K.F. Members Dislike
Members and friends of the Kościuszko Foundation (K.F.) are dismayed that this prestigious Polish American educational and cultural organization has descended into the arena of partisan Polish politics. This is contrary to the K.F.’s educational mission, because a one sided, or propagandistic, presentation of what is at stake in Polish politics violates the very principles which the Foundation espouses.
This February, at the Brunch following the 2016 Annual International Polonaise Ball, K.F. Chairman Alex Storozynski lavished praise on Lech Walesa and thereby violated truth and memory by applauding the “achievements” of this Soviet agent of influence, with the code named Bolek. Several Polish patriots followed the lead of Mr. Zygmunt Staszewski, one of the founders of Solidarity who was thrown into prison by Jaruzelski’s Junta on the night of 13 December 1981 and today is an effective national director of the Polish American Congress, who walked out rather than listen to Chairman Storozynski’s preposterous praise for an enemy of Poland and the Poles. This incident shows where Chairman Storozynski stands, and patriotic Polish Americans strongly disagree with him.
Unlike the United States, Poland has a parliamentary system of government. Following the 2015 Polish presidential and parliamentary elections, the victorious political party, Truth and Justice, formed a Government by appointing their members to take charge of the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Defense, and the other departments of state. The party, or coalition of parties, which loses a parliamentary election forms the Opposition to the Government. The Opposition proposes policies which criticize and compete with the Government’s conduct of public affairs. Today, the transformed communists are the Opposition and the patriots are the Government.
A fair-minded and balanced view requires considering the views of both Government and Opposition. If the views of only one side are considered, then there is no political conversation, only propaganda. When responsible business or governmental officials go on a fact finding trip to a parliamentary country they meet with both Government and Opposition to understand both, or several, sides of an issue. For example, when he visited Poland en route to the NATO Summit in Newport, Wales, in late August and early September 2014, United States Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) met with a key member of the Opposition, Sejm Deputy Antoni Macierewicz, who formerly served as Minister of the Interior and Minister of Defense. Truth and justice for the victims of the Smolensk Disaster of 10 April 2010, the top contentious issue in Polish public opinion, was a key topic at this meeting.
Over the past six years, the leadership of the K.F. has been putting forward only the transformed communists’ excessively optimistic interpretation of contemporary Polish politics and society. Patriots strongly disagree and call this rosy view retailed by the transformed communist elite the propaganda of success. Ideological indoctrination is contrary to the K.F.’s educational mission and is a disservice to the Foundation’s members and to American public opinion. Overt partisan engagement on the side of the Government diminishes the K.F.’s prestige as America’s top Polish American educational, cultural, and charitable organization. Moreover, K.F. members wonder why they should contribute money to support propaganda rather than education.
Readers recall that, over the near term, the Polish Government only has been making small contributions to the K.F. This calls our attention to ideology, rather than money, as the explanation for why the K.F.’s leadership is deviating from the K.F.’s educational mission based on free inquiry and debate among competing points-of-view and explanations.
The most telling example of the K.F. leadership’s preference to publicize just one side of important issues is its negative attitude toward THE INSTITUTE OF WORLD POLITICS. In June 2010, then K.F. Trustee Mr. Adam M. Bak, who served on the Board of Trustees from 1999 to 2010, and who is the founder and owner of ADAMBA Imports International, Inc., wanted his family’s charity, The Adam M. Bak Foundation, to hold a fund raiser for relief of Polish flood victims at K.F. House. Mr. Bak wanted the keynote speaker at this fundraiser to be Professor John Lenczowski, who organized, in 1990, The Institute of World Politics (I.W.P.), a graduate school of international affairs and national security studies in Washington, DC with close links to United States armed services and intelligence agencies. Professor Lenczowski served on President Reagan’s national security council as an expert on the Soviet Union and the world communist movement.
