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Tuesday, 20 September 2005

Decoration of Jan Ciechanowski at the Presidential Palace

On 20 September 2005, the President of the Republic of Poland, Aleksander Kwaśniewski, conferred the Grand Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta upon Jan Ciechanowski in recognition of his accomplishments in promoting Polish history and national traditions, notably of his successes in commemorating Polish-British intelligence co-operation during World War II.
Addressing those present, the President of the Republic of Poland said:
Allow me to say how pleased I am to honour thus today, on behalf of the Republic of Poland, Professor Jan Ciechanowski, a Home Army soldier and insurgent in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, an outstanding historian and a prominent representative of the Polish community in Britain. This honourable decoration, the Grand Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta, is a modest token of gratitude for all that you have done for your Country, driven by patriotism and civic spirit. I welcome all the persons accompanying you here and all the guests present at this ceremony.
From the distance of the country of emigration, Professor Jan Ciechanowski has always, sparing no effort, put his knowledge, talent and writings at the service of Poland. We owe you a debt of gratitude, Professor, for promoting Poland in the British opinion-making circles, for your much-needed efforts at the time when we were seeking NATO and European Union membership. We are grateful for the active support you lent to our national aspirations at that time.
Even though you have been absent from the Country for so many years, you have in fact always remained close to it, and this sentiment has been reflected in your passion: studies on Poland’s most recent history. Your book on the Warsaw Uprising has provoked a lot of debates and polemics, not only among historians. In carrying out an in-depth analysis of its political and military determinants, you had the courage, the great courage, to enter into a polemic with a myth, and to ask questions about the ultimate meaning of this rising of the people of the capital with its tragic consequences. Your courage, which I am underlining here, is extraordinary; and we do need this courage of yours today, too, for the era of myths is far from over. Indeed, myths are being disseminated more and more widely.
I am impressed by your unremitting efforts, which are by no means limited to the field of writing and political commentary. I also have great respect for you, Professor, for your participation in the proceedings of the Polish-British Historical Commission, with whose report we could acquaint ourselves not long ago.
This report is a triumph of the truth. At long last, sixty years after the end of World War II, we were finally granted an official recognition of how much the British owed to the Polish intelligence service, to Polish mathematicians and cryptologists. I do hope that this valuable document, which you co-authored, will open a new chapter in studies on Poland’s role in the Allied camp; on our, much as I regret to say so, frequently underestimated contribution to the victory over the Third Reich.
Professor Ciechanowski, I would like to congratulate you once again on this decoration: please regard it as a token of gratitude on the part of Poland and the Polish people for your loyalty to our Country and for your concern for Her good repute. I wish you good health; I wish you energy in carrying on your life’s work. We will be looking forward to your new publications, to your next books, for they are important for us; they give us a better insight into the historical truth, help us better appreciate the intricacies of Polish history and thus help us better understand ourselves. For all this, we are deeply grateful to you, Professor. Professor Ciechanowski, on behalf of the Republic of Poland, we thank you and wish you all the best.
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