Polish Haitians

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Polish Haitians
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
Roman Catholicism
Related ethnic groups
other Polish diaspora

In Haiti, there exists a community called Poloné (or La Pologne, "Polish"), partially descending (and claiming descent) from Poles that were sent there as a military legion by Napoleon in 1802–03.[1] The community is centered in Cazale, a small village about 45 miles from Port-au-Prince.[2][3] 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).[4]

In 1802, Napoleon added a Polish legion of around 5,200 to the forces sent to Saint-Domingue to fight off the slave rebellion. Upon arrival and the first combat actions, discovering that the slaves had fought off their French masters for their freedom, the vast majority of Poles eventually joined the slaves against the French.[2] The Polish had a familiar situation back home, where they fought for their liberty against invading Russia, Prussia and Austria that began in 1772; seeking to unite, some joined Napoleon's army (of which part was sent to Haiti).[2] Many Polish soldiers admired their enemy and decided to turn on the French army and join the slaves, and participated in the Haitian revolution of 1804.[5] The community partially descends from the 400 surviving Polish Legionnaries that either defected to the slaves or were taken prisoner.[1] These Poles were naturalised according to the new Haitian Constitution.[1]

Haiti's first president 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 used the same concept when referring to Polish people.[6][7]

In the "Papa Doc" Duvalier 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.[2]

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.[2] 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.[2][8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Rypson 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "The Polish Influence in Casale, Haiti and Contribution to the Haitian Revolution". Archived from the original on 25 February 2014. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
  3. ^ "Polish Haitians: How They Came to Be". Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  4. ^ "200 years away from home Polish descendants in Haiti". Retrieved 7 February 2014.
  5. ^ Elizabeth Abbott (21 July 2011). Haiti: A Shattered Nation. Overlook. pp. 142–. ISBN 978-1-4683-0160-1.
  6. ^ Susan Buck-Morss (2009). Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History. University of Pittsburgh Pre. pp. 75–. ISBN 978-0-8229-7334-8.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Dapía, Silvia G. "Polish American Studies". University of Illinois Press. p. 5. JSTOR 41440998. Missing or empty |url= (help)