I.W.P. also hosts the still only partially endowed $2 million Kościuszko Chair of Polish Studies. The first and present holder of the Kościuszko Chair is Professor Marek Jan Chodakiewicz, who earned the Ph.D. degree in history at Columbia University and wrote several important monographs, in Polish and English, on twentieth century Polish history that put forward the truth about Polish – Jewish relations during the World War II era.
Professor Chodakiewicz also is known for his careful research and persuasive interpretations of recent Polish history which challenge the propaganda of success, which is the official Polish Government view that: all is well in Poland after the collapse of communism followed by Poland’s accession to NATO and the European Union. Professor Chodakiewicz’s books and articles persuade us that communism never collapsed in Poland, instead it was transformed, making for a cosmetic rather than an essential change. In a nutshell, continuity in both policies and personnel outweigh change from communist times to the present. Because lustration, the weeding-out of communists from key positions in Polish government and society, was started but never completed by any Polish Government, Poland continues to have second class status in NATO. This less optimistic view of contemporary Polish politics and society identified with Professor Chodakiewicz and I.W.P. is anything but congenial to the transformed communist Polish Government and their supporters in the United States.
In June 2010, Mr. Bak told this writer that the then president of the K.F., Mr. Alexander Storozynski, refused to permit Professor Lenczowski, or anyone else from I.W.P., to speak at the fund raiser for Polish flood victims which Mr. Bak’s Foundation wanted to hold at K.F. House. Mr. Bak, well known as a man of principle, who resigned as a national director of the Polish American Congress (PAC) in 2007 following PAC President Frank J. Spula’s volte face in the Jan Kobylanski affair, refused to disinvite Professor Lenczowski to be the keynote speaker at his fund raiser for Polish flood victims. Instead, and to his great credit, at the eleventh hour, Mr. Bak did what honor required and changed the venue of his fund raiser to the Polish Consulate General in the elegant De Lamar Mansion. In this case, the Polish Government showed a more liberal spirit toward its critics than did Mr. Storozynski’s authoritarian and censorious K.F.
Later in 2010, Mr. Adam Bak decided to resign as a K.F. Trustee. Mr. Storozynski’s ideologically based decision to exclude an IWP speaker from K.F. House was harmful, because it deprived the K.F. of Mr. Bak’s financial support and his sage advice. Moreover, it prevented a New York City audience from learning about IWP, which still is not as well known in Polish America as it should be since most Polish American organizations are dominated by transformed communist sympathizers.
Mr. Bak told this writer that Mr. Storozynski never explained why he refused to permit Professor Lenczowski to speak at K.F. House. Others also say Mr. Storozynski delivers orders, brooks no opposition, and avoids debate. This leadership style is anything but appropriate for an educational and cultural organization like the K.F. which espouses free inquiry and open competition among competing interpretations as the way to advance knowledge. Instead, Mr. Storozynski’s moral style is based on intimidation.
Mr. Storozynski, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, dictates rather than debates. Until very recently, few dared to challenge the decisions of this Pulitzer Prize winner whose detrimental leadership is harmful to the K.F.
This Spring, Mr. Storozynski, as Chairman of the K.F. Board of Trustees, demanded a date certain for the resignation of K.F. President John Micgiel, a scholarly and fair minded man whose long service at Columbia University was distinguished by intellectual honesty, which requires presenting all sides, or interpretations, of an issue. To his credit President Micgiel refused to resign. Insiders say that Mr. Storozynski violated the K.F. By-Laws and exceeded his authority as Chairman by calling for President Micgiel’s ouster. Nevertheless, President Micgiel resigned after having counted the large number of K.F. trustees appointed by Mr. Storozynski, many of whom insiders say are subservient to the Chairman and have no appreciation for the anti-communist traditions of the K.F. exemplified by the Foundation’s organizer, Professor Stefan Miezwa. President Micgiel saw no hope that enough trustees would vote to let him continue his good work for the K.F. Concerned K.F. members wonder if those K.F. trustees recently appointed by Chairman Storozynski are making their $5,000 required annual contribution.
At the Pro-Arte League Luncheon, 6 November 2016, President Micgiel and his wife were present. This writer also was present and checked with others at the Luncheon to verify that the name of Alex Storozynski was not mentioned at this event, as it was at previous Luncheons. Moreover, the PEASANT PRINCE was not, as it was at previous Luncheons, offered as a raffle prize. This writer heard many present at Luncheon wonder how much more damage Mr. Storozynski might do to the reputation of the K.F. Many opined that it is high time for Mr. Storozynski to resign and bring back Professor Micgiel.
Concerned K.F. members also strongly disagree with Mr. Storozynski’s decision to show, at K.F. House, where he installed a pop-corn machine that does not belong in an elegant townhouse like K.F. headquarters, a tendentious documentary film about the Smolensk Disaster, prepared by the National Geographic Society and the British Broadcasting Corp., without sufficient opportunity for rebuttal. Some say this documentary film was funded by the Kremlin. By showing this film, the K.F. expressed support for the official Russian MAK and Tusk Government Miller Commission Reports on the Smolensk Disaster. This probably explains why no K.F. officials participated in Minister Antoni Macierewicz’s lecture on “The Smolensk Disaster and Security Challenges Facing Eastern Europe” at the Rutgers World Leaders Forum on 24 February 2015. Many say K.F. officials would be numerous at a lecture delivered at a prestigious American University by former Polish Prime Minister Leszek Miller, a model example of the transformed communists who rule Poland today.
At the Fourth Annual Transatlantic Forum on Russia, held at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, on the morning of 17 November 2016, the Director of the Polish Institute of International Affairs, Dr. Slawomir Debski, a proponent of dialogue with the Kremlin, pleasantly surprised this writer when he stated, as one of the panelists exploring “How to Build a Common European Policy Approach Toward Russia”, that the refusal of the Kremlin to return to Poland the wreckage of President Lech Kaczynski’s airplane is part of the Putin regime’s plan to intimidate and threaten Poland and by extension other former Warsaw Pact countries. Also at the Forum, Dr. Andreas Umland, Fellow, Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation, called for implementing the Polish project of the Intermarium to deter Russian aggression. Professor Marek Jan Chodakiewicz is the principal proponent of encouraging the United States to support the Intermaruim initiative. Among the leaders of top educational and cultural organizations only Chairman Storozynski continues to resist presenting to his membership the truth about the Smolensk Disaster and to inviting Professor Chodakiewicz to speak at the K.F. on the Intermarium.
The re-routing of cultural programs, from K.F. House in New York City to the recently purchased and less attractive K.F. townhouse on “O” Street in Washington, DC, cause K.F. members to fear that certain Trustees want to sell the elegant townhouse on New York City’s Museum Mile, and re-locate K.F. headquarters to Washington, DC. Though he recently denied that he wants to sell KF House in New York City, insiders say that Mr. Storozynski wants to relocate K.F. headquarters to Washington, DC in order to make himself the boss of political and cultural organizations in Polish America.
In 2000, the 80th Anniversary Commemoration at K.F. House of the Battle of Warsaw, 15 August 1920, was a great success, with Professor Zbigniew Brzezinski, Professor Anna Cienciala and Professor Jan Karski as top speakers. On Mr. Storozynski’s watch there was no 90th Anniversary Commemoration of the 1920 Battle of Warsaw which led to Poland’s victory in the Polish-Soviet war of 1919-1921. This dismayed patriotic K.F. members.
For these reasons, concerned members of the K.F. will withhold their contributions until the K.F. Board of Trustees, or its Executive Committee agrees to do three things. First, invite Professor Marek Jan Chodsakiewicz to deliver a lecture on the Intermarium at K.F. House in New York City. Second, show the documentary film on the Smolensk Disaster prepared by the Macierewicz Committee. Third, give a full and fair description of how Mr. Storozynski was nominated and elected to the Board of Trustees in 2014 so members can judge whether his election conformed to the K.F.’s By-Laws.
Paid for by Concerned Members of the Kosciuszko Foundation
Written by John Czop