How to be a (Polish) Billionaire

US / UK quarrels about how much a billion actually is aside — there was a time when you could rather easily become a billionaire in Poland. A time when disregard for “drobne” was real. I mean, would you care about ‘small change’ when ‘small change’ could be a roll of notes to burn a socialist cigar with? (Of course, there were no cigars under socialism here. But there was Cuban music. Close, though no cigar. And I heard people saw Vietnamese cigs once, meant to repel jungle insects, not to pamper your smoker’s palate. But I digress.)

For nostalgic (to old local reader) and for educational (to our young expat reader) purposes, here goes a gallery of the banknotes of the times of plenty. See lifestories behind the faces! Reckon how many of these people were pure, genuine Poles. NONE!

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…OUR MONEY!


Józef Bem

Born in Austria, a national hero in Poland and Hungary, a mathematician, burnt (not entirely) during artillery tests, wrote scientific stuff in German, a general, got Légion d’honneur from Napoleon, and Virtuti Militari for defence against Russians, adopted Islam and was a Turkish field marshal, died in Ottoman Syria.



Romuald Traugutt

Born in Russia, served in the Russian army, a sapper, commanded an uprising against Russia, got married to a Lutheran (but converted for him to RCC), fought against Bem (10 above) in Hungary, remarried, degraded and hanged in Russia (Warsaw, specifically).



Karol Świerczewski

From Warsaw working class, fought for the Bolsheviks in the revolutionary Russia. And fought against Ukrainians. Fought against Poles during the Polish-Soviet War. Fought against Franco forces in Spain. Shot POW’s and befriended Hemingway. Fought against Germans since 1941. Would give [fatal] orders drunk, a Stalinist MP in Poland, killed by Ukrainian fighters.



Ludwik Waryński

Born in Ukraine, a Socialist activist, arrested by Austrians, migrated to Switzerland, returned to Warsaw (in Russia), founded a workers party, arrested by Russians, died in Schlisselburg prison, aged 33.



Jarosław Dąbrowski

A noble born in Kiev Russia, awarded by Russians for fighting Chechens. Arrested by selfsame Russians for conspiring, he escaped from his Siberia-bound transport and got to France, where fought for the Paris Commune. Died and was interred in Paris. Mentioned in the Polish National Anthem he is not — another J. Dąbrowski is, being a British Queen(‘s peer), sort of.



Tadeusz Kościuszko

A noble, born in Polesia. Got a scholarship in Paris, a military engineer. Fought against Britain, an American national hero. Insurrected against Russia in Poland, leading nobles and peasants alike, sorely defeated, Sworn allegiance to the Russian tzar, emigrated to USA, then to Paris, died in Switzerland. Did I mention he’s mentioned in the name of the highest peak Down Under?



Mikołaj Kopernik

Born in Torun (Prussia, Poland, either Pole or German), wrote in Latin. An astronomer, a mathematician, a translator, a general, a diplomat, a businessman, he stopped the Sun and moved the Earth. In 2006 his skull was DNA-tested and certified to be his. [Watch out for a Polish insider joke: he was a woman.]



Mieszko I

The first ruler of Poland, when there was no Poland yet. His other wife was German. He got (t)his country baptised and religious. Sweet, huh? You bet!….
Real McCoy



Fryderyk Chopin

You’d brand him a pop musician today, somewhere betwixt Rubik and Doda. He was so Polish that his name is spelled French way. Adored, quite weirdly, in Japan. As is Vader. (Which is much less weird.) His “green” banknote – unlike 50 zlotych – was first to mean anything like a dollar.



Stanisław Wyspiański

Montypythons unwound it eloquently: Say no more! Say no more!




….If you go on with “Skłodowska-Curie”, you are pro-Polish.
….If you choose “Curie-Sklodowska”, you are a bloody French lover. Or worse, a French person.

She and her spouse (or the other sex round) used to be on a 500 French Franc banknote. Say: who valued her more? Anyway, the lady discovered polonium and radon.

[Watch out for a Polish insider joke: she was a woman.]



Stanisław Staszic

A middle-class man, a philosopher, a geologist, a scientist, a sponsor to others, including this Jew. Set up a coal mine. A Catholic priest. Well, naturally? Said to dislike wearing his cassock so much he did not wear it. Wanted general education and teology separated. [Ain’t that a shocker? Hardly lived in any Poland though.]


