Events

 Ambassador Winid presenting the Gold Cross of Merit to Gerald Kochan as the official orders are cited by the First Secretary of the Polish Mission to the UN.


Ambassador Winid presenting the Gold Cross of Merit to Gerald Kochan as the official orders are cited by the First Secretary of the Polish Mission to the UN.

At the convening of the UN General Assembly in late September, Polish Ambassador to the UN presented the Gold Cross of Merit to Gerald Kochan, Colonel (ret.), Director of the Polish American Museum and Center for Military Studies on behalf of Polish President Andrzej Duda.  He was one of two to receive the prestigious award, the other being from the United Kingdom, Ms. Melissa John.  He received the medal for work alongside the Polish Army while serving as a US Army officer in Iraq and other locations. Gerald Kochan was also commended for his work in making  Polish History both more accessible to the North American continent through documentaries, exhibits and multimedia projects and his work directing CMS and PAM.  Among the well wishers attending the ceremony were President of the Board of the Polish American Museum, Ms. Barbara Szydlowski and Colonel Richard Jung, who serves on the board of the Center for Military Studies.

Colonel Kochan, President Barbara Szydlowski and Colonel Jung

Colonel Kochan, President Barbara Szydlowski and Colonel Jung


President Duda, Ambassador Winid, Colonel Kochan and Ms. John viewing the Dingo

President Duda, Ambassador Winid, Colonel Kochan and Ms. John viewing the Dingo

During the visit of the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda in September 2016, the Director of the Museum, Gerald Kochan acted in conjunction with Ambassador to the UN, Bogusław Winid and Ms. Melissa John to

present a Mk 2 Daimler Scout Car (Dingo) to the Republic of Poland. This car had previously served with the 15th Lancers, Polish Second Corps during The Italian Campaign in WW2.  The Presentation took place at the old Polish Mission to the UN in NYC. In addition to the last public viewing of the Dingo prior to its transfer to its new home in Poznan,

Gerald Kochan explaining the significance of the surrounding exhibit

Gerald Kochan explaining the significance of the surrounding exhibit

Poland was a sneak peak at a coming museum exhibit and farewell to an exhibit. This Spring, 2017 the

museum will dedicate an exhibit commemorating the 75th year of the founding of the Polish Commandos during WW2. In the background of the presentation are uniform items and artifacts from the Commander

of the unit, Major Smrokowski and his second in command, Major Zalewski. Also being exhibited was the Passage to India exhibit which debuted at our museum to the public this year, (see separate article).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ms. John, President Duda, and Colonel Kochan being flanked by exhibits (L-R) featuring Major Zalewski, Major Smrokowski of the commandos and Captain Duda of the 15th Lancers.

Ms. John, President Duda, and Colonel Kochan being flanked by exhibits (L-R) featuring Major Zalewski, Major Smrokowski of the commandos and Captain Duda of the 15th Lancers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Polish Ambassador to UN opens exhibit at Port Washington Polish American Museum

One of the panels from the exhibit.

One of the panels from the exhibit.

On the 5th of June, Sunday at 2 pm, the Polish Ambassador to the UN, Dr. Boguslaw Winid dedicated an exhibit featuring one of the most poignant stories to come out of WW2.  The event was the public premier of “Passage to India – The Wartime Odyssey of Polish Children and the Good Maharaja” that will reside for the next two months at the Polish American Museum, 16 Belleview Ave., Port Washington, (Long Island).  It features the touching story of 1,000 Polish children mostly orphans, some of the more than 2 million Poles that were sent to the Gulags by the Soviets in the period of 1940-1941.  It is the story of their odyssey from the Gulags to refuge in India during WW2.  This is a story made even more relevant today by the actions of Putin in the Ukraine and elsewhere and the other war refugees from South West Asia and North Africa that Europe is presently facing.  One of those children, Mrs. Alexander Puc was an especially honored guest at the exhibit opening.  

After a few words of welcome by the President of the Museum Board, Mrs. Barbara Szydlowska, the A lively and often humorous exchange between facilitators and audience characterized the presentation.

A lively and often humorous exchange between facilitators and audience characterized the presentation.

A lively and often humorous exchange between facilitators and audience characterized the presentation.


Ambassador and the Director of the Museum, Gerald Kochan, Colonel (ret.) assisted by his wife Malgorzata gave short presentations regarding the exhibit.   The Ambassador spoke of the “good Maharaja” the primary benefactor of the children and how he is still honored in Poland by a street and school named for him.  The Director touched upon the story of the other Poles deported and their fate when given “amnesty” by the Soviets upon the German Invasion of the USSR in late 1941.  The resulting agreement between the Soviet Government and the Polish Government operating in exile from Great Britain resulted in the formation of a Polish Army in the USSR under General Wladyslaw Anders.  The evacuation of this army to fight on the Western Front when the Soviets were unable to properly equip and feed the force provided an opportunity to rescue some of the civilians including the orphans featured in the

Our special guest and survivor of the Gulags and "a passage to India", Mrs Alexander Puc being introduced by President Basia Szydlowski with interpretation to Polish by Malgorzata Kochan.

Our special guest and survivor of the Gulags and “a passage to India”, Mrs Alexander Puc being introduced by President Basia Szydlowski with interpretation to Polish by Malgorzata Kochan.

exhibit.  The director’s father was one of those who left with Ander’s Army as a soldier but was transferred to Great Britain to reinforce the Polish Parachute Brigade.  Colonel Richard Jung, board member of the Center for Military Studies and special guest had a similar background as his mother was rescued through the Anders Army relocation.  Both admitted that their parents’ history helped inspire their choice to become American Army officers.  

Refreshments were served and the guests were encouraged

Guests getting a chance after the presentation to talk with the Ambassador and other presenters

Guests getting a chance after the presentation to talk with the Ambassador and other presenters

to range freely around the exhibit and museum.  

The ambassador’s family and staff mingled with museum staff and family members and general guests answering questions. All the attendees enjoyed the opportunity to have

such direct access to the Ambassador and his charming wife Beata.  It was truly a family affair in that not only the Ambassador was assisted by his wife but his young son Aleksander was fittingly there for an exhibit on children.  

Director Gerald Kochan giving some additional insights as to the Gulag experiences of the refugees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Ambassador Winid, Ms. John and Director Kochan with displays of Julian Kurtz and Jakub Kochan

Ambassador Winid, Ms. John and Director Kochan with displays of Julian Kurtz and Jakub Kochan

On the first of November 2015, the Polish Ambassador to the UN, Bogusław Winid and Trustee
and driving force behind the Bentley Priory Museum (Fighter Command HQ during the Battle of
Britain) shared their passions about history at the invitation of Museum Director Gerald Kochan
to assembled guests in the museum performance hall. Museum Board President Basia Szydlowski was
ever present in the wings to ensure that all guests were welcome and coordinated the museum
volunteers providing tours and refreshments to the guests.

Ambassador Bogusław Winid recounting the humorous meeting with then Afghan President Karzai that resulted in the Poles acquiring the tank.

Ambassador Bogusław Winid recounting the humorous meeting with then Afghan President Karzai that resulted in the Poles acquiring the tank.

All who attended were regaled to a wonderful talk with many humorous anecdotes by the Ambassador about his efforts on behalf of Polish museums first as deputy minister of defense and later as Ambassador. In particular he
told of discovering a Polish tank dating from the 1920 War against the Soviet Union that ended
up in Afghanistan and the travails that went into getting that from a country at war back to a
Polish museum. Ms. John talked of Bentley Priory and how she ended up as a notable champion of
the Polish flyers during WW2 and the pride of place afforded them at the museum. Her efforts on
behalf of the Poles given she has no personal Polish heritage moved the audience.

Presentation of Skalski Circus (Polish Fighting Team) painting, L-R Ambassador Winid, Director Gerald Kochan, Ms. Melissa John and President Basia Szydlowski

Presentation of Skalski Circus (Polish Fighting Team) painting, L-R Ambassador Winid, Director Gerald Kochan, Ms. Melissa John and President Basia Szydlowski

Gerald Kochan highlighted some updates to the museum including new presentation techniques with acid free
materials, uv filtering glass and hermetically sealed frames. Most all the new collections
exhibited in the Center for Military Studies Annex have been preserved with those techniques.
Two of the newest to be upgraded and featured to the audience were the medals and documents of
Julian Kurtz a highly decorated officer with Polish 1st Armored Division, and medals and
documents of Jakub Kochan, leader of a recon section of the Polish Independent Parachute
Brigade who were dropped into Operation Market-Garden in the action popularized in the film
“A Bridge Too Far”.


Gerald Kochan addressing the assembled guests at the "swearing in" with the heads of the Academies immediately behind him.

Gerald Kochan addressing the assembled guests at the “swearing in” with the heads of the Academies immediately behind him.

In September, Gerald Kochan and Melissa John were guests of the Polish Air Force Academy at Deblin, Poland. While at Deblin, they represented the Polish American Museum and Bentley Priory Museum in laying down the foundation for an exchange program with the new Polish Air Force Museum being constructed just outside the Academy grounds. The Deputy Director and his curator of collections showed them the temporary displays housed in an old building and large aircraft and missile collection displayed outside.

The Deputy Director of the Polish Air Force Museum, Bentley Priory Trustee Melissa John and PAM & CMS Director Gerald Kochan

The Deputy Director of the Polish Air Force Museum, Bentley Priory Trustee Melissa John and PAM & CMS Director Gerald Kochan

The main event occurring during the visit was an invitation to be special guests at the joint swearing in of the new cadets from all three military academies, Army, Air Force and Navy being hosted this year at the Air Force Academy at Deblin. In a ceremony that dates to Poland’s reemergence as a nation in 1918, the cadets like all members of the Polish military swear allegiance to the government and nation in front of the standards, (flags of their units). Later, Gerald addressed a VIP studded gathering including the Academy commanders, other generals, politicians, honor cadets, their families and other honored guests. After even risking the tricky translation of a humorous anecdote, he confided to the Liaison officer escorting them that addressing such a distinguished gathering solely in Polish was more stressful than a day in a combat zone.

Polish cadets swearing allegiance

Polish cadets swearing allegiance

In affirmation that the world is a small place, Mr. Kochan was pleased to meet an officer that he served alongside in Iraq who was now acting Commandant of the Polish Army Academy. Ms. John, who has already earned our appreciation for her generosity to the museum presented the Air Force Academy with several key historical collections to great applause.

Military review parade of cadets following the "swearing in"

Military review parade of cadets following the “swearing in”


Gabreski Family visit to the museum

Gabreski Family visit to the museum

The first week of June, the museum was honored to host members of the late Colonel Frank Gabreski’s family. The top American ace in the European Theater of Operations, “Gabby” as he was known to his fellow pilots was extremely proud of his Polish heritage.

As an American flyer, he early in the war served in the Polish 315 squadron flying as part of the RAF to gain experience prior to US fighter squadrons becoming operational in England. Pictured in front of an exhibit of Gabby’s memorabilia with the museum director are his daughter Debbie Ether and her daughter.

Not pictured but also visiting were his daughter Frances G. Phillips and her husband.


Visit of Polish Ambassador to the UN

Visit of Polish Ambassador to the UN

Visit of Polish Ambassador to the UN, Dr. Boguslaw Winid

It was a great pleasure to give the Polish Ambassador to the UN, Dr. Boguslaw Winid, and wife Beata a special tour of the museum on May 15th. Ambassador Winid previously served as deputy minister to the Polish equivalent of our Department of Defense. In that capacity he made several trips to Afghanistan and Iraq to visit Polish and US soldiers serving side by side in those war zones.

He has advanced degrees in history and political studies and has drawn upon them to recognize and salvage items of significant historical impact to Poland during his travels. One of the most noteworthy was the return of a French made tank that served in the Polish forces which was seized by the Soviets during WW2 and given to Afghanistan as a gift.

Pictured are from left to right Gerald Kochan, Director, Beata Winid, Dr. Boguslaw Winid, Polish Ambassador to the UN, and Basia Szydlowski, President PAM


Visit of Dr. Magda Kapucinska

Visit of Dr Magda Kapucinska

On Sunday, October 22nd the Polish American Museum and Center for Military Studies were honored to have as special guest, Dr. Magda Kapucinska, President of the Pilsudski Institute in America.

