Did You Know?

Did you know?   

Every Saturday morning, between (9:15 and 9:30 am) you can listen to our weekly PAC-MI broadcast to Polonia on Polish Varieties Radio Program- in Polish- on WNZK  690 AM in the greater Detroit area, or listen live on the Internet- search under Birach Broadcasting   (WNZK 690 AM)         Zapraszamy!


Proposed Amendment submitted by PAC Division Presidents

The Honorable Robert Menendez
The Honorable James E. Risch
The Honorable Richard Durbin
United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations,
c/o Mr. Damian Murphy, Senior Professional Staff Member Washington, D.C. 20510

Re: Presidents of State Divisions of the Polish American Congress call for amendment of S. Res. 566

We, Presidents of State Divisions of the Polish American Congress, welcome and applaud the idea of a resolution commemorating the 80th Anniversary of the Katyn Massacre, introduced to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by Senators Menendez, Risch, and Durbin on May 7th, 2020, now known as S. Res. 566. We appreciate the effort in bringing attention to the crimes that were committed. This communication is intended to improve and enhance the resolution by an amendment which would also reflect the moral outrage that the Polish American community ascribes to this massacre. It should, furthermore, do justice to victims of the massacre by calling it a genocide.

First, we would like to bring to your attention the wording in the proposed Resolution. It minimizes the gravity and implies a change in the character of the Katyn crime, which we believe needs correction:

“Whereas the Katyn Massacre fits into a larger pattern of Communist governments around the world persecuting their citizens and denying their people freedom, which has resulted in the deaths of up to 100,000,000 people since the Russian Revolution of 1917.” See: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116thcongress/senate-resolution/566/text .

The Polish officers held as Prisoners-of-War by the Soviet Union were not murdered because “the Communist governments […] persecuted their citizens.” The Katyn victims, as citizens of the Polish nation, were brutally murdered because they valiantly defended their homeland, as Poles, against the Soviet aggression of September 17, 1939. They were not Soviet citizens and the Soviet Union was not their government. They were Soviet Prisoners-of-War, soldiers of the Polish Armed Forces that constituted a part of the Allied Coalition during WWII. They were murdered because they defended their homeland against the Soviet aggression, and remained loyal to Poland to the end.

The Katyn victims do not fit “a larger pattern of Communist government persecuting their citizens and denying their people freedom.” Instead, they fit a larger pattern of similar conduct by Stalinist Russia aimed at destroying the Polish people because of their nationality. This is evidenced by the “Polish Operation” of 1937, Katyn Operation of 1940, and innumerable mass executions and deportations to Siberia with intent of extermination. All those operations were aimed at annihilating the Polish national group as such. The Katyn victims were murdered not because they wanted to overthrow the Soviet government or demanded more freedoms in the Soviet Union, but because they belonged to the Polish national group that the Soviet Union intended to annihilate.

May 18th, 2020

Page 1 of 3

The current wording in the Resolution implies that the Katyn atrocity was perpetrated for political reasons. Hence, the Katyn crime would not meet the standard of genocide because it was not aimed at any protected national group but merely at political opposition. Such language, contrary to facts, is reminiscent of Russian anti-Katyn policy. The Katyn Execution Order of March 5th, 1940 of the Soviet Politburo states that the officers held as prisoners of war selected for execution are “Polish by nationality.” Accordingly, the Katyn Execution Order itself reveals that it is aimed at the Polish national group. According to the UN Genocide Convention, even if the motives for the atrocity are mixed, the coexistence of motives is no defense if the genocidal motive is present.

It is particularly unfortunate that S.R. 566 is submitted now, at exactly the time when in Tver, Russia – the place where thousands more Polish POWs were executed pursuant to the “Katyn Execution Order” — commemorative plaques for this genocidal act were recently removed.

We certainly do not want, or can agree, to any wording that may imply Soviet historical revisionism, or Putin’s continued attempts at denying, concealing, and distorting the truth about Katyn and the Soviet genocide of the Polish people. The Congress of the United States, the leader of the Free World, must not contribute to such efforts.

