29 lis 2010

Christopher Columbus was Polish?

Today very short - just the link. What do you think about it? What does it change?

Have a good night - dobrej nocy/dobranoc!

24 lis 2010

Never again "Polish concentration camps"

EDIT: After your request I will explain it once more.

From time to time in Poland media inform that somewhere in the world somebody wrote about the "Polish concentration camps". During the WW II there wasn't any "Polish concentration camp", on the Polish territory all of them were established by Germans (to be more precise - by the Nazis). "Polish concentration camp" is a very dangerous mental leap because it leaves the impression that Poles created the death factories and killed millions of Jews. We are very sensitive about this issue because we know well how easy is to change the history and teach next generations false facts. For example after the WW II in Polish schools children couldn't learn anything positive about the Polish underground forces (AK). Oficially this topic came back after the democratic transformation.

Now the American Polonia (Polish diaspora) wants to eliminate the term "Polish concentration camps" from the US media. They want to convince the biggest dailies to write in their stylebooks that you should use only the accurate term "German concentration camps in Nazi-occupied Poland". If you think it's important please help and sign the petition. Many many people did it.

If you're not familiar with the topic of the Nazi camps have a look at the very useful publication of the Auschwitz Memorial. You can download it in many languages. If you live in Poland of course I recommend you to visit at least one camp. Auschwitz-Birkenau is near Kraków and for example Majdanek is in Lublin.

19 lis 2010

Polish music 2010

To be honest it's not easy to be up-to-date with the newest Polish music. In the radio you can hear mostly good old hits and the Western music. In Poland radio stations are obliged to play Polish music during at least 33% of the time (it's a ridiculous law or you have it also in your countries??). But as they don't enjoy it or think that people don't want to listen it's played at nights. It's not better on television so Internet has become the first and last source.

My favourite music is rather mainstream. I can't stand that now the appearance of singers starts to play the more significant role than their voice or talent. People with no skills are promoted in order to make money. Why do we have to listen to this?

I picked some examples of the Polish music 2010 that I listen to, maybe you could add some more? What do you like?

1) Monika Brodka "W pięciu smakach"

The song inspired by the Far East in Warsaw (food, markets). Great lyrics, modesty, humour, interesting video. Bravo! The new album is more individual than the previous one, hopefully she will keep doing this.

2) 3R (Robert M, Dirty Rush, Remo) "Shine on"

The video is the real American style nightmare. Produced by men for men, with almost naked girls with no facial expression. But I like the beat. The comments below are terrific:) Poles are very critical about themselves and always find fault!

3) Kayah & Royal Quartet "Wiosna przyjdzie i tak"

Kayah it's a real star. Her old songs are super hits in Poland: "Fleciki", "Supermenka", "Testosteron". With Goran Bregovic she did "Prawy do lewego", "Tabakiera" and many more. In 2010 she recorded her hits for the second time with the Royal Quartet. More info you will find here. The song "Wiosna przyjdzie i tak" was a promoting singel. Originally comes from the movie "Przedwiośnie".

EDIT: I had a request to translate the last lyrics so here it is. I'm not a translator and I'm open to your ideas how to do it better.

Kayah - “The spring will come anyway”

You wanted to rustle as a tree
Race in the sky as a young wind
Today the sky is so low
That you must bow down

Although your world has ruined
The spring will come anyway

If you’ve made a mistake
The youth will absolve you
If you’ve stopped believing this
The time teaches us hope

Although your world has ruined
The spring will come anyway

15 lis 2010

Poland - a highly developed country?

It had been my plan to write on the new UN Human Development Index report and the 41st place of Poland but a friendly blogger did it faster. I don't want to repeat everything so please read this text. I also recommend you this very interesting website with a lot of Polish recipes!

I'm happy that humanistic and economical factors show that Poland is considered as a highly developed country. The development is fast, our cites are safe and more elegant, Poles live longer, travel and buy more things. The future seen from the capital city is optimistic but we also should pay attention to the huge social problems. Well, I'm a Pole, so I must complain a little bit;) The picture isn't so wonderful. The tendencies are the same all over the world - some people are more affluent but in the same time poor people are poorer. Still many children like to go to school because they can eat there a meal. Unemployment and the lack of opportunities are a big problem in the smaller communities. The civil society is arising but many people choose no commitment in the local or public matters. The “liberal” government has no idea how to deal with the public debt and raises VAT to 23% from the next year. Why it’s so difficult to spend more on education, research and development? Poles are enterprising, they just need knowledge, favourable working conditions and a creativity booster. School education still consists in learning encyclopaedia by heart and how to pass exams. Media like to follow public debates on completely unimportant discussions like crosses or personal games in political parties. But on Sunday we have the local elections and can decide!

