Last modified: 2002-12-28 by
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This is a flag used by the Union of Polish Tatars (Zwiazek Tatarow Polskich or Polonya Tatar Birlik), the foremost organization of the remnants of a once prosperous and influential ethno-religious group of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. From feared invaders in the XIII Century, the Tatars evolved into one of the most patriotic elements of the Polish nation. Treated with respect and equality, allowed complete religious freedom, they served with enthusiasm and numerous sacrifices their new fatherland. Over the years most of them lost their language and even the religion of their fathers by blending into Polish nobility and general population. Wars, partitions and border changes affected them severely, and today only about 5 thousand remain faithful to their tradition and Islam. But their involvement in epic struggles in defense of Poland, from the wars with the Teutonic Knights to fierce resistance against German-Soviet invasion of 1939 entitle them a special place in the society. They are not treated as a minority but as equal compatriots, just of different religion. In the Polish III Republic they have a chance to flourish again. Besides two archaic mosques in Kryszyniany and Bohoniki (near Bialystok), a new and modern mosque was built in Gdansk and cultural centers opened in Bialystok and Warsaw. Most recently, the Union of Polish Tatars and Polish Islamic Association issued statements condemning the attack on the WTC.
Chrystian Kretowicz, 9 Oct 2001
I have seen references to Tartars living in the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania, specifically in areas which are now parts of Belarus. I believe that some of them were refugees from the protracted strife on the steppe, which followed the Mongol conquest, and some were prisoners of war captured by one of the Polish Kings and transported along with their families to
provide forced labor on Polish estates.
David L. Barrett, 8 Dec 2002