Poles and Czechs celebrate together

"History teaches us that without a free Poland there will be no free Czechoslovakia and without a free Czechoslovakia there is no free Poland,” these are words written in a letter sent by the "Founding Father" of Czechoslovakia Tomasz G. Masaryk to Ignacy Paderewski. They are also the motto of a project commemorating joint Polish-Czech anniversaries which takes place from 6 to 15 September on the initiative of the Polish Institute in Prague.

The project, held in a year during which both countries celebrate the centenary of their modern statehood, is designed to shine the spotlight on historical moments that connect Poles and Czechs. The emphasis on common symbols is also conditioned by the choice of timing: on September 8 we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the self-immolation in Warsaw of Ryszard Siwiec, who protested against the occupation of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact troops. Moreover, the 15th of September marks a hundred years since the joint performance of Masaryk and Paderewski at Carnegie Hall in New York, where they spoke together on behalf of the "oppressed nations of Central Europe." The joint anniversaries do not end there - this summer marks 40 years since the establishment of cooperation between the anti-communist opposition circles of both countries. In this respect, the Czechs and Poles were precursors of the cooperation of dissident movements in the Soviet bloc countries.

echo_obalky_SPOL.jpg The programme of the Polish-Czech week at Vltava includes an open-air exhibition devoted to the symbols of Polish-Czech relations, an evening at the National Museum honouring the memory of Ryszard Siwiec, a historical and political conference at the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as concerts and film screenings. A special thematic block has been prepared by Czech Radio’s Program 3, which will broadcast live music events. All projects are being organising in the spirit of the slogan "sPOLeCZně" (meaning "together"): Polish and Czech musicians will join forces at the concerts and the Prague premiere of a new Czech-Polish film co-production will be held. Also presented at a comic book exhibition will be the works of Polish authors inspired by Czech history and historical Czech figures who documented the lives of Pilecki and Sendler.

The honorary patrons of the event are the Speaker of the Sejm Marek Kuchciński and the President of the Czech Chamber of Deputies Radek Vondráček, who announced their participation in commemorating Ryszard Siwiec, as well as the foreign ministers of both countries Jacek Czaputowicz and Jan Hamáček.

"It's not about pretending that there have been no conflicts in the last century. But it is worth noting that disputes made us weaker, and cooperation strengthened our voice,” the organisers of the joint project concluded.

Polish Institute in Prague