Famous Polish People

Statesmen, Politicians and National Heroes

Pope John Paul II (Karol Józef Wojtyła)

Pope of Catholic Church from 1978 till 2005, acclaimed one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century. He took an active role in ending of communism in Poland and eventually all of Europe. He was one of the most traveled world leaders in history: during his pontificate he visited 129 countries. His beatification ceremony was held on 1 May 2011.

Jozef Pilsudski

Polish politician and leader of the Second Polish Republic. He was an important figure on European political scene and is considered largely responsible for Poland’s regaining its independence in 1918, after 123 years of partitions. In Polish-Soviet war his unconventional strategy halted soviet advance in the 1920 Battle of Warsaw (later known as Miracle at the Vistula). His remains lie in Wawel Cathedral in Krakow.

Ryszard Kuklinski

Colonel in Polish People’s Army, he revealed top secret Warsaw Pact documents to the CIA between 1971 and 1981. By doing that he foiled a planned Soviet invasion of Poland in 1981 (resulting in the lesser evil of the martial law), and in this way may have helped prevent the start of a World War III that would have resulted in the nuclear destruction of Poland. He was described as “the first Polish officer in NATO”. There is widespread belief that the KGB was behind the death of both Kuklinski’s sons. His remains lie in the row of honor in the Powązki military cemetery in Warsaw

Lech Walesa

1943 –
He is a Polish politician, trade-union organizer, and human-rights activist. A charismatic leader, he took part in Solidarity (Solidarność), the Soviet bloc’s first independent trade union, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983, and served as President of Poland between 1990 and 1995

Artists – Poets, Writers and Musicians

Fryderyk Szopen (Frédéric Chopin)

1810 – 1849
Famous Polish composer and virtuoso pianist, considered one of the great masters of Romantic music. Majority of his compositions were written for piano as solo instrument. There is several memorial dedicated to Chopin, the most famous is in the Royal Baths Park in Warsaw. Every five years there is International Chopin Piano Competition held in Warsaw

Adam Mickiewicz

Poet, publicist and political writer, he is considered one of Polish Three Bards and the greatest poet in Polish literature. He is also considered one of the greatest European poets. All his greatest works were influential in polish struggle to regain independence. His remains lie in Wawel Cathedral in Krakow.


Mikolaj Kopernik (Nicolaus Copernicus)

1473 – 1543
Reinassance astronomer, first person to formulate holiocentric theory, which put sun in the center of the universe and was beginning of modern astronomy. His work, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, stimulated further scientific research and is often known as Copernican Revolution

Maria Curie-Sklodowska

She was Polish physicist and chemist famous for her pioneering research on radioactivity, resulting in discovery of two elements: Polonium and Radium. She was the first person honored with two Nobel Prizes – physics and chemistry. She died from aplastic anemia contracted from her long-term exposure to radiation.

Stefan Banach

One of the 20th century’s most important and influential mathematicians. A self-taught mathematics prodigy, he was the founder of modern functional analysis and a founder of the Lwów School of Mathematics. Banach’s most influential work was Théorie des opérations linéaires (Theory of Linear Operations, 1932). In it he formulated the concept now known as “Banach space”, and proved many fundamental theorems of functional analysis.


Jan III Sobieski

one of the most notable monarch of polish-lithuanian commonwealth. He was an able military commander, most famous for the victory over the Turks in the 1683 Battle Of Vienna, which market the turning point in the Ottoman-Habsburg wars. The battle is also notable for including the largest cavalry charge in history. Following his victories over the Ottoman Empire, he was called by the Turks the “Lion of Lechistan” and held as the savior of European Christendom by the pope.