Scouting in Poland

Scouting in Poland

The Scouting and Guiding movement in Poland consists of about twelve independent organizations with an overall membership of 190,000 Scouts and Guides.

couting organizations

* "Federacja Drużyn im. Cichociemnych"
* "Harcerski Ruch Ochrony Środowiska" []
* "Harcerstwo Polskie"
* "Krąg "Leśna Szkółka - Drzewo Pokoju", member of the Order of World Scouts
* "Organizacja Harcerska "Rodło" []
* "Plast-Ukrainian Scouting in Poland", affiliated to Plast
* "Royal Rangers Poland", affiliated to Royal Rangers International
* "Stowarzyszenie Harcerskie" []
* Stowarzyszenie Harcerstwa Katolickiego-Zawisza, member of the UIGSE []
* "Szczep Czerwonych Maków im. Bohaterów Monte Cassino"
* Związek Harcerstwa Polskiego (ZHP), member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and of the International Scout and Guide Fellowship, 170,000 members [cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = Sep 2006 | url = | title = Some statistics | format = | work = | publisher = World Organization of the Scout Movement | accessdate = 2006-12-07] Czech Republic)
* "Niezależny Hufiec Harcerstwa Polskiego "LS-Kaszuby" in Sweden
* "Związek Harcerstwa Polskiego na Litwie" (ZHPnL, Polish Scouting in Lithuania
* "Związek Harcerstwa Polskiego Poza Granicami Kraju" (not affiliated to Związek Harcerstwa Polskiego in Poland) with chapters in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States;Związek Harcerstwa Rzeczypospolitej in Poland)

International Scouting units in Poland

In addition, there are USA Girl Scouts Overseas in Warsaw, serviced by way of USAGSO headquarters in New York; American Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts linked to the Horizon District of the Transatlantic Council of the Boy Scouts of America, which supports units in west-and-central Europe, the Near East and North Africa.

History of the Scout movement in Poland

Falcons Association

An important group dedicated to independence in Greater Poland became the "Polish Gymnastic Society "Falcon" ( _pl. Polskie Towarzystwo Gimnastyczne "Sokół". The group's goal was to develop fitness, both physically and mentally, with a motto “mens sana in corpore sano” (a fit spirit in a fit body).

The Falcon idea came to Greater Poland from Małopolska (Polonia Minor, the province under Austrian rule, also known as Galicia). In Germany, the Falcon movement from the beginning met with police persecutions, controls, harassment and provocations. This stopped only after the Falcons accepted constant police supervision another change was that only adults could become members. Because of this, the Association of Falcon nests president Bernard Chrzanowski and 1st Vice-president Ksawery Zakrzewski, suggested the setting up independent Youth organizations, which could for a nominal pay, rent the yards and gymnastic chambers by hours and days.

Police began to harass and persecute the organization and for a time forbade any further activeness. Attorney Chrzanowski argued that the police had no proof and could present no link, neither personal nor financial, between the organizations. He conducted the case all the way to the Supreme Court of Justice in Berlin.

It was shown that the president of "Iskra", Kazimierz Syller, "Brzask" Stanisław Szulc, and of "Ogniwo" (The Link) Edmund Maćkowiak, nor any other adult member were never members of Falcon Society. The jury canceled the ruling, but his caused even more harassment from the Police and attempts to penetrate the organizations by informers began.

Beginning of the Scout movement

Meanwhile, Bernard Chrzanowski and Ksawery Zakrzewski came on a new idea to create a Scout movement in the area. By then, the Scout movement already was held in high regard across the world. On October 17 in the flat of Henry Śniegocki came into existence the first organization of Greater Poland Boy Scouts, formed by Cezary Jindra, Henryk Śniegocki, Wincenty Wierzejewski, Edmund Weclawski, Leonard Skowroński and Tadeusz Wolski.

Before, in September 1912, Tadeusz Strumiłło and Jerzy Grodyński helped to start the Scouts movement in Greater Poland. At first the roles they divided as between friends, alternating. Gradually, more and more authority fell upon Wincenty Wierzejewski. In 1915, Wierzejewski deserted from the Army and made Scouting first priority. Henryk Śniegocki became with time his "alter ego", a dedicated and trusted proxy. Also the other members accepted his leadership. They gained more outstanding people, for example Jan Konkolewski, who previously collected a group of boys dedicated to diversion and sabotage of the German Arm The so called "Zouaves". By 1913, the patrol grew to a troop, including patrols named after Bolesław the Brave, Kazimierz the Great and Mieszko the First. Next the troop became a group, and the patrols increased to troops. The second troop was named after Władysław Jagiełło.