In considering this amendment, we urge you, our US Senators, to reflect on the following statement made by Hon. Dennis Kucinich in 2011 (“Kucinich Clause”):

Whereas, Katyn was aimed at eliminating the very idea of Poland, to exterminate the people and the memory of the people. Katyn presents a moral crisis to this day because the moral calculus with respect to Katyn has not been worked out. Katyn represents a marker in human history that has not yet been fully inscribed;

Based on the information noted and the above reasoning, we strongly urge you to consider and include the following statement within the Senate Resolution:

We recognize that the systematic mass murders of the Polish people, conducted pursuant to the order of March 5th, 1940 issued by the Soviet Politburo, raises to the level of the crime of genocide.

The essence of this amendment is to better reflect, on the one hand, the tremendous outrage of the Polish people, including those in the Polish-American community, and at the same time a moral indignation that the Senate itself may express about the Katyn Massacre, by exacting a price on the part of the country which committed these crimes, and to fore-stall Russia’s efforts at historical revisionism. Therefore, we encourage adoption of the amendment.

Respectfully yours,

Ann Bankowski, President
Polish American Congress- Michigan, Inc.

Jerzy Bogdziewicz, President PAC Florida Division, Inc.

Page 2 of 3

Richard Brzozowski, President
Polish American Congress Long Island Division New York, Inc.

Andrzej Burghardt, President PAC New Jersey Division, Inc.

Wiesław Gołębiewski, President PAC Florida Western Division, Inc.

Edward Jeśman, President
Polish American Congress of Southern California, Inc.

James L. Ławicki II, President
Polish American Congress Western New York Division Inc

Andrzej Prokopczuk, President
Polish American Congress, Northern California Division, Inc.

Bozena Urbankowska, President
PAC New Jersey Northern Division, Inc.

Marek Waniołka, President PAC Missouri Division, Inc.

Wiesław Wierzbowski, President
PAC Massachusetts Eastern Division, Inc.

Page 3 of 3


Senate Resolution 566


Legislative Alert!


11333 Joseph Campau, Hamtramck, MI 48212

Telephone: (313) 365-9400, E-mail: office@pacmi.org

May 26, 2020

Dear PAC-MI Member/Delegate,

I write to you with an urgent request from PAC National President Spula, as well as from myself as Division President. There is a resolution being considered by the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senate Resolution 566 (https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/116/sres566/text), commemorating the 80th Anniversary of the Katyn Massacre. Initially the resolution will go to a sub-committee, most likely the Sub-Committee on Europe and Security Cooperation. Following a favorable vote there, it will be sent back to the full committee for a vote. The next step would be its presentation to the full Senate (100 members) for a vote.  We are being urged by the PAC national office to telephone our Senators and appeal to them to vote to pass this resolution bill.

Now, our 2 Michigan senators are not on the above-mentioned committees, but just the same we want to inform them of the resolution’s importance to the Polish American community, which Polish American Congress represents, and strongly urge them for the bill’s passage, at the time it comes up for a vote by the full house. The PAC divisions, that have representation on the committees, are currently being asked now to call their Senators with this urgent request (see attached list).

The initial resolution was brought to Senator Menendez, who serves on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, by the New Jersey Division of PAC. He agreed to be one of its sponsors. What ensued, after this submission, was a resubmission and reformulation of the resolution’s wording by the national PAC Executive Committee, which quite a number of national directors and Division presidents found unacceptable. There continue to be ardent discussions on the National Directors Forum on this matter. The original wording of the resolution stated that the Katyn Massacre was a genocidal act by the Soviets against the Polish nation. The current resolution removed genocide from its wording, in hopes that it would strengthen the chances of the resolution’s passage.

What followed was a proposal of an amendment to Resolution 566 submitted to Senator Menendez’s office. It was signed by eleven PAC Division presidents (see amendment attached), encouraging an improved version of Resolution 566. This amendment brings attention to, and gives reasoning why, the Katyn crimes were genocidal for the Polish nation. You can view the two attached document texts indicating where the wording was changed. These division Presidents, as well as many of the National Directors, are of the strong opinion that we need to express and bring attention to our moral outrage in regard to the Katyn Massacre and to inform and persuade our Senators, with compelling arguments, why it was a genocidal act. This stance is particularly significant at a time when Putin’s Russia is actively revising WWII history.

