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History of The Scouting Association of The Republic of Poland

The Scouting Association of the Republic of Poland(ZHR) was established thanks to the efforts of instructors who could never accept the atheistic and socialist ideology forced upon the Polish Scout Association (ZHP) after 1956.

The main inspiration for intensifying the scout revival movement was the election of the Polish Pope (1978) and his subsequent pilgrimage to his Homeland

After John Paul II's first pilgrimage, which had a major impact on Polish society, "Solidarity" was established in August 1980. Two months later some "non-conforming" instructors inside the ZHP created the Andrzej Małkowski Circle of Scout Instructors (KIHAM) in Warsaw. Their objective was to restore scout ideals.

At the beginning of 1981, the 7th Congress of ZHP was held. KIHAM, which consisted of about a thousand leaders, carefully prepared motions concerning the renewal of the scout movement in Poland. Unfortunately, they were all rejected. Despite this setback, KIHAM organized a Scout Jamboree on Krakow's  Błonie in the fall of the same year. This was an important event in the history of KIHAM and demonstrated the dynamics of the liberating scout method which had been suppressed for many years. This Jamboree provided the impetus for activating the development of the work of those "non-conforming" leaders and troops.  New regulations concerning ranks and merits were drafted to restore the educational values of  the traditional scout method. The restoration of the scouting tradition was initiated by a return to celebrating patriotic anniversaries that were not recognized by the communist authorities (e.g. May 3 - the anniversary of Poland's first Constitution, and November 11 - the Independence Day after World War I).

In December 1981, when the authorities of the People's Republic of Poland (PRL) introduced military rule, ZHP, acting under the ideological leadership of the communist party (PZPR), was the only "social" organization whose activities were not suspended. ZHP authorities disbanded KIHAM and the scouts from "non-conforming" squads became involved in aid work organized by the Church for families of interned people.

In the middle of 1982, the first Scout Ministry was established in Krakow. Soon the whole of Poland was covered with a network of such ministries and the Primate of Poland became their patron. In the fall, the "non-conforming" scouts secretly joined the preparations of church order services" for the second pilgrimage of the Holy Father to Poland. Since 1983, the scout service to the Pope has been called the "White Service". Setting up the service involved creating local headquarters which subsequently became the structure of the underground Scout Movement

In September 1984, the Krakow Ministry organized a pilgrimage to Rome. During a pilgrimage to Castel Gondolfo the first scout camp-fire with the participation of the Holy Father took place and then the Chairman of the Movement made contacts in Rome for ZHP abroad.

Fall 1988 - the underground Movement came to light under the name, "The Scout Movement of the Polish Republic" (RHR). In December 1988, the authorities of RHR gained access to the Citizen Committee created by Lech Wałęsa. From this position, on the side of Solidarity, the chairman of the Movement represented the scout issue during "round table" negotiations. During those negotiations the PZPR activists declared: "we won't part with the scouts".

At the beginning of 1989, the following organizations emerged from RHR: The Scout Association of the Republic of Poland (ZHR) in February, and The Polish Scout Association which was first founded in 1918 in March, and which fought for the renewal of the whole ZHP until the mid-1990. Unfortunately, this fight was futile without the support of the highest authorities.

Both independent Associations merged in 1992 and created the current Scout Association of the Polish Republic (ZHR), which in 1998 was joined by the members of the Polish Scout Organization, after this organization was disbanded.

(C) by hm. Feliks Borodzik

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