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ABOUT POLISH YMCA
The YMCA came to Poland in 1919 with Polish military units from the West as a humanitarian and welfare mission of the American YMCAs. Social centres, canteens, reading and recreation rooms for soldiers, care for prisoners of war, activities among railwaymen and miner, welfare action for refugees, promotion of physical culture and sports - this was the main pattern of the American YMCA activity in Poland.

In 1922 the American YMCA centres and activities in Poland were to close down. This motivated a group of Poles who had worked and cooperated with the YMCA to establish the Polish national movement. Among members of the Organizing Committee were Stanislaw Staniszewski - the minister of social care, Tadeusz Lopuszanski - vice-minister of education, Leon Marchlewski - famous biologist, Stanislaw Estreicher - Professor of Jagiellonian University, general Norwid-Neugebauer, Karol Rolle - mayor of Cracow, Jan Kasprowicz - a poet. On the 8th and 9th of December, 1923 the Polish YMCA was officially inaugurated and the first National Assembly took place. In the ceremony participated President of Poland -Stanisław Wojciechowski.

The main aim of newly established Polish YMCA (affectionately called 'imka') was "the reconstruction of intellectual and spiritual life of Poland". It's motto "Serving Poland through Character, Education and Health" was very much in keeping with the country's needs. Its centres in Warsaw, Krakow, Poznan, Lodz and Gdynia boasted swimming pools, theatres, gymnasia, clubs and hostels. The YMCA outreach programme helped the poor, the illiterate, the hungry and the out of work. Its beautiful campsites allowed it to organise regular summer and winter camps and various training sessions. It introduced and popularised volleyball and basketball, making them the country's most popular sports. The development of the Polish YMCA in the 1920s and 1930s was closely linked with the International Committee of the YMCA of the USA and Canada. The great examples of American help are two people: Paul Super from the YMCA of the USA, who worked as the General Secretary of Polish YMCA and Sereno Fenn - businessman from Cleveland, who founded the YMCA-House in Krakow.

The second World War dispersed the Polish YMCA widely. It served Polish troops and refugees in 18 countries of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Following the war, the Polish YMCA reopened all its pre-war centres and organised four new associations. YMCA continued to work in Poland rekindling the spirit of young people devastated by the war until it was closed down by the communists in 1949, with many of its members suffering arrest and imprisonment and the property was taken over by the government.

However, this not mean the end of Polish YMCA, because YMCA work continued among Poles in exile in Great Britain, France, Germany and Switzerland. The Polish YMCA in London (link do www.polskaymca.org.uk) continues the great tradition of service to the community in general and young people in particular till today.

Just after the downfall of communism in Poland Polish YMCA was emerged based upon its pre war constitution and commenced activity in many cities. Today, many years after refunding, Polish YMCA is still in process of rebuilding its position by continuing the tradition and promoting the original ideas and regaining property which had been seized in 1950.



Young Men's Christian Association
POLISH YMCA