Poland–Serbia relations

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Polish-Serbian relations
Map indicating locations of Poland and Serbia



Polish-Serbian relations are foreign relations between Poland and Serbia. Diplomatic relations have been maintained since Poland and Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes established them in 1919. Poland has an embassy in Belgrade and Serbia has an embassy in Warsaw. Poland and Serbia in the past have had traditionally friendly relations. Serbia is considered as a bridge for Polish-Russian relationship, due to Russian influence to Serbia.

Middle Ages[edit]

Queen Jadwiga of Poland (r. 1384–99) had partly Serbian ancestry, through King Stefan Dragutin (r. 1276–82) of the Nemanjić dynasty.[1] Serbian fiddlers (guslars) were mentioned at the court of Polish king Władysław II Jagiełło (r. 1386–1434) in 1415.[2][3]

Polish knight Zawisza Czarny, who joined Bohemian King Sigismund's war against the Ottomans, fell at the Golubac fortress in eastern Serbia in 1428;[4] there is a commemorative plaque on the fortress in his honour (Česma Zaviše Crnog).[5] Hungarian commander John Hunyadi led a long campaign against the Ottomans in 1443–44, accompanied by Polish king Władysław III, Serbian despot Đurađ Branković, Wallachian voivode Vlad II Dracul, and a Polish contingent. They marched throughout Serbia and defeated the Ottomans.[6]

The Polish hussars (cavalry) originated in mercenary units of exiled Serbian and Hungarian warriors,[7] the concept having originated in Serbia in the late 14th century. The oldest mention of hussars in Polish documents date to 1500, although they were probably in service earlier.[8]

Early modern history[edit]

After the Ottoman conquest of Serbia, Serbian guslars (fiddlers) found refuge throughout Europe, as mentioned in sources.[9] Polish poets of the 17th century mentioned the gusle in their works. In a poem published in 1612, Kasper Miaskowski wrote that "the Serbian gusle and gaidas will overwhelm Shrove Tuesday" (Serbskie skrzypki i dudy ostatek zagluszą).[10] In the idyll named Śpiewacy, published in 1663, Józef Bartłomiej Zimorowic used the phrase "to sing to the Serbian gusle" (przy Serbskich gęślach śpiewać).[10][11]

Modern history[edit]

19th century[edit]

After the November Uprising (1830–31), Polish revolutionaries fled to the Principality of Serbia. Serbian commander, and later politician, Ilija Garašanin (1812–1874) contacted these Polish emigrees. It was a Pole, Adam Czartoryski, who initiated the Načertanije project (the precursor to Greater Serbia).[12]

The great Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz (1798–1855) thought highly of Serb epic poetry, and chose it as a theme of lectures at Collège de France.[13]

The Serbians and Poles were part of the Pan-Slavic Sokol organizations, along with other Slavic nations.[14]

World War I[edit]

In March 1914, Serbian, French, Polish and Greek allied troops landed at Odessa.[15] In the early fall of 1918, an Allied account said that Serbs and Poles in a region from the Urals to Volga had been recruited by a French officer.[15] In 1918, Serbs and Poles together with Chinese, were part of the "Officer's Corps", a unit of the Russian Consul at Harbin.[15]

World War II[edit]

Both Serbs and Poles were the main Slavic victims of Nazi war crimes in Europe. The Nazis considered all Poles and Serbs as Untermensch, meaning "subhumans". Many ethnic Poles and ethnic Serbs died in concentration camps, or during retaliative guerrilla fights. Poles joined the Yugoslav Partisans in the beginning of the war. Yugoslav Partisans were often compared to the Polish Underground State and the Polish Resistance Movement which was the largest anti-Nazi guerrilla movement in the whole Europe.

In the mountains of Serbia in the years 1942–43 there were three Polish companies attached to the Chetnik Corps.[16] The Rules of Chetnik Warfare was first published in Polish, then translated into Serbian.[17]

On 1 June 1944, a Balkan Air Force was established by the British. It had mostly British, but also Italian, a Yugoslav squadron, and a Polish flight.[18]



Boris Tadić meeting with Lech Kaczyński, at the 63rd UN General Assembly session in September 2008
Main articles: Kosovo War and Status of Kosovo

Polish opinion on the NATO operations in Kosovo was mixed: 37% favoured involvement while 43% were against. The government decided in favor of a NATO-led operation to bring cease-fire in the conflict.

Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia on 17 February 2008 and Poland recognized it on 26 February 2008.[19] Poland was the first Slavic country to do so.

In September 2008, President of Poland, Lech Kaczyński, stated that the original cause of the 2008 South Ossetia war was not the Georgian operation, but the recognition of Kosovo's independence[20] and that he would block attempts to establish diplomatic relations of Poland with Kosovo at ambassadorial level; however, the government has not proposed to send an ambassador to Pristina.[21]

The recognition of Kosovo Albanian independence has been criticized in Poland. Dozens of protests and demonstrations have been organized by various groups in Poland in support of the Serbian cause in Kosovo, with some attracting up to 1,500 to 2,000 people. An organization called "Poles for Serbian Kosovo" was formed in order to provide and support for Serbs in Kosovo.


Poland had (as of July 2009) 274 troops serving in Kosovo as peacekeepers in the NATO-led Kosovo Force. Originally there were 800 Polish troops in KFOR.[22]

Cultural relations[edit]

Due to huge popularity of the Yugoslav rock scene in Poland in the 1970s and 1980s, many Yugoslav artists toured Poland. Električni orgazam recorded a live album titled Warszawa '81 and Azra released the song Poljska u mome srcu (Poland in my heart) to support the Polish opposition against Wojciech Jaruzelski. These connections in the 1980s led to albums being produced in Poland based on covers of popular Serbian and Yugoslav Rock bands with the albums Yugoton and Yugopolis covering artists such as Bajaga i Instruktori, Idoli and Električni orgazam. Serbian Turbo Folk music is also liked by many Poles with many elements similar with the Polish Disco Polo.

The Kayah i Bregović-album by Polish singer-songwriter Kayah and Serbian musician Goran Bregović became a bestseller after its release in 1999.[23]

Poles in Serbia[edit]

There are documents on Polish officers participating in the First Serbian Uprising (1804-1813). In the second half of the 19th century, especially after the suppression of the January Uprising in Poland (1864), some 20 Polish doctors arrived in Serbia, most of which settled down and gave a great contribution to the development of medical culture in the renewed Serbian state. The League of Yugoslavia–Poland (Liga Jugoslavija-Poljska) was active in the Interwar period, aimed at economical and cultural cooperation with Poland. The League was not a diaspora organization, although it gathered also a small number of Yugoslav Poles at its seat in Uzun–Mirko's Street 5 in Belgrade, especially during national and Catholic holidays. Members of the League helped Polish soldiers and civilians who in autumn 1939 fled from Romania via Yugoslavia to the West. Immediately after World War II some tens of Polish women with their Serbian husbands arrived in Serbia; they had met at forced labour- and concentration camps in Germany. The largest part of the Polonia (Polish diaspora) in Serbia is made up of women who married in Yugoslavia in the 1960s and 70s. During the Yugoslav wars, when Yugoslavia broke up, many Polish and their families either returned to Poland or emigrated to the West. According to the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Serbia, there are around 1,000 Polish citizens living in Serbia. These are individuals born in Poland, as well as their descendants from mixed marriages. Apart from Belgrade, larger numbers exist in Niš, Novi Sad, Kraljevo, Vrnjačka Banja and Subotica. The only community regarded starosedeoci ("natives"), is the one inhabiting Ostojićevo in northern Serbia, having settled in the mid-19th century from the Vistula.[24]

Serbian people of Polish descent[edit]

