People of Cracow


John Paul II,N. Copernicus,W. Szymborska,S. Lem,A. Wajda,R. Polański,J. Piłsudski,T. Kościuszko

John Paul II (1920 – 2005)
was the head of the Catholic Church from 1978 to his death in 2005
He was the second longest-serving pope in history and one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century. He is recognised as helping to end Communist system in his native Poland and eventually all of Europe. He attempted to improve the Catholic Church’s relations with Judaism, Islam, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Anglican Communion. He was one of the most travelled world leaders in history, visiting 129 countries during his pontificate.
He was born as Karol Józef Wojtyła in Wadowice. He moved to Cracow in 1938 where he enrolled at Jagiellonian University to study polish philology and he wanted to be an actor. In 1939 started II world war and Nazi German forces invaded Poland. During Nazi German occupation the university was closed, and adults Poles were required to work, so Wojtyła worked as a manual labourer in a limestone quarry and for the chemical factory Solvay, to avoid deportation to Germany. In this time he started thinking seriously about the priesthood and he decided to study in underground seminary run by Archbishop of Kraków, Adam Stefan Sapieha. In January 1945 the Germans fled the city and Red Army entranced. On finishing his studies at the seminary Wojtyła was ordained as a priest in 1946, by the Cardinal Sapieha. After receiving ordination, he went to Rome for further studies and after graduating it he received a doctorate. After his return to Poland he was sent (in) the parish of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Niegowic and later transferred to the parish of St. Florian in Krakow in 1949. During his ministry he gathered a group of students and they met for prayer, philosophical and theological discussion. Young people regularly joined (to) him for skiing, hiking, camping and kayaking. Communist system wanted to destroy religion, churches and priests, so in this time it was not permitted for priests to spend time with groups of students. Wojtyła found a solution asked his younger companions to call him “Wujek” (Polish for “Uncle”) to prevent outsiders from recognizing. In 1958 Wojtyła became the youngest bishop in Poland when he was 38, and in 1963 became an Archbishop of Cracow. In October 1962 he actively participated in the deliberations of the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965) where he made contributions to two of its most historical and influential works the Decree on Religious Freedom and the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. He became well known person abroad, he was with the Polish Primate Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, the most important figure of the Polish Episcopate. He travelled abroad at the invitation of university environments. In the spring of 1976, Pope Paul VI invited him to preach in the Vatican during the Great Fast.
In 1978 Karol Wojtyła (the Metropolitian of Cracow) was elected as a pope during Papal conclave and chose name John Paul II. Wojtyła became the 264th pope according to the chronological list of popes, the first non-Italian in 455 years. His person consistently attracted large crowds, some among the largest ever assembled in human history.


Nicolaus Copernicus (1473 –1543) was a Polish astronomer who formulated a heliocentric model of the universe which at the center placed the Sun, rather than the Earth. He is an author of book: De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres), where he presented his theory.
This work, first printed in 1543 in Nuremberg, Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, offered other model of the universe to Ptolemy’s geocentric system, which had been widely accepted since ancient times. This publication of Copernicus’ book, just before his death, is considered a major event in the history of science. It began the Copernican Revolution and contributed importantly to the scientific revolution.
In 1491 – 1495 Copernicus studied at the University of Kraków (now Jagiellonian University). He doctorated in canon law and he was a physician, polyglot, classics scholar, translator, governor, diplomat, and economist who in 1517 set down a quantity theory of money, which is a principal concept in economics to the present day.


Wisława Szymborska (1923 – 2012) a Polish prominent poet, essayist, who was awarded 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature. She was born near Poznań, from Szymborska’s family moved to Kraków. After finishing primer school she attended the Urszulanki Sisters’ Gymnasium. She participated in the underground educational gatherings during the German occupation, finishing her secondary school exams in 1941. She became a railway clerk in 1943, to avoid being deported to Germany. She studied Polish philology at the Jagiellonian University and sociology but financial troubles forced her to discontinue her university education. In March 1945, she published her first poem Szukam słowa (Looking for a word) in the daily newspaper, Dziennik Polski and in 1952 Szymborska publicated her first volume of poetry: Dlatego żyjemy (That’s Why We Are Alive)
Other major works are: Wołanie do Yeti (Calling Out to Yeti”), Sól (“Salt”), Sto pociech (“No End of Fun”), Wielka liczba (“A Large Number”), Lektury nadobowiązkowe (“Non-required Reading”), Koniec i początek (“The End and the Beginning”), Chwila (“Moment”), Dwukropek (“Colon”).
The Cracow poet was awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature “for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality”. She became better known internationally as a result of this. Her work has been translated into English and many other languages, as well as into Arabic, Hebrew, Japanese and Chinese.


