Australian Institute of Polish Affairs

Newsletter November 2012

Occasional Newsletter: November 2012

The committee is very pleased to report that latter part of this year has seen an increase in events and activities that have either been initiated by AIPA, or with which the Institute has been involved in other ways, both in Australia and in Poland.

Melbourne: AIPA, in co-operation with the Jewish Holocaust Museum and Research Centre, organized an afternoon of poetry and music dedicated to Władysław Szlengel, poet of the Warsaw Ghetto. The event – called What I Read to the Dead -was prompted by the recent publication of Marcel Weyland’s translation into English of a selection of Szlengel’s poems in a bilingual publication. The program was devised and organized by Małgorzata and Julian Dunwill and held at the JHC, Elsternwick. It included an imaginative PowerPoint presentation of pre-war photographs and Polish popular music, Mr Weyland’s talk on the extraordinary history of the poems, bi-lingual readings by actors, Phillip Hinton and Kristof Kaczmarek, and music played Paul Williams (woodwinds) and Margaret Dickson Williams (violin), both former members of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. The Institute provided refreshments at the end of the program, by way of encouraging informal mingling, meeting and an exchange of views. The program was much appreciated by all who attended.

Sydney: Consulate General of the Republic of Poland, Woollhara
The Polish Consulate General and AIPA jointly organized an evening lecture and reception for the distinguished Polish film director, Krzysztof Zanussi. The subject of Mr Zanussi’s lecture was ‘Europe: a continent of the past or of the future?’. This was followed by a cocktail reception. Mr Zanussi was in Australia as special guest of the Polish Film Festival 2012, presented by Puma Media.

Melbourne: ACMI Cinema, Federation Square
The Melbourne Cinémathèque, with the support of AIPA and the Polish
Consulate, Sydney, organized a survey of Polish films: ‘Poles apart: the
cinemas of Andrzej Munk & Wojciech Has’. The films were shown at four
separate screenings over 3 weeks. They included:
Munk: Człowiek na Torze (Man on the tracks) 1957, Eroica 1958, Błękitny
Krzyż (Men of the blue cross) 1955, Zezowate szczęście (Bad luck) 1960; Munk
& Lesiewicz: Pasażerka (Passenger) 1963.
Has: Sanatorium pod klepsydrą (The hourglass sanatorium) 1973, Rękopis
znaleziony w Saragossie (The Saragossa manuscript) 1965, Pożegnania
(Farewells) 1958, Pętla (The noose) 1958.

Canberra: Embassy of the Republic of Poland, Yarralumla
The Polish Embassy, in association with AIPA organized a lecture by Krzysztof Zanussi: ‘Walka postu z karnawałem. Polska w dzisiejszej Europie’ (‘The battle between Lent and Carnival. Poland in today’s Europe’). A reception followed.

Melbourne: AIPA, in co-operation with The Australian Society of Polish Jews and their Descendents [ASPJ] organized a symposium titled WHY POLAND?: Facing the Demons of Polish-Jewish History. The symposium was convened by Adam Warzel (AIPA), moderated by Bernard Brzegowski-Korbman (ASPJ), and was held at ‘Armargh’, Toorak. The keynote address – Lifting the Burden of the Past – was given by Martin Krygier, Gordon Samuel Professor of Law and Social Theory, University of NSW. The other speakers were Adam Warzel, whose lecture was titled “Why do you hate me, brother?” and Krystyna Duszniak, whose topic was Why was Poland Different? The lectures are now available on our website.

The symposium, including the discussion that followed, was recorded for ABC Radio National by Margaret Coffey. ABC Radio National’s Encounter will be broadcasting the symposium on Saturday 1 December at 5pm (repeat Wednesday 5 December at 1pm) –
The program will also be available to stream online at after the first broadcast and to download as a podcast. It will NOT be geo-blocked so available from anywhere in the world.

The event was extraordinarily successful, due principally to the outstanding quality of the lectures, but also to the lively formal and informal discussions that followed. The large room in which it was held was packed out and people hung on every word.
We again thank Barbara Williams for her practical assistance in preparing ‘Armagh’ for the event, and baker extraordinaire Nina Smenda, for generously providing her delicious cakes for afternoon tea.

