Scouting and Guiding in Poland

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Scouting Cross (Krzyż Harcerski) - the emblem of Polish Scouting

The Scouting and Guiding movement in Poland consists of about twelve independent organizations with an overall membership of about 160,000 Scouts and Guides. The largest organization by membership is Polish Scouting and Guiding Association (Związek Harcerstwa Polskiego; ZHP) with about 140,000 members.[1][2]

History of the Scout movement in Poland[edit]

Background[edit]

At the beginning of 20th century, Poland was partitioned between the German, Russian, and Austro-Hungarian Empires. Poles, both adult and young, formed many grass-roots movements and organizations, aimed at preserving the nation and preparing for the eventual struggle for independence. One such group was the youth organization "Zarzewie".

Beginning of the Scout movement[edit]

The Polish Scout movement was started in 1910 in Lwów (now - Lviv, Ukraine), when "Zarzewie"-activist Andrzej Małkowski translated Baden-Powell's Scouting for Boys to Polish. The work had been assigned to him as a punishment for being a notorious latecomer. Andrzej Małkowski became enthusiastic and worked to implement the new movement with his wife Olga Drahonowska-Małkowska.

At first the Scouts did not have a standardized uniform, as some of the formed groups wanted to remain independent. However, all the groups accepted similar style and design, and the worldwide scout badge with a lily and the extra letters ONC (standing for "Ojczyzna, Nauka, Cnota",[3] i.e. "Fatherland, Study, Virtue"). The program was made up of three parts; the common Scout idea, the science, especially study of national history and language with national values, and basic military training.

Various independent Scout groups were developed under the oversight of the existing organizations, mainly gymnastics society "Sokół", independence-oriented "Zarzewie", or abstinence organization "Eleusis". Thanks to the influence of the latter, to this day Scouting code in Poland obliges "to be pure in thinking, in speech, and in deeds; not to smoke; not to drink alcohol".

The rapid development and popularity of Boy Scouts continued up to 1914, but was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I.

World War II[edit]

Main article: Gray Ranks

After the German invasion of Poland of 1939 the ZHP was deemed a criminal organization by the Nazis (who had gone so far as to begin executing many scouts and guides, along with other possible resistance leaders), but they carried on as a clandestine organization. They became nicknamed the Grey Ranks (Szare Szeregi), and cooperated with the Polish Secret State and the Armia Krajowa resistance.

Some Older Scouts carried out sabotage missions and armed resistance. The Girl Guides formed auxiliary units working as nurses, liaisons and munition carriers. At the same time the youngest Scouts were involved in so-called "small sabotage" under the auspice of the Wawer organization, which included dropping leaflets or painting the kotwica sign on the walls. During Operation Tempest, the Scouts actively participated in the fights, especially during the failed Warsaw Uprising.

In communist Poland[edit]

Organizacja Harcerska Związku Młodzieży Polskiej 1950-1956.png

In 1945, the ZHP restored its former name and returned to public existence. However, the communist authorities of Poland pressured the organization to become a member of the Pioneer Movement, and eventually, in 1949, banned it. A new organization under the same name was created by communist government after the death of Soviet premier Joseph Stalin, using the cadre of government-sponsored organization ZMP OH.

History of Scouting in Greater Poland[edit]

Bernard Chrzanowski and Ksawery Zakrzewski decided to create a new Scout movement in the area. On October 17, 1912 in the flat of Henry Śniegocki, came into existence the first organization of Greater Poland Boy Scouts, formed by Cezary Jindra, Henryk Śniegocki, Wincenty Wierzejewski, Edmund Weclawski, Leonard Skowroński and Tadeusz Wolski.

Before, in September 1912, Tadeusz Strumiłło and Jerzy Grodyński (pl) helped to start the Scout movement in Greater Poland. At first the roles they divided as between friends, alternating. Gradually, more and more authority fell upon Wincenty Wierzejewski. In 1915, Wierzejewski deserted from the Army and made Scouting first priority. Henryk Śniegocki became with time his "alter ego", a dedicated and trusted proxy. The other members aksi accepted his leadership. They gained more outstanding people, for example Jan Konkolewski, who previously collected a group of boys dedicated to diversion and sabotage of the German Army, the so-called "Zouaves". By 1913, the patrol grew to a troop, including patrols named after Bolesław the Brave, Kazimierz the Great and Mieszko the First. Next the troop became a group, and the patrols increased to troops. The second troop was named after Władysław Jagiełło.