100000 ZLOTYCH

Stanisław Moniuszko

A noble, born in Russia (now Belarus), died in Russia (now Warsaw). His composer’s career set off in Berlin. Fathered Polish national opera. — It was, uh, blasphemised calculated there are 5 female names in Poland. The title of one Moniuszko’s highlit opera is Halka. “Halka” is a female name – and then it means “petticoat” in Polish (plus some scary things in some scary languages, possibly).

Below Jontek, a Highlander, Halka’s boyfriend, pines for his love. Halka dumped him for a landlordling, thus he pines. His first words: “The pines tremble on the mountain”. (Or “Roar firs”. Anyway, some trees near Zakopane. Anyone spots a bagpiper in second two below? Oh, and the voice comes from a Ukrainian.)


200000 ZLOTYCH

The front side is PRL. (You won’t understand.) The reverse shows Warsaw. (I don’t understand.)


500000 ZLOTYCH

Henryk Sienkiewicz

Born in tzarist Poland into a family of Tartar Lithuanians, died in Switzerland. The man who wanted to lift up Polish hearts, basically by means of heart-chilling stories about cruel non-Poles suffering defeats from not less cruel foes. One of his novels, Quo vadis, is about non-Poles suffering in Rome. A Nobel prize winner. Without him, Poland would be different, including some titles.


1000000 ZLOTYCH

Władysław Reymont

Born on the much hated 7th day of May, just like Hume, Brahms, Tchaikovsky and, well, others.

He got a Nobel prize for a lengthy dialect-laden novel about peasants. Thomas Mann did not get the prize then. Some say there were few good candidates “during the 1920s”.


2000000 ZLOTYCH

Ignacy Paderewski

Born in Russia (now Ukraine), died in New York, a composer and a triumphant piano virtuoso. His heart is interred in the USA. Married a baroness. Has haunted his own museum. They say he was a Sir of the British Empire. A skillful politician, in English, a prime minister, in Poland. Starred in a music drama, as pioneerly as 30 years prior to another music drama, “Yellow Submarine”.


A 5000000 zloty note was designed, with the Moustached Marshall
but people had started miscounting zeros already, so the powers that mint gave the idea up. (So, the highest ranking officer here is the Soviet 3-star general, I suppose?)






They don’t pay me for this.

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37 thoughts on “How to be a (Polish) Billionaire

  1. Anonymous says:

    Reckon how many of these people were pure, genuine Poles. NONE!

    This quote blew me away.

  2. guest says:

    darthsida loves it to be provocative and post some BS from time to time ;)

  3. michael farris says:

    When I was in (US) elementary school, she was only ever called “Madame Curie”.
    I may have even thought that Madame was her first name for a while.

    I have no idea how she’s referred to now in US schools, but the other meaning of madame in US English* may have made the use with her name untenable.


  4. darthsida says:

    => Anonymous, Guest

    Whether I’m a provocative Britannica Standard :) provider depends on our definitions of BS. Which may be mutually exclusive.

    In this case – let’s see, tenatively: what constitutes Polishness of a man?

    (1) Being born in Poland?
    (2) Being dead in Poland?
    (3) Living in Poland for most of one’s life?
    (4) Being a Polish citizen?
    (5) Being a Polish (not German, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Ruthenian etc.) national, and if possible: a few generations wide and deep?
    (6) Speaking Polish?
    (7) Not acting against Poles? Or against any Polish raison d’Etat?
    (8.) Saying you feel (being) a Pole?
    (9) …?

  5. darthsida says:

    => Michael

    I was afraid someone could come up with “Madame Curie” ;) Red light associations aside, I think “Skłodowska” was just hard to pronounce (right). We know a USE-speaker makes “Modjeska” out of “Modrzejewska” (not to mention “Pola Negri” instead of “Apolonia Chałupiec”.)

  6. michael farris says:

    “In this case – let’s see, tenatively: what constitutes Polishness of a man?”

    You’re implying the criteria for a woman is different.

    And why do Polish people have to make everything so difficult and complicated (not a good thing to be in English)???

    I have a very simple single criterion: Self-identification as Polish. There are some marginal cases here and there but that works well over 99% of the time.

    Problemo el-solved-o!

  7. darthsida says:

    Re “man”
    Least seriously: I’m implying all faces above are male [save Curie – but was she a woman, see the joke].
    More seriously: “man” is shared by both ‘waepman’ (a weapon man, male) and ‘wyfman’ (a wife man, woman). Some of us had to go through Olde Englishe stuff, you know.

    Re sexes
    Do you exclude any possibility of holding separate criteria for male men and female men when concerning their nationality? Think more Jewish now?