Soon formed more patrols growing to troops. Despite the quick, rapid growth the Scouts remained in hiding, acting illegally. The same happened also with two troops of Girl Guides, named after Emilia Plater and Queen Jadwiga.

At first the Scouts did not have a standardized uniform, as some of the formed groups wanted to remain independent. However, all the groups accepted similar dressing and design, the worldwide scout badge with a lily and extra letters ONC, meaning Motherland, Science (study) and Virtue (merit). The program set up of three parts, the common Scout idea, the science, especially study of national history and language with national values and basic military training, with reference to freedom insurgent traditions.

The rapid development and popularity of Boy Scouts continued to grow up to 1914, but was interrupted by start of WW I.

World War I

Around the end of 1914 and the beginning of the 1915, the Scout movement resumed, but continued in hiding. The temporary interruption caused not exactly by the imposed martial law, but mainly the absence of the mature leadership, mobilized in the German Army.

In January 1915, Henryk Śniegocki came back from the front on sick leave and managed to extend his leave by the local medical committee. A few weeks later the wounded Wierzejewski turned up for a treatment. After recovery, he decided to desert. Henryk Śniegocki, who now took the command of the Scout troops after Wierzejewski, tried to make the status of scoutting legal with the pretext of caring for the boys whose fathers mobilized the Army, but without success. Bronisław Drwęski, commanding the II Scout troop named after Kazimierz the Great, died a few days after serving a 3 months prison term.

On April 2, 1916 they created MKS, the Local Scouts Command, including all troops from the city and aiding, if necessary, the troops from province.

In November 1915, Ksawery Zakrzewski died and Wincenty Wierzejewski took his place as leader. Henryk Śniegocki took command of the Scout Groups. Thanks to the aid of Józef Kostrzewski, Wierzejewski arranged a secret den in the Museum of PSFAS (Poznań Society of Friends of Arts and Sciences) and lived there. He also took a calculated risk himself, on the strength of self-produced passport and travel document tried cross the border to Switzerland and contact the Polish Aid Committee.

By the end of 1916 the integration progressed further, resulting in constituting a secret Headquarter of Scouts on the German Reich (territory). Occasionally it turned out, that it contains 83 troops with about 2600 members, already more as in 1914, still growning.

Post-World War I

Henryk Śniegocki became the Chief of Scouts troop in the Directorate of Greater-Poland Scout Troops (with Anna Krysiewicz, commanding the Girl Guides). In July 1919 he was one of three delegates for the meeting, resulting in merger of Greater-Poland Scouts with the ZHP. However, in 1920 he volunteered, as already experienced organizer to the plebiscite of the Mazurs and next, fought in the and .

In the newly formed Poland, he became a teacher in the primary school, at the same time continuing the Scout work. A few years, he again commanded the Greater-Poland Banner, but not for long. With the ruling Sanacja unfriendly, he became transferred away from Poznań and had to resign from the honorable Scout role. He appealed to the court justice, won several times, but only to be sent again and again a longer distance, in "interest of the school" behind the Pińsk, where he could understand not yet the children local slang. Finally won the case and came back to Poznań, but after years. Yet this maybe, allowed him to outlive the first occupation, imprisoned and displaced, he survived in Częstochowa. Then came back to Poznań and again, after short work, became deposited of by the communist Government, both from the Scouts as well from school. The rest of life he fought for the truth in the history commissions.

The scientific achievements of Professor from the Poznań University, Kostrzewski diminished his share in the freedom and independence movement, which was eminent. However, it deserves memory and he continued this task. At the University, he became one of initiators and caretakers of the Academickie Koło Harcerskie (Academician Scout Circle – of instructors). This was the bunch, which formed people, leading in the World War II the famous "Szare Szeregi" (Gray Lines) the secret Scout organization. Another's created the secret organization “Ojczyzna” (The Motherland), a cadre for longtime task, which after bloody liquidation of almost all secret societies in Greater-Poland represented the province in the Underground State and continued the basic works. In the following second occupation, they managed to create The Western Institute.


ee also

*Scouting in displaced persons camps


*abstract from "The Memoirs of Scoutmaster Henryk Śniegocki", Poznań, Poland, 1971.
* [ The Secret History of WWII]

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