Poland Culture

Poland Culture and Mass Media

Newspapers in Poland

According to EHISTORYLIB.COM, Poland is a country located in Europe. The Polish media landscape has changed fundamentally since the fall of communism in 1989. Important factors during the 1990s have been the privatization of the press, large foreign investment and the liberalization of the state monopoly in radio, television and telecommunications.

From 2000 onwards, it is primarily new technology in the IT sector that has created new consumption patterns and business models.

Internet and mobile telephony

More than 60% of households have access to the Internet, but access is increasing sharply as more and more people use mobile broadband to connect. Facebook, Google and YouTube top the list of the most visited sites, along with the domestic portal Onet and the purchase site Allegro (2012).

Mobile penetration is close to 100% and four companies serve the Poles with 3G networks, two domestic and French Orange and German T-Mobile.

TV and radio

The first radio station was inaugurated in 1926. During the Second World War, the media was banned. Broadcasting began again in 1944. Weekly broadcasts of television began in 1953 and daily broadcasts in 1961. After democratization, national radio and TV are under government control, but there are a large number of private radio and TV channels, both pay- and advertising-financed.

Daily press and magazine

The Polish newspaper market is dominated by foreign owners – many of them German. Axel Springer owns the largest, tabloid Fact with an edition of over 500,000 items. The second largest is Gazeta Wyborcza with a circulation of just over 300,000 items. (2012). Swedish Bonnier is represented with the daily business magazine Puls Biznesu.


According to APARENTINGBLOG, Poland belongs to the Central European cultural sphere, with strong cultural ties to Italy and France. The Eastern influence, from Russia, Ukraine and Turkey, among others, is mainly felt in the popular arts and music.

In the older cities there are rich building monuments from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Kraków, with many well-preserved medieval buildings, is classified by the UN agency Unesco as a cultural heritage city. Even the famous Christmas scrubs that are built in the city – miniatures when compared to real buildings – have been granted World Heritage status. One problem in Krakow is the severe air pollution that is hard on houses.

During World War II, many older neighborhoods in Polish cities were bombed or otherwise destroyed. In Warsaw, these neighborhoods have been rebuilt and restored to their full potential.

The 15th and 16th centuries are marked as a golden age for Polish culture with poets such as Jan Kochanowski (1530–1584) and scientists such as the astronomer Nicolaus Kopernikus (Mikołaj Kopernik, 1473–1543). After a downturn in the 17th and 18th centuries, intellectual life recovered during the Enlightenment.

Music flourished in the 19th century, when composer Fryderyk (Frédéric) Chopin (1810-1849) won international reputation. Long before, however, there was a lively music tradition, which, for example, produced the so popular dance polish, which came to our country in the 17th century.

Poland lost its independence in 1795, and the dream of a resurrected Polish state was a theme for the great writers of the 19th century. Literature also played a role in preserving the Polish language and national identity. During the heyday of romance, the national poet Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1855) wrote several works that have become European classics.

Literature during this time served as a weapon against political oppression. The tradition of an independent, often underground educational and cultural life was founded during the last decades of the 19th century. This was revived during World War II when Poland was occupied by the Germans, and partly also in the 1970s and 1980s, during the last decades of communism.

Polish literature continued to flourish during the first decades of the 20th century, which led, among other things, to two Nobel Prizes for Polish authors: Henryk Sienkiewicz in 1905 and Władysław Reymont in 1924.

After World War II and the takeover of the Communists, cultural life came under the strict control of the state. Censorship and reprisals led many cultural figures to emigrate, including the 1980 Nobel Laureate Czesław Miłosz. Witold Gombrowicz, who emigrated as early as 1939, was not allowed to return or publish himself in Poland. After a brief thunderstorm during the latter part of the 1950s, the climate again became harsher decades later, when, among other things, the philosopher Leszek Kołakowski (1927–2009), the playwright Sławomir Mrożek (1930–2013) and the film director Roman Polański (1933–) left Poland.

