Zygmunt Mineyko

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Zygmunt Mineyko

Zygmunt Mineyko (Zygmunt Mineiko; Polish: Zygmunt Mineyko; Greek: Ζίγκμουντ Μινέικο; 1840 – 27 December 1925) was a Polish aristocrat, army officer, scientist and engineer who later became a public figure in Greece.

Childhood and youth[edit]

Zygmunt was born into the family of Stanislaw Jerzy Mineyko and Cecilia Szukiewicz in Balvanishki, Russian Empire (nowadays — Zyalyony Bor, Ashmyany district, Grodno region, Belarus). The Mineykos belonged to the aristocratic, land-owning class of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. One of Zygmunt’s ancestors was among the signatories of the Union of Horodło in 1413, and the family possessed many estates in what is now Poland and Belarus.[1][2]

Anti-Russian uprising[edit]

In 1858 Mineyko graduated from a Vilna high school.[3] His brother-in-law, Aleksander Tydman was a close relative of the Russian general Eduard Totleben (1818–1884). Totleben helped Zygmunt to enroll into the best Military Academy in Russia - the Nicholas General Staff Academy in Saint Petersburg. After the Russian Empire lost the Crimean war and was weakened economically and politically, an unrest started on the lands of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In 1861, Mineyko returned home to spread anti-Russian agitation among the Polish and Belarusian population. Being under the persecution of the Russian government he escaped to Italy, where he taught the war fortification at the Military School in Genoa. The school trained volunteers for a future anti-Russian uprising.

When the January Uprising in the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth against the Russian Empire bursted, Mineyko returned home. He organized and led a guerrilla brigade in the region of Ashmyany. After being defeated by Russian forces, Mineyko was arrested and sentenced to death. Only with the help of the bribes given to Russian officials and selling of family estates, he managed to escape the death penalty and was sent to a 12-year Katorga in Siberia.

On the way to exile, Zygmunt encountered French prisoners, also sentenced by Russians for their participation in the January Uprising. He memorized their names to pass the data to the French authorities one day.

In France[edit]

In 1865, Mineyko managed to escaped from Siberian exile. He left the Russian Empire on English ship under the name of count von Meberthe. The revolutionary travelled to Europe. In Paris, he met Napoleon III to inform him about the French officers, participants of the January Uprising, whom he had met in Siberia. When Alexander II of Russia visited France in 1868, the Emperor of the French brought up the subject of the French prisoners in Siberia. The Russian monarch could not deny the list of specific names. Soon, these prisoners were released. The French government thanked Mineyko by granting him an opportunity to study at École Militaire in Paris. After graduation with a degree in civil engineering, Mineyko led construction of railways, bridges and channels in Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece. In 1870 he fought for France in the Franco-Prussian War.

In Greece[edit]

In Greece, Mineyko was appointed as chief engineer of Epirus and Thessaly provinces. In 1878 he made a sensational archaeological discovery. His expedition found traces of the Temple of Zeus in Dodona.[4] The researcher created the ethnological map of Epirus, wrote numerous works on the Greece topography.

In 1880 Mineyko married Persephone Manaris, the daughter of a high school principal in Ioannina. In 1891 their family settled in Athens. Mineyko was appointed as a chief engineer of the Public Work Ministry of Greece. He also was a member of the executive committee for Crete in 1896, and in 1897 he was head of the topographic section of General Staff of the Greek Army.[5]

He participated in the construction and restoration of the Olympic facilities, including the Panathinaiko Stadium hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. During the Games, Mineyko wrote reports from the Olympic arena for the Polish newspaper "Czas". He wrote letters for Polish periodicals in Kracow and Lwow for many years, presenting the problems of Greek politics and ethnic questions from a pro-Hellenic point of view.[6]

Mineyko took part in Greco-Turkish War 1897. During the First Balkan War, his strategic plans were crucial in achieving several significant victories.

Zygmunt worked as a chief engineer of the Public Work Ministry until August 1917 when he suffered a heart attack. His illness caused his resignation.[7]

In 1911 and 1922,[8] Mineyko was able to visit his homeland which was a part of the Second Polish Republic that time.

Sigmund Mineyko died December 27, 1925.

Papandreou dynasty[edit]

Zygmunt Mineiko and Persephone Manaris raised two sons and five daughters. One of their daughters, Sophia, married Georgios Papandreou, the Governor of Chios who later served three terms as Prime Minister of Greece (1944–1945, 1963, 1964–1965).[9] Their son, Andreas Papandreou was born in Chios in 1919. A Greek economist, a socialist politician, he served three terms as Prime Minister of Greece (1981–1989 (two consecutive), 1993–1996).

