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June 6, 2017


Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, a distinguished statesman and scholar,   was a friend and avid reader of our quarterly “The Tatra Eagle/Tatrzański Orzeł for many decades. He had special love for the Tatra mountain region and its people, the “górale”. The following quotations taken from my years long correspondence with him illustrate this. “Please convey to your fellow highlanders  my warmest regards and genuine respect for their tradition of independence, initiative, patriotism, and courage. I have always been attracted to the “Górale”, so keep up the good work”.  “Whenever I think of Poland, I think of the Tatra Mountains, when I think of the Tatra mountains, I think of you”. ” You were a great “fellow traveler and I enjoyed the trip together (to Zakopane) especially to the Castle (Niedzica), to the old church and joint hike up the (Tatra) mountain”.

I think that Zbig would have appreciated the song that górale sing (quoted in Rev. Józef’s “Philosophy, Highlander Style” Filozofia po góralsku “  upon the passing  of their close ones.  “When we leave this place, it will be a pity; In the mountains and valleys, the waters will be crying”. ( Kie pudziemy z tell, to now bedzie skoda, Po górach, dolinach płakać bedie  woda.) Zbig, may you rest in peace.  Cześć.     Dr. Thaddeus V. Gromada and Jane Gromada Kedron, co-editors. &

The photo of Thad Gromada and Zbig Brzezinski in highlander hat was taken in Zakopane in June 2000.



A Special Offer!

November 16, 2015
11-16-2015 5-04-20 PMMy new book “My Years In and Out Of ‘The Ivory Tower’ “is a  detailed record of my activities since 1959 as a scholar, administrator, organizer of academic and cultural events and activist. A selection of my public statements and articles are also  included. The book records my effort to function throughout the last half century as a scholar in “the ivory tower” and a Polonian activist with “his feet on the ground”. For more information see the attachment and the following link   During the months of November and December the book will be available for $10. plus $3. shipping and handling from Tatra Eagle Press, 31 Madison Ave., Hasbrouck Heights, NJ 07604. Please send a check. Payment by Pay Pal is available, but first send your e mail address to and a bill will be sent to you. Warmest regards.

Thaddeus V. Gromada, Ph.D.  

Professor Emeritus of European History
New Jersey City University

Past President & Exec. Dir. PIASA


August 26, 2013


New Book Announcement

Tatra Eagle Press

September 2013


OSKAR HALECKI (1891-1973): Eulogies and Reflections

Edited by Thaddeus V. Gromada

with Preface by Jerzy Wyrozumski

ISBN 978-0-9849187-1-3 – Price $7.99 – 80 pages


The 40th anniversary of the death of Oskar Halecki, one of Poland’s most distinguished historians and the 100th anniversary of his Jagiellonian University doctorate received “sub auspiciis imperatoris” in 1913 prompted his former Fordham University student to publish this book. It contains moving inspirational eulogies delivered at a Memorial Service held on October 20, 1973 in New York City that gave vivid testimony to the greatness and humanity of Oskar Halecki. These tributes paid by prominent American, Polish, Lithuanian, and Ukrainian scholars and notables were never published nor made public. The book also includes recent reflections written by two of Halecki’s former Fordham University students, Dr. Taras Hunczak and Dr. Thaddeus V. Gromada. An addendum enriches the book with pertinent documents, letters, photos and signatures  in the Memorial Guest Book.


Advance Praise for Oskar Halecki 1891-1973: Eulogies and Reflections


Oskar Halecki had been forgotten or ignored by official Polish historiography in an era dominated by the Soviets. It is only in recent years that he became present in Poland’s scholarly discussions. Thaddeus Gromada, the editor of the book, has managed to collect eulogies delivered on the occasion of Halecki’s Memorial Service held in New York in 1973. His text as well as the text contributed by eminent scholars and notables are a vivid reconstruction of the late Professor’s CV and an invaluable source for a historian. Professor Gromada enriched the book with warm recollections of Oskar Halecki as a mentor. As Editor he added unique documents and photos from his private files. Thus, he deserves our gratitude for sharing his memories and giving witness to one of Poland’s greatest historians who during and after World War II found haven in the United States. Tragically, he found it impossible to return to a Poland transformed into the “Polish Peoples Republic”.


