A list of famous Poles and people from Poland.
Nicholaus Copernicus (1473- 1543) A Renaissance mathematician and astronomer who formulated a heliocentric view of the universe. Copernicus was born in Thorn, Prussia, an autonomous region in the old Kingdom of Poland.
Frederick Chopin (1810-1849) One of the greatest classical composers for the piano. Born in Poland, Chopin fused traditional classical styles with Polish folk music. Chopin became an emigre, living in Paris, after the failed 1830 revolution; he retained a link to Polish nationalism in his music.
Marie Curie. (1867 – 1934) Polish physicist and chemist. Discovered radiation and helped to apply it in the field of X-ray. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in both Chemistry and Physics.
Maximilian Kolbe (1894-1941 ) was a Franciscan priest who encouraged devotion to Mary and was committed to praying for those hostile to the Church. In 1941, he was arrested for sheltering Jews and sent to Auschwitz. He volunteered to take the place of a man condemned to death.
Witold Pilecki (1901 – 1948) After the German occupation of Poland, Pilecki joined the underground Polish resistance and later volunteered to smuggle himself into Auschwitz concentration camp so he could report on the holocaust to the allies. He then escaped Auschwitz and took part in the Warsaw uprising of 1944. In 1948, he was executed by the Stalinist secret police for retaining loyalty to the non-Communist Polish government.
Czeslaw Milosz (1911 – 2004) was a Polish writer and poet. He defected to the West in 1951, writing a classic anti-Stalinist book ‘The Captive Mind’ (1953) He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1980. He returned to Poland after the fall of Communism.
Pope John Paul II (1920 – 2005) Had a great effect on many lives that he touched. People felt he was a sincere and compassionate person. Lived through two very difficult periods of Poland’s history – occupation by Nazi Germany and Communist era, before becoming Poland’s first pope.
Wislawa Szymborska (1923 – 2012) Polish poet, essayist. She received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996. She has been described as the ‘Mozart of Poland’ Her poetry was noted for its ironic precision, irony and ambiguity.
Andrzej Wajda (1926 -) Polish film director. Wadja has received an honorary Oscar and is the leading figure in the ‘Polish Film School.’ He is best known for his trilogy of war films and depiction of Poland’s social and political upheavals. In the early 1980s he became active in the Solidarity movement.
Roman Polanski (1933 -) Polish film director. Since his début in 1962 with his first feature-length film, Polanski has become one of the most influential post-war film directors. He has received numerous awards for his film direction, including films such as Knife in the Water, Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown, and The Pianist
Lech Walesa (1943-) Leader of Polish Solidarity Movement had helped to bring about the end of one-party Communist rule. Became first non-Communist President in 1991. Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983.
Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan.”Famous Polish people”, Oxford, UK www.biographyonline.net, 3rd March 2013. Last updated 22 February 2018.
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