    Re criterion
    Your criterion suits me well. And yet, why people will laugh at me almost every time I say I’m a Scotsman (apart from those days on which I say I’m Japanese) — that I cannot grasp. Hm, can it be there’s something wrong with the criterion?

  8. michael farris says:

    “What? And Curie-Skladowska was a woman too?”

    For some ethnicities I can accept that male and females will face different criteria. But Polishness is not so dependent AFAICT (though I think I’ve noticed a slight bias for female ancestory in determining Polishness in borderline cases).

    “can it be there’s something wrong with the criterion?”

    No. But someone who seriously thinks they’re Scots one day and Japanese the next is most likely neither. Back on planet Polska, people who say they’re Polish mostly (about 99% of the time) are and people who say they aren’t (about 99 % of the time) aren’t. (I’m willing to lower a little from 99% but not much).

    Can you think of any real exceptions?

    This is of course independent of how good a person or patriot someone is.

  9. darthsida says:

    “But Polishness is not so dependent”

    What about Jewish Polishness? What could the nationality of a Jewish Pole / Polish Jew be?

    “someone who seriously thinks they’re Scots one day and Japanese the next is most likely neither”

    O, but popular laughter of scorn denies me my Scottishness when my occasional Japanesity is not anytime divulged. Besides, you can, can you not, think of a theoretical child of a Japanese-Scots couple who would be feeling the two nationalities at the same time? Why could I not?

    “Can you think of any real exceptions?”

    I can say why nationality cannot be a matter of one’s deep-felt personal choice. (Which you advocate — and I quite heartily support.) This is due to the state that supports some nationalities while disregarding some others. E.g. as long as the Silesian nationality is something the media will need cover, or as long as the German nationality should grant MP seat(s) to the minority (which is plain ethnicist / racist) — you can’t say to the people “feel free to feel being of the nation of your choice”. Minorities are not equal in Poland.

    Then, “patriot” you say. Imagine a situation in which every second Polish citizen says feels Brits. And that a Polish-British war breaks out. Which country should these people fight for / against?

    What about those who say they are of none nationality (feeling their social class – or their religion – is much more important than their nationality)? What about those who say they experience a sense of belonging to a nation that’s fictional? All of that can be downplayed as one blogger’s blatherskite, I know, but be assured can be quite serious when happens in life.

  10. Jacek Wesołowski says:

    You are quickly approaching the issue of double ethnicity. Take cover.

    As for gender, there is a subtle cultural barrier between Poland and England. In English, gender is an attribute of a person (with some exceptions, such as ships). Most words don’t carry any information about gender, hence all those “he or she”, strange uses of the word “they”, and so on. In Polish, gender is a grammatical mechanism. Every word has a gender, so for example all spoons are female, and forks are male. “Człowiek” (human) is a male word, but “osoba” (person) is a female one. Also, male gender is the default one in terms of grammar. It’s used whenever a persons’s actual gender is unknown or irrelevant (and also when speaking about mixed groups of men and women). “Ktoś” (someone) is a male word, so whenever a Pole speaks about people in general, rather than a specific person, they sound as if they were talking about men. There is no sexist assumption behind that, it’s just grammar. Many words can take two forms, male and female. In those cases, male form is usually more generic, for instance “pisarz” = “a writer”, but “pisarka” = “female writer”. You can say (although it’s going to sound a little clumsy), that “Małgosia jest pisarzem” = “Małgosia [a girl] is a writer”, but you can’t say “Jaś jest pisarką” = “Jaś [a boy] is a female writer”, unless you want to suggest there is something Jaś didn’t tell us about.

    Also, the word “man” is often translated into Polish as “człowiek”, hence many people think it just means “human”.

  11. guest says:

    darthsida is she American or Polish ?

    just a question… :)

  12. darthsida says:

    => Jacek
    Are you referring to me or to Michael?

    => Guest, thanks :)

    Is there a nationality called ‘American’? And seriously: it should concern no one save Mika Brzezinski what nationality Mika Brzeinski is. She may be of the nation of Ultrauranian Marsopopeian Byelanders if she so should choose.

    The fact that someone carefully selected (not: random picked) the persons above to stay on the Polish banknotes means their nationality (Polish = pro-Polish, by default expectation) had mattered. My opinion goes however that there are so few Poles there, if any.

    And even if we follow Michael’s (and mine) pov (“you are what you feel” ) — how can we know what Mieszko the First felt about his nationality, if any?

  13. Jacek Wesołowski says:

    Darthsida, I’m referring to both of you approaching at the issue, and the advice to take cover is for everybody else.

