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Polonia Restituta

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Polonia Restituta

Order of Polonia Restituta

Current versions of Polonia Restituta
Awarded by the President of Poland
Country  Poland
Type Five classes
Eligibility All
Awarded for Extraordinary and distinguished service
Status Currently awarded[1]
Statistics
Established 4 February 1921
Precedence
Next (higher) Order Virtuti Militari
Next (lower) Order of the Military Cross

The Order of Polonia Restituta (Polish: Order Odrodzenia Polski, English: Order of Rebirth of Poland) is one of Poland's highest Orders. The Order can be conferred for outstanding achievements in the fields of education, science, sport, culture, art, economics, national defense, social work, civil service, or for furthering good relations between countries. It was established on 4 February 1921 and can be awarded to both civilians and soldiers, as well as to foreigners.

History

The Order of Polonia Restituta is commonly believed to be the successor to the Order of the Knights of Saint Stanislaus, Bishop and Martyr (known simply as the Order of Saint Stanislaus) established by the last King of the Polish-Lithuanian CommonwealthStanisław August Poniatowski, to honor supporters of the Polish Crown. It was established on 7 May 1765, its number fixed at a total of 100, and required the Knights a payment of fees that were donated to benefit the poor as well as adherence to various rules of chivalry. Due to the rising influence of the Russian Empire on Central European affairs the rules of awarding of the Order were broken. After the Partitions of Poland the Order was resurrected in the Duchy of Warsaw, bestowing upon its recipients the title of hereditary nobility and requiring donations to a Warsaw hospital. After the November Uprising the Order was entirely taken over by the Russian Empire.

When Poland regained its independence in 1918, the government abolished this Order due to the severe abuses of its rules by the Russians who often awarded their version to those who - according to the dominant view in newly independent Poland - had been responsible for the destruction of Poland and Polish culture. Instead the Order of Polonia Restituta was established to once again reward the noble values that the original stood for. The Order was established on 4 February 1921 and the first Grand Master of the Order - Marshal Józef Piłsudski awarded the first Orders on 13 July 1921. The Order also became Poland's main honor for foreigners and was awarded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

After World War II both the Polish government-in-exile and the People's Republic of Poland were awarding the Order though the versions differed slightly. Despite communist control the Order's prestige remained safe and it was even given to many people who were hardly model communists. The Order was saved from abuse as it was simply passed over in favor of more traditional communist awards. During this time the Order of Merit of Poland became the favored award for foreigners. On 22 December 1990 the Polish government-in-exile returned the rights to its version of the Order to the new Polish state. Invalid awards have been revoked and today the remaining communist versions of the Order hold the same status as any other issues.

Classes

The Order has five classes:

1. Grand Cross (Krzyż Wielki)
2. Commander's Cross with Star (Krzyż Komandorski z Gwiazdą)
3. Commander's Cross (Krzyż Komandorski)
4. Officer's Cross (Krzyż Oficerski)
5. Knight's Cross (Krzyż Kawalerski)

The badge of the order is a gold Maltese cross enamelled in white. The obverse central disc bears a white eagle on red background (the Coat of Arms of Poland) surrounded by a blue ring bearing the words "Polonia Restituta". The reverse central disc bears the year 1918 (for the People's Republic of Poland version, 1944). It is worn on a ribbon, red with a white stripe near the edges, as a sash on the right shoulder for Grand Cross, around the neck for Commander with Star and Commander, on the left chest with rosette for Officer, and on the left chest without rosette for Knight.

The star of the order is an eight-pointed silver star with straight rays. The central disc is in white enamel, bearing the monogram "RP" (Republic of Poland) (for the People's Republic of Poland, "PRL") and surrounded by a blue ring bearing the Latin words "Polonia Restituta".

Award process

Among civilian awards, the order is second only to the rarely awarded Order of the White Eagle. Historically the Order entitled its recipient to a state pension. As such nominees for the award are evaluated by a special committee responsible for upholding the honor of the order. The Chapter of Polonia Restituta is composed of a Grand Master and eight members appointed by him who serve five year terms. Upon becoming elected the President of Poland is automatically awarded the order and becomes the Grand Master of the Order Chapter. The names of new recipients are published in the Monitor Polski, a publication required to provide announcements of legal decisions to the public.

Notable recipients

References

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