Honorary  Citizens

of Toruń


City Councillors from Toruń who received the title of Honorary Citizen of Toruń. Ten persons:

This is the most important title awarded by the City Council of Toruń on motion from the City of Toruń Chapter of Honorary Distinctions.

The title of Honorary Citizen of Toruń is an ennobling proof of appreciation for persons of recognized moral integrity, who made unique and lasting contribution to the history, development, importance and renown of the city or to the consolidation, development and actualisation of humanistic values and ideas contained in the centuries-long achievements of the city.

 The awarding of the title of Honorary Citizen of Toruń is certified by:

  • a medal with the Coat of Arms of Toruń, a drawing of a salamander (in flames), a motto: DURABO (ie. I SHALL SURVIVE) and a brim inscription "Honorary Citizen of Toruń " on the averse, and the likeness of the recipient, their names, the date and medal number on the reverse;

  • a diploma (with the listing of merits);

  • a numbered badge;

  • placing a portrait of the recipient in the Gallery of Honorary Citizens of Toruń located in the seat of the Council.

The medal and the badge are made of silver.

The Honorary Citizen of Toruń acquires a right to take part in meetings of the Council, where they may express their opinions.

General Józef Haller (1873-1960)

A soldier and a politician. During the World War I he served in Austrian army, then he became the commander of the II Brigade of the Polish Legions. In 1918 he led Polish Reinforcing Corps of the Austrian army to Russian territory. He travelled to France, where he created the famous "Blue Army". He came back to Poland with his soldiers in 1919 and fought on the Ukrainian front. He commanded the soldiers of the Pomeranian Front, when the troops entered Toruń on 18 January 1920. In the Polish war with bolshevicks, he was nominated to the rank of commander of the Voluntary Army. He acted as the General Army Inspector. In the years 1920-1927, general Józef Haller was a Member of Parliament. He was active in right wing circles, and therefore was a political opponent of marshal Piłsudski. After the May Revolt, Haller was forced to retire from the army. He was very popular, particularly in Wielkopolska and Pomerania. He received the title of the Honorary Citizen of Toruń on 18 January 1921, in the anniversary of the arrival of his troops to Toruń. During the World War II he emigrated. In the 1940-1943 period, he was the Minister of Education in general Sikorski’s government.

Marshal Ferdynand Foch (1851-1929)

Marshal of France, Great Britain and Poland. A distinguished commander and strategist. One of the heroes of the Word War I. Before the outbreak of the war, he was a lecturer in the French Military Academy. As the commander of the 9th Army, he was one of the authors of the Marne victory in 1914. In 1917 he became the Chief of General Headquarters. In 1918, marshal Foch led a successful counter-strike by the Somme River, which sealed the defeat of Germany. As the general commander of the allied forces in the western front he received the unconditional capitulation of Germany in Compiegne. Marshal Foch was known as a great friend of Poland. His firm attitude forced German government to call off the counter-strike against rebels from Wielkopolska. He received the title of the Honorary Citizen of Toruń on 23 April 1923 during his triumphant travel across Poland.


Marshal Józef Piłsudski (1867-1935)

First marshal of Poland. Regarded as the maker of Polish independence. He was a conspirator from his youth. In 1888 he was sent to Siberia. He joined the PPS party and since 1893 was the chief editor of the "Labourer". Arrested once again in 1900, he escaped from prison in Petersburg. In 1904 he travels to Japan, where he tries to gain support for the Polish cause. After split of PPS in 1906, he became the commander of PPS Revolutionary Front and organised PPS militias. Anticipating an outbreak of international conflict, he organises a paramilitary Riflemen Association in Galicia. After the outbreak of the First World War, he leads his I Brigade of Polish Legions into the lands occupied by Russians. In 1916 he resigns from his rank. On his return from imprisonment in Magdeburg, he comes to power as National Commander-In-Chief and General Commander. He was the author of the victory over the Red Army in the 1920 War. In 1923 Piłsudski retires from public life and settles in Sulejówek. In May 1926 he organizes a coup d’etat, but does not accept the function of President, contenting himself with the rank of Minister of War and General Army Inspector. He was buried in Wawel. He officially visited Toruń in June 1921. He also made two unofficial visits to Toruń. The title of the Honorary Citizen of Toruń was bestowed upon him posthumously – on 14 May 1935.