  14. darthsida says:


    well, yes, there are languages and tungas and leids, with potatoes and patatas and praties. Even within a single language (English) when I say “man” (as Germans say “Mann” ) — Michael hears “man” (as in Hemingway’s the old one with the sea). There are languages without grammatical genders. Maybe there are languages among matriarchies of Polynesia where ‘human’ is feminine, who can say?

    Double ‘ethnicity’ (what happened to ‘nationality’?) can be felt by a child of ‘nationally mixed’ parents. Triple, quadruple, nothing too bizarre yet.

  15. Vurtz says:

    Deconstructing established history is fun, but unfortunately it requires some knowledge…

    1. Even if one accepts the author’s convention, Traugutt’s bio is still nonsensically fucked-up without apparent reason

    2. Polish anthem mentions Jan Henryk Dąbrowski (1755-1818), a Napoleonic general, who also happens to be a completely different individual than the one pictured here on 200 zl.

    3. If one writes about 19th century “Ukraine”, then by the same logic refering to Warsaw one should logicaly write about “Russian Poland” rather then “Russia”.

    4. The method adapted by the author can be summarized as primitive worldplay, transparent to those having any grasp of Polish history (or European history in general), but as the first post reveals, unfortunately still misleading to some poor souls.

    5. To state the bloody obvious:
    – The vast majority of those pictured were born and lived in 19th century, when there was no state called “Poland”, therefore as far as political borders go no one lived in Poland (just like no one lived in Germany, for up to 1871 there was no such state) It’s up to the readers to decide if this kind of reasoning makes any sense
    – Yet it was also the time where modern Polish national indentity was born – All of those 19th century dudes clearly and pronouncely submittted to that identity, that is a)considered themselves Poles b)were considered Poles by other Poles. That’s the classic sociological definition of group membership and there’s hardly any place to argue here. A hundred years ago no one was any more Polish than that

    6. To summarize – the only people here whose ‘polishness’ might be disputed are Copernicus (seriously) and Kosciuszko (less seriously) – i.e. the guys that were born before modern national identity was invented

  16. darthsida says:

    Thanks, Vurtz,
    especially for point 2. I stand corrected and glad to refresh my knowledge.

    Re 5: Following your pov, no pre-19 century person can be considered a Pole (as there was no “Polisn national identity” before that time). How would that change what I’m saying here there are few Poles on the old banknotes? == Either there was no nationality, or there was no state, or both.

    PS Your “classic sociological definition” sucks, to put it politely.
    PS Re 3. “Ukraine” can be the name of land (compare “Polesia” for Kościuszko). Warsaw within Russian state was Russia. Can’t say I understand your objection.

  17. guest says:


    if Warsaw within “Russian state” was “Russia” ,then all Poles are russian descendants and no real Poles exist anymore.

    You are a genius.

  18. darthsida says:

    Guest, nobody’s called me a genius before, so I think you are ridiculing me. You might’ve shown me where you saw me wrong instead. Pity.

    If Warsaw of the tzarist Russia were not to be deemed a Russian city, then what? [Warsaw, by the way, with majority of her present dwellers not too poli-generationally Varsovian is a poor example to discuss politically-defined nationalities. What nationality could citizens of Wrocław or Gdańsk be?]

    There are various definitions in the comments — and I confess I’ve gotten confused who thinks which.

    1. Nationality as what one feels inside. This is Michael’s opinion [and is mine, for private use.] Here, if I had been born in post-Russian Warsaw it would not rule out my possibility of feeling myself a Jamaican or a Martian.

    2. Nationality as what one feels and others acknowledge. Quote Vurtz’s: [“a)considered themselves Poles b)were considered Poles by other Poles.”), unquote. This pov leads to question marks:
    = what if X thinks being Welsh but the Welsh don’t think X Welsh?
    = what if the Welsh think Y Welsh though Y does not want to be Welsh?
    Then, it is a plainly fallacious pov. A Pole would require other Poles to (co-)affirm his / her Polishness — but who’d co-affirm the Polishness of these ‘other Poles’? Some pra-Polish being? Duh.

    3. Nationality as belonging to a state X where X-nationals speak their national language X, have their culture X and so on. Under this, there were no Poles when- / wherever there was no Polish state. (“Ethnicity” may be another thing, but I use ‘nationality’ consistently.)

    Then, there is an issue of knowing another man’s feelings. Even if Vurtz should know that, say, Staszic felt Polish — because Vurtz has read some Staszic’s writings – it would only mean that Staszic had felt Polish in his writings.

    First assumption would have to be made then, that what one wrote means what one felt. (Think Volksliste or such before you dismiss the counter-assumption too speedily.)

