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Local Heroes & Villains

As Poland's fifth biggest city and one of its oldest, it's only sensible to assume that a few famous (and infamous) people have hailed from these parts.

A few need no introduction, take Paul von Hindenburg for example, the former president of the Weimar Republic. And Jan A.P Kaczmarek (1953) a composer who grabbed an Oscar in 2005 for the score of Finding Neverland. Another who found fame in Hollywood was Krzysztof Komeda (1931 – 1969), a jazz legend who also scored themes for Polański’s classics Knife in the Water and Rosemary’s Baby. He died falling off a rock. Other names, however, will have you scratching your head and staring into space. Take for instance the marvellously titled Sir Paul Edmund de Strzelecki (1797-1873). This guy lead quite a life and his story includes being exiled out of town for trying it on with a fifteen year old girl.  An aristocrat, explorer and geologist he escaped Russian ruled Poland for life in England where he became friends with Florence Nightingale and later went on to discover gold in Australia. In 1840 he became the first man to scale Australia’s highest peak.

Then there's Paul Leonhardt, a German chess genius who died during a match in 1934. More famous Germans who hailed from Posen/Poznań come in the form of Lothar von Arnauld de La Periere, recognised as the most successful U-Boat ace ever with 141 sinkings to his name.

One thoroughly nasty product of Posen/Poznań was Arthur Liebehenschel who would go on to achieve infamy as Commandant of Auschwitz and Majdanek concentration camps. Justice caught up with him and he was executed in 1948. Then there is Gunther von Kluge (1882-1944) - a Nazi field Marshall, born in Posen (as Poznań was known in its German days), who was aware of the plot to kill Hitler, but failed to support the conspirators after it failed. Having been summoned to meet a fuming Hitler he took his life with cyanide.

On a less sinister note there is Lilli Palmer (1914-1986) a Posen born, German actress once married to screen smoothie Rex Harrison.

On the sporting front there's Maciej Żurawski (1976) the hotshot striker who played for Wisła Krakow and Glasgow Celtic as well as the Polish national team.

Finally many will recognise the name of Małgorzata Dydek (1974-2011), the Polish basketball player who tragically passed away in the spring of 2011 aged just 38. Dydek, who was pregnant with her third child, was reported to have suffered a heart attack from which she never recovered. She had held the record for the tallest woman (218cm) ever to play in the WNBA where she played for Los Angeles Sparks.

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  • Anthony A. Guyda Jr. - Oil City, Pennsylvania USA 05 March 2012
    Poznan - - the first real capital of Poland! To treat it in a disrespectful mode is distasteful as well as unPolish! This city was a border city and it paid dearly for that situation. Poznan - - certainly fought the Germans as well as the Swedes (when Poznan realized what the Swedes were all about)! Yes if I ever visit Poland again I want to see Poznan!
  • Editor Poznan - Poznan, Poland 17 March 2011
    Thank you Giles A. Not our feelings exactly but not far off. And even our 'tongue in cheek' doesn't go that far. What has upset everyone here is that nobody (in Poland) highlights the positive things we have done over the years. Have any of them read our pieces on the Warsaw Uprising, Tadeusz Kosciuszko, Pope John Paul II, Pulaski.... I could go on and on. It upsets the Polish staff in our office who put this down to a cultural thing. Whatever it is, it is disappointing.

    And as for the comment from Mr. Przewierski. A national campaign against In Your Pocket? My word. For the record as well, the issue in Lodz was also a case of the press sensationalising a very small part of our guide. It was regarding the state of Lodz's water and queuing. I stood by our comments then and I do now. The water might be ok but a lot of the plumbing it comes out of isn't so be careful and buy the cheap bottled water instead. And queuing. That if anything appears to be getting worse. I urge you to read the other 99% of content we have produced over 12 years before you urge people to start a campaign against us.
  • Editor Poznan - Poznan, Poland 17 March 2011
    I have translated the comment below from Mr. Przewierski.

    I'm surprised with such a low factual level and knowledge taken from comics or highlights from school!! How can you show any city, its history and locals in that way? Juxtapose heroes with criminals? Gaffs with Łódź and now with Poznań. Time to get onto this publisher with (the help) of a national campaign of forum-writers!
  • Giles A - Bath, UK 16 March 2011
    I've read that guide and there is no way it suggests that the bad people are anything but that. I actually thought it was In Your Pocket being tongue in cheek as usual. I'm amazed reading the local reaction and about how far this typo (as they claim it is) has gone. Is there no real news in Poland?
  • Krzysztof Przewierski - Poznan, Poland 15 March 2011
    Jestem zaskoczony niskim poziomem faktograficznym i wiedzą komiksową albo ze streszczenia lektur !! Jka można tak pokazywac jakiekolwiek miasto, jego historię i mieszkańców. Zestawiac bohaterów z zbrodniażami? Wpadka z Łodzią, teraz z Poznaniem. Czas sie zabrać za to wydawnictwo w ramach ogólnopolskiej akcji forumowiczów!
  • Hercule - Belgium 11 March 2011
    The error looks much worse on the page. No matter what excuses are given, proofs should have been checked before going to press. It has only resulted in negative publicity for your company.
  • Dorota - Poland 09 March 2011
    Thank you for your quick reply to my comment. I'm really glad that you took my advice into consideration.
  • Editor Poznan - Poznan, Poland 07 March 2011
    Thanks for your comment. This box should have the title 'villains' in it as well as it is information about famous and infamous people from Poznan. We will correct that now so as to avoid any misunderstanding.And I believe that the guide is very clear on where Poles and Poznan stand on the question of Facism. We have spent many years highlighting the often forgotten or unknown stories of Poland's battle with Facism, the acts of its people in helping to defeat it and the heavy price paid for that. Unfortunately over the years this side of our work, while being recognised by foreigners, never seems to be recognised by locals. While this is a shame, it has not stopped us trying to give visitors as much information about the country and its cities as we can to improve their knowledge of Poland and its people. We have a huge respect for Poland in this regard and try to communicate that to visitors so that they too can help to improve the opinion of Poland and its people abroad.
  • Dorota - Poland 04 March 2011
    Hello I'm not from Poznań but I'm Polish and I'm really shocked that you put Gunther von Kluge under Local Heroes!I hope that it's just a mistake and you will remove him from the guide which is supposed to promote the city abroad. It may give false impression that German Nazis are respected in Poland and that people are proud that somebody like that lived in their city which is of course not true. I hope you will take this into consideration.

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