Assembled at the Congress of Polish Geography, on This Thirteenth Day of April 2018, to mark the Centennial of the Polish Geographical Society and to observe the Year of Polish Geography-2018, We are addressing ourselves to all Geographers of the World with this Jubilee Message.
The Polish Geographical Society celebrates its Centennial in an atmosphere of jubilation and in a feeling of Community. Owing to our Great Ancestors, this Community has acquired a permanent character and has survived for one hundred years. At the onset of Independence that Poland had regained, our Fathers chose to establish an organization that would bring Polish Geographers together and would recognize Geography as a branch of science so much needed in the country when it was rising from captivity. The efforts of our Geographers to unify the territory of the country were received with significant acknowledgement, as much as the demarcation of the Commonwealth’s borders at the Paris Conference of 1919 and 1920. They brought their own share to boost the country’s social, economic and cultural growth and to shape the national and patriotic awareness of the ranks of society and especially of the youth. The generations of Geographers have contributed their own share to the building of Poland as a Free, Independent, Enlightened and Just country.
Throughout World War II, as part of Poland’s intelligentsia Geographers first and foremost came to be repressed by the German and Soviet occupiers. Defying the dangers, the Polish Geographical Society did not stop its work. It was holding its own meetings. Members of the Society were involved in the pursuit of clandestine teaching and held responsible positions in the Polish Underground State as well as in the Home Army. They did not stop in the pursuit of research and fought hard to preserve the national awareness in society. Many of them paid the highest price when the attitude of a Polish Geographer came to be called upon – they gave their own life.
After World War II, the Society was involved in the process of raising Poland from the ruins. Geographers took participation in the elaboration of spatial management projects, in the transformation of the country’s administrative structure, in the forecasts for social and economic changes, in the plans for environment and landscape protection. At the present time, Geographers are involved in working out development strategies and plans at all levels of government and self-government structures. Their research is committed to the examination of natural, social and economic processes as much as to the presentation of natural environment diversification affecting the earth, by means of which they join important missions of exploratory and research character. They work out strategies to prevent the adverse effects of threats to the earth.
The Society’s overriding objective has always to promote the geographic awareness in society, and it guides itself by the spirit of responsibility for human impact upon the earth and upon communities. To this effect, Geography Olympiads for high school students have played a grossly educative role since 1974 and thus help to disseminate the knowledge of geography among the young generations. Young Poles have scored individual and group wins at the International Geography Olympiads, thereby helping to promote Polish Geography in the world at large.
The Polish Geographical Society has made a significant contribution to world geography. Since 1924 it has worked closely with the International Geographical Union. A number of Polish scholars have been senior officers in the IGU, including the office of President. After the war, despite the iron curtain, Polish Geographers were successfully promoting international activities. By1989 Poland was the venue of meetings for Geographers of East and West. The Polish Geographical Society welcomed the establishment of the Association of Geographical Societies in Europe, in 1997. We are happy to be taking part in its proceedings. It is a sign of EUGEO’S recognition for the Polish Geographic Society that the EUGEO President and its senior officers are attending this Congress. Through scientific and personal contacts as well as through joint research projects and field trips, world Geographers enjoy the sense of strong ties which often take the form of long-lasting friendship.
The Polish Geographical Society is proud to say that our community has preserved unity without having to yield to political pressure, despite historical ups and downs. In their research work Geographers have always striven for the Truth and for the will to serve the people. It is a somber reminder for world Geography that in the totalitarian countries some prominent Geographers went off the right path to betray their ethical, honest commitment to research, and subordinating to criminal ideologies either of the fascist or communist brand. Having in mind those bitter experiences, Polish Geographers are urging others to close their work places and their societies not to admit bad ideologies and policies with the loads of hatred that close our mouths. Let us not succumb to falsehoods and captivity. Let us not reject freedom, including the freedom of research and speech!
Geography’s honored traditions in Poland. We need to remember its most prominent successes. The Congress is a good time to think about challenges that will face us in the future. And we celebrate the Jubilee in the feeling of pride over the achievement of those aims that the Founders of the Society laid out in 1918. The scientific accomplishments of problem committees and branch offices lay a solid foundation on which to strengthen the Society’s status in public perception, in the life of the country and on a global scale.
We long for Geography, a beautiful and appealing branch of science, to reclaim its place. In society, in the economic domain and in culture. We need to make all people aware that the world without Geography is a defective and poor construct. Geography cannot be removed from social perception And it is dependent on us, as Geographers of this generation and of future generations, to secure a unique place in the time ahead.