    What’s more important, even if we were 100% sure that Staszic felt ‘Polish’ and that he was sane — we can’t say what he meant by ‘Polish’. We should not take for granted that his and our definitions of ‘nationality’ are one. More likely, they are not.

    Not to mention the “no-nationality” issue. That is, everything pre-XIX century. Or, some political ideas e.g.: Socialism / Communism as the supra-national union of the working class. There was a bond between a German worker and a Russian worker stronger than between a German worker and a German herzog.

  19. Pawel says:

    —> Jacek Wesołkowski

    Just one note to what you say about gender of words in the Polish language. Deep in the halls of academia a new reality is being carved for generations of future Poles. A new “ktosia” has been born in the Gender Studies classrooms.

    Language is supposed to be inclusive for both men and women. Language people use determines the way they think.

    Language is only a custom. Let’s start something new and make it a custom. To always include both sexes in all speach.

    They say: New forms will sound strange only to us at the beginning, future generations will regard them as something natural. Ktosia. Psycholożka. Dziennikarka. Ludzinie. Człowieka. Przedszkolanek. Blogerka. Użytkowniczka. Klientka. Magisterka. Kierowczyni. Prezessa. Dyrektoressa. Profesorka.

    “Uwaga do wszystkich studentów i studentek. Czy ktoś/ktosia znalazł/a zgubioną legitymację na nazwisko Zapominalski?”

    Drodzy Klienci/Drogie Klientki

  20. darthsida says:

    Hear, hear! to any linguistic experiments I say — but not here.

    Saying “language people use determines the way they think” is too vague. If you want to change the language, it would mean — following the idea — that you want to reshape the way people think. From worse to better, I take it? I am not convinced.

    The fact that a bun is feminine in Polish, a loaf of bread is masculine and collective ‘pieczywo’ is neuter nowise determines the way I think what tastes best. I don’t think the genderisation of objects had enough to do with overrepresenting one sex and underrepresenting the other to fight it back.

    Besides, Orwell teaches us a better way to dismiss linguistic injustice is through reduction of lexicon, not expansion. Finally, in your example there can hardly be a Ktosia named Zapominalsk{i} — maybe she’s foreign (think Nina Brzezinsk{i}), but then she’ll speak English :)

  21. Pawel says:

    —> Darth Sida

    I wasn’t referring to buns or bread:)) But, rather, to professions, ways of addressing people, and collective nouns:)

    The thing with reshaping thought patterns of the people by language is (not my idea, and is) all ready in full swing in Western Europe where post-Marxist ideas and critical theory have been having a following for some time.
    An example from a British movie (forgive me for I forgot its name): the police are instructed not to use the word “accident”, as it implies no one is responsible, but to say collision or something like that.

    As for ktosia (female someone, as opposed to ktoś – male someone) the question read: Has a male someone/female someone found an ID belonging to a person named Zapominalski. Ktosia is not the first name if Zapominalski here:)

    Zapominalski, however, just as well could be a female:) Compare: Wanda Rapaczynski

  22. darthsida says:

    Paweł, I think it could call for another post (of yours)

    I am not sure the lost discernement between ‘thou’ / ‘you’ / ‘ye’ in English can be explained under full-swinging post-Marxist whatsthat. Laziness would be my first suspect. Irrespective of the reasons, however, do we feel differently when an English speaker refers to us per ‘you’, occasionally ‘sir / ma’am’, and when we are addressed by a Polish speaker – with more options to choose?

    At any time, I am opposed to seeing language as something abstract from its users. It’s not any language that reshapes something [or not].

  23. michael farris says:

    Okay, I’m back (after having had to deal with the dread ‘real world’)

    For me.

    Nationality = citizenship. Dariusz Michalczewski is a German national (I’m not sure if he still has Polish citizenship) Sikorski was a British national.

    Ethnicity = a combination of background, cultural and linguistic inclination as well as identity. I should mention that overall I don’t much care about ancestory and bloodlines and think that cultural and linguistic factors as well as self-identification are far more important.

    A single person can belong to more than one ethnic group just as they can have more than one passport.

    Generally, the quickest way to find out ethnicity is to ask. Almost no (sane) people will claim to be Scottish if they have no background (defined however you want) with that group. Just on what basis do you claim Scottish ethnicity?

