Polish Haitians

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Polish Haitian
Regions with significant populations
Cazale, Cap-Haïtien, Fond-des-Blancs, Jacmel, La Baleine, La Vallée-de-Jacmel, Port-Salut, Saint-Jean-du-Sud
French, Haitian Creole, Polish
Roman Catholicism
Related ethnic groups
other Polish diaspora

Polish Haitians are Haitian people of Polish ancestry or a Pole with Haitian citizenship. Cazale, which is a small village in Haiti about 45 miles away from Port-au-Prince in the Grand'Anse Department, is the main center of population of the Polish community in Haiti, called La Pologne (Poland).[1][2] The name Cazale, or the home of Zalewski as many locals believe, originates from the popular Polish surname Zalewski and the Haitian Creole word for home (kay); is the home to those of Polish descent.[3]


Dating back to the Haitian Revolution, the Polish influence started in the town of Cazale. In 1802, Napoleon added a Polish legion of around 5,200 to the forces sent to Saint-Domingue to fight off the slave rebellion. However, the Poles were told that there was a revolt of prisoners in Saint-Domingue. Upon arrival the Polish platoon soon discovered that what was actually taking place in the colony was a rebellion of slaves fighting off their French masters for their freedom.[1]

During this time, there was a familiar situation going on back in their homeland as these Polish soldiers were fighting for their liberty from the occupying forces of Russia, Prussia and Austria that began in 1772. As hopeful as the Haitians, many Poles were seeking union amongst themselves to win back their freedom and independence by organizing an uprising.[1]

As a result, many Polish soldiers admired their opponents, to eventually turn on the French army and join the Haitian slaves. Polish soldiers participated in the Haitian revolution of 1804, contributing to the establishment of the world's first free black republic and the first independent Caribbean state. For their loyalty and support in overthrowing the French, the Poles acquired Haitian citizenship after Haiti gained its independence.[4]

Haiti's first head of state Jean-Jacques Dessalines called Polish people "the White Negroes of Europe", which was then regarded a great honour, as it meant brotherhood between Poles and Haitians. Many years later François Duvalier, the president of Haiti who was known for his black nationalist and Pan-African views, used the same concept of "European white negroes" while referring to Polish people and glorifying their patriotism.[5][6]

In the "Papa Doc" era, the small town of Cazale became a communist stronghold where many young intellectuals clashed with the dictator's regime. As a result of their political indifference, March 29, 1969 became known as the worst day for the people of Cazale as Duvalier's Tonton Macoute (private army), built a barricade around Cazale, and murdered many young men.[1]

In 1983, Pope John Paul II visited Haiti. He mentioned how the Polish contributed to the slave rebellion leading to Haiti's independence. Several Haitian Poles were selected from the most populous Polish areas of Haiti by Duvalier to attend the various ceremonies planned for the Pope's visit. One of the most revered Polish religious symbols is the icon named the Black Madonna of Częstochowa which was absorbed by Haitian Voodoo as Erzulie, or Ezili Dantor. This image of black Virgin Mary holding the dark-skinned Infant Jesus that influenced the vision of one of the Haitian Loa spirits was originally brought to Haiti by the Polish soldiers who settled there and never returned to Poland.[1] To this day, many Polish Haitians still live in Haiti and are of mixed racial origin, as some have blonde hair, light eyes, and other European features. Most settled in Cazale, La Vallée-de-Jacmel, Fond-des-Blancs, La Baleine, Port-Salut and Saint-Jean-du-Sud.[1][7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "The Polish Influence in Casale, Haiti and Contribution to the Haitian Revolution". Retrieved 7 February 2014.
  2. ^ "Polish Haitians: How They Came to Be". Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  3. ^ "200 years away from home Polish descendants in Haiti". Retrieved 7 February 2014.
  4. ^ Abbott, Elizabeth (21 July 2011). Haiti: A Shattered Nation. ISBN 9781468301601. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  5. ^ Susan Buck-Morss (2009). Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History. University of Pittsburgh Pre. pp. 75–. ISBN 978-0-8229-7334-8.
  6. ^ Riccardo Orizio (2000). Lost White Tribes: The End of Privilege and the Last Colonials in Sri Lanka, Jamaica, Brazil, Haiti, Namibia, and Guadeloupe. Simon and Schuster. pp. 159–. ISBN 978-0-7432-1197-0.
  7. ^ Dapía, Silvia G. (2012). "Polish American Studies". 69 (1). University of Illinois Press: 5–8. JSTOR 41440998. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)