By presenting this amendment, we do not strive to diminish Resolution 566, but rather to bring attention to the truth behind Stalin’s order to murder Polish citizens, for the very reason of who they were.

  • In calling our Senators (Sen. Stabenow at 202-2904-2822; Sen. Peters at 202-224-6221) you may follow this script to record your message:  After providing your name and address, say: “As one of the Senator’s Polish American voting constituents, I personally ask for his / her vote for passage of Resolution 566, the Menendez-Risch-Durbin Resolution titled: “Commemorating the 80th Anniversary of the Katyń Massacre.”  I also strongly urge that you review and consider to pass the amendment to this resolution which further enlightens as to the significance of the crimes perpetrated on the Polish nation.

It is in the interest of our organization and community that we express our stance and be heard. Please make this call and inform our two senators as to the importance of these matters and the need for favorable passage of Resolution 566, hopefully with the amendment to its text as was suggested. President Spula wants Division Presidents to report to him who of our membership made calls to their Senators. While I do not agree with this course, I welcome anyone letting me know if they made the call.

On behalf of the Michigan Division, I will be both emailing and mailing letters to our two Michigan senators with information as to the Resolution, along with the Amendment document and two additional links. (http://www.librainstitute.org/ARTICLES/Lukaszewski-Statement.html;http://www.librainstitute.org/ARTICLES/Witomila-Wolk-Jezierska-list.html

Please review the Resolution (link above) and Amendment document (text attached) , and kindly express your opinion to our Senators. As a community we truly need to practice being heard where it counts.

We will keep you further informed as to this situation. We plan to have information on our division website: pacmi.org.

Wishing you a safe and healthy summer. Hope to be able to meet at our September quarterly meeting.


Ann Bankowski, President

Polish American Congress- Michigan



COVID-19 Update #2 to Polonia from Polish Consulate in Detroit


Dear Friends of Polonia!


I hope this message finds you and your family in good health. I am writing to update Michigan’s Polonia of some useful information in these challenging times.

As promised, I am providing some information for our Polish and Polish-American businesses, in order to spread the word how they should take advantage of the huge amounts of money that our federal government and state and local governments have made available to businesses and to pay their employees during this time.


Please excuse the fact that I am including certain information I authored from my law firm, but I am providing this to Polonia as a free of charge resource to make sure we take advantage of what is available to us. I am happy to answer any questions from any Polish or Polish-American business free of charge, to assist in applying for money (but don’t tell my other clients).


  1. Federal Government Financial Assistance. The U.S. Congress passed, and the President signed, the “CARES Act”. This provides two, very substantial financial aid programs to small business (under 500 employees). One program provides money that does not even have to repaid under certain conditions for businesses to pay their workers, rent, mortgage, utilities and debt interest. The other program offers very low interest rate long-term loans for businesses to pay working capital. Again, this is almost like getting free money to pay 2 months’ worth of a company’s operating expenses. Importantly, it is also available to sole proprietors, independent contractors, startups and very small businesses.  Polonia needs to take advantage of this!  Attached is memo in Polish and English that explains the two programs and how to apply.  Applications can be done online and through participating lenders and banks.


  1. State and Local Financial Assistance.  There are also smaller programs available through the State of Michigan (MEDC) and certain counties (e.g., Macomb and Oakland). The details of these programs are available on the website listed below.


  1. Website of Polonia Angels for Further Information.  Several of us have been in the process of launching an investor group to support Polonia businesses by providing investment funds. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 outbreak has forced us to pause this initiative, but in the meantime, we are building up a financial resource center for Polonia to understand the financial help they can apply for and receive. Please refer to: https://www.poloniaangels.com/small-business-relief-program-resourcesThis website will be updated on a regular basis.


Finally, let me also remind you of the items I previously wrote to you about, and make another special request that you feel free to bring to my attention any Polish citizens who may need special attention or assistance in these times:


  1. U.S. Census Update. While the deadline to complete the 2020 U.S. Census questionnaire has been extended somewhat, please encourage your friends to complete online now. Instructions are set forth below (in Polish and English). See below for more details.


