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  • Faithful to my Homeland, the Republic of Poland
  • POLES IN THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE

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    One of the turning points in the mutual history of Poland and the Ottoman Empire was the Battle of Vienna in 1683. It was the King of Poland, Jan III Sobieski who was the leader of the army that vanquished Kara Mustafa Pasha and prevented the Ottoman army from invading Europe. In 1795, partitions conducted by the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia and the Habsburg Austria were completed, and Poland disappeared from the map for 123 years. Throughout that period the Ottoman Empire protected Polish interests. It became a second home for many Poles, who, after settling in Istanbul or Anatolia were not just ordinary refugees but they contributed greatly to Turkey’s development.

     

    Officers such as Józef Bem (Murad Pasha), Konstanty Borzęcki (Mustafa Celaleddin Pasha), Ludwik Bystrzonowski (Arslan Pasha), Feliks Breański (Şahin Pasha), Władysław Kościelski (Sefer Pasha), Antoni Aleksander Iliński (Iskender Pasha) and Seweryn Bieliński (Nihad Pasha) earned the title of General in the Ottoman army and would not only work to Turkey’s advantage on the battlefield, but they also shared their insights on internal matters and Foreign Policy issues. There were so many Poles in the Ottoman army that one could write an entire book on this topic.

     

    Among Polish officers there were also Wojciech Chrzanowski, adviser to the sultan on security issues, and Marian Langiewicz, responsible for the procurement of weapons and firearms for the Ottoman army. Other Poles  in the Ottoman army were for instance, Władysław Zamoyski, Teofil Łapiński and Aleksander Łaski (Mehmed Bey). Franciszek Sokulski together with Karol Brzozowski, also known as the Black Hunter, built telegraph lines in the Ottoman Empire.

     

    There are quite a number of Turks who owe their lives to Polish physicians. Stanisław Drozdowski, the founder of the first school in Adampol, was also the creator of the first field hospital in Turkey and the Palace physician of sultan Abdulmecid. He was the epitome of modesty. He rejected the title of  “Pasha of Baghdad” that was offered to him, moved there as an ordinary physician and spent the last years of his life taking care of the poorly at the St. Benedict Hospital in Istanbul.

     

    Władysław Jabłonowski was a physician in the Turkish army in Albania, Montenegro and Hercegovina, and Rudolf Gutowski organized medical care in the Sultan's Cossacks Division. Justyn Karliński became the private medic of sultan Abdulhamid II, and for his accomplishments in fighting against cholera he received the “Osmaniye” order. Włodzimierz Kozłowski worked as a surgeon at hospitals in Istanbul. Another Polish physician, Tadeusz Oksza-Orzechowski established one of the first press agencies in Turkey.

     

    Poles who settled in the Ottoman Empire had many other accomplishments that contributed to its development. Polish emigrés worked in a variety of places in the Ottoman Empire – universities, photography studios, banks or farm households. Stanisław Chlebowski was the court painter of the sultan, Józef Warnia-Zarzecki gave lectures at the School of Fine Arts in Istanbul. Thanks to the efforts of Józef Grekowicz, Ludwik Sas-Monastyrski, Józef Accord and Zygmunt Mineyko, many kilometres of rail tracks, roads and bridges were built within the borders of the Ottoman Empire. In 1909, Count Leon Ostroróg  became the adviser to the Minister of Justice, while Alfred Bieliński (Ahmet Rüstem Pasha) was appointed ambassador of Turkey in Washington. The Poles also helped in the field of mining. We haven’t had the chance to mention many others who settled and worked for the benefit of the Ottoman Empire – they will remain Turkey’s silent heroes.

     

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