The ceremonial decoration of the laureates of the "Ambassador of Polish History”Award took place on 17 October 2023 at the Royal Łazienki Park in Warsaw.
The international "Ambassador of Polish History" award is an honorary distinction established in by the IPN's President. It is granted to individuals and organizations in recognition of their outstanding contribution to commemorating the history of the Polish Nation and supporting the IPN in its statutory activities in the field of research and education.
The award is presented to individuals and institutions active outside Poland and especially involved in cultivating Polish historical memory, committed to preserving, promoting and enhancing the knowledge of the recent history of Poland, and to uncovering forgotten facts and persons who have rendered great services to the Polish Nation.
„Polish history is beautiful just like this palace, it is also tragic, it is also at times cruel, but at the same time the fact that we are all here today shows the vitality of our nation and our state. We are able to rise from the most difficult periods and the most difficult defeats," said Mateusz Szpytma.
The IPN was also represented by the other Deputy President, Karol Polejowski. The ceremony was also attended among others by the minister in the Chancellery of the Prime Minister responsible for the Polish diaspora, Jan Dziedziczak, Under Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jarosław Lindenberg, Swedish Ambassador-designate to Poland Andreas von Beckerath.
This year's laureates are:
Anna Alwast (posthumously)
Anna Alwast dedicated a significant part of her life to the Canadian Polish community. Through her social activities, including serving as Secretary General of the Canadian Polish Congress and as President of the Adam Mickiewicz Foundation in Canada, she sought to restore the memory of her lost homeland, the Eastern Borderlands of the Second Polish Republic. Together with her husband Krzysztof Alwast, she researched the fate of the families of Sybiraks [people resettled to Siberia] and relatives of the victims of the Katyń massacre settled in Canada. The work resulted in a two-volume monograph.
Constantly active, Anna Alwast was involved in many activities. She supported the construction of monuments, funded many commemorative plaques, worked with charitable organisations, looked after the graves of Polish veterans in Toronto and participated in patriotic ceremonies. Through her involvement, she sought to strengthen the ties between the Polish community and its homeland and to disseminate Polish history and culture in Canada.
She died suddenly in October 2021 in Gdańsk. Her active social life, educational and cultural activities and her contribution to the commemoration of the history of Poland and Poles remain her legacy.
The Polish-Italian Association in Apulia
The Polish-Italian Association in Apulia focuses on disseminating Polish culture in Apulia and promoting a positive image of Poland in Italy. It organises Polish language courses for children and adults, as well as integration meetings for the Apulian Polish community, during which participants learn about Polish history, literature and culture. For the past seven years, the annual Polish-Italian Culture Week, dedicated to presenting Polish history, has been held at the Association's initiative. Thanks to the Association's cooperation with the Institute of National Remembrance and the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum, exhibitions about prisoners of extermination camps, the history of Solidarity and the first pilgrimage of John Paul II to Poland were presented in the region.
The Polish-Italian Association in Apulia is planning further initiatives, such as exhibitions on the Polish anthem, film screenings on Polish history and the commemoration of the victims of the Katyń massacre and the Smoleńsk disaster with a plaque in Bari.
In cooperation with the Institute of National Remembrance, the exhibition “The Katyń Massacre of 1940. The extermination of the Polish elites” and the feature film about Józef Mackiewicz “The Black Ceiling” will be shown on the occasion of Independence Day. During the 8th edition of the Polish-Italian Culture Week, the IPN exhibition “Trails of Hope. The Odyssey of Freedom” will be presented.
Artur Szulc has been working in Sweden for many years to commemorate Polish history. His books, articles and online lectures prepared in cooperation with the Polish Institute in Stockholm contribute to the dissemination of knowledge of Polish history among Swedish audiences. With a long history of regular lectures and appearances on podcasts and Swedish radio, as well as opinion-forming articles in media such as “Göteborgs Posten” and “Opulens” magazine, he brings Swedes closer to the Polish contribution to the victory over the Third German Reich, the history of “Solidarity” and the overthrow of communism in Europe, the Warsaw Uprising, and the extermination of Jews on Polish lands under German occupation.
