On September 2nd, the Palladium Theater in Warsaw will host the Congress of Non-Governmental Organizations under the name “Polish Archipelago Exhibition” During the congress, various non-governmental organizations will showcase their achievements. Additionally, two expert debates will take place: one dedicated to Wojciech Korfanty and another addressing the challenges of the third sector.
In between presentations and debates, attendees will enjoy concerts featuring Norbert “Smola” Smoliński, the “Mogilanie” Regional Ensemble, and the Turobin Band. Admission to the congress is free, and organizations interested in presenting their work can register through the website.
The year 2023 was declared the Year of Wojciech Korfanty by the Sejm of the Republic of Poland. As part of the Archipelago of Polishness, an exhibition dedicated to this remarkable figure has been prepared.
In April, we celebrated the 150th anniversary of the birth of this outstanding Silesian and Polish politician. Korfanty was an exceptional individual, seemingly transcending the boundaries of his time. He was a tough and determined man who achieved everything through hard work, willpower, and resilience. Born into a poor, working-class family, he became a prominent leader of the Polish national camp in Upper Silesia and the leader of the Polish opposition in the Reichstag. He later assumed the role of the dictator during the Third Silesian Uprising. Subsequently, he became one of the leading politicians of the ruling center-right party (until 1926) and one of the leaders of the democratic opposition after the May Coup.
Throughout his political life, Korfanty faced numerous adversaries who were drawn to his uncompromising character. He was despised by German politicians who considered him a symbol of the loss of a significant part of “German East” after 1918. Górnośląskie priests cursed him from the pulpits, faithfully supporting the Center Party and German feudal lords in Upper Silesia against their own people. However, no one opposed him as strongly as Józef Piłsudski and the Sanation camp. It was the Piłsudski supporters who repeatedly brought Korfanty to trial and imprisoned him.
Korfanty was not a saint, but rather a multifaceted and vibrant individual who lived life to the fullest. He still lives in the hearts of the people of Upper Silesia. In regional plebiscites held from time to time to determine the “most popular” or “most prominent” Silesian, Korfanty consistently emerges as the unequivocal winner, leaving his competitors far behind.
After Wojciech Korfanty’s death, Ignacy Jan Paderewski wrote in a letter to his wife, Elżbieta, that [her husband] would find the place he deserved in the pages of Poland’s reborn history, even though it had been denied to him during his lifetime. Paderewski undoubtedly referred to the unsuccessful attempts to become Prime Minister and obtain a ministerial position. These plans were thwarted by Józef Piłsudski.
Korfanty passed away on August 17, 1939, shortly after being released from prison. He died a free man because authorities feared public outrage at keeping an extremely ill person in jail.
Korfanty’s death and his own life became a Polish source of guilt and remorse. Underestimated during his lifetime, forgotten during the war, silenced by the communists, it was only after 1989 that Wojciech Korfanty’s figure and contributions slowly returned to history textbooks. Commemorative coins were issued, and a banknote featuring one of the fathers of independence was introduced. Hence, the organizers of the second edition of the Archipelago of Polishness, the Historical Foundation named after Marian Rejewski and the Patriotism and Freedom Association, have created an exhibition dedicated precisely to this outstanding figure. The exhibition revolves around the concept of Korfanty’s four roles: politician, insurgent, entrepreneur, and patriot.
The exhibition will be presented in five Polish cities: Lublin, Poznań, Warsaw, Katowice, and Kraków. All locations have been chosen due to their connections to the exhibition’s protagonist.
The Archipelago of Polishness Congress and the accompanying exhibition honoring Wojciech Korfanty provide a platform for non-governmental organizations and the wider public to explore the multifaceted life and contributions of this exceptional figure. By rediscovering Korfanty’s legacy, Poland commemorates a remarkable individual who played a crucial role in shaping the country’s history.