25 historical figures to receive Poland's highest order

The Polish President Andrzej Duda announced that during Independence Day he will posthumously award 25 famous Poles with the Order of the White Eagle, the highest national order.

All the awarded recipients will be honoured during Polish Independence Day, that takes place on November 11.

“Each of these individuals was an outstanding and symbolic character,” the president said.

The list includes 25 people from very different fields. Among them there are politicians, scientists, activists, artists, priests, soldiers and an athlete.

Independence activists

The president decided to honour two of the most important politicians who had great influence on regaining Polish independence in 1918. One of them, a socialist Ignacy Daszyński was the Prime Minister of the Polish People’s Republic government, the first government after WWI.

The second import architect of Polish independence, who will be awarded the Order of the White Eagle, is Roman Dmowski, a nationalist politician. During WWI he was head of the Polish National Committee, which was recognised by the Entente alliance as the representation of Polish interests.

Roman Dmowski. Photo: Public Domain/Library of the US Congress

Representation of science

The Polish president will award several Polish scientists who had a significant influence on global science in the 20th century. Among them is Maria Skłodowska-Curie, the double laureate of the Nobel Prize, the discoverer of Radium and Polonium along with her husband, Peter Curie.

Another outstanding scientist who will posthumously receive the highest Polish order is mathematician Stefan Banach, one of the creators of the Lwów School of Mathematics, the group of mathematicians, renowned for its productivity and its extensive contributions to subjects such as point-set topology, set theory, and functional analysis.


Three priests from different Christian churches will also be awarded by the President. They are the Roman-Catholic Archbishop Antoni Baraniak, the secretary and chaplain of cardinals and Polish primates August Hlond and Stefan Wyszyński, priest Szymon Fedorońko, the Orthodox chaplain of Polish Army, who was murdered by Soviets during the Katyń massacre and Lutheran bishop Juliusz Bursche, the independence activist, who was imprisoned, tortured and killed by Nazi Germany during WWII.

The head of the Polish state will also honour Leon Kryczyński, also known as Mirza Najman, the lawyer, historian and important activist of the Tatar community in Poland. The order will also go to Baruch Steinberg, the head rabbi of the Polish Army, who was murdered by Soviets in Katyń.

Among the activists who are to receive the Order of the White Eagle there is also Janusz Korczak (pen name Henryk Goldszmit), the writer, pedagogue, the supporter of children’s rights, and the director of an orphanage in Warsaw, who was refused sanctuary repeatedly and stayed with his orphans when the entire population of the institution was sent to the German concentration camp Treblinka, where they were murdered.

Janusz Korczak and children at the orphanage in Krochmalna Street In Warsaw. Photo: PAP/Israel images/Alamy Stock Photo

Commander, artists and a gold medallist

The president will also honour General Stanisław Sosabowski, one of the commanders of the Polish Army in the West during WWII, the creator of the 1st Independent Parachute Brigade, the first unit of that kind in the history of the Polish Army.

Among the artists that will receive the Order of the White Eagle there is a laureate of the Nobel Prize in Literature Władysław Reymont, writers Stefan Żeromski and Kornel Makuszyński, a composer, pianist, and pedagogue Karol Szymanowski and a painter Wojciech Kossak.

The first golden Olympic medallist, Hanna Konopacka will also receive the highest Polish order.

The full list of people who will be awarded the Order of the White Eagle can be found at the website of the Polish President’s chancellery.

The Order of the White Eagle was established in 1705 by Augustus II the Strong, the king of Poland.

General Stanisław Sosabowski (L) with General Frederick Browning (R). Photo: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons