Polish Music Journal
Vol. 4, No. 2, Winter 2001. ISSN 1521 - 6039




Appeals for Polish Victims' Relief Fund

by Ignacy Jan Paderewski



I. Grief Over War Stays Hand of Polish Genius [1]


How can I compose when my Poland is in misery? War is raging over her soil, sweeping away every sign of civilization, destroying dwellings, devastating fields, gardens, and forest, starving and exterminating human beings and animals alike. Only very few could flee to the places which are still holding their own against the aggressors: the great majority, almost eleven millions of helpless women and children, homeless peasants, unemployed workmen, the very essence and strength of a nation, have been driven out into the open. Thousands and thousands are living among ruins, in woods, or in hollows, feeding on roots and on the bark of trees.

And you ask me why I do not compose! Why I do not play in concert! Can one with true patriotism, true love of country, set his mind on aught else than the heartrending cries of his people, "Some bread for Polish women and children! Some seed for Polish farmers!"



II. Paderewski's Speech in San Francisco [2]

There has never been - and I must emphasize the fact strongly - a race or a creed persecuted in Poland under our Polish rule. From some people's point of view this may have been one of our political errors; but it is our pride, and I say a legitimate pride. Poland's misfortune was her geographical position. As the extreme European east, without any boundary between her and Asia - authorities have never been able to decide just where Asia begins - Poland was predestined to be always the first to receive the shock of Tartar, Mongolian, and Turkish invasion. Polish bravery saved not only Vienna and Austria, but Christianity. They saved the European west from inevitable invasion and destruction.

All the momentous reforms instituted by our talented but unfortunate last king were put an end to by Prussian and Russian violence. Public education had been instituted for the first time in the history of the world; a small permanent army was established; the gradual emancipation of peasants and the abolition of serfdom were started - these reforms only helped to bring on our downfall.

But Poland did not fall alone.
With her fell the honor of three empires.
They fell into the deepest mire and they will not get out and cleanse themselves unless our freedom is restored to us.

Considering the abnormal circumstance of her existence, it is astonishing how rich and intense has been her intellectual and artistic life. The University of Cracow was founded in 1364, four hundred years before that of Petrograd. One of her children was Nicholas Copernicus, the great astronomer; poets we had who wrote in Latin or Polish.

Personally I esteem as the most remarkable achievement of Poland's versatile genius her school of sacred music, which flourished in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Composers were numerous and gifted; we had contemporaries of Palestrina in no way inferior to him.

But the most amazing proof of the extraordinary vitality of our race is the development of Polish literature during our last war for independence. It was given to a poet to express in song our faith and sorrow, our los and our hope, to carry far from his motherland the message of beauty, to reach every land, to enter almost every home: that poet was Frederic Chopin. Others, like Sienkiewicz, expressed themselves in literature. The discoverer of radium was a Polish woman; Mme Sembrich, the incomparable artist, is a Pole; so was the great Modjeska, who lived and died in this sunny California.

At the present moment Poland is, in a measure, only a memory: it is a vast desert, an immense ruin, a colossal cemetery.

Millions of peasants, of Jewish shopkeepers, millions of bereaved parents and helpless widows and orphans are wandering about in this desolate country, hiding in the woods, feeding on roots, happy if they find in a deserted trench the decaying remnants of soldiers' food. Out of 2,500,000 soldiers native of Poland scarcely one-quarter remains.

The number of babies to whom their mothers have nothing to give but their tears is appalling. What will become of these poor innocents if there is another winter campaign?

My errand is not one of hatred, but of love. I do not seek to excite passions; I only try to create compassion. speak about Poland to your friends. Tell them that this people gave you Kosciusko, [sic!] when you too were in need. Some may be moved by your words; God will bless him, as He will bless you.




III. Poland: An Address [3]


The present European war on the eastern front is raging exclusively over Polish soil. It is sweeping away every sign of civilization, destroying dwellings, devastating fields, gardens, and forests, starving and exterminating human beings and animals alike. Two hundred towns, fourteen hundred churches, seven thousand five hundred villages have been completely ruined. The losses in property destroyed, and in agricultural, industrial and commercial production brought to an absolute standstill, amount to $2,500,000,000.

A total of eighteen million inhabitants, including nearly two million Jews, are continuously enduring the horrors of this gigantic struggle. Only very few could flee to the places which are still holding their own against the aggressors; the great majority, almost eleven millions of helpless women and children, homeless peasants, unemployed workmen, the very essence and strength of a nation, have been driven out into the open. Thousands and thousands are hiding among ruins, in woods, or in hollows; feeding on roots and on the bark of the trees.

To provide an immediate aid to this almost incredible number of sufferers, to concentrate the efforts of all who may be touched by so appalling a distress, a General Polish Relief Committee has been formed on a neutral soil, in Lausanne, Switzerland. The President of that Committee is the greatest of Poland's living sons, Henryk Sienkiewicz, the writer; its members are all men of high standing, universally respected, representing the three parts of ancient Poland, all united by the one desire to lessen the sufferings of our countrymen without distinction of race, religion, or political opinion.

Polish Relief Committees have been organized in this country, but, however noble are the hearts of the organizers, however great the generosity of their supporters, the means so far collected will relieve but a very limited number of sufferers. And there are millions of families helpless, hungry, sick, succumbing. In the face of such a disaster individual efforts must remain inefficient.

Only a great wave of mankind's pity can surmount so immense a wave of human misery.
Only a great, enlightened, generous nation can help effectually our perishing multitudes.

Nobody knows better than I do the kindness and generosity of the American people. Ardent and prompt, warm-hearted, free-handed, they always respond with the enthusiasm of youth to everything that is true, sincere.

Is there anything more true than human pain?
Is there anything more sincere than the cry for help from those who suffer?

In the name of charity, in the name of common humanity, I, therefore, appeal to the great American people. They have already given much to other stricken nations; they may be tired of giving; yet I am certain that there is no one in this noble nation that will condemn me for asking, even before our thirst for liberty is relieved.

Some bread for the Polish women and children!
Some seed for the Polish farmers!




IV. Paderewski Pleads for Food for Poland's Starving Millions [4]

The horrors of the gigantic struggle sweeping back and forth over Poland - the war's "Eastern Front," have overwhelmed more than eighteen million inhabitants, including nearly two million Jews. Fully eleven millions of helpless women and children, peasants, workmen, the very essence and strength of the nation, have been driven into the open.

Thousands are hiding among ruins, in woods or in hollows, subsisting on roots and the bark of the trees. Hundreds of thousands of once prosperous families are helpless, hungry, sick and succumbing.

Only a great wave of mankind's pity can surmount so immense a wave of human misery.
Only a great, enlightened and generous nation can help effectually our perishing nation.

Thousands must die. They are doomed. Help cannot reach them in time. But the nucleus of a continuing Poland - a Poland which although now politically non-existent has never ceased to live as a national spirit - we hope to save - we must save.

Nobody knows better than I the kindness and generosity of the American people. Ardent and prompt, warm-hearted and free-handed, they always respond with the enthusiasm of youth to everything that is true and sincere.

Is there anything more true than human pain?
Is there anything more sincere than the cry for help from those who suffer?

In the name of Christian charity, in the name of common humanity, I therefore appeal tot he great American people to help through the National American Committee of the Polish Victims' Relief Fund. Americans already have given much to other stricken nations; they may be tired of giving; yet I am certain there is no soul in this noble country who will condemn me for asking -

Some bread for the Polish women and children!
Some food for the Polish farmers!




NOTES

[1].
Original publication data: Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Grief Over War Stays Hand of Polish Genius," appeal published in an unknown newspaper, 31 May 1915. Copy in the Polish Music Center at USC. [Back]

[2].
Original publication data: Ignacy Jan Paderewski, "Paderewski's Speech" in "Paderewski as Orator and Pianist in San Francisco," Musical Courier, 2 September 1915. Report of a concert on 1 September 1915, held at the Exposition Festival Hall and consisting of music by Chopin.[Back]

[3].
Original publication data: Ignacy Jan Paderewski, "Poland" in Program of A Recital for the Polish Victims' Relief Fund. Boston, MA, Symphony Hall, 10 October 1915. The program of this recital included the Address by Paderewski and a performance of five works by Fryderyk Chopin: Ballade in A-flat, Op. 47; Sonata in B-flat, Op. 35; Nocturne in G major, Op. 37; Mazurka in A minor, Op. 17; and Polonaise in A-flat, Op. 53. The program included also the religious hymn Bożoś Polskę [God Save Poland], arranged for voice and piano and entitled "Polish National Anthem." The statement on the title page made clear the patriotic nature of this event: Poland - United Only in Anguish and in Hope." The program brochure included also the following inscription: "The Daughters of Poland Walk in Sorrow, Mourning for their Children, their Husbands, their Lovers. Desolation has fallen upon the Land of their Home. Let your heart Feel their Grief. Let your Pity sustain them." Copy of the program is in the collection of the Polish Music Center at USC.[Back]

[4].
Original publication data: Ignacy Jan Paderewski, "Paderewski Pleads for Food for Poland's Starving Millions," Musical America 16 October 1915. The appeal is followed by a report entitled "Cold Facts for Warm Hearts: Poland's Appalling Tragedy:" (1) Misery Indescribable. Devastated area of Poland, endlessly war-swept - size of States of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and connecticut. Property loss - nine billion dollars. Poland's young men, forced to fight in hostile armies, kill each other by thousands in fratricidal combat. homeless, wandering peasants - mostly women and children - 11,000,000. 2,500,000 million actually starving, death certain and soon unless helped immediately. Their only "food" - bark,m root, rind and decomposing flesh of horses killed on battlefields. Winter is now setting in! Hundreds already are dying daily. (2) How CAsh Gifts might help. The National American Committee of the Polish Victims' Relief Fund organized June 1st, 1915 by Ignace Paderewski, famous pianist and composer, who came here for the purpose and is devoting his private means and talents to the work. Cash contributions to date: $103,646.04. Needed - A MILLION dollars - at once. Because of shipping uncertainties and urgency of situation, money is cabled to the General Committee, Lausanne, Switzerland, Pres. Henryk Sienkiewicz, author of Quo Vadis?. Field representatives present headquarters Cracow, purchase and distribute food. Food is not diverted. It reaches and saves the starving. Man! Woman! - please help these tortured innocent fellow beings. Your aid will be greatly appreciated - greatly.[Back]


pmj_bar

Abstracts
Paderewski's List of Works
Paderewski's List of Writings
Paderewski: Bibliography
PMJ - Writings by Paderewski
PMJ - Articles about Paderewski
PMJ - Current Issue


pmj_bar

Copyright 2001 by the Polish Music Journal.
Editor: Maja Trochimczyk. Assistant Editor: Linda Schubert.
Publisher: Polish Music Center, Winter 2001.
Design: Maja Trochimczyk & Marcin Depinski.
Comments and inquiries by e-mail: polmusic@email.usc.edu