  1. Polish Citizens Returning to Poland.  Polish citizens in Michigan seeking to return to Poland, can find details about the Polish Government’s program through Polish LOT Airlines to take them back. Details and arrangements can be found and made online at this website: Link to LotDoDomu


  1. Polish Citizens Wishing to Prolong their Stay in US. This website has details: link to website


  1. Polish Citizens Needing Urgent Assistance. We will be working with our Polonian organizations and churches to coordinate assistance programs to our elderly and most vulnerable. In the meantime, if you are aware of any elderly Polish citizens who have nobody to care for them, or become hospitalized, please let me know.


Remain safe and know that our prayers are with you all,




Richard A. Walawender

Honorary Consul

Consulate of the Republic of Poland in Detroit
150 West Jefferson, Suite 2500
Detroit, Michigan 48226 (USA)

T +1.313.496.7600



This electronic message and all of its contents and attachments contain information from the Consulate of the Republic of Poland in Detroit. which may be privileged, confidential or otherwise protected from disclosure.  The information is intended to be for the addressee only.  If you are not the addressee, then any disclosure, copying, distribution or use of this message, or its contents or any of its attachments, is prohibited.  If you have received this electronic message in error, please notify us immediately and destroy the original message and all copies.  To unsubsribe to emails, please reply with the message “unsubscribe”.







Not much time remaining to complete and submit U.S. 2020 Census Questionnaire Online. Each home should have received an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census and to complete the 2020 Census questionnaire online, at https://2020census.gov/ and in Polish at https://2020census.gov/pl.html  Assistance is available in Polish or English by calling 1-844-479-2020. In completing the Census 2020 Questionnaire, remember to include your Polish ethnic origin.



Weź udział w Spisie Ludności online! Nie zostało dużo czasu! Kwestionariusz w wersji online jest już dostępny na stronie internetowej https://2020census.gov/pl.html  W celu uzyskania pomocy dotyczącej Spisu Ludności 2020 lub wypełnienia go telefonicznie zadzwoń pod numer 844-479-2020. Połączenia odbierane są także w języku polskim! Wypełniając kwestionariusz Census 2020, pamiętaj, żeby w odpowiedzi na pytanie numer 9 wpisać: POLISH. 



Polish American Congress Scholarship Application

PAC-MI Scholarships Application 2020-2021


11333 Jos. Campau                                  Hamtramck, Michigan 48212-3038                    (313) 365-9400





Available for Business Administration, Finance or Accounting areas of study.



Available for any major area of study.



No specific major area of study or criteria has been established with the donor.



Available for any major area of study, however, candidate must be proficient in the Polish language and actively participating in Polonia.



No specific major area of study or criteria has been established with the donor.



Available for a major study in the Nursing profession.



Available for a major study in Osteopathic Medicine, pre-Medicine or the Nursing profession.



Available for a major study in the Engineering profession.



Available for a major study in the Religious Formation profession.



Grants are established by the Board of Directors as funds are available.



  1. Scholastic Average
  2. Polonian Involvement-include the last two years
  3. Community Service-include the last two years
  4. Financial Need of Student
  5. Thank you letter & Acceptance of Award


  • College freshman are not eligible for scholarship. Available for only full time students
  • All applicants must be residents of Michigan.
  • Application must be completed in its entirety.
  • Verification of current grade point average must be attached.
  • Verification of Polonian involvement must be included.
  • Verification of community service must be included.
  • Verification of financial need must be included.

Checks will be made out to the College or University.

Completed applications become the property of the Polish American Congress of Michigan Scholarship Fund. All information submitted on the application is considered confidential and will not be duplicated and only be discussed by the Scholarship’s designated judges and officers.

Your completed application is due NO LATER THAN APRIL 1 OF EACH YEAR


Completed application must be mailed or delivered to:

Polish American Congress of Michigan Scholarship Fund, Inc.