Marshal Edward Rydz-Śmigły (1886-1941)

Marshal of Poland. He studied philosophy and graduated from Jagiellonian University and Fine Arts Academy in Kraków. One of the founders of the Riflemen Association. In 1914 joined the Legions. He fought in the I Brigade in ranks from battalion commander to deputy brigade commander. In 1917-1918 he commanded Pomerania Military Region. He received the post of Minister of War in Lublin government of I. Daszyński. During the Polish-Bolshevik War, he led the troops who attacked and conquered the city of Kijev. Then he commanded the South-Western Front, Central Front, and finally the 2 Army, which cut off the retreat route of Tuchaczewski troops returning after losing the Battle of Warsaw. Army Inspector since 1922, and in 1935, according to the will of marshal Piłsudski, he was nominated to the rank of General Army Inspector. In 1936 he became General of Arms and a Marshal of Poland. The National Unity Fraction forms around his prominent person. He was the General Commander during the September Campaign. After his escape to Romany and imprisonment in Hungary, he returned to occupied Poland as Adam Zawisza. He vainly tried to organise conspiratorial Fraction of Fighting Poland. On 20 June 1938, he arrived to Toruń to receive the title of Honorary Citizen.

Wanda Szuman (1890-1994)

She was born on 3 April 1890 in Toruń, a daughter of Leon Szuman – famous doctor and social activist. After graduating from high schools in Kraków and Lvov, she devoted herself to pedagogical work and charitable activities. During the partition period, she provided secret education for working class children. During the World War I, she organised a Kingdom of Poland Committee for Aiding War Victims. She founded a Polish Red Cross division in Toruń and chaired Toruń Educational Commission. She organised education for Pomeranian teachers of the Polish language. Wanda Szuman is regarded as a pioneer of Polish special pedagogy. She carried out work on organising a Polish system of orphaned children care. She initiated education for teachers working in orphanages, nurseries and kindergartens. Simultaneously, she began studies in Warsaw, attending numerous scholarships in foreign orphanages. Wanda Szuman conducted research on development of orphans and children reared in isolation. She promoted a family bringing-up as a method of orphans care. From 1933 to 1939 she was a director in Catholic College for Kindergarten Teachers in Poznań. During World War II, she once more became a teacher in secret educational system and worked in Polish Welfare Committee. She organised aid for families of persons imprisoned and deported after the Warsaw Upraising. After the war, Wanda Szuman returned to Toruń from deportation and began working in Kindergarten Teachers College and Welfare Service. In 1952 she retired but did not stop her scientific research. She introduced new methods and styles to Polish pedagogy. She took care of the handicapped, blind and deaf children. In 1970s she popularised the then innovative method of rehabilitation of the handicapped through artistic activities. Due to her diligence and dedication to help the needy she was a respectable member of the society. Some of awards bestowed upon her are: the Cavalier Cross of Polish Revival Order, pope’s "Pro Ecclesiae et Pontifice" medal and the Smile Order. On 13 February 1992 the City Council of Toruń passed a bill awarding Wanda Szuman with the title of Honorary Citizen of Toruń. Wanda Szuman died on 1 December 1994, aged 104.

