Scouting in Poland
Zwiazek Harcerstwa Polskiego (ZHP)
The Polish Scout Association

Flag of Poland

Cross (Krzyz) of
Zwiazek Harcerstwa Polskiego
The Polish Scout Association

Member of the World Organization. Founder, 1919-1946. Member since 1995.

fact-poland.gif (51447 bytes)

Arms of the Polish Republic

The European Scout Office Reports on Poland’s Return to the World Organization of the Scout Movement

Zwiazek Harcerstwa Polskiego (ZHP – The Polish Scout Association) is a Scout and Guide organization with a total membership of almost 450,000 (210,000 males, 240,000 females) operating in a country with a population of 38 million people. There are 600 districts and 25 regions in the association. ZHP, after a transformation in the early nineties, has regained the respect of Polish society. It has established relationships with State and local authorities while safeguarding its independence. ZHP has a strong tradition of forest camping, and traditional Scout activities are combined with modern ideas to reach the educational objectives of the association. ZHP has very well developed special skill activities, such as Sea Scouting, parachuting, ballooning, scuba diving. Last year the association started a programme entitled "My Homelands" which offers a framework for the activities of every unit. The first part of this programme concluded at the World Camp of Polish Scouting and Guiding in August 1995 which gathered six thousand Scouts and Guides including 400 from abroad. The part of the programme which is being implemented now is a project called "Water is Life", focusing on developing better understanding and protection of the natural environment. ZHP is a "Scout and Guide National Organization" in accordance with the Statement on Relationships between WAGGGS and WOSM.

Reprinted from Eurofax 41, February 1996. Eurofax is the monthly newsletter of the European Region of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM). It is produced by the European Scout Office and is distributed by fax to all member associations in the European Scout Region and the Europe Region WAGGGS, and others.


Lilijka of ZHP

Krzyz of ZHP

Lilijka of ZHR

A Short History of Polish Scouting

Even before Poland was reestablished as a independent nation at the end of the First World War, Polish Scouting had its beginnings. In 1910, Andrzej Malkowski translated Baden-Powell’s Scouting for Boys and the first Scout units were formed. Polish Scouts and Guides participated actively in the struggle for Polish freedom. Poland became a free and independent nation in 1919. A single Scout represented his country and carried the red and white Polish Flag at the 1st World Jamboree in London, England. In 1920, Poland became a founding member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement.

World War II began in September,1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany and Russia. Polish Scouting went underground and many Scouts served in the ranks of the Home Army and the Polish Underground. The Polish government was established "in exile" in London and Poles took their place with the Allies. Poles in exile from their homeland formed Scout units wherever they settled. There were units in many lands and even in German concentration camps and Soviet labor camps.

With the end of the war, a Communist government took power in Poland and many Poles chose to remain abroad. They brought with them and continued their Scouting tradition. With the takeover of Scouting in Poland by the Communists in 1946, the World Organization ceased to recognize the Polish Scouting Association. Polish Scouting continued in exile and in spite of the Communists, continued underground in Poland throughout the Communist period. With the end of Communist rule, Polish Scouting emerged as a free organization. In 1995, Polish Scouting was again recognized member of the World Organization of the Scouting Movement.

Based on The History of the Polish Scouting Association, published by Zwiazek Harcerstwa Polskiego (ZHP), the Polish Scouting Association Abroad.

A Note on ZHP (Zwiazek Harcerstwa Polskiego), the Polish Scouting Association

"Even though ZHP in Poland and ZHP outside Poland carry the same name, they are in fact different organisations. ZHP outside Poland is the continuation of the pre-1939 organisation which, together with the Polish President, Government and other institutions, moved first to France, then to London after the Fall of France in WW2. ZHP in Poland is also in another sense a continuation of the pre-1939 organisation. It renewed its peacetime activities in post-war Poland, but suffered many ups and downs and reorganisations as a result of the varying levels of suppression or support offered by the communist authorities of the Polish People’s Republic. The last vestiges of political colouring were severed after the fall of communism, and scouting in Poland underwent a number of schisms. It remains the largest Polish Scouting organisation, and is the only Polish scouting organisation having membership in WOSM/WAGGGS."

