Virtual Museum

Wirtualne Muzeum

Virtual Museum




    Zygmunt Nowakowski’s speech at the Polish Independence Day celebrations on November 20, 1955 in Manchester

    We want to come back. We all want to come back. England or any of the 37 countries of our dispersion is not our home. It’s just a rest, quarters, a place to stay. Poland is our home. In spite of the long distance, we are thought and soul only in Poland.

    One is not a Pole by chance, but one is a Pole out of pride, honour, out of love, out of every heartbeat that says: If we were to be born for the second, tenth or hundredth time, we would like to be born Poles, only Poles.

    Anyone who is a Pole must draw all, even painful, consequences from this fact. Must drink the cup, sea of bitterness. To the bottom. We are prepared for it.

    The appeals of the Warsaw propaganda claim that we are not returning only because we are afraid of scarcity and difficult living conditions in Poland. It’s false.

    Homeland for us is not abundance and comfort, it is not a soft bed, it is not a bowl of greasy food, it is not a full mug, it is not a bank account.

    Homeland can be a piece of bread, as long as we work for this bread in this city, in this village, from which we left and to which we want to return.

    What else is Homeland for us? A great poet who worked in England as an unskilled worker nearly a hundred years ago – Norwid described it best. He said: Homeland for Poles is one great, collective duty.

    They lure us, deceive and lure us, calling: Come back, let’s build together our own, Polish, whole house. Falsehood. This house is neither common, nor own, nor Polish, nor is it whole. Where is a  Pole born in Lviv or Krzemieniec supposed to return? Where is a Pole who was born in Vilnius or Nowogródek supposed to return? Whoever returns in the present conditions accepts the loss of these two cities, which are the heart and soul of Poland.

    Propaganda [in communist Poland] claims that we are digging a gap between Poland and us. Not true. We and Poles in Poland are brothers. We know how to distinguish the wheat from the chaff, the nation form the imposed government. We think and feel the same as them, as Poles in the country. The only difference is that we can not only think and feel, but speak, but cry aloud, while they must remain silent. They are Poland in captivity, We are living bondage protest.

    Propaganda plays on the most sensitive chord of longing. Well, true. We miss it unspeakably. Who would not miss the Vistula, the Niemno, the Tatra Mountains, what for all of us is the most beautiful under the sun.

    Let them not tell us about longing, because they do not know what longing is. They do not know what violence we must inflict on our own heart.

    Come back? Ah, we would go back today. Immediately. In a second. But to real Poland, not to some seventeenth Soviet republic.

    We believe in God, unwaveringly. In this God, whom the government imposed on Poland wants to expel from our country. We believe, unwaveringly, that this God – maybe slow, but fair – will allow us to return to a free, independent and whole Poland.

    Zygmunt Nowakowski

    Manchester, November 20, 1955

    The speech was delivered at a ceremony organized by the Association of Polish Veterans in Great Britain in Manchester with the participation of General Władysław Anders, numerous Polish combatants and Poles, as well as flag posts of the 2nd Corps, General Maczek’s 1st Armoured Division and Polish organisations in Great Britain.

    Zygmunt Nowakowski (January 22, 1891 – October 4, 1963) – Polish writer, publicist and actor. From September 1939 he lived in exile in France and then in London, where he died. Author of many widely read novels, friend of children. He did not return to post-war Poland because he could not come to terms with the communism imposed by the Soviets. He missed his homeland until the end of his days. In accordance with his will, he was buried at the Rakowicki Cemetery in Cracow, Poland.

    source: Radio Free Europe archives

    compiled by: Aneta Hoffmann

    Skip to content