7 lis 2010

11.11 Fascism shall not pass


The 11th of November is the Polish Independence Day. On the 11.11.1918 Poland regained independence and after 123 years reappeared on the map of Europe. It was the end of the WW I. But today I don't want to write about the history. Every year this optimistic event is recalled by solemn celebrations - the army marches and presidential speeches. But unfortunately it's also the occasion for marginal radical groups to walk on the streets. Many people and organizations consider it as dangerous and want to protest. This is what is written in the manifesto:

"As every year on November 11, nationalists and neo-fascists from various organizations are planning a march through the streets of Warsaw. We do not want the supporters of xenophobic and racist ideology, who proudly refer to the pre-war organizations of openly fascist sympathies, to again pass through the capital. Remembering the past, we believe that the growing national movement must be opposed. For two years now, we have been trying to block this march. We will stop it only if there will be many of us.

We are a group of different people and organizations. We share an idea of resistance against fascism. We are planning a demonstration on the route of the fascist march. We want to physically block it. We will use our civil rights. We invite all residents of Warsaw and all who want to come to Warsaw, to take part in active opposition to the fascists. We look forward to your participation in the preparations, to your arrival to Warsaw on time and at the place proposed by us. We hope you to prepare banners and inform friends about our activities. We count on your presence".

If it's also important for you take part and tell your friends!

People gather in Krakowskie Przedmieście close to św. Anna church at 13.30.

We want no fascism in Poland and anywhere else!

4 lis 2010

Akcja "Znicz" - The "Candle" Action

Every year during the first days of November there is lot of car accidents. Poles kill themselves on the roads all year but in this specific time you can see how dangerous is to use a car in Poland. A lot of policemen monitor the roads and control cars in the akcja "Znicz" but the statistics are far from optimistic. It's not getting better.

What are the reasons?

1) Bad roads. Of course a lot of kilometres of highways have been built but it's still not enough. In my opinion new roads will be too expensive for an average driver. Local roads are dark and often have no signs.

2) Foolhardiness. In Poland abiding by the road rules is still considered as stupid. How can you do 50 km/h in the city? 110 km/h on the highway? Ridiculous. Drivers are always in a hurry. Besides they have better and better cars so why not show off?

3) Alcohol. Embarrasing. This year during the All Saints weekend 1880 drunk drivers were caught. So many years of promotion the sobriety, severe penalties (above 0,5 per mille of alcohol in blood may be punished by 2 years of imprisonment) and the results are poor.

In Poland you can have 0,19 per mille, 0,2 is punished. Our neighbours choose the more strict option, in Belarus, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Slovakia and Ukraine only 0,00 is possible!

I can only add BE CAREFUL!

3 lis 2010

1st and 2nd of November

The 1st of November is the All Saints' Day (Wszystkich Świętych). Although it's a Christian holiday I have never seen anybody recalling the saints in Poland. During the PRL times when all the Catholic holidays were replaced by secular traditions the 1st of November was named the Day of the Dead (Święto/Dzień Zmarłych). It was a successful change because now on the 1st Poles think of these who are gone. It's far more important then the 2nd which is the All Souls' Day (Dzień Zaduszny = Zaduszki). It's also a day off work and the most congested day on the Polish roads. All the country goes to cemeteries which is quite unusual in Europe. Don't plan any trips on the 1st of November because you will stuck. This year it was better because we had 3 days to visit all the cemeteries.

What you find there it's really amazing:) Of course many different lights (znicze). The trends change every year. You can choose from a wide range of shapes and colours. A lot of kitsch.

I prefer the simplest and cheapest.

Poles adore decorating graves. Sometimes it's really too much - you shouldn't do it in order to impress your neighbours. Flowers are also important.

You can think that it's weird but I really love going to the cemetery. Even just for a walk. I'm not a Catholic so I don't feel the obligation. In fact it has nothing to do with the Christianity. In the old pagan times Slavs and Balts commemorated the dead by feast rituals. In the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth this tradition was taken over by the Christian All Souls' Day. Poles remember it because Adam Mickiewicz wrote the great drama called "Dziady". It's an obligatory text for every Polish pupil so I should present it in the separate note.

I recommend you to visit a Polish cemetery on the 1st or 2nd of November in the evening. It's magical and yes - romantic. There's a light on every grave (even if there's nobody to come strangers will put it) and graves of famous people or tragical events are almost burning. If you live in Warsaw go and see Powązki, beautiful.