Pictured from left to right are Richard Brzozowski, board member PAM, Basia Szydlowski, president of PAM, Gerald M. Kochan, director of PAM and executive director of the CMS, Dr. Magda Kapucinska, president of the Pilsudski Institute, Richard Jung, board member, CMS.


Visitors during the Polish Heritage Month events

Visitors during the Polish Heritage Month events

Visitors to the museum stop for background at one of the new exhibits at the museum during Polish Heritage Month. The museum takes pride in continually updating its exhibits with new materials to ensure that even the frequent visitor experiences something new.


Czeslaw Pasiewicz exhibit dedication

Czeslaw Pasiewicz exhibit dedication

Eva Paszkewicz and cousins in front of her Father’s newly dedicated exhibit

Ewa Pasiewicz, center of the photo, is pictured with two of her cousins during the formal dedication of her Father’s exhibit at the CMS annex at PAM. A dedicated and recognized educator and Elementary School Principal, she made the long trek from Colorado to link with her Chicago based cousins for the ceremony.

Czeslaw Pasiewicz served both during the 1939 Campaign where he was wounded severely and later after escaping to continue the fight abroad as a “Cichociemni”. The “Silent and Unseen” as the Cichociemni were known were Polish soldiers that were specially trained to be inserted into occupied Poland. A Cichociemni received both airborne and vigorous commando training by the SOE (British Special Operations Executive Polish Division).


New exhibit at PAM

New Exhibit at PAM

The family of the late Jan Zaborski donated his documents and concentration camp uniform to the museum. Serving as a Polish soldier during WW2 he was captured and sent to a concentration camp for continued resistance activities agains their German Nazi occupiers.

This memorable donation helps to illustrate the point of the great numbers of Poles both Christian and Jew sent to the concentration camps from occupied Poland by the Germans.


Upcoming Author Tour & Book Signing

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Krys Lanowski, shown to the left of Polish American Museum Director Gerald Kochan in this photo from a recent visit to the museum will return in November as part of an author tour. Krys edited his father’s memoirs which have just been published. His father was a Polish flier highly decorated by both the Poles and Americans. He not only flew flew in the Polish Squadrons that fought from France and later Great Britain but was one of a select group recruited by Frank Gabreski to fly in his 61st fighter squadron as part of Zemke’s Wolfpack. His skill and courage led him to receive the American Distinguished Flying Cross and numerous Air Medals! It will be a great pleasure to have Krys back and hear his insights to his Dad’s book.


WW1 Polish Legionnaire uniform acquisition

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Director Gerald Kochan acquired for the museum this fine example of a WW1 Polish Legionaire uniform. The Legions were recruited by General Pilsudski to serve alongside Austrian forces against the Russian forces. They, like the Polish Blue Army serving under Haller, would form the core of the new Polish Army with Poland’s reemergence as an independent nation at the end of WW1. This very rare uniform was obtained at the MAX militaria show in October and funded in part by a generous grant from Melissa John. Her leadership at the Bently Priory Museum in the UK has lead to special recognition for the Polish fliers of Fighter Command. In supporting each others efforts with their respective museums, Gerald and Melissa have managed to capitalize on resources that geography might have prevented.


Polish Heritage Month

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Last year Consul General Ewa Junczyk Ziomecka joined other guests at a ceremony recognizing Polish Heritage Month at the Museum. In addition to some very talented musical performances, the Ludwik Idzikowski permanent exhibit was dedicated. This year there will again be some fine musical interludes to look forward to and several new exhibits at the Museum. The Consul General will again be present on the 26th of October, 2014 at 2pm to dedicate a new exhibit donated by the family of a concentration camp survivor and several that feature the 70th commemoration of the key battles of 1944 such as the Warsaw uprising, Operation Market Garden, Battle of Falaise and Battle of Monte Cassino, all of which saw great Polish sacrifice and valor.

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The museum is proud to feature one of the prominent early Polish aviation pioneers Ludwik Idzikowski. A flyer who served in the vaunted Kosciuszko Squadron during the Polish Russian War of 1920 earning the nation’s highest military honors, he along with Major Kubala made a number of record breaking flights. Tragically, he died in a transatlantic attempt trying to be the first from Europe to America. Director Kochan related the pilot’s story to a capacity audience.

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Museum Board President Barbara Szydlowski in conversation with the Consul General and guest regarding the Idzikowski exhibit


Francis (Gabby) Gabreski Exhibit

A long time Long Island resident and top U.S. Ace in the European Theater of Operations, Francis (Gabby) Gabreski’s exhibit has been revised. In addition to the focus on his wartime experiences in WW2 and Korea, there is now reference to his ground breaking work commanding 2 of the first supersonic fighter wings flying the F-100 Super Saber. A unique presentation plate from the inception of one of the wings is just part of the expanded exhibit.

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Dziubek’s Demblinski’s

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Ed Kaminski, art enthusiast, historian and friend of Museum Director Gerald Kochan, has donated two original, commissioned oils of the Polish Air Force to the Center for display at the museum. The oil featured in the photo commemorates 315 squadron at the time it was commanded by S/L Horbaczewski. It depicts the squadron in action during D-Day Operations. Horbaczewski, who had a prominent nose, received the nickname Dziubek, or “beak”, early on as a cadet officer. This term of endearment later took on a second meaning as he was often compared to a hawk or eagle for his flying abilities. The squadron 315 was the “city of Deblin”, hence Dziubek’s Demblinski’s. The other work features Skalski’s Cirrus, the Polish flight of RAF 145 squadron over the skies of Tunisia in 1942. Both works are painted by the prominent aviation artist Ray Wong. We are all deeply indebted to Ed for his generosity.


Acquisition of New Haller Army Veteran Uniform

President Barbara Szydlowski and Director Gerald Kochan were greatly excited at the expansion of the Blue Army Exhibit with the acquisition of a Blue Army Veteran’s uniform. The Blue Army was a formation of Americans of Polish heritage that fought for an independent Poland in its war against the Soviet Union in 1920. An often overlooked part of American and Polish history, this army was critical in Poland’s victor over the USSR in 1920. The new uniform is a service dress uniform which was worn at many veteran’s activities upon a veteran’s return to the USA. It complements the field uniform exhibited by the Center for Military Studies Annex. Photo one illustrates the Blue Army Exhibit. Photo two is a inset of the resurgent Polish Eagle on the epaulette of the uniform.

The Blue Army Exhibit

The Blue Army Exhibit

The resurgent Polish Eagle (uniform epaulette)

The resurgent Polish Eagle (uniform epaulette)


Group tour from Farmingdale State College – the Institute for Learning Retirement. Member Jerzy Chylinski tour guide for this group. 2011.

Founders Scholarship Recipient for 2010. Krystna Oszinkis with parents, Irene Wierzbicki, scholarship chairlady and Barbara Szdlowski, President.

Past Founders Scholarship Recipients:

  • Left: Bartholemew J. Johnson (2007 recipient)
  • Center: Teresa Wierzbicki (2008 recipient)
  • Right: Christopher Osman (2009 recipient)

Students of the Zbigniew Herbert Polish Supplementary School of L.I. with Michael Madejski, tour guide.

Students of the Zbigniew Herbert Polish Supplementary School of L.I. with museum president.

The Wednesday Library Volunteers include: Michael Madejski, Basia, Richard Brzozowski, Marion Brzozowski and Wanda Lorenc

Chopin Piano Lecture Recital 2010 featuring Masterwork Conversations – Matthew Harrison, Jonathan Levin and Vlada Yaneva with friends.

Chopin Piano Lecture Recital Reception with friends

Five years ago this November a special exhibit honoring the wartime exploits of Danuta and Jerzy Gradosielski was formally dedicated. This husband and wife defense of liberty will be expanded in a special exhibit November 2012 dedicated to “Heritage”, Polish families and the generations that fought for liberty. Not only will the expected Grandfather, to Father, to Son service be profiled, but Grandfather, to Father, to Daughter and every possible combination highlighting the tradition of duty within the Polish culture and family. Below are some photos depicting the initial dedication of the Gradosielski exhibit.

Danuta Gradosielski at launch of exhibit honoring her husband and her own wartime exploits. She is pictured with museum director Gerald M. Kochan (center) and museum president Barbara Szydlowski (right).

Danuta Gradosielski family with museum president Barbara Szdlowski and museum director Gerald M. Kochan

Danuta at museum with family (Samantha, Renia, Mark, Danuta, Ted and Ewa)