11333 Jos.Campau

Hamtramck, Michigan 48212-3038


A 501(c)3 Organization under the Internal Revenue Service





11333 Jos. Campau                                  Hamtramck, Michigan 48212-3038                    (313) 365-9400



NAME: _______________________________________________________________________


ADDRESS: ____________________________________________________________________


CITY: ________________________  ZIP: ___________   PHONE: (_____)________________




____________________________________________    Location: ________________________


AREA OF STUDY: _____________________________________________________________


How will this scholarship grant help you in pursuit of your degree?





In the last two years, which Polonian organization(s) have benefited from your membership?      How?





In the last two years, which organized volunteer, community or other group(s) benefited from your service?  How?





Any additional information, which may be helpful in reviewing this application, may be added on the back on this sheet.  For example: Involvement with the Polish American of Michigan Scholarship Fund, Inc. or the Michigan Division of the Polish American Congress.


Your “Application Check List” must be included with your application. Attach all necessary information needed to evaluate your request for a Scholarship Grant.



Applicant’s Signature: __________________________________________________________Date:_____________


A 501(c)3 Organization under the Internal Revenue Service







In order to receive consideration for a PAC of Michigan Scholarship Grant, the following must be sent:



_____  1. Completed Application.



_____  2. Verification of acceptance or attending College / University (ex. letter of acceptance,

transcripts, etc.)



_____  3. Verification of scholastic average (ex. test scores, transcripts, report card, etc.)



______ 4. Verification of financial need (ex. completed financial aid form– FAFSA), federal income tax

return form(s), other scholarships, 1098-T Form, etc.)



______ 5. A letter of recommendation from an officer of at least one Polonian organization.



_____  6. A letter of recommendation from an officer of at least one volunteer or community




_____  7. If you are applying for the Jozef & Regina Marciniec Grant, verify your degree of

Polish proficiency.



______ 8. Acceptance & Appreciation of the award letter within six months of the notification

of the award and addressed to the Polish American Congress of Michigan Scholarship Fund,





Dear Friends,

You are cordially invited to join us in celebrating our Diamond Jubilee on Saturday, February 8, 2020 at the American Polish Cultural Center in Troy, MI.

RSVP’s can still be made by calling Jackie Kolowski at 586-558-3624.

It will be a fun event in this festive Carnival season.

See you there!

Ann Bankowski, President Polish American Congress- MI

75th Diamond Jubilee

Significant Jamestown Anniversary

It happened 400 years ago, in 1619, that the first ever workers strike took place in the New World.  That year English settlers in the colony of Jamestown, Virginia were granted the right to vote in colonial America.  The colony, however, was settled by craftsmen and industry specialists from other countries, notably Poles, to come work at the colony since 1608, recruited to develop this settlement.  The Poles specialized in making soap-ash, glass, lumber milling, naval stores, and mining. Upon learning that they were deprived of representation, the Polish artisans, whose contributions to the settlement were inestimable, organized a work stoppage.  In response to this civil action by the Poles, court records for The Virginia Company of London, of July 21 1619, thus declared “It is now agreed they shall be enfranchised and made as free as any inhabitant whatsoever”.

Sunday, July 21, the very date of the Poles’ gaining the right to vote, Polish American Congress-Michigan is hosting a 400th anniversary celebration to honor the brave example demonstrated by these industrious Polish craftsmen, in their efforts to gain their own individual freedom.  It will take place on the campus of the Orchard Lakes Schools, 3535 Commerce Rd, Orchard Lake, MI 48324.

Come hear the rest of the story!

At 11:00 am, enjoy an interesting program at the campus Adam Maida Alumni Library, featuring expert presentations about Jamestown, informative exhibits, souvenirs, and refreshments, culminating with a glass blower’s demonstration.

At 1:00 pm there will be a bilingual mass in the St. Mary of Orchard Lake Shrine Chapel, followed by a mini piano concert of music of Polish emigrants, including selections by Frederic Chopin and Paderewski.

Everyone is welcome and admission is free.  More information can be obtained on the PAC-MI Division website, pacmi.org, or by calling the event chairman, Richard Lapham, at 313-443-1560.




W tym roku POLONIA obchodzi 400-lecie historycznego wydarzenia w Nowym Świecie.

W roku 1619, w angielskiej kolonii Jamestown, Virginia, utalentowani rzemieślnicy z Polski, sprowadzeni do pracy i rozwoju kolonii, urządzili pierwszy „strajk” robotniczy, aby osiągnąć swoje prawo do głosu w tym osiedlu.