Małgorzata Dąbrowska, Professor of Medieval and Byzantine Studies, University of Łódź


About the Editor:


Thaddeus V. Gromada received his M.A. and Ph.D. in East Central European History at Fordham University under the mentorship of Professor Oskar Halecki. He is Professor Emeritus of European History at New Jersey City University. He served as Executive Director of the Polish Institute of Arts & Sciences of America from 1991 to 2011 and its President from 2008 to 2011. In 1991 he edited Oskar Halecki’s posthumous monograph Jadwiga of Anjou and the Rise of East Central Europe which in 1993 he presented to Pope John Paul II before the canonization of Queen Jadwiga.     

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You may also purchase Tatra Highlander Folk Culture In Poland and America: Collected Essays from ‘The Tatra Eagle’ by Thaddeus V. Gromada”

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April 4, 2013


HOW FOLK CULTURES SURVIVE  by Dr. Thaddeus V. Gromada

The Tatra Eagle, Vol. 66, No.1, 2013

One of Poland’s eminent ethnographers, Roman Reinfuss, has put forward  a provocative theory that urban civilization does not by itself cause the extinction of folk cultures. But rather the inferiority complex of village folk vis a vis urban culture  is the actual culprit.   He insists that wherever a folk group has a positive self image and highly values its culture, it can co-exist  and even flourish taking advantage of urban culture’s amenities.  To support his theory he points to the Tatra highlander (góral) folk culture in Podhale, Poland ,  which not only  continues to exist but has moved into a new phase of development.

The “górale” according to him, have a  high self image and are very proud and attached to their folk culture.  No doubt, this positive attitude is due in part , to the myth that Polish elites have created  in the late 19th and early 20th century which lionized and idealized them and which has been  reinforced by more recent accolades from Pope John Paul II and the popular philosopher Rev. Józef Tischner.  The Pope’s famous comment made in the summer of 1997 in Zakopane to a multitude  of 350, 000, that “that I can always depend on you”. (Na Was można zawsze liczyć), will never be forgotten.  Reinfuss’s evidence of the vitality of góral folk culture and its tradition focuses on the following areas:

Strój Ludowy/Folk Attire.  Reinfuss does not deny that urbanization has had its impact on Podhale.  No longer is it common to see górale wearing their traditional attire in everyday life.  But on Sundays, special occasions , religious and national holidays, family celebrations (weddings, christenings, and even funerals) it is a different story.  Suddenly  one will see crowds of górale and góralki proudly wearing their colorful , traditional garments.  If you call them costumes, they will be very offended.  They do not get dressed up in their traditional clothes for the benefit of tourists but rather for their own satisfaction.  The traditional attire is very costly but the highlanders are willing to bear the expense since it makes them feel  good and more honorable and emphasizes their góral identity.  Many are of the opinion that only persons of góral origin should have the privilege of wearing “strój góralski”.

Styl Zakopiański/Góral Architecture.  The houses built in Podhale since the 1950’s are no longer one story chalets built out of logs stripped of their bark that inspired Witkiewicz’s “styl zakopiański”.  Instead two and even three story  brick houses are being built  with interiors equipped with the latest “civilized” comforts.  But like the Japanese the górale were able to  make these improvements  and still retain their traditional architectural style.  The folk  furnishings inside the home are made by góral craftsmen  and the walls are decorated with paintings on glass  by local artists who have revived this traditional art form.

Gwara /Dialect.  Today,  the highlanders  even those with higher education are in effect bilingual, because in addition to speaking literary Polish they also speak in the “gwara góralska” (highlander dialect).  In mixed company the highlanders will speak literary Polish,  but between themselves  especially at home they will  use their dialect.   An interesting phenomenon  has recently developed in Podhale that has surprised scholars.  More and more even ordinary highlanders are expressing themselves by writing poetry using  the “gwara”.  In fact, annual Poetry Festivals are held in various villages giving highlanders  an opportunity to recite their poems in public.  This phenomenon has been studied by Dr. Anna Mlekodaj, from the Podhalańska Państwowa Wyższa Szkoła Zawodowa in Nowy Targ.   The dialect  in prose was used very effectively by Rev. Jozef Tischner, in his best selling book “Historia filozofji po góralsku”.  Yet, there are some who question the use of the góral dialect as a legitimate form of literary expression, because for them it is a dead language.  A góral  will respond, “How could it be a dead language, when I speak it every day to my parents and friends.  It is our mother tongue”.