Under Edward Gierek’s regime in the 1970s, at least parts of cultural life gained more freedom than elsewhere in what was then eastern Europe, such as Andrzej Wajdas (1926–2016), Krzysztof Zanussis (1939–) and Krzysztof Kieślowski (1941–1996) films testifies about.

An underground cultural life with free lectures and theatrical performances, underground book publishers and stenciled cultural magazines was developed in the mid-1970s. For a short time, in connection with the establishment of the trade union Solidarity in 1980, state control broke down and all this cultural life came to the surface. It was forced to go underground again when an emergency permit was introduced in 1981.

In 1989 all censorship and state control of cultural life were abolished. The boundaries between official, non-official, underground and exiliterature were then blurred. Miłosz and Mrożek settled in Poland again. All the works of the exile writers, including Gombrowicz and Kołakowski, were published in new editions. However, since the introduction of market economy, many cultural institutions experienced financial difficulties.

After democratization in 1989, the previously so prominent political and national messages diminished in importance for the benefit of more universal subjects, not least in literature and film. A representative of this trend was the Nobel laureate in literature in 1996, the poet Wisława Szymborska from Kraków, who addressed the eternal, general human issues. Other contemporary Polish writers include Olga Tokarczuk, who has been highly regarded in Sweden and has been awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize.

The political issues are also reminiscent. An acclaimed movie with its 2019 premiere touches on the fact that the phenomenon of “fake news” existed before social media. Director Agnieszka Holland (1948–) has filmed how a Moscow correspondent wrote misleading articles aimed at American readers to hide the famine in Ukraine in the 1930s, which was largely a work of Soviet dictator Stalin. The movie Mr. Jones bears the name of reporter Gareth Jones, who risked his life to reveal what really happened.

The documentary filmmaker Tomasz Sekielski (1974–), with his films about child abuse committed by people within the Catholic Church, has contributed to more open debate and investigations of events that have been silenced.

Composer Krzysztof Penderecki (1933-2020), who lived in the United States for much of his life, was the author of music in major films such as “The Exorcist” and “The Shining”.



The former president admits CIA imprisonment

Former President Aleksander Kwaśniewski admits for the first time that the US intelligence service CIA had a secret prison on Polish soil during the “war on terror” in the early 2000s. He says he tried to pressure his American colleague George W Bush to put an end to the brutal interrogation methods that were in prison.

Protests against suspected election fraud

Nearly 60,000 people are demonstrating in Warsaw against alleged cheating in local elections in November. Suspicions of irregularities arose due to major technical problems. The demonstration is led by the opposition party PiS.


Poland and Russia expel diplomats

Poland and Russia mutually expel a number of diplomats from each other’s countries, citing that they have engaged in activities “which were incompatible with their position”. It is usually a diplomatic term for espionage. Poland’s relations with Russia have been strained since the crisis in Ukraine erupted.

Contested local elections

The Conservative opposition party Law and Justice (PiS) receives the most votes in nationwide local elections, but the electoral rules still give the ruling Citizens’ Platform (PO) the most mandate. Local elections are contested because the computer program that would have counted the votes does not work. The result is delayed by one week as all votes must be counted by hand. PiS calls for the election to be made again, which President Komorowski dismisses as “completely insane”.

First gay mayor

Poland gets its first openly gay mayor, when Robert Biedroń wins the mayoral election in the city of Słupsk. In 2011, Biedroń became the first openly gay person elected to the Polish parliament. In the mayoral election, he stood as an independent and defeated a candidate from the ruling party PO.


Russia reduces gas supplies

According to the Polish gas company PGNiG, deliveries of natural gas from Russia are reduced by 45 percent without explanation. Russian supplier Gazprom claims that the deliveries are under contract. Polish analysts suspect that the reduced gas flow is because Poland has been sending some of the Russian gas on to Ukraine for some time. Slovakia also says that Russian deliveries are declining.

