(Jul. 27, 1906 - Sep. 14, 2000)
proclaimed by UNESCO and Polish Parliament, the Sejm
July 27, 2006, marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Jerzy Giedroyc, who, as founder 60 years ago of the Instytut Literacki (Literary Institute, initially in Rome before moving to Maison Laffitte in Paris) and editor of its legendary Paris-based émigré monthly, "Kultura", was one of the less-visible pillars of the democratic opposition through his creation of a forum-in-exile for an uncensored exchange of views by independent thinkers - writers and readers - both outside and inside Poland. Recently compared with 19th century poet Adam Mickiewicz for his defense of Polish culture during 40 years of Soviet influence, and admired for his dedication to the eventual independence of Poland, the independence of his own views nevertheless made him a figure of controversy for a long time even within the Polish émigré community.
"Kultura" became an important venue for writers like Jozef Czapski, Witold Gombrowicz, Juliusz Mieroszewski, Czeslaw Milosz, Gustaw Herling-Grudzinski, Marek Hlasko, and many others. Copies of the monthly were smuggled in backpacks into Poland, as well as the many books published by the Instytut Literacki and, from 1962, the semi-annual and later quarterly "Zeszyty Historyczne" (Historical Journals) devoted to the recent history of Central Europe. These writings smuggled into Poland provided much of the intellectual underpinning for pro-democratic thinking during the years of protest and repression.
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