By way of identification, let me say that I
was deported as a child to Siberia (13 April, 1940); my father, a
professional soldier before WWII, served in the Anders Army.
"Wynaradawianie sie" is a complex concept. Literally, it means emptying oneself of all
cultural, linguistic, and sentimental attributes of one"s nationality. It is not
usually used in this sense in discussions such as has errupted in this
I have lived outside Poland since I was seven years
old. I speak and write Polish but, when it comes to a more professional,
specialized matters, I have to switch to English.
My daughter, born and educated in the US, also
speaks Polish but on a lower level of competence. She is teaching her children
to speak Polish and has hired a Polish nanny to do that. She hersef is perfectly
at ease and at home in the American society and culture as well as among
The point is that each successive generation
inevitably loses some degree of its knowledge of the Polish language. We
must not equate this process with "wynaradawianie sie." In whatever language, we
must transmit our Polish language, Polish heritage, to the successive
generations. But we must do it in a sensitive and sensible
If we are permanent residents in our respective
host countries, especially if we are their citizens, then the Polish heritage we
transmit MUST NOT be presented to our children as an either or proposition. We
must not force our children to choose between the two cultures and, what would
be even worse, between the two loyalties. I have seen such cases and I have
also seen the enormous strain such exclusivistic approach places on the children
and, eventually, on their relations with their parents.
I have also seen communities of Polish ancestry,
which had been isolated for a century from any contact with things Polish
(Brasilian, for one) and, without any knowledge of the Polish language, have
retained their customs, their dress (in rural areas), much of their culture,
and...their attachement their Polish roots.
There are approximately sixteen million persons of
Polish descent living outside Poland. They represent an enormous cultural,
economic, and political capital for themselves and for Poland.
It is in Poland's vital national interest they that
sixteen million strong community should succeed in (1) retaining their ancestral
culture in whatever language they prefer, (2) retaining their awareness of
themselves as a community, (3) naturally, remaining completely loyal to
their countries of residence, and (4) at the same time preserving a sense of
community and mutual support with all people of Polish ancestry, in
and outside Poland.
Witold J. Lukaszewski