Research History Poles Latinamerica
History & Culture
The Other Child: Poles in Latin America
"Oid mortales, el grito sagrado: Libertad, Libertad, Libertad!"
"Slyszcie smiertelni, to swiete wolanie: Wolnosc, Wolnosc, Wolnosc!"
This cry for freedom was heard around the world and the Poles responded. They came to the New World seeking freedom for themselves and fought in battles that others may also be free of tyranny and despotism. They came for political, economic, social and religious reasons. Scholarly research has produced and is producing a considerable number of books about the Poles in the United States. Historians, sociologists and political scientists are investigating the individual who calls himself a "Polish American." But information about the Pole who settled in Latin America and who shares with us the word "American" is virtually non-existent in English historiography. According to present day statistics, there are close to 850,000 Poles in Brazil alone, but none of the scholarly works on Brazil deal with the Poles other than to state that "they came to Brazil." There are Polish communities in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Peru and Mexico, but works in these areas also neglect to include the Pole. Works in Polish about Poles in Latin America abound, but such sources are not available to the scholar who reads only English, Spanish or Portuguese. The time has come to study the Polish contribution to Latin America in the English language so that over a million present day Poles may claim their place in the sun.
This paper will sketchily discuss various aspects of Polish-Latin American immigration. It will, however, concentrate on Brazil as a fitting memorial to the Polish colony in Curitiba which is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 1971. By no means can this be considered a thorough study. It is only the first attempt to gain some knowledge about a large group of neglected Poles and the first step towards a definitive series of articles on the Poles in Latin America. Hopefully, it will raise many questions and be instrumental in encouraging young scholars to enter this virgin field.
The Poles came to Latin America for many reasons. Two seem to stand out more than others: freedom and land. All of you are familiar with the conditions in dismembered Poland in the pre-and-post-Napoleonic period. They left much to be desired politically and economically. Revolutions and uprisings only brought reprisals. There was but one answer: migrate to the New World. Most of the Poles came to the United States because its political stability insured tranquility and an escape from the unrest they experienced in Poland. Others "chanced" going to an unstable Latin America and accepted grants of land and new opportunities for self-development. They too found peace and serenity but only after some very harrowing experiences. The presence of other European immigrants often compounded the difficulties. Old jealousies and old fears refused to die. Linguistic barriers had to be overcome. The land they received needed much work to make it productive. In the end, they triumphed over their difficulties, bettered their own way of life, and contributed much to the growth of the countries in which they settled.
The colonists who came in the 1850's through 1900 were not the first Poles in Latin America. Others before them explored the New World, conquered summits and peaks, penetrated jungles, discovered new deposits of useful minerals, studied Latin American geology, studied primitive cultures, built railroads and were accomplished engineers. The controversy still rages around John Scolvus who supposedly came to the New World before Columbus. According to Joachim Lelewel, John Scolvus was really Jan z Kolna; came from a town in Northern Masovia; entered Danish service and while serving King Christian I discovered the Anian Straits and Labrador in 1476. Many Polish explorers came to Latin America. One of the most famous is Admiral K. Arciszewski (1598-1656) who explored Brazil. Ignacy Domeyko (1802-1889), a geologist and engineer, helped the mining industry in Chile. He spent half of his life in Chile, Bolivia, Peru and Argentina, and is sometimes called the father of mining engineering in Chile. A friend of Adam Mickiewicz, he too became involved in the 1831 insurrection. Later he migrated to France where he continued his education. After graduating in 1838 as a mining engineer, he came to Coquimbo, Chile, as a lecturer in physics and chemistry. He eventually became President of the University of Santiago which he founded. Other Poles were involved with the founding of educational institutions in Latin America. Malinowski and Habich founded the Polytechnic Institute in Lima. According to Tomasz Turley's "Polish Explorers of America," in the Polish American Studies, Polish naturalists investigated Latin America, e.g., botanists Warszewicz, Jelski, Zapolowicz, and Taczanowski (a specialist in Peruvian ornithology). Among the explorers and scientists who studied life and primitive culture in Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Mexico were Domeyko and Stolyhwo. The anthropologists also contributed their share: e.g., Bronislaw Malinowski, F. Wierzbicki and S. Klimek (who studied Indian cultures). Kazimierz Malinowski and Habich built railroads in the Andes Mountains.
