Polish Heritage Society

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From the Desk of our President, Andy Budnick

The Polish Heritage Society was honored to award the Citizen of the Year Award to Mike Swidwinski. Mike has been one of our most loyal and generous supporters.   Mike is a retired DEA special agent and former Polish Heritage Society board member.   He has been teaching us about famous Polish people that have made an impact on our history for many years.  Every year, Mike picks a famous person of Polish descent, or sometimes two, and has an in depth display and portrayal of them.  He is always willing to share a story or shed some history to gain greater appreciation of the different honorees.  Mike's enthusiasm for history allows us toe delve into our Polish history with an appreciation of our culture.  

Dziekuje bardzo Mike!  We appreciate everything you do!  Mike is a dear friend to the Society and we are honored to name him Polish Citizen of the Year for 2014.

Andy Budnick
President of Polish Heritage Society



Dr. Barbara Rylko-Bauer, a medical anthropologist and long-term Grand Rapids resident, has published a new book: A Polish Doctor in the Nazi Camps: My Mother’s Memories of Imprisonment, Immigration, and a Life Remade (University of Oklahoma Press, 2014).

Jadwiga Lenartowicz Rylko was a young Polish Catholic physician in Lodz at the start of World War II. Suspected of resistance activities, she was arrested in January 1944. For the next fifteen months, she endured three Nazi concentration camps and a forty-two-day death march, spending part of this time working as a prisoner-doctor to Jewish slave laborers. In this book, Rylko-Bauer recounts her mother’s life against the backdrop of twentieth century history—from her childhood and medical training, through her wartime experiences, to her struggles to create a new life as an immigrant to the U.S.  She lived in Detroit, Michigan from 1950 to 1984, and spent the last 26 years of her life in Grand Rapids, where she died in 2010, at the age of 100 years.

The book has 28 photos, 4 maps—and historical notes and a bibliography (for those interested in more information). While grounded in scholarship, it is written to appeal to a broad audience. It is listed at $26.95 for hard cover and is available at Barnes & Noble and on Amazon. 






The Polish American Credo

Thanks to one of our members, we received this Polish-American Credo.  Click here to check it out!


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