Serbian aviators Tadija Sondermajer and Stanislav Sondermajor, the youngest fighter in the Battle of Cer (1914), were of paternal Polish descent.[25] Serbian officer and journalist Stanislav Krakov (1895–1968) had a father of Polish origin.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Oskar Halecki; Tadeusz Gromada (1991). Jadwiga of Anjou and the rise of East Central Europe. Social Science Monographs. pp. 63, 86, 367. ISBN 978-0-88033-206-4. 
  2. ^ Petar Vlahović (2004). Serbia: the country, people, life, customs. Ethnographic Museum. p. 340. ISBN 978-86-7891-031-9. 
  3. ^ Denkschriften. 58. A. Hölder. 1915. p. 58. Serbische Geiger werden 1415 am Hofe des polnischen Königs Wladislaw Jagiello genannt. 
  4. ^ Jacek Macyszyn (1 January 2003). Polegaj jak na Zawiszy: mit czy rzeczywistość. Muzeum Wojska Polskiego. p. 309. ISBN 978-83-916229-1-9. 
  5. ^ "Zamek Golubac". Navtur. 
  6. ^ Donald Edgar Pitcher (1968). An Historical Geography of the Ottoman Empire: From Earliest Times to the End of the Sixteenth Century. Brill Archive. p. 73. 
  7. ^ Cathal J. Nolan (2006). The Age of Wars of Religion, 1000-1650: An Encyclopedia of Global Warfare and Civilization. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 428. ISBN 978-0-313-33733-8. 
  8. ^ Richard Brzezinski (1987). Polish Armies 1569-1696. Osprey Publishing. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-85045-736-0. 
  9. ^ Stana Đurić-Klajn (1972). A Survey of Serbian Music Through the Ages. Association of Composers of Serbia. p. 23. The Serbian guslars, forced to leave their own country, were often seen and mentioned in foreign countries. According to the chronicles and poems of the Polish poets Miaskowski (1549 — 1622) and Hieronimus Morsztyn (17th century), the Serbian ballad singers went with their gusle from one court to another, enjoying a high reputation, especially in the Ukraine and among the Cossacks of Malorussia. In Hungary, the "Serbian way" of singing was known in many regions 
  10. ^ a b Krešimir Georgijević (2003). Српскохрватска народна песма у пољској књижевности (in Serbian). Project Rastko.
  11. ^ Józef Bartłomiej Zimorowic (1857). "Śpiewacy" (Polish). Kazimierz Józef Turowski, ed. Sielanki Józefa Bartłomieja i Syzmona Zimorowiczów. The Internet Archive. p.39
  12. ^ Balazs Trencsenyi; Michal Kopecek (1 November 2006). National Romanticism: The Formation of National Movements. Central European University Press. pp. 240–. ISBN 978-963-7326-60-8. 
  13. ^ Kosta St Pavlović (1943). The struggle of the Serbs. The Standard art book co. [page needed]
  14. ^ Pieter M. Judson; Marsha L. Rozenblit (1 January 2005). Constructing Nationalities in East Central Europe. Berghahn Books. ISBN 978-1-57181-176-9. [page needed]
  15. ^ a b c Jamie Bisher (2005). White Terror: Cossack Warlords of the Trans-Siberian. Psychology Press. pp. 79, 151. ISBN 978-0-7146-5690-8. 
  16. ^ Stanisław Okęcki (1987). Polacy W Ruchu Oporu Narodów Europy. PWN--Polish Scientific Publishers. p. 301. ISBN 978-83-01-06860-8. 
  17. ^ Tomislav Dulić (2005). Utopias of Nation: Local Mass Killing in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1941-42. Uppsala University Library. p. 102. ISBN 978-91-554-6302-1. 
  18. ^ Walter R. Roberts (1987). Tito, Mihailović, and the Allies, 1941-1945. Duke University Press. pp. 230–. ISBN 0-8223-0773-1. 
  19. ^ Poland Recognizes Kosovo
  20. ^ Let's First Help Georgia, Then Talk about Russia
  21. ^ Poland won't open embassy in Priština
  22. ^ "Kosovo Force (KFOR)" www.nato.int Link accessed 21-07-09
  23. ^ Wprost 24 - Trzeszcząca płyta (Polish)
  24. ^ Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Serbia. "Poljaci u Srbiji". 
  25. ^ "Rodom Poljaci, ali srcem Srbi". Novosti. 
  26. ^ "Vremeplov: Umro Stanislav Krakov". RTV. 15 December 2012. 

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]