Polish Ambassador delivers keynote speech at FIU conference

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Polish Ambassador Piotr Wilczek (third from left) with university and community leaders, including President Mark B. Rosenberg (center) and Dean John F. Stack, Jr., (far right.)

by Maria Gil

For a conference celebrating 100 years of Polish-American relations, Polish Ambassador Piotr Wilczek visited FIU and delivered a presentation exploring the topic.

Wilczek shed light on the Polish experience during World War I and the hardships its people faced as the empires of Germany, Russia and Austria-Hungary controlled Polish territory during the war and conscripted Polish soldiers into their armies.

“While the Polish experience isn’t unique,” he said. “It is usually a forgotten one. An estimated 2 million Polish soldiers fought in different uniforms during the course of the war.”

Wilczek also mentioned the importance of the United States’ support when Poland became its own state after 123 years of not existing as a country. Through U.S. humanitarian aid Poland was able to feed its people while rebuilding its war-torn lands.

“In return, the Polish people paid the American people with friendship,” Wilczek said.

The conference was part of the Blanka Rosenstiel Lecture Series on Poland and was sponsored by the European and Eurasian Studies Program and co-sponsored by the European Student Association at FIU, the American Institute of Polish Culture and the Honorary Consulate of the Republic of Poland.

“The visit of the Polish ambassador underscored the importance of transatlantic relations to the Polish government, and highlighted FIU's role in hosting the Lady Blanka Rosenstiel Lecture Series on Poland,” said Markus L. Thiel, program director for the European and Eurasian Studies Program.

Other speakers included Thaddeus C. Radzilowski, president and co-founder of the Piast Institute and Mieczyslaw B. Biskupski, professor of history and the Stanislaus A. Blejwas Endowed Chair in Polish and Polish American Studies and Coordinator of the Polish Studies Program at Central Connecticut State University.

To watch the complete discussion click here.

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Polish Ambassador Piotr Wilczek