Professor Elżbieta Zawacka

She was born in Toruń on 19 March 1909. Having finished her studies she began pedagogical work in schools simultaneously actively supporting Women Military Education organisation, in which she was the commander of Silesia Region. She took part in the September Campaign and then organised conspiratorial groups in Silesia. At first she worked in Polish Victory Service, then in Armed Combat Association and finally in the National Army (Armia Krajowa). Till the end of 1940, she commanded the communication division of Silesia Region of the Armed Combat Association (Związek Walki Zbrojnej). Then her epic career of National Army connection started. Known under her "Zo" pseudo, she became a living legend among couriers operating in occupied Europe. She repeatedly illegally crossed the border carrying news and reports. She also trained other couriers. She acted as deputy chief of "Enclosure" – the division of foreign communication of V Office of National Army Headquarters. Her most famous route led through Germany, Austria, France and Spain to England. "Zo" was the only woman who belonged to the "Cichociemni" organization. At her request, she was allowed to return on a parachute to her occupied motherland on 10 September 1943. She worked in the command of Women Military Service in National Army Headquarters. After the failure of the Warsaw Upraising she continued to serve the Underground Authorities at the side of general Okulicki. She brought the first detailed reports on the post-upraising situation in Poland to Switzerland. After the war she joined anti-communist conspiratorial organisation Freedom and Independence. She returned to her pedagogical work – she graduated form Social Pedagogy College and began work on her doctor’s dissertation. In 1951 she was arrested by Security Office. She was kept in prison till 1955. In 1956 she returned to her scientific and pedagogical work. In 1965 she became a doctor of sciences and received her professor’s title in 1972. She returned to her hometown Toruń, where she started work at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in the Institute of Pedagogy and Psychology. Simultaneously she collected materials on the history of National Army, and was active in National Army combatants circles. As a result of repressions from the Security Office, which included dissolution of Andragogics Institute, of which she was the head, she prematurely resigned from work at the university. In 1980s she was active in "Solidarity" circles being an authority and an example of a patriot for the young generation. Professor Zawacka was active in Kaszuby-Pomerania Society and was a co-founder of World National Army Soldiers Association. Her grand achievement was the establishing of "Pomeranian National Army Archive" foundation. The foundation not only collects documents and relations, but also organizes conferences, scientific conventions and releases multiple publications on the participation of Pomeranians in the fight for independence. On December 1995 President Lech Wałęsa awarded professor Elżbieta Zawacka with the White Eagle Order. She was also honoured with the Cross of Virtuti Militari Order and five Crosses for Bravery. On 17 December 1992 citizens of her hometown granted professor Elżbieta Zawacka the title of Honorary Citizen of Toruń.

Holy Father John Paul II

On 16 January 1998 City Council of Toruń unanimously decided to grant the title of honorary citizen of Toruń to the pope John Paul II. It is the highest proof of appreciation and award which the citizens of Copernicus’ city could grant to a person of particular merits and authority. For citizens of Toruń and Poland, John Paul II is the highest moral and spiritual authority in the world. The councillors’ justification of their decision included a statement: "to promote and develop the ecumenical dialogue of understanding between persons, nations and religions, so familiar, because grounded in history and tradition of Toruń, continued nowadays by local church, city authorities, higher schools and local community, and reflected in the Toruń Talks – continuation of Colloquium Charitativum opened lectures, and in common creation of charitable acts – Mother Maria Karłowska Caritas Centre

A 650 person delegation of local authorities, clergy, scholars, artists, businessmen, citizens of Toruń and members of Toruń diocese travelled to Rome to ask the pope to accept the award. The pope met the delegates on 19 February 1998 on a special 1.5 hour audience. It took place exactly in 525th anniversary of Nicolaus Copernicus birth; a copy of his portrait was one of gifts from Toruń citizens. - Your visit is a great pleasure to me, because the land of Toruń and the City of Toruń in particular is familiar and precious to me – answered John Paul II. The city is familiar to me mainly through its son – Nicolaus Copernicus (...) All citizens of Poland are aware of his achievements, particularly citizens of Toruń, thanks to the university named after him. From this day, my bond with the city and with you is even stronger."

The bonds of John Paul II with Toruń date from times, when cardinal Karol Wojtyła visited his family living in the city. In 1971 he performed marriage ceremonies in st. Joseph church in Toruń for Kazimiera and Marek Wiadrowski. He stays in close contact with children and wife of his cousin, who live in Toruń.

Toruń owes a lot to the pope. On 25 March 1992 he issued the "Totus Tuus Poloniae Populus" edict creating the Toruń diocese, which continues old tradition of the Chełmno diocese. In Zakopane in June 1997 he beatificated mother Maria Karłowska – the founder of “Siostry Pasterki od Opatrzności Bożej” congregation. Caritas centre named after her is a gift of heart from Toruń to the Polish pope. A primary school no. 13 bears the name of John Paul II. Citizens of Toruń have always taken part in pope’s pilgrimages. This time they had the opportunity to meet him in their city, about which the pope once said that “After Kraków, it was the dearest to him".

