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Polish Day commemorates historic 1410 battle

The Polish Cultural Foundation held a Polish day at Signature Training Academy in Brodheadsville on Saturday.

The nonprofit organization, based in Clark, New Jersey, deals with the popularization of Polish culture and heritage.

The organization has an art gallery, with Polish and international artists exhibit their works. In addition, it houses the Library of Joseph Marjanczyk, containing over 15,000 books and other publications in Polish and English.

This was the first time the group came to Brodheadsville. The patriotic gathering Saturday was to honor the lives lost when fighting the Battle of Grunwald on July 15, 1410, during the Polish-Lithuanian-Teutonic War.

The battle was one of the largest in medieval Europe and is regarded as one of the most important victories in the histories of Poland and Lithuania.

Part of honoring the lives lost is re-enactment using the battle armor their forefathers used when fighting.

As Polish history has recorded, during the alliance of the crown of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania led respectively by King Wladyslaw II Jagietto (Jogaila) and the Grand Duke Vytautas decisively defeated the German-Prussian Teutonic Knights, led by Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen. Most of the Teutonic Knight’s leadership was killed or taken to prison.

An large exhibit of war uniforms, including weapons was displayed. “The uniforms, hats, guns, swords and grenads are all pieces that were used during the battles,” said Tmike Malecai of New Jersey.

Shift of power

The defeat of the German-Prussian Teutonic Knights, led by Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen caused the shift of power in Central and Eastern Europe. It marked the rise of the Polish-Lithuanian Union as the dominant political and military force in the region.

The battle was one of the largest in Medieval Europe and is considered one of the most important victories in Poland, Lithuania, and Belarus. The battle story has become a source of romantic legends and national pride and has become a symbol of the struggle against foreign invaders.

If you were hoping to sit down to a buffet of Polish food, you might have been disappointed, but not for long. Shortly after noon, bleachers were carried in and placed around a large arena surrounded by wooden fencing with massive truck tires all around the outside of the arena.

The room suddenly filled with people and men wearing metal armor, including large metal helmets.

Some were holding large studded clubs while others carried a sword and shield. Legs and arms were protected with metal armor.

A bull horn sounded, and a gentleman started calling teams to get ready to fight. Someone who doesn’t speak Polish, Czech and Slovak, could be a little lost, but eventually one figures out the marches involved teams of armored men with swords and clubs that have at it until the last man is standing. Whatever team the last man standing belongs to gets the points.

A bronze monument of King Wladyslaw II Jagietto was created for the 1939 World’s Fair’s Polish Pavilion by the Polish Sculptor K. Ostrowski, who died in 1947. The statue stood at the Fair’s entrance at Queens’ Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. It is a replica of King Jagiello’s memorial in Warsaw that was converted into bullets for World War II by the Germans after they entered and occupied the capital of Poland.

Polish knights compete against each other in the re-enactment of The Battle of Grunwald fought on July 15, 1410. AMY LEAP/TIMES NEWS
Polish knights wait for the sound of the battle call to start fighting their opponents in the competition.
Above: A medieval knight stands ready for battle.
Left: Two medieval knights fighting to be the last man standing.