This paper, however, focuses on the colonists who arrived in large numbers and established permanent settlements. Polish pioneers came to Brazil in 1854, but little if anything is known about this group which came from Silesia. In 1871, another large group of peasants from Silesia settled in Brazil and will be discussed in detail later in this paper. Both groups came for two reasons: freedom and land. Europe's social and economic changes during the 19th century had a direct bearing upon Polish immigrants who came to Latin America. North and South America were lands of opportunity. The Latin American states themselves realized their own need for immigrants. Countries like Argentina and Brazil had extensive recruiting among European peasants who were to receive grants of land and have most of their expenses paid. Vast areas were opened up for the newcomers and as a result, the nations who "opened their arms" to the foreigners reaped the harvest. According to Antoni Hempl, who came with the Siemiradzki expedition to Brazil and Argentina in 1892, Prussian mistreatment helped to bring on "Brazilian Fever," and Brazilian wealth.
The Polish immigrants who came to Latin America brought new tools and new methods of agriculture. Italians, Spaniards and Germans preceded the Poles and brought complications. Immigration statistics are faulty for they often listed the Poles under the "German" or "Russian" classification. The Poles and other European immigrants monopolized many areas and soon forced the Creoles (native born Spaniards or Portuguese) to abandon ancient methods of production and commerce. Brazil received a large number of Polish immigrants who in turn helped bring about great economic development, which in turn tremendously affected the final abolition of slavery in 1888. The abolition of slavery further removed the greatest obstacle to settlement by Europeans. Polish and European immigration affected the rapid growth of Sao Paulo and the coffee industry in that area. The influx after 1888 brought more than one and a quarter million new residents, of which the Poles were a sizeable number. The Polish immigrant was often at a disadvantage. The land values were high, and the best land was already occupied by large hacendados. Even in Argentina where the lands were vast and cheap, immigration was a costly process. Although most of the Poles received free land and remained landowners, other immigrants found the cost of land ownership too high and so became farm laborers or tenants. As far as Brazil is concerned, the Poles migrated to the southern states, essentially to Paraná, Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina. Later on they would be found in fairly large numbers in Minas Gerais. The quantity and quality of land eventually provided the Polish immigrants with more than an adequate food supply, even at a low level of agricultural technique. A huge population growth occurred as statistics on Brazil indicate. The large populations plus the surplus production of food were basic factors in the rapid development of the southern Brazilian region. The agricultural productivity of the Polish immigrants brought great wealth to the southern part of Brazil. Yet, English scholarship refuses to admit to anything more than "Polish immigrants arrived in Brazil."
Polish immigrants did more than work the land; they were involved in many freedom movements against dictators and tyrants, e.g., Irazawski, Miaskowski, Czarnecki and Wyszkowicz. The Poles fought local bureaucracy and often took pseudonyms to protect themselves, e.g. José Maria Varsovia, Soplica, Casimiro de Poznan, El principe Gedymin and Canfield Kosciuszko. Research is not made any easier by the careless habits of Argentinian and Brazilian officials who changed the Polish spelling of names to make them more pronounceable, thus making identification difficult. Josephine Radzyminska wrote a very interesting book called: Bialy Orzel nad Rio de La Plata. She discussed the names distorted by people who wrote about prominent Poles in Argentina. For example: "Zablesque" was really Joseph Zielinski; "Guodenoviche" was Guzdynowicz. Other names who fought under the blue and white Argentine flag included Ozarneski, Charneski, Viscovitschi, Wysovits, Bisconiche. One has to concentrate to identify the spelling as a distortion of Polish.
Polish officers and soldiers fought in the Latin American revolutionary wars of independence. One name that comes to the foreground is that of Filip Murycy Marcinkowski, the first Bolivian general. Marcinkowski worked under Prince Czartoryski, fought at the battle of Trafalgar under Nelson and, eventually ended his life in La Paz, Bolivia. After a life of wine, women and song in London, boredom set in and he sailed for Venezuela in 1808. When he arrived, Venezuela was still a captaincy-general within the Spanish empire. He acquired a landed estate and also owned properties in the city where he joined the Masonic Lodge. His talent for making money did not fail him and he became very wealthy. Soon after his arrival, revolts broke out and he cast his lot with the insurgents. In his plotting, he was surrounded by great men like Simon Bolivar, Francisco de Miranda and later General Sucre with whom he fought for Bolivian independence. In the end, he was one of the founders of modern Bolivia and its first general. Still, Marcinkowski is "hard to find" in either English or Spanish historiography. Considering his prominence, his name should appear frequently in the Bolivar correspondence but this is not the case. It remains for some young scholar to find the true story of Filip Murycy Marcinkowski.
Polish immigrants came to the Americas soon after the independence from Spain had been won. The list of pioneers for the province of Missiones, Argentina, includes the names of Mateusz Bednarz, Jan Maksymowicz, Albert Szczesny, Ignacy Herzun and Jan Kozlowski. Argentine history also recounts the story of one called Robert Chodasiewicz, who fought in the Polish uprisings of the 1840's, was sent to Siberia, received the British Crimean Medal, fought with Grant in the United States Civil War and then relocated to Argentina where he became "Primer Aviador" (the first Argentine flier-balloonist). During 1939-45, over 20,000 Poles came to Argentina. They spread over the whole country and with them came the familiar institutions: the church, the school and the fraternal organizations. The greatest number settled in Buenos Aires. The first group that came found no church in their community so they turned to the Franciscans for assistance. They formed their "towarzystwa," e.g., "Polskie Towarzystwo Katolickie." The key people in this organization included Fr. Joseph Makar, Sempolinski, Krzyrzanowski, Szymanski, Golakowik, Dubnic, Kowalski and Solowiej. The Franciscans decided to strive for a Polish Center in Buenos Aires and petitioned the Holy Father. Eventually, Andrzej Smolen came to Argentina as head of the group. Plans for building a cloister and chapel were delayed because of the archbishop's death but permission finally came from Antonio Plaza. The town and center of Martin Coronado became a going concern. The parish house was built in 1961, and in 1962 the first school appeared. Seventy eight children were enrolled in the school run by Cecylia Stachon. As the community grew, the need for land became the prime target. The Franciscans bought land in Pablo Modesta. More Poles came to the community. Boy Scout groups were formed and Girl Scout units followed. Soon the towns of Martin Coronado and Pablo Modesta had a companion in the town of Maciaszkowo. A weekly newspaper called Glos Polski provided communication as did a bookstore called "Libreria Polaca" in Buenos Aires. The Polish settlers included farmers, doctors, lawyers, carpenters, merchants. Among the doctors were at least two women, Dr. Jadwiga Konczak and Dr. Ludmilla Kosciuczyk. In 1970 there were Polish parishes or priests in the following areas: Buenos Aires, Adrogue, Barrio San José, Berazetegui, Berisso, Derqui, Docksud, Llavallol, Martin Coronado, Martinez, Olivos, Quilmes, San Justo, Sarandi, Valentin Alsina, Villa Centenario, Cordoba, Salsipuedes, Rosario, Santa Fe, Apostoles, Azara, Jardin America, Alem, San Javier, Wanda and Villa Angela.
Polish immigrants also came to Peru. In May 1927, Peru granted free land to the Poles, located by the river Ucayali. In return for the land, the Poles were to settle 4,000 farm families. If the Poles failed to fulfill this stipulation, the land reverted back to Peru. An expedition was sent out to investigate the territory, the expedition included Lepecki who wrote the book Na Amazonce i Wschodnim Peru. On the expedition were also Kazimierz Warchalowski, Dr. Alexander Freyd, Apolonjusz Zarychta and Michal Pankiewicz. Although numbers of Poles came to Peru, there is no present evidence to support the establishment of the above 4,000 families and the whole outcome of the proposed plan. Future scholars should investigate the Peruvian situation and also the large settlement of Poles in Mexico during and after World War II.
