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    Exhibition in Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski commemorates sugar factory workers fighting for free Poland

    The opening of the exhibition “Sugar Producers – Heroes of Our Independence” in the historic building of the Częstocice Sugar Factory in Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski was not accidental. Sugar workers, starting from 1830, wrote a beautiful page in the history book of the struggle for an independent homeland.

    The owners of the sugar factory, the management, engineers and ordinary workers fought and died in uprisings and on the fronts of World Wars I and II or the Polish-Bolshevik war, they funded combat equipment for the Polish army, organised field hospitals and sewing workshops where uniforms were sewn, they acted in conspiracy and were murdered in concentration camps, oflags (type of German’s war camp – editor’s note) and Soviet gulags. They also assisted the families of the imprisoned workers.


    “In 2005, it was the oldest operating sugar mill in Europe. After its liquidation, the restructuring of the industry, we wanted to commemorate this place. And this is the best place: we have developed the oldest building in the oldest sugar factory to gather all these memorabilia and to preserve the memory not only of patriotism but also of the sugar industry,” stressed Zdzisław Salus, member of the management board of the National Sugar Company.


    The objects gathered at the exhibition span the period from the November Uprising to World War II. The exhibits come from the collections of the Historical and Archaeological Museum in Ostrowiec Swietokrzyski and private collections. The exhibition presents weapons, documents, orders, posters and press prints. Text and illustration charts are presented that explain many interesting historical aspects.


    The employees of the sugar factory were characterized by extraordinary generosity. During the Silesian uprisings, employees of many sugar factories donated money to the plebiscite which took place in Silesia. In the interwar period, generosity manifested itself, among other things, in rearming the army. The sugar workers collected money for the Naval Defense Fund, the National Defense Fund, the activities of the Air League or the Anti-Gas League.


    They donated for defence purposes: cash, valuables, silver and gold coins, and often taxed themselves with fixed amounts, paying 1% of their salary every month. Four RWD-17 training planes, which were used as reconnaissance planes in September 1939, were purchased from the contributions of sugar refiners, including the employees of the “Częstocice” sugar factory.


    The custodian of the Sugar Industry Memorial Chamber managed to find the magazine “Życie Cukrownicze” (Sugar Industry Life), where a photo of the “Cukrownik” aeroplane, funded by sugar factories in the Kielce region as well as in the Lublin and Lviv provinces, is reproduced.


    In September 1939, many sugar factories were bombed by the German ground troops and air force. Sugar refiners joined the armed struggle, the conspiracy, but also helped, e.g. by supporting families who had lost loved ones who were the only providers, families of people who were in prisons, camps, oflags. Packages were sent to the oflag; the families were also helped financially.



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