Stanisław Lem (1921 – 2006) Was a Polish of science fiction, satire and philosophy. His books have sold more than 27 million copies and been translated into 40 languages. At one time it was the most widely read author of science fiction from non-English speaking countries.
Lem was born in 1921 in Lwów, Poland (now Ukraine), where he graduated high school and studied at the Medical University. During the German occupation of town he worked as a mechanic. After the Soviet occupation he tried to continue of the medicine. In 1945 year like many other Poles his family moved to Krakow in the process of repatriation.
Year later he wrote the first novel The Man from Mars, which was printed in the magazine Nowy Świat Przygód (New World of Adventures). Between 1947 and 1950 Lem (while continuing his work as a scientific research assistant) published poems, short stories, scientific essays and while continuing his work as a scientific research assistant.
He gained international fame for The Cyberiad, a series of humorous short stories from a mechanical universe inhabited by robots (who had occasional contacts with biological “slimies” and human “palefaces”), first published in English in 1974. His best-known novels include Solaris (1961), His Master’s Voice (Głos pana 1968), and the late Fiasco (Fiasko 1987), expressing most strongly his major theme of the futility of humanity’s attempts to comprehend the truly alien. Novel Solaris in 1972 was made into a film by Andrei Tarkovsky, Russian director and won a Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1972.
In 1973 he got the prize of the Minister of Foreign Affairs for popularization of Polish culture abroad (nagroda Ministra Spraw Zagranicznych za popularyzację polskiej kultury za granicą) and after Literary Prize of the Minister of Culture and Art (nagroda literacka Ministra Kultury i Sztuki) and became a honorary member of Science Fiction Writers of America 1976 he got State Prize 1st Level in the area of literature (Nagroda Państwowa I stopnia w dziedzinie literatury) and in 1981 Doctor honoris causa honorary degree from the Wrocław University of Technology. In the same year when martial law in Poland declared, Lem moved to West Berlin where he became a fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study. After that, he settled in Vienna and he returned to Poland in 1988.
Three years later he became a member of the Polish Academy of Arts, 1996, p. receives Order of the White Eagle , and the 1997th becomes honorary citizen of Krakow. Year 1998. received an honorary doctorate of the University of Opole (Poland ), Lviv University, Jagiellonian University (Poland). He died in Krakow in 2006 year


Andrzej Wajda (1926) Is a Polish film and theatre director, who won an Oscar for Lifetime Achievement in 2000. He was one of the main originators of the Japanese Centre of Art and Technology, one of the best Krakow’s museums. He is possibly the most prominent member of the unofficial “Polish Film School”. He is known especially for a trilogy of war films: A Generation (1954), Kanał (1956) and Ashes and Diamonds (1958).
Four of his films have been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film: The Promised Land (1975), The Maids of Wilko (1979), Man of Iron (1981), and Katyń (2007). This last film is dedicated to his father Jakub Wajda, an army officer who was murdered by the Soviets in 1940 in the Katyn massacre. Director made his reputation as a sensitive and uncompromising chronicler of (Poland) political and social evolution. His films have a strong visual side, he sometimes made his own versions of Polish and European paintings and he also thinks by the images. He tries to give the right mood and atmosphere of times in which he sets the action and he refers to the paintings of that time as well.
Wajda was born in Suwałki, Poland. After the war, he studied to be a painter at Kraków’s Academy of Fine Arts before entering the Łódź Film School.


Roman Polański (Rajmund Roman Thierry Polański; 1933) Is a Polish-French film director, producer, screenwriter, and actor. During his career he made films in Poland, the United Kingdom, France and the United States, and he is considered one of the few “truly international filmmakers.” He received a total of five Academy Award nominations, as well as numerous other awards including the Palme d’Or at Cannes for The Pianist (2002). In the same year for the same film also received an Oscar for Best Director.
Born in Paris in a Polish-Jewish family, which moved to Krakow, to Poland (Second Polish Republic) in 1937. On 1 September 1939, Germany invaded Poland and started occupied polish lands, In the towns they established ghettos for Jews. Family Polanski was forced to live in ghetto, but only Roman’s father and Roman survived.
After war he was educated in Poland (People’s Republic of Poland) and he started making commercial films. His first feature-length film, Knife in the Water (1962), made in Poland, was nominated for a United States Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film but was beaten by Federico Fellini’s 81.
After this film he went to France and then to Britain, where he made movies, beginning with Repulsion (1965), a psychological horror film. In 1968 he moved to the United States, where cemented his status by directing the horror-thriller film Rosemary’s Baby (1968) for which Ruth Gordon won an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress.
Six years later directed Chinatown with Jack Nicholson in the lead role for Paramount Pictures. The film became a big hit, won 11 Academy Award nominations (one awarded – for the screenplay), and seven nominations for the Golden Globes (4 granted – for best film, best director, screenplay and actor). Chinatown has won widespread critical acclaim is widely considered to be one of the finest American crime movies. Polanski’s film is considered one of the greatest works in the history of cinema
Polanski continued to make films such as The Pianist (2002) which is a true story drama. It shows Jewish-Polish pianist and composer Władysław Szpilman, who’s experience as a persecuted Jew in Poland during WWII were reminiscent of Polanski and his family. The film won three Academy Awards including Best Director, along with numerous international awards.


Józef Klemens Piłsudski (1867 –1935) Was a Polish statesman Chief of State (1918–22), “First Marshal” (from 1920), and leader (1926–35) of the Second Polish Republic.
Józef Piłsudski was born in the village of Zalavas (Polish: Zułów), in Lithuania, this land was a part of the Russian Empire. Early in his political career he was an active member of the Polish Socialist Party. The period from 1892 to 1914 he spent time on active operations for Poles to regain independence after 123 years division between Russia, Austria and Germany. After assassination in Sarajevo, the I World War started. The invaders eventually were in conflict with each other, and this could mean a real chance to rise to the independent Polish state.
On the begging of war he officially established the Polish Legions, taking personal command of their First Brigade, which he would lead successfully into several victorious battles.
The years of the Great War is also the period in which built his legend later. The commandant was loved by his men and admired by civilians, which was perceived not only as a freedom fighter, but as a victim of persecution (he was prisoner in Magdeburg)
After regaining independence by Poland Józef Pilsudski as Chief of State was one of the most important functions in the reborn country, he has major influence in Poland’s politics, and was an important figure on the European political scene.
On the other hand he was regarded as enemy by a large group of politicians. Furthermore, the Head of State had to focus not only on the political struggle, but armed – conflict with Soviet Russia could in fact lead to the collapse of the fledgling state. The worst case scenario did not work, and the Battle of Warsaw, also known as the “miracle on the Vistula” to this day is considered one of the greatest victories of the Polish army, not all concepts of political and military, which prepared the later marshal, however, lived to see the implementation.
He took over the power in May 1926 coup d’état, and became in practice a dictator of Poland. From then until his death in 1935, he concerned himself primarily with military and foreign affairs.


Tadeusz Kościuszko (1746-1817) is a national hero in Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, and the United States. He graduated from the Corps of Cadets in Warsaw and after that moved to France to continue studies. In 1776 he moved to North America, where he took part in the fighting as a colonel in the Continental Army. He was military architect, he also built state-of-the-art fortifications, perhaps most notably at West Point, New York. In 1783, in recognition of his services, the Continental Congress promoted him to brigadier general.
After returning to Poland in 1784 Kosciuszko became a major general in the Army. After two years of the Polish-Russian War of 1792, which had resulted Second Partition of Poland (1793), Kościuszko organized an uprising against Russia.
After the announcement of the insurrection in Cracow (24.III.1794 year) Kosciuszko assumed dictatorial powers as Supreme Commander of the National Armed Forces. Russian forces captured him at the Battle of Maciejowice (October 1794). The defeat of the Kościuszko Uprising in November 1794 led to the Third Partition of Poland (1795), which ended the Poland’s independent existence for 123 years. After World War I in 1918 the Second Polish Republic was founded. In 1799 Kościuszko participated in the establishment of the country’s Society of Polish Republicans . He died in Switzerland (Solothurn), where he spent the last years of his life. He was buried in Wawel’s cathedra.

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