In 1984, Andreas Papandreou visited General Wojciech Jaruzelski in Poland.[10] It is assumed, he concerned himself with the opportunity to explore his grandfather’s homeland village in Soviet Belarus. However he was told that Balvanishki had no longer existed. This was due to communists renamed the village into Zyalyony Bor during the Khrushchev era.[11]

The son of Andreas Papandreou and the great-grandson of Zygmunt Mineyko, George Papandreou became the third member of the Papandreou family to serve as the country's prime minister (2009–2011). He has mentioned his background, telling about his maternal great-grandfather who came to live in Greece.[12][13]

Honours and legacy[edit]

Zygmunt Mineyko could speak Polish, Belarusian, Lithuanian, Russian, French, English, Turkish, and Greek, was an excellent horseman and hunter.[14]

The Greek parliament acknowledged Mineyko by proclaiming him honorary citizen of the Greece in 1910. After the end of the First Balkan War, he was also conferred upon the highest award of Greece - The Golden Cross-Order of Merit (1913).

While travelling to the Second Polish Republic in 1922, Mineyko received Polish military awards, such as the Virtuti Militari Cross, the rank of veteran-colonel and doctor honoris causa dignity in Lviv University.

Mineyko deposited his memoirs and articles in the Library of Jagiellonian University, and donated his numismatic collection to Vilnius University. A book of his memoirs, Z tajgi pod Akropol: Wspomnienia z lat 1848-1868 (in Polish), was published in Warsaw in 1971.

One of the streets in the Belarusian town of Ashmyany named after Zygmunt Mineyko.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Arlou, Uladzimier (09.03.2006). "Зыгмунт Мінейка" (in Belarusian). Радыё Свабода. Retrieved 23 April 2012.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. ^ Lashkevich, Kastus (02.04.2009). "Ліцвінскі элін — герой Грэцыі" (in Belarusian). TUT.BY. Retrieved 23 April 2012.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. ^ Venclova, Tomas (2008). Vilnius: A Guide to Its Names and People. Vilnius: R.Paknio Leidykla. p. 168. ISBN 9955736224. 
  4. ^ Venclova, Tomas (2008). Vilnius: A Guide to Its Names and People. Vilnius: R.Paknio Leidykla. p. 168. ISBN 9955736224. 
  5. ^ "Senator Ryszard Bender pyta premiera Grecji Jerzego Papandreou w Zgromadzeniu Parlamentarnym Rady Europy w Strasburgu 26 stycznia 2010 r. w sprawie krzyży." (in English/Polish). Retrieved 23 April 2012. 
  6. ^ Zdrada, Jerzy (9 October 1999). "Zygmunt Mineyko (1840 - 1925) and George Papandreou as family in Greece". Retrieved 23 April 2012. 
  7. ^ Mineyko, Zygmunt. "Memoirs by Zygmunt Mineyko. English translation by Krzysztof Mineyko". Z tajgi pod Akropol: Wspomnienia z lat 1848-1868. Retrieved 23 April 2012. 
  8. ^ Venclova, Tomas (2008). Vilnius: A Guide to Its Names and People. Vilnius: R.Paknio Leidykla. p. 168. ISBN 9955736224. 
  9. ^ "Andreas G. Papandreou Full Biography". Andreas G. Papandreou Foundation. Retrieved 23 April 2012. 
  10. ^ Loulis, John (1984/85). "Papandreou's Foreign Policy". Foreign Affairs (Winter).  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  11. ^ Maldzis, Adam (07.06.2007). Ошмянский инсургент, сибирский каторжник, почетный гражданин Греции. Советская Белоруссия. Беларусь Сегодня (in Russian). Retrieved 23 April 2012.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  12. ^ "Senator Ryszard Bender pyta premiera Grecji Jerzego Papandreou w Zgromadzeniu Parlamentarnym Rady Europy w Strasburgu 26 stycznia 2010 r. w sprawie krzyży." (in English/Polish). Retrieved 23 April 2012. 
  13. ^ "Spotkanie premierów Polski i Grecji - 7 kwietnia 2011 r." (in Polish). Retrieved 23 April 2012. 
  14. ^ Venclova, Tomas (2008). Vilnius: A Guide to Its Names and People. Vilnius: R.Paknio Leidykla. p. 168. ISBN 9955736224. 

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