17 October 2017
"From Poland with Love, 1915–1926: the Forgotten History of Gratitude" opens tomorrow in Warsaw
An outdoor exhibition about the history of gratitude to the United States for its help in the resurrection of Poland in 1918, “From Poland with Love, 1915–1926: the Forgotten History of Gratitude” will be opened on 18 October on Krakowskie Przedmieście Street in Warsaw. The Polish History Museum is a partner in this exhibition.
The central expression of this gratitude was the 111-volume Declaration of Admiration and Friendship for the United States, which in had been signed by 1926 by 5.5 million Poles (around 20 percent of the population), including teachers and pupils from public schools such as Bruno Schulz, Czesław Miłosz, Tadeusz Kantor, Jan Karski and the key politicians such as Józef Piłsudski and Ignacy Mościcki. Many today are likely to find signatures of their ancestors!
18 October (Wednesday), 1pm, Hoover Square – exhibition creators' presentation. Zbigniew Gluza of the KARTA Center Foundation and curator Adam Safaryjski will give a talk.
18 October (Wednesday), 6.30 pm, Dramatyczny Theater – opening gala of the project “From Poland with Love” in the Dramatyczny Theater in Warsaw. The evening will feature a concert by Michał Urbaniak with his Polish-American band Urbanator, including guests musicians such as Urszula Dudziak, Tatiana Okupnik and Andy "Stewlocks" Ninvalle.
The exhibition relates a forgotten story in Polish-American relations exemplified by the Declaration of Admiration and Friendship for the United States, held in the Library of Congress in the US. A hundred years ago, thanks to attempts led by Ignacy Paderewski, the US not only acknowledged Polish statehood as a condition of restoring order in Europe (the 13th point in the peace treaty by the Pres. Woodrow Wilson proposed the resurrection of the sovereign Polish state), but also gave material support of around $200 million (some $2.5 billion today). The American humanitarian mission led by the future US president Herbert Hoover contributed to maintaining Poland's newly regained independence.
President Wilson and Hoover became personifications of foreign aid to the Second Republic of Poland. Signs of gratitude can be seen today in public space in Warsaw. In 1922, one square along Krakowskie Przedmieście Street was named for Hoover (a Monument of Gratitude by Xavery Dunikowski was erected but destroyed in the war), and in 1926 the central square in the Żoliborz district was named plac Wilsona (Wilson Square).
The new exhibition is composed of four large-format installations on Krakowskie Przedmieście, and an electronic presentation including the full Declaration of Admiration and Friendship for the United States in the nearby History Meeting House. In this collective portrait of the Second Republic of Poland, most Poles would find his or her relatives among 5.5 million signers of the Declaration, former pupils at his or her school or inhabitants of his or her locality who placed their signature in it 91 years ago.
The exhibition is divided in three thematic segments: diplomatic aid from the US to Poland (1915–1919), material aid from the US to Poland (1919–1922), and the amazing act supporting the expression of gratitude that is the Declaration of Admiration and Friendship for the United States (1926), the capstone of the exhibition.
The exhibition “From Poland with Love, 1915–1926: the Forgotten History of Gratitude” can be visited from 18 October till 15 November 2017 on Krakowskie Przedmieście Street and at the nearby History Meeting House.
Organizers: the City of Warsaw, the Ronald Reagan Foundation in Poland, the History Meeting House.
Curator: KARTA Center Foundation
Partners: the Polish Library in Washington, DC, the Polish History Museum