Księgarnie polskie na obczyźnie po II wojnie światowej /1945—1985/

Andrzej Kłossowski


After the second world war about 4 mln Poles found themselves abroad after they had left Poland in 1939-1945. Their need for reading caused an enormous development of Polish bookshops and publications abroad. Many Polish bookshops were founded in a number of countries such as Great Britain, Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, the U.S.A., Canada, Brazil, Argentina and Australia. Beside selling the books and magazines, the bookshops played an additional role of clubs of Polish culture and centres for the Poles scattered all over the world. In the early fifties most of the bookshops were closed down as a consequence of stabilization and repatriation. Only those which could cope with the new conditions managed to survive; namely those which understood hit was not longer the immigrant book itself but also the links with the culture of the country of origin that constituted the basis for their future existence.

Today, the number of the Polish bookshops abroad is even smaller but nearly all of them are fearly firm. They sell books and magazines in Polish and in other foreign languages, records, tapes and cassetes, replicas, stamps, artistic goods etc. Polonia does not read much; 80% do not know Polish and thus never read in it. Consequently, the Polish bookshops sell more and more foreign books and supply foreign libraries, universities and other institutions with the Polish and Slavonic books as well as the literature on Eastern Europe. All the same, the bookshops do everything to draw their customers from Polonia. They also supply the other East European minorities and individual foreign readers interested in Poland and her culture. Simultaneously, the Polish bookshops run the mail-order business sending books to the Poles scattered all over the world.

Most of the bookshops have secondhand book departments, and some of them have their own libraries and reading rooms.. _ Thus, they continue to be the centres of the Polish culture and propaganda. They are "the centres of literary appointments" - as the founder of the first Polish bookshop abroad, Eustachy Januszkiewicz,.wanted them to be 150 years ago.

Here are some of the oldest and most meritorious Polish bookshops of today: The Polish bookshop in Paris /founded in 1925/» Libella of Kazimierz Romanowicz in Paris /founded in 1946/, Orbis Books London Ltd. of Jerzy Kulczycki /founded in 1944/, Veritas in London /founded in 1947/ and the Polish Books Pair in Solura /Switzerland, founded in 1950/ run by Halszka Poniatowska Vincenz. Besides, a few younger bookshops should be mentioned here: "Polonia" in Chicago founded by Edward Puacz, the "Nowy Dziennik" bookshop in New York, the "American Częstochowa" bookshop in Doylestown /Pennsylvania/ and the "Związkowiec" bookshop in Toronto.

There are no Polish bookshops in the Socialist countries though they used to exist in Czechoslovakia. All these countries sell the books imported from Poland in the foreign departments of some specialistic bookstores.

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Studia Polonijne · ISSN 0137-5210 | eISSN 2544-526X

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