The news about the death of professor JózefSzaniawski struck us. The ‘Sunday’ of the date of 9 September 2012 still includes an article of his authorship…

We had a cordial talk with him not long time ago, in the spirit of great friendship and common plans….The professor was very open to the cooperation with our editorial office. Whenever he had a phone call from the ‘Sunday’, he always reacted with a great friendliness and competence. He was a man who had a good knowledge, especially in history. When any topic was raised, he undertook the issue immediately. I often used to say: how good it is that there are still such wise Poles!

A historian and a philosopher of history

We must consider the fact that professor Szaniawski did not have an easy life because his life was always uncompromisingly full of his love to homeland. As a historian he had a wonderful knowledge in the history of Poland and Europe. After all the years of his communist imprisonment surely fruited with great reflections on this issue. How important his articles were which referred to the history of Russia, telling us about our neighboring country which influenced the history and the situation of Poland so much. Professor Szaniawski expressed his opinion on this issue in a very logical and professional way. There was a great wisdom in his statements, showing that we deal with a philosopher of history. As a history expert and also an expert of the Bolshevik history, he pointed out to big dangers resulting from the ideology of Lenin and Stalin, which was so threatening for Europe and the world. How interesting texts of the Professor were, which said about the war against the Bolsheviks in the 20s of the last century.

He showed facts, revealed the truth

As one of few people, professor Szaniawski said about the activity of the colonel RyszardKukliński. He pointed out to the role which this prominent man fulfilled towards Poland and Europe in very difficult times of communist regime. Today our society seems to be anaesthetized against many matters and situations taking place in our history – but also the reality resulting from it. After all, it is known that the activists of the communist regime did not go away to a kind of abyss, but they are. There is also their ideology, intentions and powers which are afraid in many situations. Therefore, it was good there was the man who revealed the truth about our today’ s life. So many people do not know the latest history or used only the books written by communist ideologists. Professor Szaniawski was one of those who threw a light both onto the history of Poland and its present time. He called thing by name, he was critical towards actions of our decision-makers – therefore he still belonged to the opposition.

He was the last prisoner of the Polish People’s Republic. He said proudly about the times of the lonely serving term of imprisonment, about how general Jaruzelski had got engaged in his acts at one moment and when a prosecutor had suggested the term of imprisonment of minimum 15 years for his cooperation with Free Europe Radio, and Jaruzelski generously added a remark: ’10 years are enough’. He served the term of imprisonment of 5 years, till the time of free elections. And even longer. As he reminisced sadly, the prime minister Mazowiecki had not hurried to release him, and not earlier than in the end of December 1989, it was decided to release him. A few months had to pass, before the government of the Liberated Polish Republic released the man so unfairly judged.

Today we are reminiscing the professor in a sense of a big loss. We will miss him a lot. For he was also a devoted academic teacher whose knowledge and readiness of sharing it at every time were used by many communities. By the ‘Sunday’ and its readers, too. He also showed his friendliness to us in many talks. When he managed to publish beautiful books and historical albums, he brought them with his dedications personally. He always supported with a good word and his unusual friendship…

Professor, writer and publicist…

Having heard the news about the tragic death of the professor, we celebrated the Holy Mass in his intention. We hope that Good God has taken him to his glory. For he was a religious man and a fervent patriot. It is a beautiful character feature of Professor Szaniawski – loving homeland through showing its history, through recalling the times of splendor of the Polish Republic. How eloquent his emphasizing the triumphal homage in the consciousness of Poles was, which was not generally known - the homage of the whole family of tsar WasylSzujski – homage paid 400 years ago, in 1611, in the presence of Zygmunt III Waza in the Royal Castle in Warsaw. Some readers even thought that it was a mistake, that it was about the Prussian homage. This telling about the history enlivened our consciousness. Therefore, we enjoyed reading his books,articles,we listened to his lectures. The meeting of professor Szaniawski with young people from Częstochowa in the auditorium of ‘Sunday’ editorial office on 19 March 2011 was very memorable. Everybody was listening to him with much attention and interest. How pleased he was to see the auditorium full of young students of Częstochowa schools and that they were listening to his statements with literally open mouths.

Care about homeland remains

We lost a prominent teacher of the nation. It is also a big irreparable loss in our editorial office. I personally feel struck by his death. For, we had many plans and the professor was open to help us realizing them. He often used to say to me: ‘Please, priest, give me a call and I am at your disposal’. There are not many such people and it is not easy to make up for this loss. Therefore, there is a painful wound, much grief and sadness.

We also address our prayers to Merciful God, asking for his considering good which started to exist through the late professor JózefSzaniawski. And we still have a task – now a more binding task – care about homeland which he somehow left to us in a will. We all want Poland to be Poland, so that Poles could live in normal conditions in order to realize their life plans here, at the Vistula and Odra rivers, so that they could live well on their pre-old lands. Therefore, we must not ignore the lesson coming from the Polish history. Let Good God reward the professor for his great love of Poland, his hard work and his suffering, and let Him open the gates of his brightness for the professor. ‘…Let the eternal brightness be shining for him…’


"Niedziela" 38/2012

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