Żeby Polska była Polską — Let Poland be Poland

Żeby Polska była Polską is a well-known Polish protest song, written in 1976 by Jan Pietrzak with music by Włodzimierz Korcz. It quickly became an informal anthem of the Solidarity era protests in Poland, protesting the totalitarian Communist regime. It is a song the communists tried to repress, but the spirit of the Polish people would not let that happen!

Poland and the Polish people have always been fiercely patriotic, sometimes in the face of great odds. At one time the largest and most powerful nation in all of Europe, Poland’s fortunes have risen and waned through the centuries. By the end of the 18th century, she had been partitioned and devoured by more powerful and greedy neighbors–Germany, Russia, and Austria-Hungary. After World War I Poland again fought for her independence and became a free nation, only to be abandoned by her allies and “friends” and split by Germany and Russia at the beginning of World War II. The end of World War II saw Poland being “given up” by the Allies to the Soviet Union and thus began a period of Communist domination of Poland and the Polish people.

But the free spirit of the Poles could not be dampened, and by the 1970s, change was in the wind. It was during this time that the Solidarity Trade Union was formed, and it was during this time of social unrest that this song, Żeby Polska była Polską, was written. The tranlastion is, “Let Poland be Poland.”

When first performed, Communist censors forbade the song from being performed during the author’s shows. So, it became a habit that the audience would sing  it and Pietrzak (the author) would stand by silently while they did so. The communists tried and tried to repress the song, but it spread all the more. In 1981 it won the “hit song of the season” and “audience award” at the 19th National Festival of Polish Song in Opole.

After martial law was imposed in 1981, Pietrzak was arrested and imprisoned. Ronald Reagan named a speech after the song, and Queen Elizabeth II quoted from it in her speech to the Polish Parliament.

Of course, you know the rest of the story: in 1991 Poland became once again a free nation, leading the way in shedding the shackles of Communism and Soviet oppression. This song typifies the nationalistic and free spirit of the Poles.

The words and translation of the song can be found here: http://info-poland.buffalo.edu/web/arts_culture/music/hymns/zeby/cache.html.

You can hear the song here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FK05Xqtt71M.

You can read more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%BBeby_Polska_by%C5%82a_Polsk%C4%85.

This entry was posted in culture, history, music, My love of Poland, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

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