Głos im przyznano 21-go lipca 1619 r.

Kongres Polonii Amerykańskiej w Michigan, wraz z Polską Misją w Orchard Lake, celebrują to unikalne wydarzenie.


Zapraszamy Polonię do Zakładów Naukowych w Orchard Lake

(3535 Indian Trail pomiędzy Orchard Lake i Commerce Rd.)


Niedziela, 21-go lipca 2019 r.

11:00 rano- ciekawy i informacyjny program w bibliotece, oraz wystawy, poczęstunek, i demonstracja szklarza;

1:00 pp.- Msza Św. (dwujęzyczna) w głównej kaplicy NMP

Koncert fortepianowy muzyki Polskich emigrantów po mszy.

Wstęp wolny.

 Celebrujcie z Nami!

Polish American Congress Michigan Division on Capitol Hill

Ian Brzezinski – Atlantic Council, Ann Bankowski – President PAC-MI, Dr. Mark Chodakiewicz – Chair Polish Studies, Institute of World Politics

A few weeks ago, two members of the PAC-MI Executive Board, Ann Bankowski and Barbara Lemecha, were happy to travel to Washington DC, where, on May 20 2019, in the historic Cannon Building of the U.S. House of Representatives, an informational Capitol Hill briefing took place about Poland, entitled, “Poland’s Painful Past and Bright Future”. The National PAC organized the event and invited all Congressmen to attend.

The two expert speakers featured were Dr. Marek Chodakiewicz, present holder of the Kosciuszko Chair in Polish Studies at the Institute of World Politics (IWP) in Washington, DC and Ian Brzezinski, Senior Resident at the Atlantic Council, and son of the late Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Attendees included staffers from congressional offices of both political parties, government office representatives, and numerous Polonia members.

PAC-MI was invited by the national office to take part in this briefing in order to talk about our promotion of the book, “Those Who Risked Their Lives”, giving attendees an informative view of the Polish experience during WWII from the vantage of Poles who risked their lives saving Jews in Poland during the war. Congressional staffers in attendance availed themselves of the books for their Congressmen and offices.

John Czop, the national office policy director, wrote an informative article on this meeting, a translation of which appears on June 5th Polish Weekly.

The following is the presentation I gave at the informational briefing on Capitol Hill.


Good Afternoon!

My name is Ann Bankowski and I am the president of the Michigan Division of Polish American Congress, an umbrella organization representing the organized Polish American community. I am happy and honored to join all of you for this informational briefing about Poland. Joining me today from Michigan is our division vice president, Barbara Lemecha. I thank Mr. Czop, of the PAC national office, who is its policy director, for inviting me to say a few words today about a project that our division has recently undertaken, which is to promote a book, entitled “Those Who Risked Their Lives” by Anna Poray. We inherited this project from a Michigan based organization named Heralds of Truth, which originally took the initiative andhelped to publish this book, some 12 years ago. I am here to tell you about its importance, what our division has done to enhance its usefulness, and to offer US Congressional members this book free of charge, for their informational enlightenment on this topic.

The book’s author/editor, the late Anna Poray-Wybranowska, was a Polish-Canadian scholar whose work focused primarily on researching the rescue efforts of Jews by Polish Christians in Poland during WWII. Her book compiles the stories of thousands of Poles, by name and place, who rescued Jews in wartime Poland. Per the book’s introduction by Dr. Richard Lukas, he quotes Rabbi Harold Schulweis , “we need to know the heroes and heroines, those exemplars of good”. These people were those who did good in a time and place when death, terror, and destruction reigned. This thoroughly researched book lists names and describes circumstances of rescue attempts, attempts offering secret refuge to persecuted Jews, sometimes over a long period of time, often ending in execution of everyone involved by the German Nazi occupiers.  Nonetheless they performed courageous and heroic deeds, at a horrific time for the country and nation of Poland.

