Polonicus – the prize of the European Polonia

Jaro Schlesiona, Polonicus, digital graphic arts
Jaro Schlesiona, Polonicus, digital graphic arts

Polonicus – the prize of the European Polonia

 

The history of Polish emigration dates back centuries. Today, 18 to 20 million Poles and people of Polish origin live outside their homeland, two million of them alone live in Germany. Whilst many countries crown their “Pole of the Year“, until 2009, the year the first Polonicus prize was awarded in Aachen, no prize existed that Poles living abroad had created for Poles living abroad. 

The Polonicus prize is awarded by the European Polonia, which is represented by the institute of the same name and by a jury comprising the Chair of the Polonicus Institute, a member of the Senate of the Republic of Poland [Translator’s note: Also referred to as Senator] and representatives of Polish organisations abroad that belong to the European Association of Polish Communities (Europejska Unia Wspólnot Polonijnych, ( EUWP)). Prize winners can be people who live or work in the European Union and who are citizens of an EU member state. The jury awards its accolade each year in the following categories: Culture − to creative artists or other persons who advocate for the Polish or the European culture; Polish Organisations; German-Polish Dialogue − to persons who contribute to the development of the German-Polish cooperation and of the German-Polish dialogue and the understanding of both nations. There is also the  honorary award category which sporadically honours lifetime achievements. The recipients of the awards are announced in February. The award ceremony is then held at the end of April or the beginning of May in a remarkable place in the city of Charlemagne the Great: the Coronation Hall of Aachen Town Hall, which has represented the might of the Holy Roman Emperor for 790 years because it was here that 30 rulers of the Empire received their insignia. Initially, Dr Marek Prawda, the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland, assumed the honorary patronage of the Polonicus prize. He was later followed in this role by the Marshall of the Sejm, Bogdan Borusewicz. From its very beginning, the award has also been supported by the experienced and committed senator of the Republic of Poland, Ms Barbara Borys-Damięcka.

Since then, 44 outstanding personalities from the political, social and cultural life in Poland, Germany and Europe have received this extraordinary European prize. In 2014, the Poles living abroad in Western Europe, who always think about the Poles living abroad in Eastern Europe,  awarded the Polonicus prize to Ms Andżelika Borys, the Chair of the Union of Poles in Belarus, a country that is currently fighting for the reinstatement of democratic elections. The prizewinners to date have included Europeans from Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Great Britain. When the British historian Professor Norman Davies, whose key area of work was the history of Poland, accepted the prize in 2011, he highlighted the fact that Copernicus had been an important scientist who was both a German and a Pole. At the end of his speech he said: “The Poles should be proud of their national heritage. The Germans should be proud that so many Poles have chosen their country in which to live and work. I am proud that, from today, I am a Polonicus.” 

 

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