February 19, 2018




Nicolaus Copernicus (dob) was a Polish mathematician and astronomer who formulated a model of the universe that placed the Sun rather than the Earth at the center of the universe.  His theory was likely independently of Aristarchus of Samos, who had formulated such a model about eighteen centuries earlier.  From 1491, Copernicus attended the University of Krakow (now Jagiellonian University  ) His studies gave him a thorough grounding in the mathematical astronomy, (arithmetic, geometry, geometric optics, cosmography, theoretical and computational astronomy) and a good knowledge of the philosophical and natural-science writings of Aristotle (De coelo, Metaphysics) and Averroes (which in the future would play an important role in the shaping of Copernicus' theory), It stimulated his interest in learning, making him conversant with humanistic culture as well.  For many years Copernicus was advisor to the Royal Prussian sejmik regarding monetary reform. In 1526 he wrote an analysis on the value of money entitled, "Monetae cudendae ratio". The theory he proposed was created several decades before that of Thomas Gresham. Copernicus also established a quantity theory of money, which is recognized today as the principal concept in economics.  His recommendations on monetary reform were held in the highest regards by political leaders of Prussia and Poland in his time.


Having already inherited the throne of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth through his mother, Catherine Jagellonica of Poland, Sigismund III of the House of Vasa was crowned King of Sweden, succeeding his father John III of Sweden. (Note: Sigismund was crowned King of Sweden on the condition that he promise to respect Lutheranism as the official religion of Sweden. Though Sigismund was King of Sweden he remained in Poland, and appointed his uncle Duke Charles to rule on his behalf.  Tensions soon escalated in Sweden about his devout Catholicism. Swedes became suspicious that Sigismund had the goal of ultimately making Sweden Catholic again.  He was deposed from the Swedish throne by his uncle, Charles IX of Sweden, and despite his efforts could not reclaim it. He  invaded Russia, occupying Moscow for two years (1610–12) and followed by Smolensk.  The Polish–Swedish conflict broke out again in 1617, while Sigismund's army was also battling against the Ottomans in Moldavia (1617 to 1621).  In 1621 King Gustavus II Adolphus of Sweden (Charles IX's son) invaded Sigismund's lands, seizing almost all of Polish Livonia, and capturing Riga..


Signing of the Franco-Polish alliance in Paris. It was a political alliance signed by Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Count Eustachy Sapieha and his French counterpart Aristide Briand. They recognized common foreign policies, promotion of bilateral economical contacts,  and agreement to consult on new pacts concerning Central and Eastern Europe (should one of the signatories become the victim of an unprovoked attack.) Two days later a secret pact was included that clarified possible threats from both Germany and the Soviet Union.  In case of aggression on Poland, France would keep the communication lines free and keep Germany in check, but it was not required to send its troops or to declare war.


Władysław Bartoszewski (dob) was a Polish politician, social activist, journalist, writer and historian. A former Auschwitz concentration camp prisoner, he became a soldier in the Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa) and fought in the Warsaw Uprising. Bartoszewski worked with the Front for the Rebirth of Poland in the Provisional Committee for Aid to Jews, an organization which was succeeded by the Council for Aid to Jews (code-named Żegota). Its mission was to help save the Jews by sheltering them, or helping them to escape. They operated under the auspices of the Polish Government in Exile through the Delegatura, which was located in Warsaw. In 1945, Bartoszewski embarked on a cooperation with the Institute of National Remembrance at the presidium of the government and the Head Commission of Examination of German Crimes in Poland.  He provided valuable information to the allies regarding the German occupation, the German concentration camps and prisons, and Nazi crimes perpetrated against the Jews.  In 1943, he replaced Witold Bieńkowski in the Jewish Department of the Delegatura. After the war he was persecuted and imprisoned by the communist Polish People's Republic because of his allegiance to the Home Army and his opposition to the Soviet invasion. After the collapse of the communist regime, Bartoszewski served twice as the Minister of Foreign Affairs from March through December 1995 and again from 2000 to 2001. He was also an ambassador and a member of the Polish Senate. Bartoszewski was a close ally and friend of Polish anti-Communist activist and later president, Lech Wałęsa. He has been given honorary citizenship in Israel, and has received numerous international awards including the prestigious Order of the White Double Cross, 2nd class, the highest Polish medal of honor..


Communist controlled government in Poland adopted the Small Constitution of 1947.  The Polish Constitution of 1935 was declared null and void and criticized by the Soviet regime as being fascist.  The small constitution was presented as a temporary constitution issued by the communist-dominated Sejm (Polish parliament) of 1947-1952 which claimed to support the separation of powers of government and a stronger Sejm. The Soviets renewed it in 1949, 1950 and again in 1951. It was eventually replaced in 1952 by the Constitution of the People's Republic of Poland.


US  President Reagan lifted economic sanctions against Poland on this day and referred to his decision as a reward to the Polish government for having released political prisoners, and for other gestures of reconciliation with supporters of the outlawed Solidarnosc trade union (Solidarity)  and the Roman Catholic Church. Reagan's decision was to reduce tariffs on the importation of some Polish goods, and allow Poland to apply for loans from American banks. (The sanctions had been imposed after the imposition of martial law in Poland by Jaruzelski  in 1981 and 1982.)

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