Many may not know that it was decreed by the Third Reich occupiers of Poland that, during the years of German Nazi rule, from 1939-1945, anyone in Poland who offered any kind of help to a person of Jewish faith or origin, would be punished by death. Poland was the only occupied country during WWII to have this decree. The punishment could be extended to the accused rescuer’s family, neighbors, at times towns and villages. It was a true reign of terror. Nonetheless, there were hundreds of thousands of non-Jewish Poles who risked their lives to aid and shelter Jews, whole families at times, in very creative ways, motivated by values engrained in them by their own faith and family upbringing. Dr. Lukas notes that even if some among these rescuers might have held anti-Semitic views, prevalent in Poland and in many other countries before the war, the response to help and rescue Jewish persons, fellow neighbors and citizens, was an “expression of resistance against the hated Germans, who terrorized and killed Polish citizens, Jewish and otherwise, longer than any other people in Europe.”

Of course, the war years were particularly grueling, uncertain, and tragic for the Polish nation as a country occupied and controlled by both Germany and Soviet Russia, both totalitarian regimes, since September 1939 until the war’s end in 1945. It was then dominated by the Soviet Union until 1989. The war period was a time when close to three million Polish Christians lost their lives through battles, executions, bombings, torture, starvation, or overwork in hundreds of prisons, forced labor, and concentration camps. Millions more were deported into exile by the occupiers to forced labor camps and prisons. Poland lost 22% of its pre-war population, Christian, Jewish, and others- more than any other country of Europe. Poland lost so many of its young and many of the educated classes- a deathly blow to any society and its future.

What I do want to impress on today’s audience is that Anna Poray’s book presents a unique and a both thought and heart provoking documentation of real persons from real places, demonstrating heroic acts, thousands of them, to save fellow human beings, risking their own lives and of their families. To read and comprehend the enormity of such a compilation is not done at one sitting in order to gain and appreciate its full effect. It can and should be reviewed from time to time, both as a historical reference source and as a witness to the extremes of hate and genuine love for one’s fellow man, experienced in this tragic period by the country of Poland and its citizens.

The PAC division in Michigan took it upon itself the task to enhance the index of the book by cross referencing all names and places, Jews or Polish Christians, whose stories are documented in this compilation to facilitate and expedite research by the reader. Meanwhile, we have encountered persons, to whom the book was offered, whose family names appear in this book, documenting these heroic acts. Some were not even aware of their family’s rescue actions, while some knew only that something of this nature may have taken place through family lore, but no one was certain. They were gratified to learn that their family acted heroically and were thus being validated.

Of course, because of the extreme conditions imposed on occupied Poland, and those in the aftermath following the war, documentation of rescue attempts, and all persons involved, was a daunting task. More often than not, all persons involved, Jews and Christian Poles alike, died by tragic execution. Very often no one lived to fully authenticate the event. Finding reliable witnesses, at times requiring 3 or 4 eyewitness testimonies, decades later, involved slow, pain staking efforts.

Such documentations were published eventually by the Main Commission for Investigation of Crimes against the Polish Nation, the Institute of National Memory and Remembrance, and The Polish Society for the Righteous Among Nations in Warsaw. To date, some 7,000 names of Poles have been recognized by the Israeli Yad Vashem Institute, The Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem, as “Righteous Among Nations”. But more often, those who were executed have not been recognized among the “Righteous”. Many of these cases of execution await verification.

Anna Poray took on the onerous task to research and document such events and persons involved- some 6,000 documented here. Her book is testimony to thousands of examples of selfless sacrifice by a terrorized people acting alone, but standing up for their values, against all odds, to rescue another human being. Theirs is an affirmation of the Polish spirit of never ever giving up. It is inspiring and at the same time provoking, how many of us would go to such extreme measures, to help others?

I had hoped to share with you a couple of stories excerpted from this book, but unfortunately time today does not allow me to do so. I invite you to read “Those Who Risked Their Lives” as a historical source and as testimony of human heroism. As Dr. Richard Lukas states in the book’s Introduction, “The Talmud says that he who saves one life, saves the world.” This book shows how for many, their individual worlds were so saved in Poland in WWII.

Please pick up a copy here today or sign up with our PAC office administrator, to have one delivered to your office.

Thank you for your attention.

Ann Bankowski


PAC-MI President