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Panorama of Kraków, former capital of Poland

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Witaj w Portalu o Polsce

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Poland is a country in Central Europe, bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast to the north. It is an ancient nation whose history as a state began near the middle of the 10th century. Its golden age occurred in the 16th century when it united with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania to form the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. During the following century, the strengthening of the gentry and internal disorders weakened the nation. In a series of agreements in the late 18th century, Russia, Prussia and Austria partitioned Poland amongst themselves. It regained independence as the Second Polish Republic in the aftermath of World War I only to lose it again when it was occupied by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in World War II. The nation lost over six million citizens in the war, following which it emerged as the communist People's Republic of Poland under strong Soviet influence within the Eastern Bloc. A westward border shift followed by forced population transfers after the war turned a once multiethnic country into a mostly homogeneous nation state. Labor turmoil in 1980 led to the formation of the independent trade union called Solidarity (Solidarność) that over time became a political force which by 1990 had swept parliamentary elections and the presidency. A shock therapy program during the early 1990s enabled the country to transform its economy into one of the most robust in Central Europe. With its transformation to a democratic, market-oriented country largely completed, Poland is an increasingly active member of NATO and the European Union.

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From Polish history

Solidarity flag
The history of Solidarity, a Polish non-governmental trade union, began in August 1980 at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk where it was started by Lech Wałęsa and his co-workers. In the early 1980s, it became the first independent labor union in a Soviet-bloc country. Solidarity gave rise to a broad anti-communist nonviolent social movement that, at its height, united some 10 million members and vastly contributed to the fall of communism. Poland's communist government attempted to destroy it by imposing martial law in 1981, followed by several years of political repression, but it was ultimately forced to begin negotiating with the union. Round Table Talks between the weakened government and the Solidarity-led opposition resulted in a semi-free parliamentary election in 1989. By the end of August 1989, a Solidarity-led coalition government had been formed and, in December 1990, Wałęsa was elected president. This was soon followed by the dismantling of the communist governmental system and by Poland's transformation into a modern democratic state. Solidarity's example led to the spread of anti-communist ideas and movements throughout the countries of the Eastern Bloc, weakening their communist governments; a process known as the Revolutions of 1989, or the Autumn of Nations.
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Suppression of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
Credit: USHMM

Jews captured by SS and SD troops during the suppression of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising are forced to leave their shelter and march to the Umschlagplatz for deportation. The SD trooper pictured second from the right is Josef Blösche, who was identified by Polish authorities using this photograph. Blösche was tried for war crimes in Erfurt, East Germany, in 1969, sentenced to death and executed in July of that year.

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A typical zapiekanka served on a paper tray

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Mieczysław Jagielski (1924–1997) was a Polish politician and economist. During the times of the People's Republic of Poland he was the last leading politician from the former eastern regions of pre-World War II Poland. Jagielski became a communist member of parliament in 1957 and he would continue to serve in that capacity for seven consecutive terms until 1985. In 1959, he was posted to be a member of the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers' Party and appointed minister of agriculture. After he left the latter position in 1970, Jagielski became a deputy prime minister, and the next year, a member of the party's politburo. In August 1980, Jagielski represented the government during talks with striking workers in Gdańsk. He negotiated the agreement which recognized the Solidarity trade union as the first independent trade union within the Eastern Bloc. In late July 1981, Jagielski was fired from the deputy premiership, reportedly because he failed to produce a recovery program for the economic crisis Poland was experiencing at that time. The same year, he renounced his membership in the Politburo and the Central Committee.
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The Spodek multipurpose sports arena at night

Katowice, located on the Kłodnica and Rawa rivers in the Silesian Highlands, is the capital city of the Silesian Voivodeship. With 312,201 inhabitants, it is the largest city of the Upper Silesian Industry Area and the principal scientific, cultural, industrial, business and transport center of the region. Before World War II, Katowice was the seat of the Silesian Sejm, the legislature of the Silesian Voivodeship. The multipurpose arena complex known as Spodek, or "Saucer" (pictured), is the city's most recognizable landmark.

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