Ewa Kopacz new Prime Minister

Shortly after being appointed EU President, Tusk submits his resignation to President Komorowski, who is commissioning Ewa Kopacz to form a new government. Radosław Sikorski, who has taken a strong stand for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia, loses the post of Foreign Minister and is replaced by Grzegorz Schetyna, who is one of the heaviest leaders of the dominant government party Citizens’ Platform. The appointment of him is seen as an attempt by Kopacz to hold the party together for the next parliamentary elections. Of the 16 ministers, six are women, more than ever before since the fall of the Communist regime in 1989. Komorowski says the new government should begin the process of connecting Poland to the euro zone. Kopacz is Poland’s second female prime minister after Hanna Suchocka, who reigned in 1992-1993. Former Foreign Minister Sikorski is elected new President.

Criminal investigation against bank manager is closed

The prosecutor’s office in Warsaw files the criminal investigation against the governor, who, in a secretly recorded conversation (see June 2014), should have offered to support the government’s economic policy if, in return, the finance minister was dismissed. Prosecutors say that nothing has emerged that proves that any crime has been committed.

Military support to Ukraine

Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania sign an agreement to build a joint brigade to strengthen and modernize the Ukrainian defense. The brigade has its headquarters in Lublin in eastern Poland.


Prime Minister Tusk will lead the EU

At the EU summit in Brussels, Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk is appointed new President of the European Council, the EU’s “President”. He succeeds Herman Van Rompuy on December 1st. He is the first from one of the former communist states in eastern Europe to receive one of the highest posts in the EU.


The government can handle a vote of no confidence

On a proposal from the opposition party Law and Justice, a vote of no confidence against the government in parliament is conducted, but the demand for the government to resign is rejected by a good margin. An attempt to dismiss Interior Minister Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz is also voted down.

Poland is punished for CIA imprisonment

The European Court of Human Rights convicts Poland of having the US spy organization CIA run a secret prison in northern Poland. The court orders the Polish state to pay EUR 100,000 each in damages to a Palestinian and a Saudi who has been tortured in the secret prison in 2002-2003 before being transferred to Guantanamo Bay detention center, where they are still being held.


Obama to Poland

US President Barack Obama visits Poland on the 25th anniversary of the country’s first free elections. During the visit, Obama launches a security plan for Europe to assure his European allies of continued military support. A $ 1 billion fund will be used to station more American soldiers and more military equipment in Europe. The plan must be approved by the US Congress before it can be put into effect.

Secret tape recordings shake the government

Prime Minister Tusk has been hit by a political crisis since the weekly newspaper Wprost published a secret recording of a conversation in which the governor must have promised the Interior Minister to support the government’s economic policy in the event of a financial crisis, on condition that the finance minister be dismissed. The prosecutor’s office in Warsaw opens a formal criminal investigation. Tusk says he does not intend to resign but that new elections may prove to be the only way out of the crisis. A police raid against Wprost raises anger among the public and receives criticism from the OSCEas a threat to freedom of the press. A few days later, Wprost publishes excerpts from what is said to be an eavesdropping conversation between Foreign Minister Sikorski and the former finance minister, in which Sikorski describes Poland’s relations with the United States as “worthless” and says that they give a false sense of security to the problems in relations with Germany and Russia as the submissive to the United States. In a comment, Sikorski tells a TV station that the government is “being attacked by an organized criminal group”.


Weak interest in EU elections

Only a quarter of the electorate participates in the elections to the European Parliament, which will be a hardship for the governing Citizens’ Platform. The party gets 32 percent of the vote compared to 40 percent in the last parliamentary election. Law and justice are close behind with just under 32 percent.


Russian threat concerns the government

Due to the Russian threat to Ukraine, the Polish government decides to speed up preparations to build a robotic defense. The final phase of the bidding process is scheduled for several months, says a government spokesman.


The government is investing in nuclear power

The government approves a plan to invest in nuclear power. The first reactor can be built in 2019, probably on the Baltic Sea coast. A second reactor in the same region is also planned (see also Natural Resources and Energy).

Poland Culture

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