HISTORY

The Wisconsin State Division of the Polish American Congress is an active unit within the Polish American Congress (Kongres Polonii Amerykańskiej, KPA), which was founded in Buffalo, New York at the beginning of June, 1944 at a massive gathering attended by more than 2,500 delegates elected by Polish American organizations around the country.

The Polish American Congress came into existence in the last year of World War II. Its aim was to unite Polish Americans, then numbering an estimated 6 million in all in a country of 140 million in support of America’s victory in the War and in defense of the cause of a free and independent Poland after victory was achieved.

Poland, though occupied by Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia during the War, possessed a government in exile in London whose leaders were allies of the U.S. Polish military forces totally an estimated 650,000 were fighting on the side of the U.S.-British-Soviet alliance against Nazi Germany.

Mr. Charles (Karol) Rozmarek, President of the Polish National Alliance, was elected president of the Polish American Congress. The other national officers and directors elected at the meeting were all leaders of major Polish American organizations.

Only days after the great gathering in Buffalo adjourned, the battle of Normandy began on June 6, 1944. A year later the War was over in Europe. But Poland did not regain its freedom and independence after the War. Tragically, and against its people’s will, Poland came under Soviet Russian control and remained so until 1989.

As a result, the Polish American Congress remained in existence as an active political lobbying organization that pressed for U.S. government support for Poland’s freedom and an end to the injustice done to its people.

Throughout its history after 1944, under President Rozmarek, who served from 1944 until 1968, and his successors, Aloysius (Alojzy ) Mazewski (president from 1968 to 1988), and Edward Moskal (president from 1988 to 2005), the PAC remained true to its founding principles, which also extended to defending the good name of Poland and the Polish people in America from slander and denigration.

The PAC continues to this day in this sprit under President Frank Spula who, like all of his predecessors, is president of the Polish National Alliance fraternal benefit and insurance society.

Some Highlights on the Work of the Wisconsin Polish American Congress over the Years

The Wisconsin State Division of the Polish American Congress has been a contributing unit of the national Polish American Congress since the founding of the PAC in Buffalo in June 1944. Over the past seven plus decades, the Wisconsin PAC has worked closely with all other Wisconsin Polish American organizations to unite Polish Americans in working to achieve the national Polish American Congress’ mission in support of a free and independent Poland, the material well being of its people, the promotion of civic awareness and action by Polish Americans, and the building of knowledge and appreciation of the rich Polish heritage in the United States.

Here are just a few of the Wisconsin State Division’s achievements over the years::

  • Support for a free Poland through the years of communist rule and cooperation with our public officials, e.g., U.S. Congressmen Thaddeus Wasielewski, Clement Zablocki, and Gerald Kleczka, on behalf of the aspirations of the Polish people.
  • Humanitarian fund raising efforts on behalf of the Polish people from the 1940s through the American Relief for Poland federation headed by Milwaukee Judge Francix X. Swietlik and later through the Polish American Congress Charitable Foundation; in the 1980s and early 1990s alone the Wisconsin PAC raised more than $400,000 in money and material assistance to martial-law ridden Poland.
  • In 1978-79 the Wisconsin PAC played a crucial role in working with Wisconsin state legislators to establish a permanent Polish Studies program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, an academic program that continues to this day. In addition the Wisconsin PAC has continued to sponsor a host of educational programs for the public and in cooperation with other Polish and ethnic organizations throughout Wisconsin and to support the cultural initiatives of other Polish Americans, including the restoration of St Josaphat Basilica and the Kosciuszko monument and the advancement of the Polish Center of Wisconsin and the annual Polish Fest.
  • In 1998 the Wisconsin PAC inaugurated an annual observance of Polish Independence Day and Veterans Day. We were the very first PAC state division to initiate these two historic events of November 11, 1918.

Thousands of dedicated men and women have given of their time and talents to make our State Division the successful and effective organization that we are today. Come join us and learn more about what we do and stand for!

.