Artur Szulc is a multiple scholarship holder of the Swedish Writers' Fund and a recipient of distinctions awarded by the Swedish Polish community and the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His commitment to historical research was honoured in 2022 with a silver BohaterON award in the Pasjonat [Passionate] category.
Founder and president of the “Pamięć” [Memory] Association in the United States and editor-in-chief of the Pamiec.us portal. On his initiative, a memorial to the Indomitable Soldiers was erected in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, a Polish-American Forum was organised and a "Remember the Veterans" campaign was held, during which the graves of Polish veterans were tidied up and decorated with white and red ribbons. The “Pamięć” Association, founded by Grzegorz Tymiński, strengthens historical awareness among the Polish community living in the USA and Canada by restoring the memory of the Indomitable Soldiers and commemorating heroes, veterans and political emigrants residing in the United States.
Grzegorz Tymiński also carries out educational activities among students of Polish Saturday schools. He organises meetings during which he speaks about Polish history, including the soldiers of the independence underground, Blessed Father Jerzy Popiełuszko, the victims of martial law and the Katyń Massacre, the Wołyń Massacre and the Augustów Manhunt
As part of his cooperation with the Institute of National Remembrance, Tymiński coordinates the “Zapal światło wolności” [Light the Light of Freedom] campaign in the United States to commemorate the introduction of martial law, and also looks after the IPN's History Stop in New York, where IPN employees organise lessons for Polish school students and classes for teachers and educators.
Republic of South Africa
A Polish community activist whose social achievements prove his rare dedication to promoting Polish culture and history abroad. He began his social work in 1984, when he emigrated from Poland to West Germany. There he quickly established contact with the Polish community and became involved in helping the Polish Catholic Mission. Already then, his efforts were mainly directed towards organising material support for the underground "Solidarity" movement and cultivating Polish traditions and customs.
From 1986, he continued his involvement in the Polish community in South Africa. He joined the Polish Association Vaal Triangle, which assisted Poles emigrating to South Africa and maintained national awareness and cultivated Polish holidays and customs.
In 2002, he became a founding member of the Polish Heritage Foundation in South Africa (FDP), whose activities are closely aligned with the statutory mission of the Institute of National Remembrance. The Foundation collects, archives and digitalises documents and other archives documenting the activities of the South African Polish community. Jacek Fastyn's persistence and diligence in digitising the FDP's collections and archives and organising exhibitions confirm his passion for discovering, preserving and disseminating Polish heritage abroad.
In 2000, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta.
The Association of Poles in Italy
The Association of Poles in Italy (ZPwW) has been nurturing Polish tradition and history on Italian soil for almost 30 years. The organisation pays special tribute to the history and achievements of the 2nd Polish Corps, commemorating the participation of General Anders' soldiers in the liberation of Italy. On the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Monte Cassino, the ZPwW, together with sponsors from around the world and with the support of the Polish Embassy at the Quirinal, opened the 2nd Polish Corps Memorial Museum at the Polish War Cemetery on Monte Cassino. The Museum's permanent exhibition presents the history of General Władysław Anders' soldiers, while interactive multimedia kiosks with archival material offer the opportunity to search for soldiers' graves in four war cemeteries in Italy. The museum is visited by tourists from all over the world, including Italian schoolchildren.
The history of the 2nd Polish Corps is also featured in the pages of “Polonia Włoska” [Italian Polish Community] - the ZPwW's newsletter published in two languages, Polish and Italian. In addition to news concerning the Italian Polish community, it publishes historical texts, memoirs and information about war cemeteries. The newsletter reaches audiences in Italy and institutions in Poland and around the world.
Thanks to the above-mentioned initiatives, the Association of Poles in Italy actively contributes to the dissemination of Polish history and culture among the Italian and international community.