    There are problems in insider and outsider definitions and different groups have different barriers to entry and membership. The only way to be ethnically Japanese is to be born that way and it has to be actively maintained: Japanese who spend too much time outside of the country are often not welcome back and are not regarded as Japanese by the majority.
    American ethnicity (yes, there is such a thing) is primarily based on residence/citizenship. That is you have to live there for most of your life or have citizenship.
    I think of Jewish people as a religious group and if somebody makes no pretense at following the Jewish religion I don’t think of them as Jewish but that’s a minority opinion.

  24. michael farris says:

    As for language determing thought.

    I’d say that language structure (mostly a person’s first language) and culture and thinking patterns influence each other in interesting ways, often in a feedback loop sort of situation. But this refers more to subtle structural features and not ham-handed attempts to manipulate vocabulary (though vocabulary can have more influence than some people realize).

    Small example: A peculiarity of English is that the grammatical concept ‘subject’ and the semantic concept ‘agent’ are coflated and for almost all intents and purposes identical. In this model of the universe the subject of a passive sentence is doing something and so it makes (at least some) sense to English speakers to say things like:

    Don’t be seen with Paris Hilton.

    Don’t be robbed by your bank.

    (in both cases being seen with Paris Hilton or being robbed by your bank are things you’re doing in English and something you can consciously choose not to do)

    AFAIK you can’t really make negative commands in the passive voice in Polish (though I’m not entire if this is a grammatical or logical restraint).

    The closest you can come in Polish is ‘Nie daj się…” which is not the same thing at all.

  25. darthsida says:


    I noticed a shift in your thinking. In your earlier comment you wrote:
    “I have a very simple single criterion: Self-identification as Polish.”

    Now you’re adding an extra factor: “background”, vague one, embellished with the equally vague “sane”. [Who’s to judge my sanity? Can I judge yours back?] What’s that “background”? Would it not equal “ancestory and bloodlines” (“right of blood”, and sometimes together with right of soil) eventually?

    Here’s what I think (should be):

    1. Your citizenship specifies your rights (such as protection) and liabilities (such as taxes) toward your state.

    2. Your nationality (ethnicity, as you put it) specifies what you feel in your heart. You may thus feel several ethnicities, one ethnicity, no ethnicity, extra terrestrial ethnicity, whatever. At any case, it concerns only you (for it is your heart).

    Many a distaster in history has been owed to the politically used notion of “nation” (and ‘national states’). Unfortunately, in Poland it is still better to be of German nationality (ethnicity) than of, say, Belarussian or Silesian. [And I’m not talking about social reception, but handicaps politically granted or denied.] This means some hearts are better than others.

  26. michael farris says:

    Darth, no not really shifted. I was taking some degree of background for granted and once I realized you weren’t (in my arguments) I clarified.

    Background can come in lots of shapes, mostly related to ancestory and/or life experience (the latter is the more important of the two IMO).

    There are Vietnamese kids in Poland without Polish citizenship who are at least as Polish in terms of language and culture as some supposed ethnic Poles in former Soviet republics (or the US or Brazil etc etc). Do they self-identify as Polish? Probably not (yet). But I’d say they have at least as much claim to Polish citizenship (should they want it) than your average monolingual Russian speaker from Kazakhstan who had a Polish grandparent.

    And again, hardly anyone with no ancestory/life experience with an ethnic group (or only superficial exposure to same) is liable to claim membership in it. I’m still waiting for counterexamples to that (besides your own Scots-Japanese affiliation).

    There’s also the question of affinity, which doesn’t require any special external justification (and which can suffer with actual contact when idealism meets unpretty reality, see Obama and Kenya).
    I feel some affinities for lots of ethnic groups I don’t belong to.
    I have an affinity for Polish culture and lots of life-experience with it but I’m not Polish. Ancestorally I’m very mixed, but mostly German. Culturally and linguistically I’m American.

  27. darthsida says:


    I see our definitions differ beyond agreement. Yours needs ‘background’, mine – not at all. Okay, we have to stay in our own trenches.

    With both paradigms, however, it’s nearly impossible to say most people on the banknotes above are Polish.

  28. darthsida says:

    a treat to anyone with any command of Polish: E-archives of Gazeta Wyborcza are open for a short time.

    re nationality, I searched for “czuję się Polakiem” (I feel Polish). Results are too numerous for me to even browse them. Nothing conclusive below, just food for thought.

    A Belarussian feeling Pole (w/ citizenship)

    A footballer from Brasil, Julcimar, feels Polish
    “czuję się Polakiem. Polakiem według mnie jest osoba, która nie tylko mówi i głosi jakieś półprawdy, ale robi coś dla tego kraju.”
    Wikie says he’s returned to Brasil. What nationality would he be now then?

