Thursday, September 29, 2016

Polish Americans Honored in Poland and by Poland

    Polish American Philanthropist Dr. Stanley Garstka 
Honored in Poland    

 Dean of the Faculty of History UG – Prof. Wiesław Długokęcki with 
Prof. Mieczysław Nurek presenting the medal and diploma bestowed upon Dr. Garstka.

On June 17, 2016 the Rector of the University of Gdańsk – Prof. Bernard Lammek officially bestowed BENE MERITO ET MERENTI silver medal to Dr. Stanisław (Stanley) Marian Garstka – the founder of the American Polish Research Fellowship at the University of Notre Dame.  Stanley Garstka, MD, initiated the exchange program between U of Gdansk and Notre Dame in 1999. For many years it was administered by the late Fr. Leonard Chrobot (1938-2014).

Stanley Garstka was born in Warsaw on Feb. 22, 1916. In 1935 he began medial studies which he did not complete because of the outbreak of the Second World War. Imprisoned for his underground activities in 1941, he experienced infamous Pawiak prison, and then concentration camps of: Auschwitz, Neuengamme, Dachau, where from he was transferred to Flossenbürg camp (paramedic), and from there to Leitmeritz (subcamp) where while a prisoner he worked as a MD. Upon liberation he migrated to the American zone and by 1947 he had completed his medical studies in Erlangen. Two years later, a married man, he emigrated to the United States.


Living in a modest house in Riverside (California) with his beloved wife of almost 60 years –  Dr. Martha Garstka (nee Alszibaja), Dr. Stanley Garstka opened a golden opportunity to the young and aspiring historians from three Polish universities. Since the signing of the mutual cooperation agreement with University of Gdańsk in 1999 envisioning exchanges occurring „annually in continuity and perpetuity” eleven “recent postgraduates, or junior faculty members at Institute of History UG” went to work and study at the Norte Dame. They were:  Jacek Rześniowiecki, Anna Muller, Anna Mazurkiewicz, Aleksander Michalak, Tytus Mikołajczak, Aleksandra Hallmann, Barbara Klassa, Przemysław Różański, Piotr Derengowski, Łukasz Cherek, Domika Hempel. Among them there are current PAHA members and officers.


The dedication attached to the medal bestowed on Dr. Garstka reads: “In recognition of exceptional contributions to the development of the study of history, in particular for the development of young scientists from the University of Gdańsk within the framework of mutual cooperation”. The initiative to recognize Dr. Garstka was first put forth by Prof. Mieczysław Nurek (Faculty of History UG). The University-awarded honor was bestowed posthumously a decade after Dr. Garstka’s passing (June 20, 2006). In the meantime, the exchange program with Gdansk was closed by the American partner in 2014 due to the lack of funds. The medal assures that its founder will not be forgotten.


Photo from Wikipedia.com

   The Polish Museum of America 
Awarded Poland’s Medal Gloria Artis   

On September 27, 2016, Piotr Gliński, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland, awarded the Gold Medal for Merit to Culture – Gloria Artis to the Polish Museum of America (PMA). PMA President Richard Owsiany and Managing Director Małgorzata Kot will accept the award on behalf of the PMA. The ceremony took place at the office of the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in New York.  Other recipients included Janusz Sporek, for his role in the promotion of Polish music.  Jarosław Sellin, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, announced this honor on September 15, during the 38th Annual Conference of the Polish Museums, Archives, and Libraries Abroad, held in London.

One of the oldest and largest ethnic museums in the United States, the Polish Museum of America (PMA) is dedicated to preserving the Polish American past for future generations. Founded in 1935 by an initiative of the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America and open since 1937, the PMA celebrates more than 80 years of service to the community.  The Museum showcases a unique permanent collection, highlights include: personal and professional mementos of Ignacy Jan Paderewski, inter-war paintings and sculptures; and art and artifacts from the Polish Pavilion at the 1939 New York World’s Fair.


  The Pilsudski Institute Awarded 
Poland’s Medal Gloria Artis   

The Pilsudski Institute of America was awarded by Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Culture Piotr Gliński, the  Gold Medal Gloria Artis for outstanding contribution to Polish culture. During this ceremony, held in the elegant salons of the Polish Consulate General in New York. the Gold Medal Goria Artis was also awarded to the Polish Museum in Chicago and a Bronze Medal Gloria Artis was presented to Janusz Sporek, a promoter of Polish music in New York.


On behalf of the Institute, the Gloria Artis was accepted by Dr. Iwona Korga, President and Dr. Magda Kapuścińska, former President and volunteer of the Institute for the last 40 years. Dr.  Korga said: "On behalf of the Pilsudski Institute of America, thank you very much for this great honor. I must admit, however, that the Institute deserved this medal. During our 73 years of activity, the Institute secured the material artefacts of Polish national heritage: one million documents, twenty thousand books, art gallery and historical memorabilia. [...] I accept this medal on behalf of employees and generations of volunteers that created our facility and generously donated their time, knowledge and financial support. "




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