The best information, although still far from complete, concerns the Polish community in Brazil. Records indicate that a Fr. Wojciech Mecinski, S.J., landed in Brazil in 1631 and proceeded to send descriptions and a map of Pernambuco to Fr. Kasper Duzbicki, the Polish Provincial. In 1831, Andrzej Przewodowski came to Brazil after a Polish insurrection. He became a resident of Bahia. Ten years later, history records a Dr. Piotr Luiz Napoleon Czernowicz as the editor of a medical dictionary in Rio. For his work, Czernowicz received the Order of Christ from Pedro II. The real contributions, however, came from the very large groups of immigrants that came to Brazil during the 1870's and 1880's.
As mentioned earlier, the Poles essentially came to Brazil as cultivators of their own small farms not laborers on big fazendas. They settled mostly in Santa Catarina, Paraná and Rio Grande do Sul although statistics indicate that they could be found in other areas. Their main colony would be in Curitiba and most of my statistics and information concern this particular region. Some sources indicate that before 1884, 78,103 Germans settled in Brazil and by the next eighty year span there were a total of 275,189 Germans. According to one source, "this figure should be substantially reduced by subtracting the large number of Poles ... who traveled to Brazil on German passports before 1918." Rollie Poppino states that of the 109,891 Russians who came between 1884 and 1963, only a half were Russians, the largest bloc appears to have been made up of Poles. Once again the Poles have been confused with Germans and Russians. Perhaps what is required for a true picture of Polish settlers is a study of an individual's national ethnic background rather than a passport count which can be most misleading. Regarding Pre-World War I Brazil, Poppino states that Russia supplied fewer than 20,000 immigrants while during the same period-fifty years-over 50,000 immigrants were Polish. The Polish immigrants who came to Brazil and to the rest of the Americas were strongly attached to "their plot of earth in the European sense." One source indicated that such a population contributes to national well-being and encourages other nationals to follow suit. The whole process tends to stabilize the economy, society and political institutions.
Working with available statistics is a most maddening experience. Just when you think you have a workable set of figures, a new source challenges their veracity. A memorial edition of the Kalendarz Ludu provides some interesting facts and figures. The reader is warned that these figures are far from complete or accurate but at least they do give some indication as to the numbers of Poles in Brazil over a long period of years. The statistics are the work of several authors who do not agree with each other. In 1900 there were 95,000 Poles; in 1902, 75,000; in 1908, 140,000; in 1909, 80,000. Perhaps the different authors merely counted the souls in specific provinces and towns rather than trying for a national count which could explain the very large discrepancies. In 1918, the three states of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and Paraná had 39,000, 13,800, and 60,000 respectively while 5,200 were scattered throughout Brazil. Szumanski's statistics for 1925 are also interesting. Rio Grande do Sul had 37,140 Poles, Santa Catarina 10,740 and Paraná 72,240 with 5,000 scattered in other states. Kalendarz Ludu in 1936 cited a total of 160,000-180,000 Poles in Brazil. In 1947, Lepecki claimed that there were 300,000 Poles in this region. Statistics for 1954 give a total of 420,000 and Sekula judges the current total to be 842,360 Poles living in Brazil. It is very obvious that the statistics leave much to be desired but they do make one very strong point; we are talking about hundreds of thousands of Brazilians of Polish descent who up to the present have been totally neglected in English historical writings.
This year, 1971, is a most important one for the Polish people in Paraná-the 100th anniversary of their arrival in this colony. The Polish immigrants arrived in Brazil in 1869 and two years later came to Curitiba in the state of Paraná. This group of Poles first went to the German area called Blumenau not realizing that specific land had been set aside for them. After being advised of this promised land, the group headed for Paraná led by Fr. Antoni Zielinski and Edmund Wos Saporski. Permission for the move had already been granted by Pedro II. Saporski endured many hardships in Curitiba due mostly to the interference of German plotters. Difficulties also arose with the President of the Province who originally promised to pay the cost of transfer to Curitiba and no more. Receiving the funds from him proved difficult and created considerable animosity which the immigrants could ill afford. According to a contemporary source, thirty-two families with 160 persons were to be transferred to Curitiba. The President of the Province, Dr. Venancio Flores finally sent wagons for the colonists who arrived at a port called Antoniny and brought them to Saporski who did not know what to do with such a large group. Some families were sent to live with Landemama; some went to the Brocatinsa and Meistara families; and the rest went to a carpenter called "Schmidt." Since the immigrants had no funds or at best limited funds, Saporski had to pay the bill for their living expenses. Then came more trouble. Hunger plagued the immigrants who went to the Flores home and pleaded for food. Again they were told to go to Saporski, who spent his last money desperately trying to feed the starving colonists. In his plight he turned to the government for aid. Influential Brazilians finally took an interest in the Polish immigrants. For example, the Camara Municipal in Curitiba and the treasurer, Aurelio de Campos, offered assistance. Through Campos' intercession, the Poles received work and land in Santa Quiteria and Pilarzinho. Each family received two parcels of land and spent part of their time working on a road to Campo Largo. Their wanderings had ended and a new future had begun.
