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  • Faithful to my Homeland, the Republic of Poland

     

  • POLISH DIASPORA IN GEORGIA

  • The origin, structure, number and social situation

    The first significant influx of Polish people to Georgia was connected to political repression under the Russian Empire. The first wave of displaced Poles arrived in “warm Siberia”, as they called the Caucasus, in 1794 after having participated in Kosciuszko’s uprising. The next wave was connected to Napoleon’s war with Russia, when Poles fighting against the empire were sent to Georgia as war prisoners. Their number varies from a few thousand to more than ten thousand, according to different sources. Most of them returned to Poland after the amnesty announced by Tsar Alexander I. The largest migration of Polish displaced patriots was connected with two major uprisings - the January Uprising and the Konarski-Ściegienny plot.

    Apart from forcibly displaced patriots fighting for Poland’s independence, there was significant voluntary migration by people of various professions, such as doctors, teachers, clerks, merchants and others. In Tbilisi alone at the end of the 19th century their number reached around 9,000. Polish diasporas were also present in Kutaisi, Gori, Telavi, Batumi and Signahi.

    The last wave of immigrants came to the Caucasus at the turn of 19th and 20th centuries, when Russia’s economy was booming. These were mostly people seeking job opportunities, such as engineers, scholars, artists and medical staff. Poles left their mark on the cultural and material heritage of the region, including Georgia.

    So, for instance, engineer Fredynand Rydzewski headed the construction of the Surami tunnel – the longest tunnel in Caucasus; biologist Ludwik Mlokosiewicz created the famous nature reserve in Lagodekhi, Kakheti; Lucjan Truszkowski was one of the first professors at the Tbilisi Conservatoire; and in Tbilisi also lived famous painters such as Waliszewski and the Zdanievich brothers.

    Poles often bought properties and married in Georgia. Before World War I, around 8-9,000 Poles was living in Georgia, most of them in Tbilisi, but also in Kutaisi, Akhaltsikhe and Sokhumi. Their social diversity was quite wide, and next to highly educated and well-off Poles were poor and illiterate ones. In the capital, Poles were concentrated mostly around the Catholic church that was built by the diaspora in the 1870s. This church is still functioning and its rector is a Polish priest.

    The first Polish organisation was founded in 1907. After the February Revolution in 1917, several more were created. The diaspora launched a weekly magazine called “Tygodnik Polski”.

    Due to repatriation during the period between 1919 and 1924, most of the Poles returned to their homeland. According to official data, the number of Polish people living in Georgia in 1926 was 3,159. It is undoubtedly not a precise number since the Soviet administration was often defining Poles as Ukrainians or Russians. Also, during Stalin’s rule, people of Polish origin hid their ancestry, fearing repressions.

    Nowadays, according to the latest census, the number of persons declaring their Polish origins throughout the whole of Georgia is around 1,100.

    The Polish diaspora  is an integral part of Georgian multicultural society. They have assimilated both Georgian and Russian influences during the centuries, therefore knowledge of the Polish language amongst the diaspora is scarce. The major centres of inhabitance are Tbilisi, Akhalsikhe,  Gombori, Batumi, Kutaisi and Sokhumi, with smaller numbers living in Tskhinvali, Lagodekhi and Poti.

    Organisations and structures

    In Georgia there are eight officially registered diaspora organisations, among them two on the territory of separatist Abkhazia:

    1. Cultural-Educational Society of Polish People in Georgia Polonia

        3 Sulhan Saba Orbeliani Str., Tbilisi, tel./fax (+ 995 32) 293 37 07

    2. Society of Polish People in Eastern Georgia  

        42 Tabukashvili Str., Akhaltsikhe, tel./fax (+ 995 265) 502 01

     3. Polish School named after Saint Queen Jadwiga

        8 Kikodze Str., Tbilisi, mob. (+ 9955 77) 40 11 30;

    4. Polish Medical Association in Georgia

       8 Kikodze Str., Tbilisi, mob. (+ 9955 77) 72 60 88

    5. Society of Polish People in Kakheti named after L. Młokosiewicz

        8. 300 Aragveli Str.,  Lagodechi, tel.: (+995 254) 254 34, kakheti-union@rambler.ru;

    6. Polish House named after L. Młokosiewicz

    20  Cereteli Str., Lagodechi, tel./fax. (+995 254) 210 30, prawdzic@poczta.onet.pl, urzo@wp.pl;

    7. Center of Polish Culture “White Eagle” Sokhumi

    8. Society of Polish People in Abkhazia “Polish Unity” Sokhumi

    Contact with organisations in Abkhazia is possible only through our office.

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