HERBERT HOOVER IN POLAND EXHIBIT
Exhibit showcases Herbert Hoover`s humanitarian efforts in Poland
By Lisa Trei / Stanford News Service
The story goes that in 1892, Herbert Hoover, a member of Stanford`s
Pioneer Class, invited Polish composer Ignacy Jan Paderewski,
one of the leading pianists in the world, to give a benefit
concert. Due to problems with scheduling and publicity, only a
few people attended. Hoover asked the pianist not to play, but
he performed anyway, waiving his concert fee. And when Paderewski
discovered that Hoover owed thousands of dollars for rental of
the concert hall, the musician covered the bill. That incident
marked the beginning of a friendship between the two men that
would last 50 years.
During and after World War I, when Poles faced massive starvation,
Hoover repaid his debt to Paderewski, who became Poland`s prime
minister, by organizing the largest relief operation ever mounted
in Europe, said Zbigniew Stanczyk, East European specialist at
the Hoover Institution.
Between 1914 and 1922, it is estimated that the American Relief
Administration (ARA), established by Hoover, fed 200 million
people. In Poland alone, more than 1.5 million people were being
fed six months after the ARA entered the country in 1918. Later,
during World War II, Hoover led the Commission for Polish Relief,
which assisted hundreds of thousands of Poles. And in 1946,
Hoover visited Poland to draft another plan that would aid Poles
for the next three decades.
Hoover`s long relationship with the Polish people is revealed
in the exhibit "Herbert Hoover in Poland: Pioneer Humanitarian
at Work," on display at the Herbert Hoover Memorial Exhibit
Pavilion through Aug. 26. The exhibit richly illustrates Hoover`s
work in Poland through rare photographs, correspondence, news
accounts and video testimonials by people who survived thanks
to America`s support. The exhibit was first shown in 2004 and
2005 in Warsaw, Krakow, Katowice, Lodz and Poznan. It attracted
huge crowds in each of the Polish cities.
"In one museum in Poznan, 12,000 people visited in one month,"
Stanczyk said. "That was huge."
Between the world wars, Hoover was a household name in Poland,
Stanczyk said, and he was honored with parades, university
diplomas and honorary citizenship in cities. In 1922, the
Legislative Assembly of the Polish Republic passed a resolution
granting Hoover national citizenship, the first foreigner ever
to receive this distinction. The same year, a monument honoring
Hoover was erected in a central part of Warsaw that portrayed
two women holding children as a symbol of life. The monument was
destroyed during World War II, but there are plans to rebuild
it in Skwer Hoovera (Hoover Square), the site of its prewar
location, according to Stanczyk.
"After World War II, he co-founded two major world humanitarian
organizations, UNICEF and CARE, which are still feeding millions
of people around the globe," Stanczyk said. "He truly deserves
the title of first global humanitarian."
The exhibit is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday
at the Herbert Hoover Memorial Exhibit Pavilion.
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