Order of Polonia Restituta

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Order of Polonia Restituta
Grand Cross with miniature order

The Order Polonia Restituta ( Polish Order Odrodzenia Polski , German  Order of the Rebirth of Poland ) is the second highest civil award of the Third Polish Republic after the Order of the White Eagle and was the second highest award of the Second Republic . In the People's Republic of Poland it was the second highest civilian award after the Order of Builders of People 's Poland .

Insignia of the Order

1921–1945 (Second Republic), 1945–1990 (Government in exile in London), from 1990 Third Republic

The order cross has four arms, the obverse is white enamelled with a gold border. In the center there is a round medallion with a white crowned eagle, which is surrounded by a blue enameled band with gold inscription Polonia Restituta . In the lapel, the cross is smooth, golden, in the middle there is a round medallion with the year 1918 , which stands for the re-establishment of the Polish state.

The breast star (only grand crosses and grand officers) is silver, eight-pointed and has a white medallion with golden letters RP (Rzeczpospolita Polska, Republic of Poland) in the middle , which is surrounded by a blue enameled band with the inscription Polonia Restituta .

The ribbon of the Order is red, with two white stripes on both sides (identical to the ribbon of the Order of Saint Stanislaus of the First Republic). The order is awarded by the President of the Republic after consultation with the Chapter of the Order .

1944–1990 (communist rule, republic and people's republic)

Until around 1949 the order cross was kept almost unchanged, but the eagle was exchanged for an uncrowned one and the year in the reverse was changed to 1944 (proclamation of the new Republic of Poland by the Lublin Committee ). The appearance of the breast star remained unchanged for the time being. The tape was retained without changes. Around 1949 the name of the state was changed to "People's Republic of Poland". The breast star was then given the monogram PRL ( Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa, People's Republic of Poland ). The crosses of all five classes have been enlarged by about 10%. The ribbon remained unchanged.

Classes and wearing styles

The order consists of five classes:

The sash of the Grand Cross is worn from the right shoulder to the left hip, the star of this class on the left chest. The grand officer's star is worn on the right breast, along with the corresponding neck decoration. The Commander's Cross (3rd grade) is also a neck decoration. The officer's cross (4th grade, on the ribbon with rosette) and the knight's cross (5th grade) are worn on the left chest. In the case of several awards of the order to the same person, one was only allowed to wear the currently highest level.

History of the Order

In 1920 the Council of Ministers proposed, in addition to the renewal of the Order of the White Eagle, the establishment of a three-class Order of Merit, Order civili . However, this plan was dropped. On February 4, 1921, the four-class order Polonia Restituta was founded in the form described above, and a chapter was constituted. By virtue of his office, the head of state became the owner and grand master, and the eight-member chapter was to appoint a chancellor, secretary and treasurer. In that year 76 Polish citizens received the medal.

With the introduction of the officer's cross with rosette on the ribbon on April 28, 1922, the order was expanded to five classes. 216 people received the medal, including 129 foreigners (presidents, prime ministers, ministers, only grand crosses). In this year, the taxes to be paid for the award of the order were introduced, so bearers of the Grand Cross had to pay 150,000 mp. , Grand officers 85,000 mp., Commander 40,000 mp., Officers 30,000 mp. and knight 20,000 mp. pay to the state. In 1923 984 awards were made, and the three-class Cross of Merit of the Republic of Poland (breast decoration only) was created in order to limit the awards of the Polonia Restituta.

In 1925 new award criteria were created. From now on, the Grand Cross could only be awarded to persons with the rank of Prime Minister, Cardinal or Marshal, Grand officers had to have the rank of Minister, Archbishop, Chairman of the Supreme Court or Colonel General. The commander's cross was reserved for bishops, undersecretaries, ordinaries or lieutenant general and major. For the lower levels, the criteria were set lower, but it was now impossible for a smaller officer or NCO to get the award.

Between 1921 and 1939, almost 5,000 foreigners received the medal in various classes, half of which were French, Romanians and Americans. From 1931 to 1938, 3221 awards were made to Polish citizens, including 46 awards of the Grand Cross. The Polish government in exile continued to award the order from 1939 to 1945, but to a very limited extent as new award criteria were created. The order was to be given primarily to Polish and foreign military personnel, so only about 100 awards were made, of which about 20 were grand crosses.

The Lublin “Committee of National Liberation” (which consisted primarily of communists), which was not yet recognized by any power except Moscow, decreed on December 23, 1944 the “renewal” of the Polonia Restituta order as described above, whereby the chapter was abolished. Until 1990, the order was therefore awarded by two bodies: the government of the "People's Republic" and the London government in exile , which was recognized by the Vatican , Spain and Portugal until 1970 .

Warsaw awarded the medal fairly sparingly until around 1970, but after 1975 the number of awards rose significantly, and the lower grades in particular were increasingly awarded. The order was very popular at the time, as it brought a pension allowance. Small office workers, civil servants and village mayors also had the opportunity to receive it; a good relationship with the local party secretary was necessary. Awards under General Wojciech Jaruzelski after the state of war were particularly hated by the people . Numerous functionaries of the militia (police), the secret police and similar institutions received the award, popularly it was now called " Polonia prostituta ". The London government in exile continued to award the medal, but very sparingly. Annually on the day of the religious feast of November 11th a maximum of ten awards took place, mainly to exiled Poles. All of these awards were recognized by the 3rd Polish Republic after 1990.

Well-known medal bearers


  • Władysław Bończa-Tomaszewski: Kodeks orderowy. Przepisy obowiązujące posiadaczy orderów odznaczeń medali i odznak, etc. sn, Warszawa 1939.
  • Paul Hieronymussen: Orders, Medals and Decorations of Britain and Europe in Color. Blandford Press, London 1967.
  • Arnhard Graf Klenau: European medals from 1700. Catalog, without Germany. VVA et al., Gütersloh et al. 1978, ISBN 3-921566-05-3 .
  • Václav Měřička : Book of Orders and Decorations. Hamlyn, London et al. 1975, ISBN 0-600-36731-2 .
  • Zbigniew Puchalski, Ireneusz J. Wojciechowski: Ordery i odznaczenia polskie i ich kawalerowie. Krajowa Agencja Wydawnicza, Warszawa 1987, ISBN 83-03-02143-5 .

Web links

Commons : Order Odrodzenia Polski - Order of Polonia Restituta  - album with pictures, videos and audio files