Last modified: 2002-12-28 by jarig bakker
Keywords: tatars |
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This is a flag used by the Union of Polish Tatars (Zwiazek Tatarow
Polskich or Polonya Tatar Birlik), the foremost organization
of the remnants of a once prosperous and influential ethno-religious group
of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. From feared invaders in the XIII
Century, the Tatars evolved into one of the most patriotic elements of
the Polish nation. Treated with respect and equality, allowed complete
religious freedom, they served with enthusiasm and numerous sacrifices
their new fatherland. Over the years most of them lost their language and
even the religion of their fathers by blending into Polish nobility and
general population. Wars, partitions and border changes affected them severely,
and today only about 5 thousand remain faithful to their tradition and
Islam. But their involvement in epic struggles in defense of Poland, from
the wars with the Teutonic Knights to fierce resistance against German-Soviet
invasion of 1939 entitle them a special place in the society. They are
not treated as a minority but as equal compatriots, just of different religion.
In the Polish III Republic they have a chance to flourish again. Besides
two archaic mosques in Kryszyniany and Bohoniki (near Bialystok), a new
and modern mosque was built in Gdansk and cultural centers opened in Bialystok
and Warsaw. Most recently, the Union of Polish Tatars and Polish Islamic
Association issued statements condemning the attack on the WTC.
Chrystian Kretowicz, 9 Oct 2001
I have seen references to Tartars living in the Kingdom of Poland and
Lithuania, specifically in areas which are now parts of Belarus.
I believe that some of them were refugees from the protracted strife on
the steppe, which followed the Mongol conquest, and some were prisoners
of war captured by one of the Polish Kings and transported along with their
provide forced labor on Polish estates.
David L. Barrett, 8 Dec 2002