In 1873, 64 more families totaling 258 people arrived. Each of these received two parcels of land and formed a new town called Abranches in honor of a new Provincial President who favored the Poles. Abranches was located about one-half hour's ride from Curitiba and near the earlier settlement. The beginnings for the settlers were hard but soon the Brazilians were won over to accept the newcomers who in turn learned the Portuguese language. After President Abranches came Adolfo Lamenha Lis, who might be considered the true father of the Polish colony in Curitiba. Under Lamenha Lis were founded eight settlements: Orleans, Dona Augusta (Campo Comprido), Santo Ignacio, Lamenha, Dom Pedro, Tomas Coelho, Riviera and Santa Candida. It is obvious that the names of towns did not reflect the national origin of their settlers. Was this due to early Brazilianization? In a few years came other settlements: Muricy, Zacarias and Inspector Carvalho. In 1886, Santa Gabriela, Barao Tuanay, Santa Christina and Alice were founded with the approval of President Alfredo Tuanay. All of these towns and cities surrounded Curitiba, the original colony. The Germans and French who came to nearby areas also formed towns and clusters but these fell apart very rapidly while Polish settlements grew and prospered. Other great benefactors at this date included Fr. Agostinho Machada Lima and Dr. Ermdino de Leao.
The other large settlement occurred in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. The Poles came in 1884 only to find that the Italians were there before them and had selected the best mountain sites. According to a contemporary source, there were many hardships but it was better to endure them than to drink "kwas Pruski." The Brazilian monarchy wanted to populate the rough area in Rio Grande do Sul, near Rio das Antas, and sent agents into Poland soliciting colonists. A hunted man in his own land, the Polish immigrant headed for Brazil and more aggravation. The Italians were not exactly hostile; neither were they friendly. The mountains already taken, the Poles settled in the valleys and complained bitterly about their "bad deal." Nevertheless, they rolled up their sleeves and soon the earth responded to their efforts and bore fruit. The group of Poles that settled on the Rio das Antas came from Prussian Poland.
Poles from Russian Poland came in 1889 and first landed in Rio de Janeiro. While in Rio they indicated areas in which they intended to settle and dispersed to their chosen locations. Some came to Rio Grande do Sul while other[s] went to Porto Alegre and then to Sao Joao do Monte Negro. Long caravans carried personal goods and home furnishings. The women rode while the men and older children walked alongside the wagons. Smaller groups dispersed into Sao Francisco de Paula, Campo de Bruges, Antonio Prado and Alfredo Chavez (now Veranopolis). The greatest part, however, went to join the other group in Rio das Antas.
Once the immigrants arrived, towns developed. The immigrant, though not schooled, realized that the Catholic Faith and his ties with Poland were important. His next concern was education for himself and his children. As a result, in each area where the Polish immigrant settled there appeared a church, a cemetery and a school. From Sao Marcos Teresa came the sounds of the Polish language. Soon the Poles acquired choice land on hills and moved into newer valleys. Though devoted Catholics, they had no priest of their own. A few priests made the rounds but these were never enough to give adequate care to the community. Since the colonists were mostly peasants, there were no really educated people to guide them. "Bóg i Ojczyzna" became a key phrase; in one hand a rosary and a Polish grammar book and in the other a hatchet and a hammer. Teachers were hired for the schools yet to be built. Even though the harvests proved bountiful, there were no windmills to ground the grain into flour. The clever Poles created jointly-operated mills to supply their own needs. The next problem was more difficult to solve. Daily commodities and household goods were impossible to purchase. There were no stores in the newly-formed communities. The Italians had many but either refused to do business with the Poles or else the Poles were in no position to buy the goods offered. The result was a very high level of barter trade.
