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Poland salutes Marshal Poniatowski on 200th anniversary

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 25.10.2013 11:45
  • Marshal Jozef Poniatowski.
Poland has paid tribute to Napoleonic hero Marshal Jozef Poniatowski who fell in battle 200 years ago.

President Bronislaw Komorowski speaking on Saturday at the Polish Military Museum during 200th anniversary commemorations marking the death of Prince Jozef Poniatowski. Photo: PAP/Grzegorz Jakubowski

“His courage, his perseverance – these features contributed to his legend and built a certain model that was extremely influential,” said Associate Professor Jan Lencznarowicz of Krakow's Jagiellonian University, speaking with Polish Radio's Nick Hodge.

Prince Jozef Poniatowski, nephew of the last king of Poland, was one of tens of thousands of Poles to join Napoleon in the fight against the powers that partitioned the country in the late 18th century.

“All those complaints about romantic and naive Poles fascinated by Napoleon and behaving irrationally seem to miss the point totally,” Lencznarowicz argued.

“France was the only big power which was able and did fight - and defeated - the partitioning powers: Russia, Prussia and Austria.

Death of Poniatowski, January Sucholdolski

In 1807, Napoleon created the Duchy of Warsaw, which Lencznarowicz stresses was “the closest thing to an independent Polish state in the 19th century.”

Poniatowski's death at Leipzig on 19 October 2013 at the so-called Battle of the Nations, was a symbolic blow for Polish hopes for independence. The collapse of Napoleon's empire came soon thereafter.

Exhibitions connected with Poniatowski have been opened at Warsaw's Polish Military Museum and the Historical Museum of the City Krakow, and President Bronislaw Komorowski was joined in a tribute to the marshal on Saturday with French ambassador Pierre Buhler.

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