Condemned for patriotism

Czeslaw Ryszka

This is the title of the large album about Jan Kobylanski, the President of the Union of Polish Associations and Organisation in Latin America (USOPAL) written by Prof. Jerzy Robert Nowak. On the one hand, this book contributes to refute Goebbels’ lies concerning Kobylanski and on the other hand, it shows due respect to the hero of the constant struggle for the Polish spirit. One could perversely write that because of the attacks of the Polish media and politicians, mainly from the Citizen’s Platform, against the President of the Union we got to know the most colourful personality of our times: a prisoner of the Nazi concentration camps, who avoided death several times, and after the war a businessman who had practically no means. At first, he made a fortune in Austria and Italy, and since 1952 he has built his business in Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay. His possessions embrace works of art, including many works of Polish artists, which he has collected for years, but also his activities among the Polish immigrants, which should make the Polish governing party get interested in this issue. Reading the book by Prof. Nowak one can gain the conviction that this richest Pole in the world constitutes an extraordinary example of a man who after terrible experiences in the Nazi camps and constant threat of death managed to be extremely dynamically involved in the economic and social life from the first post-war days. Furthermore, we can find the correspondence between Kobylanski and the Polish Government in Exile, based in London, concerning his activities for the cause of the Polish immigrants as early as in 1957. During the times when the Polish organisations experienced many divisions Jan Kobylanski managed to use his fortune for the Polish community and for Poland, at first financing some Polish centres and then for 16 years directing the only big Polish organisation embracing Poles from the whole continent of South America.
Having such an ambassador of the Polish spirit in the world our governments awarded him the highest distinctions (apart from the Order of the White Eagle) after 1989. He was given the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Poland Reborn and the Commander’s Cross with the Star of the Order of the Rebirth of Poland and other distinctions – almost one hundred national and international ones. Even in his official letter to Mr. Kobylanski, written on 17 July 1998, Bronislaw Geremek, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, stressed, ‘We especially esteem you for your contribution to integrate the Polish organisations of the region, and in particular your efforts to create the Union of Polish Associations and Organisations of Latin America and for being the president of this meritorious organisation’. It is worth notice that seven presidents from South America were guests at the conference organised in his hacienda in 1988. Being the honorary consul of the Republic of Poland in Uruguay Kobylanski never thought that one day his name would be exposed to lies, slanders and false accusations. And that all began when he initiated contacts with the President of the Polish American Congress Mr Edward Moskal and spoke against his anti-Polishness and especially against the environments of the American Jews, demanding from Poland 67 billion dollars of compensation for their properties left in Poland after World War II. The defence of the good names of Polish people, acting against the calumnies concerning ‘the Polish concentration camps’ as well as, I think, his support for Radio Maryja caused that he was changed from a great patriot into a war criminal, a collaborator with the Nazis, a spy and anti-Semitist. Today one can clearly see that those were well-coordinated activities of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ‘Gazeta Wyborcza’, TVN and numerous other Polish media that attacked Kobylanski. Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, punished Kobylanski by removing him from the honorary post of the consul in Uruguay. Kobylanski’s extraordinary courageous initiative to organise the Congress of Polish Communities in both Americas, the first meeting in the history of the Polish-American community, was summed up as a mockery. In my opinion the post-communist diplomats could not stand such initiatives. Stanislaw Michalkiewicz defined this attitude properly, writing, ‘When I was in Canada and the USA I was astonished to notice that the Polish diplomatic centres continued the communist strategy of political disintegration of the Polish environments.’ It is clear enough. The defence of late Andrzej Stelmachowski, the President of the Association ‘Polish Community’, in his letter to the editorial board of ‘Rzeczpospolita’ was useless. Stelmachowski wrote, ‘President Kobylanski is one of the most prestigious personalities in the world Polish migration movement and his merits in restoring Polishness are undisputable and even – I do not hesitate to use this word – incomparable.’ Nowadays, there is a legal case concerning the good name of the President of USOPAL in the Warsaw court. During the court sessions one can clearly see that the enemies of the President are today – as Prof. Nowak writes in his book – ‘the fiercest enemies of all patriotic traditions, Polishness, faith and the Church.’ The publication of the book about Jan Kobylanski was a good thing. We get to know one great man and dozen ‘little’ people who are lying in wait for him. You can buy this book at:

"Niedziela" 6/2010

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: