Order of Polonia Restituta

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Order of Polonia Restituta
Polish: Order Odrodzenia Polski
Polonia Restituta - Commander's Cross pre-1939 w rib.jpg
Commander's Cross of Polonia Restituta
Awarded by the President of Poland
CountryFlag of Poland.svg  Poland
TypeFive classes
Awarded forExtraordinary and distinguished service
StatusCurrently awarded [1]
Established4 February 1921
Next (higher) Order Virtuti Militari
Order of the White Eagle
Next (lower) Order of the Military Cross
POL Polonia Restituta Wielki BAR.svg
Ribbon bar of the Grand Cross

The Order of Polonia Restituta (Polish : Order Odrodzenia Polski, English: Order of the Rebirth of Poland) is a Polish state order established 4 February 1921. It is conferred on both military and civilians as well as on foreigners for outstanding achievements in the fields of education, science, sport, culture, art, economics, national defense, social work, civil service, or for furthering good relations between countries.

Polish language West Slavic language spoken in Poland

Polish is a West Slavic language of the Lechitic group. It is spoken primarily in Poland and serves as the native language of the Poles. In addition to being an official language of Poland, it is also used by Polish minorities in other countries. There are over 50 million Polish-language speakers around the world and it is one of the official languages of the European Union.

Poland Republic in Central Europe

Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative subdivisions, covering an area of 312,696 square kilometres (120,733 sq mi), and has a largely temperate seasonal climate. With a population of approximately 38.5 million people, Poland is the sixth most populous member state of the European Union. Poland's capital and largest metropolis is Warsaw. Other major cities include Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, and Szczecin.

A state decoration is an object, such as a medal or the insignia of an order, that is awarded by a sovereign state to honor the recipient. The term includes:


The Order of Polonia Restituta is sometimes regarded as Poland's successor to the Order of the Knights of Saint Stanislaus, Bishop and Martyr, known as the Order of Saint Stanislaus, established in 1765 by Stanisław August Poniatowski, the last King of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, to honor supporters of the Polish crown.

Order of Saint Stanislaus Polish military decoration

The Order of Saint Stanislaus, also spelled Stanislas, was a Polish order of knighthood founded in 1765 by King Stanisław August Poniatowski of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. It remained under the Kingdom of Poland between 1765 and 1831, and was incorporated under the Russian Empire from 1831 to 1917, until the Russian revolution.

Stanisław August Poniatowski King of Poland

Stanisław II Augustus, who reigned as King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1764 to 1795, was the last monarch of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. He remains a controversial figure in Polish history. Recognized as a great patron of the arts and sciences and an initiator and firm supporter of progressive reforms, he is also remembered as the King of the Commonwealth whose election was marred by Russian intervention. He is criticized primarily for his failure to stand against the partitions, and thus to prevent the destruction of the Polish state.


When Poland regained its independence from the German Empire, Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Russian Empire in 1918, the new Polish government abolished the activities of the Order of Saint Stanislaus (Imperial House of Romanov) in the country, due to the claimed abuses of its initial rules by the Russians, who often awarded their version to those who - according to the dominant view in newly independent Poland - had been responsible for the destruction of Poland and Polish culture. [2]

German Empire empire in Central Europe between 1871–1918

The German Empire, also known as Imperial Germany, was the German nation state that existed from the unification of Germany in 1871 until the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1918.

Russian Empire former country, 1721–1917

The Russian Empire was an empire that extended across Eurasia and North America from 1721, following the end of the Great Northern War, until the Republic was proclaimed by the Provisional Government that took power after the February Revolution of 1917.

Second Polish Republic 1918-1939 republic in Eastern Europe

The Second Polish Republic, commonly known as interwar Poland, refers to the country of Poland in the period between the First and Second World Wars (1918–1939). Officially known as the Republic of Poland, the state was re-established in 1918, in the aftermath of World War I. The Second Republic ceased to exist in 1939, when Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and the Slovak Republic, marking the beginning of the European theatre of World War II.

Instead, the Order of Polonia Restituta was established on 4 February 1921 with Marshal Józef Piłsudski as first Grand Master, with the proclaimed aim of once again rewarding the noble values that it originally stood for. The Marshal awarded the first recipients on 13 July 1921. The order became Poland's main honour bestowed on foreigners, awarded by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. [2]

Marshal is a term used in several official titles in various branches of society. As marshals became trusted members of the courts of Medieval Europe, the title grew in reputation. During the last few centuries, it has been used for elevated offices, such as in military rank and civilian law enforcement.

Józef Piłsudski Polish politician and Prime Minister

Józef Klemens Piłsudski was a Polish statesman who served as the Chief of State (1918–22) and First Marshal of Poland. He was considered the de facto leader (1926–35) of the Second Polish Republic as the Minister of Military Affairs. From World War I he had great power in Polish politics and was a distinguished figure on the international scene. He is viewed as a father of the Second Polish Republic re-established in 1918, 123 years after the 1795 Partitions of Poland by Austria, Prussia and Russia.

Grand Master (order) head of a knighthood

Grand Master is a title of the supreme head of various orders, including chivalric orders such as military orders and dynastic orders of knighthood.

After World War II both the Polish government-in-exile and the Communist People's Republic of Poland, aligned with the Warsaw Pact, awarded the order, though the versions differed slightly. Despite communist control, the order's prestige remained safe and it was even given to many people who were hardly model communists. The order was saved from abuse as it was simply passed over in favor of more traditional communist awards. During this time, the Order of Merit of Poland became the favored award for foreigners. [3]

World War II 1939–1945, between Axis and Allies

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from more than 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Polish government-in-exile

The Polish government-in-exile, formally known as the Government of the Republic of Poland in exile, was the government in exile of Poland formed in the aftermath of the Invasion of Poland of September 1939, and the subsequent occupation of Poland by Germany and the Soviet Union, which brought to an end the Second Polish Republic.

Warsaw Pact international military alliance of Communist states

The Warsaw Pact, formally known as the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, was a collective defence treaty signed in Warsaw, Poland between the Soviet Union and seven Eastern Bloc satellite states of Central and Eastern Europe in May 1955, during the Cold War. The Warsaw Pact was the military complement to the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CoMEcon), the regional economic organization for the socialist states of Central and Eastern Europe. The Warsaw Pact was created in reaction to the integration of West Germany into NATO in 1955 per the London and Paris Conferences of 1954, but it is also considered to have been motivated by Soviet desires to maintain control over military forces in Central and Eastern Europe.

On 22 December 1990 the Polish government-in-exile returned the rights to its version of the order to the new Polish state. Invalid awards have been revoked and today the remaining communist versions of the order hold the same status as any other issues.

Succession debate

Founded by the Polish Republic on 4 February 1921 [4] as a secondary award to the Order of the White Eagle, the Order of Polonia Restituta, or the Order of the Restored Poland, has been alleged as an intended Polish successor to the Polish Order of Saint Stanislaus. [5] The new Polonia Restituta order use the same ribbon as the old Saint Stanislaus order and their decorations are very similar. [2] The goal was to preserve the tradition of the Order of Saint Stanislaus and its association with Polish history while changing the name which had become associated with Poland's oppression under the Russian Tsars. [5]

Order of the White Eagle (Poland) Polish decoration of merit

The Order of the White Eagle is Poland's highest order awarded to both civilians and the military for their merits. It was officially instituted on 1 November 1705 by Augustus II the Strong and bestowed on eight of his closest diplomatic and political supporters.


Among Polish civilian awards, the Order is second only to the rarely awarded Order of the White Eagle. Historically the order entitled its recipient to a state pension. As such nominees for the award are evaluated by a special committee responsible for upholding the honor of the order.

The Chapter ( Kapituła ) of Polonia Restituta is composed of a Grand Master and eight members appointed by him, who serve five year terms. Upon becoming elected the President of Poland, the office-holder is automatically awarded the order and becomes the Grand Master of the Order Chapter. The names of new recipients are published in the Monitor Polski , a publication required to provide announcements of legal decisions to the public. Order of Polonia Restituta (Polska Odrodzona) has five classes, categorized according to the Constitution of Poland, Article 138, as follows:

Grand Cross

Order of Polonia Restituta First Class, Krzyż Wielki, the Grand Cross, referred to as the Grand Cordon.       POL Polonia Restituta Wielki BAR.svg

Commander's Cross with Star

Order of Polonia Restituta Second Class, Krzyż Komandorski z Gwiazdą, the Commander's Cross with Star.       POL Polonia Restituta Komandorski ZG BAR.svg

Commander's Cross

Order of Polonia Restituta Third Class, Krzyż Komandorski, the Commander's Cross.       POL Polonia Restituta Komandorski BAR.svg

Officer's Cross

Order of Polonia Restituta Fourth Class, Krzyż Oficerski, the Officer's Cross.       POL Polonia Restituta Oficerski BAR.svg

Knight's Cross

Order of Polonia Restituta Fifth Class, Krzyż Kawalerski, the Knight's Cross.       POL Polonia Restituta Kawalerski BAR.svg


Grand Cross. OrderPonurego2.jpg
Grand Cross.
Knight's Cross. Pr-avers.jpg
Knight's Cross.

The badge of the order is a gold Maltese cross enamelled in white. The obverse central disc bears a white eagle on red background, the Coat of Arms of Poland, surrounded by a blue ring bearing the words "Polonia Restituta". The reverse central disc bears the year 1918 (for the People's Republic of Poland version: 1944). It is worn on a ribbon, red with a white stripe near the edges, as a sash on the right shoulder for Grand Cross, around the neck for Commander with Star and Commander, on the left chest with rosette for Officer, and on the left chest without rosette for Knight.

The star of the order is an eight-pointed silver star with straight rays. The central disc is in white enamel, bearing the monogram "RP" (Republic of Poland) (for the People's Republic of Poland, "PRL") and surrounded by a blue ring bearing the Latin words "Polonia Restituta".

Notable recipients

See also

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  1. "Orders and decorations". The Official Website of the President of the Republic of Poland. BBN Biuro Bezpieczeństwa Narodowego. Retrieved 30 December 2011. The following four orders are conferred...Order of the Rebirth of Poland (five-class)
  2. 1 2 3 Shackelford, Michael; Meersschaert, Hendrik (1998). "Medals of Poland". The World War I Document Archive. Phoenix, Arizona: The Great War Primary Document Archive. Retrieved 14 December 2012. Order Polonia Restitua. Established on February 4th, 1923. Award for merit and acts of bravery. While technically outside the scope of this project. We include the Polonia Restitua as it was a newly created (1923) order to take the place of, and carry on the role of the Order of St. Stanislas (see above). The Order of St. Stanislas had been a native Polish Order, but had been so thoroughly associated with Russia -- the Russians awarded it generously -- that simply reviving it was unacceptable. Instead, the new Order Polonia Restitua was created, but using the same ribbon as the old St. Stanislas order (red with white side stripes) to carry on the tradition.
  3. Prof. Dr. Zdzislaw P. Wesolowski; Colonel, South Carolina State Guard Reserve (1997), "The History of Polish Decorations", Polish Militaria. Scarcity Contributes to Value, The Militaria Collector's Exchange via Internet Archive, 2011-07-11
  4. Hieronymussen, Paul (1970). Orders, medals, and decorations of Britain and Europe in colour. Translated by C.H. Colquhoun. Aage Struwing (Photos) (2nd ed.). London: Blandford Press. pp. 187–88. ISBN   0713704454.
  5. 1 2 Sabbat, Kazimierz, Mieczyslaw Sas-Skrowroński, Krzysztof Barbarski ; edited by Peter Bander van Duren (1989). Polonia restituta. Gerrouds Cross: Van Duren. pp. 42–47. ISBN   9780905715346.