchphrases, the summary of which reads – a Polish-American Communist who invited himself to Moscow, an overconfident country bumpkin who thought he could outsmart Stalin, a priest who departed without the permission of his diocesenal superior.

Reverend Stanislaus was not the most radical of the Orlemanski brothers, rather it was Casimir, who was deeply engaged in the Pittsburgh union movement and is well known to students of the US Labor movement.  Reverend Stanislaus was well known to the Polish-American community - the leading conservative paper – Dziennik Związkowy, published his articles criticizing the description of Poles and Italians in the Catholic Encyclopedia.  In the ensuing years, Orlemanski’s articles appeared in both Polish and English language press.

The decision that Stanislaus Orlemanski was to travel to Moscow was made some six months prior to his departure, during the Moscow Conference of October 1943.  This decision is multiplaned and relates not only to the 1944 US Presidential election, but also to a future Polish government as well as Stalin’s desire to impress both Anglican’s and Roman Catholics with his openness to religion. Clearly FDR and his closest advisors saw the benefits of this proposal as did the Soviet government.  Efforts to include clergy in the “Wasilewska” government involved Fr. Walter Ciszek, SJ and Fr. Wilhelm Kubsz.

 Mid-January 1944 correspondence of Ambassador Harriman with Washington relates that the People’s Commissar of the USSR had proposed that Krzycki, Lange and Orlemanski all serve as members of a future Polish government. Stalin’s late January 1944 letter to Roosevelt requesting issuance of passports to Orlemanski and Lange served as a camouflage for FDR; while his response to Stalin attempts to distance himself from the project.  A passport was issued, as were permits for travel from the US Western Defense Command and the Alaska Defense Command, as well as others valid for travel through Egypt, Iraq and Persia (Iran) confirming the deep involvement of the US Government in this project. 

Correspondence from the US National Catholic Welfare Conference to the Papal Nuncio in Washington sent prior to the departure of Orlemanski and contains specific references to his probable position in the future government.  The well-publicized suspension of Reverend Orlemanski was simply pro forma and lasted but several days.  Drafts of his apology are located in NCWC files. Finally, the invitation to participate in the 50th anniversary celebrations of a strongly anti-communist Cardinal of the Curia, confirm at the least, that the Vatican was aware that Orlemanski was not an agent.

What is now left to discover is the text of the Stalin document transmitted for Orlemanski by Father Marie Leopold Braun from Moscow to the Vatican and the Roman Curia’s full analysis of this document.  That must await the declassification of the Pope Pius XII records held by the Vatican.  What is clear is that the Rev. Stanislaus Orlemanski, although a leftist, was not a radical anomaly but rather an intensely pro-Polish US citizen who saw the sole enemy as Germany and supported any organization that fought against the enemy.

Sunday, April 3, 2016


The Katyn Massacre is commemorated throughout the world, in April of each year..  Sunday, April 3, the Marsz Cieni opened the observances on the streets of Warsaw - a silent march of several hundred period uniformed men as well as women and children in period attire following them.

Join me in Zalesie Górne, a suburb of Warsaw for a Polish language presentation on the English-speaking Witnesses to Katyń on Saturday, April 9th at 16:00.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


Krystyna Piórkowska will be presenting at 6:00PM on February 16, 2016 at the Pilsudski Institute in New York at 138 Greenpoint Ave, Brooklyn.

Reverend Stanislaus Orlemanski is generally known only to those who are interested in WWII history – with an emphasis either on Polish-Soviet relations, US-Soviet relations or the role of Polonia during that time period. Even with those ramifications, Orlemanski is seen simply as a footnote to history, a priest who took off on an un-sanctioned trip to meet with Stalin.

Reverend Stanislaus and his family – specifically his brother Reverend Casimir, played a much larger role in US history, the first with respect to Polonia and its relationship to the US Episcopal structure and the latter in the US labor movement.

However, a longterm research project has discovered new materials which confirm that Reverend Stanislaus’ trip was not unsanctioned – but was decided on bilaterally during the Moscow Conference of 1943.  Additionally, the US Episcopacy as well as the Papal Nuncio were aware of the trip and its ramifications well in advance. These and other discoveries place Stanislaus Orlemanski in a distinctly different light and his participation in a jubilee of Cardinal Pizzardo confirms this fact.

The lecture is taking place prior to the publication of an article on the subject in Dzieje Najnowsze (No. 2 – 2016) by the Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IH of PAN). 


