Polish Pioneers/Scouts (1945-89)

Figure 1.-- This photo was made in 1952 in Leba, a Polish town in Pomerania (once part of Prussia) on the Baltic coast. I'm not sure what the banner announces, but the celebration must have some sort of political meaning since the photograph was taken when the country was under Soviet control. The object tgey are carrying seems to say 'PLAN", but we are not positive. We see what I think is a Young Pioneer boy at far right with a tan uniform, neckerchief, and brown long stockings (obviously worn with a bodice and supporters). Note the boy's cap at the right. Yje boy further back in the column is wearing what looks more like a school cap. That was the Polish Scout cap. We think the Pioneers also adopted it. It would be nice if one of our readers could identify the slogan on the banner.

The Polish Scouts (ZHP) and Guides were the most important Polish youth organization before World War II. After the German abd Soviet invasions (September 1939), security forces began arresting Scout leaders many were shot. Boys found wearing uniforms are involved in cladesrine operations were also arrested and nany were shot. Here German officers varied somewhat. This was done by both NAZI security organizations and the Soviet NKVD in their respective occupation zines. After the Red Army drive the Germans out of Poland (1945) the ZHP reorganized in the areas designated for the new Polish state by Stalin. The Communist authorities tolerated the independent ZHP ar first. Communist policy was not to allow independent organizations not under state/party control, especially when children were concerned. Communist authorities attempted to convince the ZHP organization to affiliate with the Communist Pioneer Movement. The ZHP was a highly respected orhanization in Poland and this would have lent considerable prestige to a new Pioneer Movement. When the ZHP refused, authorities banned the organization (1949). They began building a Polish Pioneer Movement along the lines of the Soviet Pioneers from the ground up. The Polish Pioneers were named the Organizacja Harcerska Związku Młodzieży Polskiej (ZMP-OH). Participation in the Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries was virtually compulsory as it was a school-based program. We do not yet have details on Poland. The same process occurred elsewhere in the Soviet Eastern European empire. Ourvinformation is limited, but the ZMP-OH appears to have adopted many features of Polish Scouting in part, because this was the youthbgroup that most Poles were famikar with. And many bPolish teachers had been Scouts or Scouts leader Stalin insituted severe policies througouth Eastern Europe to stamp out any resistance to Soviet control and the local Communists Stalin placed in power. In Poland this was Bolesław Bierut, an NKVD agent, and hard-line Stalinist who Stalin chose as President of Poland. Stalin died (1953) and Bierut (1956). This was just as Khruchev launched the De-Stalinization process in the Soviet Union. This led to some liberalization theougout Eastern Europe, especially in Poland. This included the ZMP-OH. Some changes were made and it was remamed the ZHP, the old name of Polish Scouting. This was largely a superficial change. The new ZHP was not arevivalmof Polish Scouting and did not see itself as such, even though uniquely in Eastern Europe it kept the Scout and Guide name. Surviving pre-War ZHP Scouters were still part of the organization. The Scouting name was adopted, but the new organizatiin began the process of building a truly Communist organization in ernest. The Scout oath, law, educational content and methods were changed. This include removing God from the oath and religion from the program. Lenin Russian leader (who waged war against Poland) was introduced as a hero for Polish children. The Bolshevik Revolution was lionized. The troops were renajed brigades ahd the movement became ceducational. The new ZHP then began dismissing pre-War Scout leaders from the new ZHP or marginalizing those not removed (beginning in 1958). Despite the best efforts of Communist officials, they never fully turned the ZHP into a reliable Communist organ. The ZHP was a rare organization in Easter Eutope that maintained a degree of independence from the Communist Party. The traditiions were too strong as well as the number of Poles whobwee Scouts and Guides as children and youth. As aresult, it was popular with Polish youth. At the time of tge Solidarity rising, there werec3 million members (1980). The ZHP took on many duties, such as helping with harvests, especuallybin poor rural reguons. They also helped organize the visits of Pope John Paul II which Communist authorities were not interested in promoting. Communist authorities to supress Solidarity and prevent a Soviet invasion declared martial law (1981). The ZHP was the only important social organization not to shit down. ZHP at ita 8th Convention endorsed martial law, but herecthey had no option. Many important ZHP officials were interned because of their involvement in the Solidarność movement. Communist authorities finally agreed to relinquish power. A process of peaceful transition began (1989). The ZHP organization splintered . Some Scoutrs believed that top HP leasers and other Scouters had cooperated too closly with Communist officials and did not want to be associated with them. .


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Created: 6:24 AM 2/29/2012
Last updated: 6:24 AM 2/29/2012