Muzyka Góralska/Highlander Music.  Folk musicians may be difficult to find in many regions in Poland but that is not the case in Podhale. They can  be found in increasingly large number in almost every Tatra mountain village.  Yes, many of them are old timers, but surprisingly many more are youngsters, teen agers who mastered the art of  fiddling  the ancient Tatra tunes and are eager to display their virtuosity.  You can hear the Tatra Highland ensembles in the hotels, restaurants of Zakopane and its environs that delight the native górale as well as the “cepry” (lowlanders) .  But more important are the spontaneous gatherings of young people in their homes or other spaces where  they  sing and dance to the accompaniment of “muzyka goralska”. These young people are having fun and a jolly good time. For the last forty six years an Annual Festivals featuring the Music, Dance, Song and Art of Podhale known as “Sabałowe Bajania”  have been organized in Bukowina Tatrzanska , usually in the month of August, which attracts several hundreds of highlanders who perform in front of thousands.  These festivals are enormously popular and play an important role in the maintenance of folk culture.   At times other regions in Poland incorporate  into their culture the popular elements of góral culture like for example the “brigand dance” (zbójnicki).  This is not appreciated by the górale who are very  careful not to adopt non-góral elements into their own.

At times there are allegations made that góral folk culture exists in Podhale for commercial reasons, to attract tourists to their region.  But that is not  the case. Podhale, the alpine Tatra mountain region is so beautiful and attractive , that tourists would flock to it even without the local folk culture.

The Tatra folk culture is alive and flourishes  today because the górale continue to be staunchly loyal to the faith and traditions of their góral  ancestors







November 6, 2012


KOPERNIK MEMORIAL ASSOCIATION OF CENTRAL NEW YORK ; 40th ANNIVERARY  ‘GALA CELEBRATION’ held at Dorothy Smith Center, Utica , New York on November 3, 2012  (Remarks delivered by Dr. Thaddeus V. Gromada, Professor Emeritus of European History, New Jersey City University at this event . Following his address he received the Distinguished Polonian Award from the Kopernik Association.)

First, let me highly  commend you for the important work that you have done in the past 40 years. In my mind there is nothing more important than promoting culture, in your case  specifically  advancing and promoting Polish culture to mainstream American society which is essentially a pluralistic society.  Thus you are enriching American society and at the same time making sure that you as Americans of Polish ancestry do not lose your precious Polish cultural heritage.  It seems that Polish Americans are too often in a defensive posture spending a…

View original post 1,272 more words


November 6, 2012

KOPERNIK MEMORIAL ASSOCIATION OF CENTRAL NEW YORK ; 40th ANNIVERARY  ‘GALA CELEBRATION’ held at Dorothy Smith Center, Utica , New York on November 3, 2012  (Remarks delivered by Dr. Thaddeus V. Gromada, Professor Emeritus of European History, New Jersey City University at this event . Following his address he received the Distinguished Polonian Award from the Kopernik Association.)

First, let me highly  commend you for the important work that you have done in the past 40 years. In my mind there is nothing more important than promoting culture, in your case  specifically  advancing and promoting Polish culture to mainstream American society which is essentially a pluralistic society.  Thus you are enriching American society and at the same time making sure that you as Americans of Polish ancestry do not lose your precious Polish cultural heritage.  It seems that Polish Americans are too often in a defensive posture spending a great deal of time energy responding to defamatory allegations, a better strategy is to be in a positive mode emphasizing the values of Polish culture and its contributions to our Western Civilization which obviously, that is what  you are doing.

You certainly did well to choose Mikołaj Kopernik (aka as Nicolaus Copernicus) as the patron of your association.  There are good reasons for you and other Polish Americans to be proud of Kopernik and share in some way in his greatness.  He was born in Torun, Poland in 1473 whose family originally came  from Śląsk. No doubt he was a titan, one of the greatest geniuses who has ever lived on this planet.  He belongs to the real greats, in the class of Aristotle, Newton, Darwin, Einstein, who have made revolutionary breakthroughs  and freed men from ignorance.  His book, “De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestum” written probably between 1515 and 1532 but not published until 1543 when Kopernik was 70 years old and near death, was based on long observations of the skies and mathematical calculations.  With incredible boldness Kopernik repudiated the geo-centric Ptolomaic system accepted for over thousand years and asserted that the sun was the center of our solar system and the earth just one of the heavenly bodies revolving around it.  This  conception paved the way for Galileo, Kepler, Newton and marked the birth of modern science making today’s space age possible.  Just think of it ! Truly, a universal man of the Renaissance, Kopernik was not only one of the greatest astronomers of all time, but he was a physician by training and predilection , an economist who formulated the law of bad money, later known as Gresham’s law, 32 years before it was devised by Sir Thomas Gresham; a statesman ; a soldier who fought the Teutonic Knights showing his loyalty to the Kingdom of Poland ; by necessity , a man skilled in the technical sciences , mechanics, surveying, a poet, and yes a painter.

Poland, the native land of Kopernik , certainly deserves some credit for producing such a genius.  Kopernik did not live and work in a vacuum.  Poland was responsible for providing the social and intellectual environment, the milieu, which made his intellectual growth and development possible.  The Poland of Kopernik’s time was a country that was beginning to enjoy the quasi federation with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania made possible by the marriage between Queen Jadwiga who originally was crowned King of Poland, and Władysław Jagiełło (Jogaila in Lithuanian) the Grand Duke of Lithuania in 1386.  This new body politic eliminated the German Teutonic danger after the Battle of Grunwald in 1410 and extended its borders from the Baltic to the Black seas. The period of the 15th and 16th centuries was Poland’s golden age, ruled by the Jagiellonian kings under the influence  of Christian Humanism and the Renaissance  who managed to govern  with great wisdom, prudence and toleration. Thus making it possible  for diverse peoples of the Polish-Lithuanian Confederation , that is, the Poles, Lithuanians, Ruthenians, ancestors of modern  Ukrainians and Belorusins, Armenians, Tartars, Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Jews, and later Protestants to live in harmony and peace while Western Europe was in turmoil as a result of religious conflicts.  Such enlightened Poles, like Paulus Vladimiri, rector of the Kraków University, anticipated the spirit of the times to come, by advancing religious and social tolerance  at the Council of Constance in 1415, anticipating the modern theories of human rights guided by the principles of peace and mutual respect among nations.   When Casimir IV, the Jagiellonian died in 1492 after a long 45 year reign, Ruthenian Orthodox subjects mourned his death calling  him good and just because he respected their traditions, customs and did not meddle into their ancient laws.  This Jagiellonian legacy of pluralism, moderation and tolerance is today being recalled as Europe begins to face serious demographic changes and cultural instability.

Although in the modern sense Poland’s political system could not be strictly described as a democracy.  It nevertheless had one of the most advanced representative systems in Europe.  Poland never developed an absolute monarchy like France, Prussia or Russia; instead its monarchy was elective and it was severely  limited by  the bi-cameral Parliament known in Polish as the Sejm by 1401.   The Parliament  (Sejm)in control of the magnates and gentry  passed the Polish Habeas Corpus Act in 1430. By 1505 Poland  was definitely on the road to a Constitutional monarchy when the first Polish constitution , the so called “Nihil Novi” Act was passed .”Nothing new about us, without our concurrence”, which meant that the King could not make a decision without the consent of the nobility through the Polish Diet.

Most crucial for Kopernik’s intellectual development was the higher education he received at his alma mater, the Jagiellonian University in Krakow between 1491-1495.  Kopernik was fortunate that Poland had established a university in Kraków as early as 1364, years before the universities at Vienna, Heidelberg and Cologne were founded.  This university was totally reorganized, reformed, reinvigorated  modeled after  the Sorbonne University in Paris model in 1400.  Although the reformed university  was eventually called Jagiellonian University after King Władysław Jagiello, it was really his wife , and co-king, Jadwiga, now St. Jadwiga who was the real founder of the university.  The first endowment came from the sale of her jewelry and other valuables which she bequeathed to the university.  She was the one who was deeply committed to providing higher education not only to Poles but other peoples living in the Polish-Lithuanian Confederation   which included Lithuanians and Ruthenians.  Kraków with its great university became a seat of scholarship where truly humanistic activity took place and attracted both scholars and students from all over Europe but particularly from Hungary and Bohemia.  Indeed, the Jagiellonian University played a key role in integrating East Central Europe with Western culture.