Leadership, another necessity, was finally solved with the appearance of Jan Reszke who lived in Alfredo Chavez. He learned Portuguese easily, knew the Brazilian administrators and acted as a "father" to the colonials. Trouble came from a Russian consul who was most displeased with the Polish community but Reszke took care of that problem very adequately. Then Father Joseph Bardin came to care for their souls. Father Bardin was ordained in Italy, and planned on working with the Italian immigrants upon his arrival in Brazil until he saw the desperate need of the Polish community. Though an Italian by birth, Bardin learned Polish, lived with a Polish family when in the area and acquired a large Polish library which serviced the whole community. The Polish people built him a house and a chapel while the widow Golabiewska took care of the housekeeping. Father Bardin tutored her son Stanislaw who later became a priest. Eventually, he received the "Polonia Restituta" medal.
In 1889, the community started collections to build a "proper church." Again problem after problem arose to prevent the building of what would be called "Jasna Góra in Brazil." But the church was finished and a picture of Our Lady of Czestochowa hung. The next project was a school for fifty students. Jan Preczewski became the first teacher and was followed by Stanislaw Tepski, Kazimierz Wasowski and Jan Seczkowski. Seczkowski taught Portuguese and Polish for over thirty years, lived on church property and acted as caretaker for the school. His salary amounted to a mere pittance. The first school was "Polish" but with nationalization the school was taken over by the municipality. Nationalization brought financial support but the Poles incurred a loss. The government paid the teachers and other children attended the school, many of whom learned Polish.
The Poles who settled in Brazil raised large families, e.g., the Gajewski's had seven sons and five daughters while Blochowicz had nine sons and eleven daughters. The above two were not the exception, they were the rule. Soon over-population presented another problem and new areas had to be opened up. The Poles moved to Casca, Vista Alegre, Getulio Vargas, Guarama, Erechim, Carlos Gomez, Paim Felho, Marcelino Ramos, and Aurea. Poles still continued to work the land, some now even owned large fazendas and others went into towns and opened stores. They had kind words for the "native" Brazilians, the Indians and Negroes. According to contemporary sources, some Negroes spoke Polish and some were even raised by a Polish family. When charges of bigotry are leveled at the Poles, history has some good answers for the accusers. The records indicate a liberal and generous Polish nature deserving of praise and not condemnation.
Religion was always a most important element in the Polish community and as a result the priest acquired great power and prestige. Some of the priests were not Poles by birth but learned the Polish language, e.g., the Jesuit Joseph van Lasberg. Others who served the Polish-Brazilian communities were Fr. Jan Antoni Perez and Fr. Wladyslaw Beregula. Contemporary accounts give Fr. Albert Stawinski, Superior of the Capuchines in Rio Grande do Sul, greatest praise for being the hardest worker. It would be most unfair not to mention the other great numbers of priests and religious who served the Polish immigrants and their descendants. Kalendarz Ludu came up with some very interesting statistics for priests who served in Brazil: 231 diocesan priests, the earliest coming in 1854, 115 Missionary Priests, 71 Salesians, 88 Divine Word Fathers, 56 Franciscans, 16 Holy Family Fathers, 9 Pallotines, 13 Jesuits, the first in 1849; and the Chrystusowcy who numbered 40. Added to this list were 15 Capuchines, 3 Dominicans, 4 Passionists, 9 Marians, 4 Salvatorians, 4 LaSalettes, 4 Resurrectionists, 6 Redemptorists and 8 others not specifically designated. The Sisters of Mercy came to Abranches in 1904 and then into the towns of Tomas Coelho, Prudentopolis, Itaiopolis, Lucena and Sao Matens. In 1906, the Sisters of the Family of Mary came to Curitiba and Orleans, then to Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio de Janeiro.
