** Polish boy scouts

Communist Poland: Youth Group Personal Experiences

Figure 1.--Here we see a parade of a Polish youth group unit somewhere in Poland during 1952. We ae not sure what PLAN meant. We think it means plan or project, presumably some kind of Cimmunist effort at the time, probably similar to Stalin's Five Year Plan in the Soviet Union. Notice that the boy in front is wearing the pre-War Scout uniform.

A Polish reader provides some derails on his youth group experiences fduring the Communist era.

The first Polisdh Scout groups were established in the Austrian partition before the World War I. In tyhe revived Polish state (1918-39) the Polish Scouting Association (ZHP) was a fairly large organization, but still a largely middle-class movement (the uniform cost a lot). With the Communist take over (1939-45, the ZHP acted illegally under the name of Szare Szere-gi. The two best battalions of the Warsaw Uprising, 'Zośka' and 'Parasol'", consisted of members of the Gray Ranks. (They were mostly over age 18 years, sometimes 16-18. Stories of little boys being involved in fights are a myth.) During Communism, the ZHP continued to operate. In 1946 in Szczecin, during a political demonstration, Scouts interrupted Bolesław Bierut's speech, shouting anti-Communist taunts. The government wanted to dissolve the ZHP, but hesitted. In 1948, youth organizations were forcibly united. A communist Polish Youth Union (ZMP) was established. The vast majority of high school and college students joined this organization. Here my mother got involvd. his is what her teachers advised (if you want to pass the university exam, then sign up). All the students in her class signed up. They both participated in the meetings of the Union of Youth, but went to church on Sunday. (One of the students was expelled from the Union of Polish Youth and from school for the fact that her father, a fairly wealthy farmer, brought her to school every day in a horse-drawn carriage. It was decided that it was against the principles of Socialism. She should walk.) The ZHP was not united with the ZMP. It operated separately, but only in primary schools. In 1950, the ZHP was incorporated into the ZMP as the Scouting Organization of the ZMP. They were modeled on the Soviet Pioneers, new uniforms were introduced - a white shirt, a red scarf around the neck. The old Scout uniforms could be used - for example, on trips. There were probably strong pressure for all students to belong to this organization. In 1956, the ZMP broke up / was liquidated (these were games between groups of communists fighting for power, Gomułka's group came to power - relatively liberal). Several new youth organizations have been established. ZHP returned to the old rules and uniforms (it was not difficult, it turned out that the communists forgot to change the organization's statute). There was no obligation to belong to the ZHP, but school principals were held accountable by the superior authorities - how many organizations operate in the school and how many students belong. When I was attending primary school (students aged 7-15), the headmaster ordered the physics teacher to organize a Scout team (in English schools there is a science subject, in Polish schools there were three separate subjects - biology, physics, and chemistry). The teacher was a tutor of one of the classes, she told all students of that class to enroll in Scouting, and they signed up. (In Polish schools there was a function of the class tutor. Yhis was a designated teacher in a given class who took care of discipline, accounted for absences, communicated with parents, gave grades for exercise.) Students who joined Scouting had to wear uniforms at school. They should consist of many elements - a sweatshirt, a scarf, a belt, a cord to indicate the function, caps, etc. But no one wanted to wear it all. They usdually only wore green sweatshirts like regular shirts. It was enough - as proof that there is a team at the school. There were no meetings, the team was practically non-existent. My class teacher was a teacher of Russian. She told us to sign up for the Polish-Soviet Friendship Society. Everyone signed up. Only I refused. I didn't have any problems because of it. The organization did not really exist, there were no meetings. At the request of my biology teacher, I joined the League of Nature Conservation. Everyone in my class signed up, we had to pay an annual fee of PLN 1 (bread cost PLN 4), we got card cards. Most of my friends tore them right away. There have never been any meetings. Meetings of youth organizations should be held in the afternoon. The director finished work at 3 o'clock and went home. He didn't feel like working too long. So the teachers went home too. Why work too much? When I was in high school, Scouting was very intense there. Many students belonged, there was no compulsion. Meetings, trips and summer camps were organized. Everything was done by a few teachers who liked it. Politics was avoided. Team members wore uniforms in accordance with the regulations, but only during the organization's meetings. There were great differences between the schools - it all depended on the people.


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Created: 12:29 AM 10/6/2021
Last updated: 12:29 AM 10/6/2021