    Hadi, feels more Pole than Iraqi

    Another Belarussian, on receiving Polish citizenship
    “To tylko formalność. Już od dawna czuję się Polakiem – mówi Paweł Tarasewicz z Grodna na Białorusi”

    Lukas Wilaschek, a boxer
    “Czuję się Polakiem i kocham Polskę, gdyż tam są moje korzenie i tam żyje wielu moich bliskich. W Niemczech większość czasu spędzam z ludźmi urodzonymi w Polsce. Zresztą moja dziewczyna również stąd pochodzi. Jednak najważniejsze dla mnie jest to, abym z roku na rok był lepszy i nie ma dla mnie znaczenia, jaki kraj reprezentuję”

    About national / ethnic minorities

    bishop Alfons Nossol
    Kim się czuję? Musiałem się stale deklarować, czy się czuję Polakiem czy może, nie daj Boże, Niemcem albo tylko Ślązakiem. Zawsze akcentowałem, że ja czuję się katolikiem i dalsze precyzacje już dla mnie są zbędne, bo w tej tradycji śląskiej jest ta trójwymiarowość kulturowa

    Brian Scott (from RMF FM)
    Nie tęsknię za Gujaną. Człowiek nie musi być “przywiązany” do miejsca, w którym się urodził. Teraz czuję się Polakiem, bo lubię ten kraj. Niedawno otrzymałem prawo stałego pobytu. Za trzy lata mam szansę na obywatelstwo. Dziś wypowiadam się jako czarnoskóry Polak.

    PO CO NAM TE NARODY, Robert Traba says, interviewed by A Michnik:
    Ernest Renan powiedział, że narodowość jest codziennym plebiscytem. Tożsamość jest wartością dynamiczną. Zmienia się, szczególnie na obszarach, gdzie obok siebie żyją różne narody, różne grupy etniczne. Zachowanie tych społeczności zależy od specyficznej sytuacji politycznej. Przychodzi do plebiscytów i nagle pojawia się mobilizacja, a gdy nie ma takiego nacisku, zupełnie inaczej żyją między sobą.

    Bronisław Piłsudski (1866-1918 )
    “Czuję się Polakiem, za granicą jestem nawet rzadkim i podziwianym Polakiem, a dla swoich jestem zupełnie niepotrzebną rzeczą; najwyżej żebrakiem, który kęsek chleba może wyprosić” – pisał rozżalony.

    WE EUROPEANS, Piotr Sztompka on birth of European nationality (2003)
    Nadanie Polsce – a nie tylko niektórym Polakom – europejskiej tożsamości to zadanie ogromnej wagi.

    About Rafael Scharf Felek
    “Po ponad 60 latach pobytu w Anglii dla Żydów jestem Anglikiem, dla Polaków Żydem, a dla Anglików Polakiem”
    “równocześnie był Polakiem i Żydem i z tego powodu nie odczuwał żadnego konfliktu wewnętrznego”

    Daniel Beauvois, a French historian on old Poland (and its nationalities)

    Magnaci ruscy byli zafascynowani kulturą polską i zmierzali do polonizacji. Chcieli stać się obywatelami Rzeczypospolitej, która dawała możliwość awansu i prestiżu. Przechodzili na katolicyzm, przyjmowali polską kulturę, a ich stosunek do poddanych był tak samo okrutny jak stosunek wszystkich właścicieli ziemskich na Ukrainie bez względu na to, czy byli to etniczni Polacy, czy etniczni Rusini. Ta różnica w XVIII w. zupełnie się zaciera. Czartoryscy, Potoccy, Sapiehowie, Lubomirscy już się nie odróżniają od Polaków, bo przejęli cechy polskości. I stali się…
    … Gente Ruthenus, natione Polonus (z pochodzenia Rusin, narodowości polskiej).
    – Właśnie, i stali się współgnębicielami swojego ludu. To tragiczne, dla ruskiego chłopa czy Kozaka kij w ręku ruskiego lub polskiego pana nie przestawał być tym samym kijem.