Melbourne: Henryk Sławik Award 2012. This annual award is bestowed by The Australian Society of Polish Jews and their Descendents to honour the memory of the great Polish diplomat, politician and humanitarian who saved thousands of Jews in the early 1940’s and was subsequently murdered by the Germans in Mauthausen concentration camp, Austria.
The award is given to “an individual or organization that contributes to a greater understanding of the unique and dynamic contribution by the Polish Jewish community to the all embracing Polish culture and ethos.” This year’s award was presented at the Jewish Cultural Centre and National Library ‘Kadimah’ and AIPA was represented there by a number of its members. The 2012 award was shared by Krystyna Duszniak (AIPA member) and Lucyna Artymiuk. We send our warmest congratulations to both women.

Warsaw : We are delighted to report that, following his nomination by AIPA, Prof. Norman Davies was awarded Poland’s highest honour, the Order of the White Eagle (Order Orła Białego) by President Bronislaw Komorowski. (The other recipients of this order were Prof. Tomasz Strzembosz and Jerzy Buzek.) Present at the award ceremony, which was held in the Presidential Palace, were AIPA’s President Jan Pakulski and his wife Zofia. Following the awards, President Komorowski, the Speaker of the Senate, the award recipients and all invited guests took part in the March of Unity (Marsz Jedności). That evening all were invited to a formal celebratory dinner in the Presidential Palace. On this occasion the Pakulskis were able to speak to President Komorowski as well as to several past guests of the Institute, including Leszek Balcerowicz and Adam Rotfeld, both of whom send their greetings to all AIPA members.

Warsaw: Senator, the Hon John Hogg (ALP, Qld), President of the Senate of the
Federal Government, was awarded a Medal of Gratitude from the European Solidarity Centre (Europejskie Centrum Solidarności) Senator Hogg was nominated for the award by HE Andrzej Jaroszyński, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland in Canberra, in recognition of the great support that he gave, as a union worker in the 1980’s and 1990’s, to Poland’s Solidarnośc Union, especially during the years of martial law. Moreover, Mr Hogg was active not only as a unionist but as a concerned individual who helped support Solidarnośc through such actions as the Australia-wide ‘Help Poland Live’ campaign, as well as in fund-raising activities conducted by the Catholic Church. In his impassioned speech on the occasion Senator Hogg emphasized the solidarity that was felt then by Australian unionists for their Polish counterparts, in particular for their desire for free and independent unions, and for freedom of conscience and religion in Poland. AIPA was represented at this ceremony by two of its founding members, Barbara and Wojciech Zagala, for whom the occasion brought back vivid memories of their own involvement in Solidarnośc and in organizing help for Poland during the 1980’s. See:

Warsaw: Jan Pakulski gave a lecture at a sociology conference organized by the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN). The theme of the conference was ‘The social and cultural consequences of Polish migration’ (‘Społeczne i kulturowe skutki migracji z Polski’), the title of Prof. Pakulski’s paper being ‘Emigrants and their homeland. Polish-Australian society in the midst of change’ (‘Emigracja i Kraj. Polonia australijska w procesie przemian’). In his paper Prof. Pakulski characterized AIPA as a new type of expatriate Polish association. The lecture was warmly received by all, including, amongst others, by Jan Krzysztof Bielecki, a former Prime Minister of Poland and a guest of AIPA in the 1990’s. Dr Bielecki remembers his time in Australia very warmly and asked to send his best wishes to members of the Institute. Greetings also come from Polish speakers in last year’s symposium on multiculturalism, co-organized by AIPA and the Embassy of the Republic of Poland, Canberra: Professors Marek Okólski, Magda Lesińska and Paweł Kaczmarczyk.

Sydney: Consulate General of the Republic of Poland, Woollhara
The Polish Consulate General and AIPA jointly organized a commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the publication of the Polish Government’s official Note, dated 10th December, 1942, addressed to the Governments of the United Nations, alerting them to the mass extermination of Jews in German-occupied Poland. This important pamphlet was based on detailed first-hand, eyewitness account of the horrors of the Holocaust that were brought to light by Jan Karski, heroic emissary of the Polish Government in Exile. Karski’s mission secretly took him twice to the Warsaw Ghetto as well as to Izbica, a transit ghetto in occupied Poland from where Jews were deported to death camps. This event therefore also commemorated Jan Karski’s great bravery and his equally great humanity. The evening’s program included speeches by Marek Burdajwicz (AIPA Vice President) and Daniel Gromann (Polish Consul General), a lecture by Dr John Besemeres of the ANU Centre for European Studies (, short film documentaries and interviews with Jan Karski, and musical interludes by Wojciech Wiśniewski. A reception followed. The occasion was attended by an audience of around 130 people and judged a huge success by all.

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