The Polish press was important to the immigrants for it united the people and urged initiative and action. The history of any one of the Brazilian colonies, or for that matter of any of the communities, can be written through newspaper and periodical accounts. All kinds of periodicals existed in Brazil. The first Polish paper in Curitiba came out in 1892 and was called Gazeta Polska. Founded by Carl Szulc in Curitiba it was still being published in 1941. Other newspapers and periodicals included: Kurier Paranski, Diablik Paranski, Prawda, Robotnik Paranski, Polak w Brazylii, Dzwon Polski, Naród, Swit, Lud, Brazil-Polonia, Nasza Szkola, and Polska Prawda w Brazylii. Altogether there were sixty newspapers. Between 1945 and 1970 there was a total of seventy newspapers. The most important newspapers include the Przeglad Polski and Polonia. Many of the periodicals, though intended for Polish readers, are in Portuguese since the descendants of original settlers do not speak or understand Polish. This is a problem not too uncommon in the United States where the Polish language is often a myth.
Many interesting books and accounts have been written about Brazil. The list includes: Joseph Siemieradzki, Fr. Antoni Wasik (who organized a small historical museum in Curitiba), Mieczyslaw Lepecki, Pawel Nikodem (historian who was editor of Gazeta Polska), Joseph Stanczewski (compiled bibliography on the Poles in Brazil), Kazimierz Gluchowski (Polish consul in Curitiba from 1920 who wrote about the problems of the Polish colony and is an excellent source for a historian), and Fr. Jan. Piton, C.M., (who studied historical archives in Curitiba, Sao Paulo, Porto Alegre and Rio de Janeiro).
Brazil also had many famous Poles who merit brief attention in this paper. The first that should be noted is Admiral Krzysztof Arciszewski who led the Dutch in Brazil from 1629 to 1637. Dr. Stanislaw Klobukowski came to Brazil in 1839, founded the Przeglad Emigracyjny and wrote many books on the Poles in Brazil. Andrzej Przewodowski came in 1839 and designed the port facilities at Bahia. Captain Stanislaw Przewodowski fought in the Paraguayan War (1865-1870) ; Engineer Bronislaw Rymkiewicz built port facilities in Manaus and Sao Paulo; Mieczyslaw Salomonowicz opened a large glass factory in 1900 in Antonina; Robert Trompowski taught in a military school in Rio and distinguished himself as a great mathematician; Brig. General Arnando Trompowski, son of Robert, born 1889, under President Dutra held the post of Air Minister; Cezar Szulc, son of Carl, opened the first Polish publishing house in Curitiba; Bronislaw Ostaja Reguski, was the first federal representative of Polish heritage in the Brazilian Congress (1915-1955) ; and lastly, Tadeusz Onar-Konarzewski who is editor of the Diario das Noticias in Porto Alegre. These names seem strange but only because they have been so sadly neglected by historians. Modern Polish contributions are coming from young architects who are designing the Polish embassy in Brazilia: Zbigniew Paluch, Wieslaw Rzepka, Jan Knotke and Andrzej Dzierzanowski. The few "big" names do not reflect the real influence the Poles should have in Brazil. As in the United States, internal dissension and jealousy prevent the Brazilian Poles from achieving much deserving success. Neither child has learned from the bitter experience of the mother.
By now the listener has more questions than answers. Only future scholarship can fill the vast gaps that exist. Working in this area presupposes a linguistic background in Polish, Portuguese or Spanish and English. Few scholars are willing to prepare themselves to this extent. We need to know about earlier and smaller attempts at colonization; individual contributions to the Latin American nations; we need a study of personalities who achieved eminence and who are still unknown; studies of religious contributions should be undertaken; economic studies are vital to a true understanding of the Polish role; social and intellectual history needs to be written; comparative studies between Latin American and United States immigrations should be undertaken; statistical evaluations are desperately needed if historical research is to progress; and perhaps a grand work á la Toynbee which would develop the unity that exists between the two children of Mother Poland.
This paper was first delivered at the Annual Dinner of the Polish American Historical Association in New York City on December 28, 1971.
This article is reprinted from Polish American Studies, Vol. XXIX. No. 1-2, Spring-Autumn 1972, with permission from the Polish-American Historical Association.;