When Kopernik studied at the Jagiellonian University , it was at its most brilliant period.  As early as 1410 it had a special chair in astronomy whose professors included such luminaries as Wojciech Brudzewski, Bartlomiej of Lipnica, Michal of Wrocław and Marcin Król.  They certainly  made an impact on Kopernik so we are justified  to claim  that his native country made a significant contribution in shaping this genius.  He should continue to be an inspiring role model to all people, but especially to  Poles and Polish Americans who claim him as their own and cherish his legacy.  No doubt, he has inspired some of Poland’s greatest mathematicians like Stefan Banach and Nobel prize laureates like Maria Skłodowska Curie (physics and chemistry), Andrew Schally (medicine) Roald Hoffmann (chemistry) and our own Polish American  from Queens, New York, Frank T. Wilczek (physics).  By the way all last three Nobel prize winners were members of the Polish Institute of Arts & Sciences of America while I had the honor to be its Executive Director and President based in New York.  It would be well for us to reflect a bit and ascertain  how faithful are we to the spirit of Kopernik’s intellectual and scientific heritage.  As Polish Americans , how open are we to bold innovative ideas that make human progress possible, of course without accepting ideas that undermine basic human rights, above all respect for the individual human personality

Kopernik made a startling, truly revolutionary breakthrough not only in the field of astronomy but in every field of learning.  His ideas not only revolutionized the way of looking at the universe but man’s relationship to it.  Humanity owes Kopernik a great deal as it begins to push  the frontiers of knowledge in the 21stcentury.


October 16, 2012





Collected Essays from “The Tatra Eagle”

Edited by Thaddeus V. Gromada

ISBN978-0-9849187-0-6 Paper $14.95

Now available @30% discount  $10.00


A sentimental and illuminating collection of insights about  a unique mountain region of Poland which pulsates with invigorating mountain air, native patriotism, regional culture, distinctive traditions, and physical beauty characteristic both if its landscape and of its people.  Engaging to read, educational to absorb, it is the product of genuine scholarship and personal affection on part of its editor, a distinguished Polish-American educator with deep family roots in the Tatra Highlands.”

_Zbigniew Brzezinski, Counselor, Center of Strategic and International Studies.  National Security Advisor under President Jimmy Carter


“There are many reasons to read this book. Part family memoir, part the story of a diasporic community, and part a history of USA and Polish relations, Tatra Highlander Folk Culture in America and Poland is first and foremost about human struggles and triumphs.  Drawing from sixty-five years of the quarterly The Tatra Eagle , this book is a singular accomplishment that captures the story of górale, the people from the Polish Tatra mountains , the beautiful alpine region in south of Poland on the border of Slovakia. I personally have found the book to be an invaluable source of historical information about Central Europe, and ultimately about the many diasporic communities so vital to the USA. This collection in a single volume of Gromada’s best articles is a real treasure.”

_Timothy J. Cooley, Profesor of Ethnomusicology, University of California, Santa Barbara


About the author

Thaddeus V. Gromada received his Ph.D. in East Central European History at Fordham University. He is currently Professor Emeritus of European History at New Jersey City University.  From 1991 to 2011 he served as Executive Director of the Polish Institute of Arts & Sciences of America (PIASA) and from 2008 to 2011 was also its President.  Editor and contributor of several books and author of many articles in scholarly journals dealing with Polish-Czech-Slovak relations, Immigration and Ethnic History of the U.S., and Polish Tatra folk culture. He is the founder and co-editor with his sister Jane Gromada Kedron of The Tatra Eagle (Tatrzański Orzeł). Elected honorary member of the Związek Podhalan (Highlanders Alliance) in Poland as well as in America. In 2000 he received the Commanders Cross of Merit from the President of Poland


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