From the ZHPWEB, published by Zwiazek Harcerstwa Polskiego (ZHP), the Polish Scouting Association Abroad.

Andzrej Malkowski
The Founder of Polish Scouting

Scouting in Poland as related by a Polish Scout now a college student in the city of Poznan:

"Scouting has existed in Poland since 1910…. Our country was divided into three parts and grabbed by three neighbours: Russia, Germany and Austria. So the Scouting movement was the best method to engage young people in the fight for freedom. And this is the main reason why Polish Scouting survived all suppressions: we always fought against restrictions. Polish scouts were fought in the Polish Army during the World War, 1914-18, during rebellions in 1918 and 1919 (against German authorities in the western part of Poland), during the World War 1939-45. During World War II it acted as a part of the Polish resistance. I think it was the only youth organization fighting against Germans in Europe."

"After the World War, the Communists came to power and they wanted to create their own scout organization or to change the existing one. So they banned most of the pre-war scout activities (their were afraid of the scout power). This state lasted for a few years. In 1956, the Scout leaders couldn’t bear it any more and they reformed the organization. But it didn’t look as before. Later there were many attempts to suppress Scouting and many of them were unfortunately successful."

"But, my group in the 80’s fought against Communism and is one of the groups that resisted all suppressions. Although some of my friends were imprisoned–one of them for half a year. Of course the story is written very generally, but it gives a picture of our reality."

Zwiazek Harcerstwa Polskiego is the home page of the Polish Scouting Association
"Polish Scouts Now Out in Open." An article from Jamboree Today, the daily newspaper of the 1997 National Scout Jamboree, August 1, 1997
Scouting in Poland: A Short History of Scouting in Poland from ZHP, the Polish Scouting Association.
Hilary St George Saunders, The Left Handshake, 1948. Chapter IV. ResolutionScouting in Occupied Countries: Czechoslovakia and Poland. The story of Polish Scouting during World War Two.
Polish Scouting on the World Wide Web (in Polish). A collection of links with Polish Scouting.
ZHR: Zwiazek Harcerstwa Rzeczypospolitej. Home Page of the Polish Scouts of the Republic (in Polish). (English Version). The organization is not recognized by the World Organization of the Scout Movement.
ZHPWEB:Home Page of Zwiazek Harcerstwa Polskiego, the Polish Scouting Association Abroad (in Polish).
Mirror sites and links to Polish Scouting Abroad in Australia, USA, UK and Sweden. Links to ZHP and ZHR in Poland (Mostly in Polish). Some English language material, excellent graphics, some delightful photographs.
Scouting in Poznan: Home Page of the Blekitnej XIV Scout Group from "Kachol," Kuba Kachlicki at the Poznan University of Technology, Poznan, Poland (in Polish).
Scouting in Krakow: Home Page of Szczep 5 KDH "Dzieci Pioruna"at the Technical High School of Telecommunication, Krakow, Poland (in Polish).
Scouting in Opole: Home Page of 53 WŒDHiH "Galimatias" at the 1st Liceum (1st LO), in Opole, Poland (in Polish).
Scouting in Oswiecim: Home Page of XI WDH "Rekiny". Sea Scouts in Oswiecim, Poland (in Polish).
Scouting in Lublin: Home Page of Hufiec Lublin, ZHP. Scouts in Lublin, Poland (in Polish). Links, photographs and a fine website design.

A Chronicle of Scouting in Eastern Europe

With the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe and Russia, Scouting has returned to many lands where it had previously taken root. These pages chronicle the return of former members and the addition of new members to the World Organization of the Scout Movement. They also report the growth of Scouting in the other nations of Eastern Europe.

Scouting organizations around the world are assisting in the growth of Scouting in both Eastern Europe and Russia. They have been identified by country where information is available.

Currently, the "Chronicle" reports on the progress of Scouting in 19 countries in Central and Eastern Europe. The Chronicle Home Page provides links to each.

Return to the Home Page of the Chronicle of Scouting in Eastern Europe and Russia

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Your feedback, comments and suggestions are appreciated.
Please write to: Lewis P. Orans

Copyright © Lewis P. Orans, 1997
Last Modified: 7:45 PM on August 20, 1997