    Norman Davies:

    Czy można z czystym sumieniem nazywać “mniejszościami narodowymi” społeczności, które stanowiły prawie 40 proc. mieszkańców kraju? – pyta Davies. A tak przecież było w II Rzeczypospolitej.
    Na język trzeba uważać tym bardziej, że myślenie w kategoriach wyznaczonych przez nacjonalizm prowadziło zawsze do krwawej łaźni. “Choć nie było zgody co do tego, gdzie znajduje się polskie {terytorium etniczne} i nikt nie potrafił zdefiniować, kto jest, a kto nie jest Polakiem, to istniało powszechne przekonanie, że należy jakoś wyznaczyć etniczny obszar Polski, gdyż {Polacy} pozostaną ofiarami krzyczącej niesprawiedliwości dopóty, dopóki nie zostanie on im zwrócony. Był to gotowy przepis na rozlew krwi”

    Re: national census
    Twoja babcia była Eskimoską, a Ty czujesz się Polakiem. Uważaj. Dla niektórych rachmistrzów będziesz Eskimosem

    Mama pani Dominiki była Polką. Straciła polskie obywatelstwo, kiedy w latach 60. wyszła za mąż za Francuza i wyjechała do Francji. Tam urodziła córkę. Pani Dominika mieszkała tam do czasu, kiedy poznała przyszłego męża – Polaka, Jana Woźniakowskiego. Od kilku lat mieszka z nim w Warszawie, ma kartę stałego pobytu, ale nie ma polskiego obywatelstwa. Jest Francuzką, takie też obywatelstwo i narodowość ma wpisane w karcie pobytu.

    Jasne, prawda? Okazuje się jednak, że nie dla rachmistrza, który odwiedził państwa Woźniakowskich. – Wszystko szło dobrze do rubryki “narodowość” – opowiada pani Dominika. – Kiedy podałam francuską, rachmistrz za nic nie chciał jej wpisać. Tłumaczyłam, przekonywałam, nic – dodaje.

    Według rachmistrza narodowość dziedziczy się po matce, dlatego pani Dominika jest Polką: – Przecież Żydzi urodzeni w USA są Żydami, nie Amerykanami – argumentował. – Skoro matka była Polką, pani jest nią też – upierał się.

    Kłopotu nastręczyła rachmistrzowi również odpowiedź pana Jana: – Czuję się Europejczykiem. A narodowość to sprawa subiektywna. Jednak rachmistrz stwierdził, że nie ma narodowości europejskiej. Liczy się narodowość matki i on taką wpisze – wyjaśnia. – Zażartowałem, że mama mamy mojej mamy była Austriaczką, wobec tego jestem w prostej linii Austriakiem. Rachmistrz na to, że wpisze mi narodowość austriacką – śmieje się Jan Woźniakowski.

    Ostatecznie jednak stanęło na tym, że małżonkowie zostali Polakami. Będzie nas więcej.

    dla gazety Konrad Jerzy Potyra dyrektor GUS-u w Warszawie
    “Jeśli ktoś mówi, że ma narodowość chińską, to rachmistrz musi to zapisać i koniec. Jeśli ktoś czuje się Europejczykiem, to może podać taką narodowość.”

  29. Jacek Wesołowski says:

    You know, darthsida, having spent over ten years on the Net, I’m used to all kinds of opinions, and I can understand why some people become marxists, or mohair berets, or even korwinists (although I suspect most korwinists are joking, because you just can’t have a higher education and say things they say seriously). I can discuss in favour or against any point, depending on whether or not I agree with it.

    Which is my way to say that I don’t have the foggiest idea of what your point is. Sorry.

  30. scatts says:

    Happy Jack strikes again! :)

  31. darthsida says:

    This post about the banknotes has over a score of comments whose contents strayed afar from the original subject — to concern nationalities, gender, language, general history, and finally, my happy discovery that GW archives are temporarily freed for public view.

    There are more than just one point. I can discuss any of them with you, after I learn which one you got in mind. That’s a promise from an ex-Korwinist.

  32. michael farris says:

    “That’s a promise from an ex-Korwinist.”

    Are you in a 12-step program? “I will not support a pseudo-libertarian monarchist today, no matter what.”

  33. darthsida says:

    Michael, not at all.

    I was Korwinist-thinking when I was young, healthy, brilliant and earning money under heavy taxation. Now, as I am old, stupid, on drugs, and my taxes have gone to Iraq and other strange places, my strategy turned from “try to change the system” into “try to game the system”.

  34. […] tagged banknotesOwn a WordPress blog? Make monetization easier with the WP Affiliate Pro plugin. How to be a (Polish) Billionaire saved by 20 others     Jackieme30021 bookmarked on 05/15/08 | […]

  35. Raf Uzar says:

    Hold your horses!
    Three distinctions need to be made here:
    1) Being Polish
    2) Being a Catholic
    3) Being a good Christian

    These are NOT necessarily the same so DON’T mix them up.

  36. darthsida says:

    Raf, okay, but: huh?

  37. […] priests, Polish scientists, Polish soldiers, Polish thinking, Polish writers How to be a (Polish) Billionaire We planted our men in their […]

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