Spotkanie z Krystyną Piórkowską
Tuesday, 16 February 2016, 18:00
Hits : 101
This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with The City Council.

Zapraszamy w dniu 16 lutego (wtorek) o godz. 18:00 na wykład Krystyny Piórkowskiej pt.:"Nie tylko wizyta u Stalina.Ks. Stanisław Orlemański i jego bracia"
Wstęp wolny. Donacje mile widziane.
Nazwisko księdza Stanislausa Orlemańskiego jest znane jedynie specjalistom zajmującym się stosunkami polsko-sowieckimi lub Polonią amerykańską w latach drugiej wojny światowej. Wiedza ta sprowadza się do okresu jego trzytygodniowej podróży do Moskwy na przełomie kwietnia i maja 1944 roku. Podróż ta została uwieńczona dwukrotną wizytą u Stalina. Często jest mu zarzucane, że sam się zgłosił do Stalina i był agentem komunistycznym. Informacja ta jest przekłamana. Rzeczywistość jest o wiele bardziej skomplikowana i sprzeczna z rozpowszechnianymi informacjami. Wykład Krystyny Piórkowskiej przedstawi Rodzinę Orlemańskich i obali mit agenta partyjnego, który wyjeżdżał do ZSRS bez wiedzy i zgody Episkopatu.  
Krystyna Piórkowska - badacz i autor "Anglojęzycznych Świadków Katynia. Najnowsze Badania", Muzeum Wojska Polskiego (2012) studiuje ten temat od 2009 r. Jej odkrycia dotychczas nieznanych dokumentów dotyczących Zbrodni Katyńskiej zostały uhonorowane przez Rząd Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej przez nadanie jej Oficerskiego Krzyża Zaslugii. Od dwóch lat bada sprawę Księdza Orlemańskiego i jego wyjazdu do Moskwy. Jej artykuł na ten temat ukaże się w "Dziejach Najnowszych" – piśmie Instytutu Historycznego Polskiej Akademii Nauk. Krystyna Piórkowska jest tłumaczem materiałów historycznych, w tym "Polacy-Żydzi 1939-1945" (trójjęzyczne wydanie), jak i materiałów dotyczących wojennych strat Muzeum Wojska Polskiego.
Location : Instytut Józefa Piłsudskiego, 138 Greenpoint Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11222
Contact : e-mail:; tel: 212 505-9077

Monday, February 1, 2016


The Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Sciences is sponsoring a conference on February 9, 2016 to discuss the wide ranging scope of work authored by Professor Anna Cienciala.

Among the speakers will be Professor Wojciech Materski, of the Institute of Politology of the Polish Academy of Sciences.  He will be discussing Professor Cienciala’s work on the groundbreaking English language collection of Soviet documents concerning the Katyn Massacre, which was issued by Yale University as Katyn A Crime Without Punishment – a collaborative work coedited by Anna Cienciala, Natalia Lebedeva and Wojciech Materski.

The introductions to each of three sections were authored by Professor Cienciala, and as entity this 124 page monograph serves as the best single extant introduction to Polish history for those who are not familiar with the history of Poland and the Katyn Massacre.

Enclosed is the conference program.

Konferencja w Instytucie Historii PAN

9 lutego 2016 r.

Część I:



Prowadzenie: Prof. Tomasz Schramm (Uniwersytet Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu)

1- Prof. Marek Kornat (Instytut Historii PAN), Autorka The Western Powers and Poland 1939—1939 o dyplomacji Józefa Becka; 

2- Prof. Wojciech Materski (Instytut Studiów Politycznych PAN), Anna Cienciała jako badaczka zbrodni katyńskiej;

3- Prof. Marek Andrzejewski (Uniwersytet Gdański), Wolne Miasto Gdańsk w twórczości historycznej Anny Cienciały   




Część II:



Prowadzenie: Prof. Mariusz Wołos (Uniwersytet Pedagogiczny Kraków, Instytut Historii PAN)

4- Dr Magdalena Hułas (Instytut Historii PAN), Międzywojenna brytyjska polityka zagraniczna w interpretacji Anny Cienciały;

5- Prof. Sławomir Nowinowski, (Uniwersytet Łódzki), Anna Cienciała a stosunki polsko-czechosłowackie;

6- Prof. Rafał Stobiecki (Uniwersytet Łódzki), Współpraca Anny Cienciały z Jerzym Giedroyciem