Soon more patrols grew into troops. Despite the rapid growth, the Scouts remained in hiding, acting illegally. The same happened with two troops of Girl Guides, named after Emilia Plater and Queen Jadwiga.

World War I[edit]

Reproduction of the seal of Scout headquarters on the German Reich territory - signed by Węcławski, the secretary

Around the end of 1914 and the beginning of 1915, the Scout movement resumed, but continued in hiding. The temporary interruption was not exactly caused by the imposed martial law, but mainly the absence of the mature leadership, who were mobilized in the German Army.

In January 1915, Henryk Śniegocki came back from the front on sick leave and managed to extend his leave. A few weeks later the wounded Wierzejewski turned up for treatment. After recovery, he decided to desert. Henryk Śniegocki, who now took the command of the Scout troops after Wierzejewski, tried to make the status of scouting legal with the pretext of caring for the boys whose fathers were mobilized in the Army, but without success. Bronisław Drwęski, commanding the Scout troop named after Kazimierz the Great, died a few days after serving a 3 months prison term.

On April 2, 1916 they created MKS, the Local Scouts Command, including all troops from the city and aiding, if necessary, the troops from the provinces.

In November 1915, Ksawery Zakrzewski died and Wincenty Wierzejewski took his place as leader. Henryk Śniegocki took command of the Scout Groups. Thanks to the aid of Józef Kostrzewski, Wierzejewski arranged a secret den in the Museum of PSFAS (Poznań Society of Friends of Arts and Sciences) and lived there. He also took a calculated risk himself, on the strength of a self-produced passport and travel document he tried to cross the border to Switzerland and contact the Polish Aid Committee[disambiguation needed].

By the end of 1916 the integration progressed further, resulting in the creation of a secret Headquarters of Scouts in the German Reich (territory).

Post-World War I[edit]

Henryk Śniegocki became the Chief of Scouts troop in the Directorate of Greater-Poland Scout Troops (with Anna Krysiewicz, commanding the Girl Guides). In July 1919 he was one of three delegates for the meeting, resulting in a merger of Greater-Poland Scouts with the ZHP. However, in 1920 he volunteered, as an already experienced organizer to the plebiscite of the Mazurs and next fought in the second and third Silesia uprisings.

In the newly formed Poland, he became a teacher in a primary school, at the same time continuing his Scout work. A few years later, he again commanded the Greater-Poland Banner, but not for long. With the ruling Sanacja unfriendly, he was transferred away from Poznań and had to resign from the honorable Scout role. He appealed to the court justice, and won several times, only to be sent away again repeatedly, a further distance each time, in "the interest of the school" behind the Pińsk. Finally he won the case and came back to Poznań, but many years had passed. Yet this maybe allowed him to outlive the first occupation, imprisoned and displaced he survived in Częstochowa. When he came back to Poznań he was again removed by the communist Government, both from the Scouts as well from school. The rest of his life he fought for the truth in the history commissions.

Scouting organizations[edit]

National organizations[edit]

Local small organizations[edit]

Polish Scouting abroad[edit]

Polish Scouts-in-Exile organizations include

International Scouting units in Poland[edit]

In addition, there are USA Girl Scouts Overseas in Warsaw, serviced by way of USAGSO headquarters in New York; American Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts linked to the Horizon District of the Transatlantic Council of the Boy Scouts of America, which supports units in west-and-central Europe, the Near East and North Africa.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Triennal review: Census as at 1 December 2010". World Organization of the Scout Movement. Retrieved 2011-01-13. 
  2. ^ "Our World". World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-07. 
  3. ^ "Ojczyzna, Nauka, Cnota – jubileuszowa wystawa harcerska 1910-2010". Poland-art. 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-01-08. Retrieved 2013-01-08.