Professor Wilhelmina Iwanowska (1905-1999)

Professor Wilhelmina Iwanowska was born in Vilno. There, she finished primary school and high-school. Her inquisitive nature led her to study astronomy at Stefan Batory University. In 1927 she started work in the University Astronomical Observatory which was organised and run by professor Władysław Dziewulski. In 1937 she received her professor’s degree. Her promising scientific career was broken by World War II. The harsh conditions of living in occupied country forced her to do various jobs; at the same time she took part in secret education. After the Red Army captured Vilno and its Polish citizens were "repatriated", professor Iwanowska and her colleagues from the University were transported to Łódź. The communists wanted to send the unwelcome scientists to different universities. The professors from Vilno led by professor Władysław Dziewulski decided not to give in, but to create a new university continuing the traditions of their beloved Alma Mater. For this purpose they chose Toruń, known as the place of birth of the greatest astronomer. Thus began the connection of professor Iwanowska to the city of Copernicus. She not only was the co-founder of Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, but with professor Dziewulski, she created the Toruń school of astronomy and radioastronomy. The school which reminded the world of Toruń, the birthplace of Copernicus and educated a group of eminent scholars who are now professors in numerous universities around the world. Professor Wilhelmina Iwanowska’s research and scientific dissertations on star astronomy (including statistical analysis of star movements in space, fotographic fotometry of variable stars, study of star spectra, galaxy evolution) made her a distinguished scientist. The great esteem of professor Iwanowska in the scientific world was certified by numerous invitations to give lectures in European and American educational institutions and the fact of granting her the function of Deputy President of International Scientific Union. Prof. Wilhelmina Iwanowska is also a factual member of Polish Academy of Science and multiple scientific associations around the world, as well as Honoris Causa Doctor of three great universities (University of Leicester in England, University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada and her home Nicolaus Copernicus University. She is a honorary citizen of Canadian city of Winnipeg. Professor Iwanowska is also the founder of Toruń Division of Astronomical Centre of Polish Academy of Science.

On 31 July 1997 the City Council of Toruń unanimously decided to award the title of honorary citizen to professor Wilhelminia Iwanowska. The bestowing of the honour took place in the same year, during a ceremonious session of the Council in Artus Court on 25 September.

Professor Marian Biskup 

Professor Marian Biskup was born on 19 December 1922 in Inowrocław. After the war he settled in Toruń. He is the author of numerous books and articles on history of Toruń and its famous citizens, mainly Nicolaus Copernicus. He was a dedicated explorer of the history of Pomerania, Teutonic Knights and Toruń. The list of his scientific and editing activities is impressive. He was the head of one of the best Polish periodicals dedicated to history, namely the “Historical Records”. From his initiative a Historical Olympics was organised. In 1991 he became factual member of Polish Academy of Science and Polish Academy of Abilities. His life and career are firmly bound to Toruń. Professor Biskup graduated from the University of Nicolaus Copernicus after his studies in 1949-52; in the years 1947-51 he was a teacher in Toruń high-school, he also worked in the university for 15 years (1957-72); in 1958 he became assistant professor, in 1961 he was nominated to associate professor to finally become full professor of the Institute of Medieval History. Since 1955 he has been active in the Scientific Society of Toruń, in 1965 he became the general secretary of the Society to be elected President of the Scientific Society of Toruń in 1983. He holds the office to the present day.

The title of honorary citizen was awarded to professor Biskup after unanimous decision of the City of Toruń Chapter of Honorary Distinctions, which pointed at his outstanding merits in rendering Toruń famous home and abroad in his numerous books and articles on the history of the city, great contribution to popularising the achievements of the city of Toruń, educating many generations of students in the spirit of respect for native history and his being regarded as a moral and scientific authority.

Professor Artur Hutnikiewicz

Professor Artur Hutnikiewicz, born in Lvov in 1916, has lived in Toruń since 1946, when he took over the post of senior assistant in the Department of Theory of Literature and Comparison Literature at the Nicoloaus Copernicus University. He completed all stages of University career: he received the title of doctor in 1948, after submitting a dissertation on the works of Żeromski, in 1962 he was promoted to associate professor and in 1973 he became a full professor. In the period of 1956-58 he was the Dean of Humanistic Division; until 1968 he worked as the Director of Department of Polish XX Century Literature, then in 1973 he became the Director of Department of Polish Literature History and held the post till 1986. In years 1980 - 1986 he was the Director of the institute of Polish Philology. He was active in the Scientific Society of Toruń, in the Scientific Council of Institute of Literary Research and in the Committee of Literary Sciences of Polish Academy of Science. He is also an honorary member of Adam Mickiewicz Literary Society and Stefan Żeromski Society. In 1993 he joined the reactivated Polish Academy of Abilities in Kraków.

He is the author of more than 200 dissertations and essays, including a study “Żeromski and Naturalism", a dissertation "Literary Works of Stefan Grabiński (1887-1936)", a popular monograph "Stefan Żeromski" and a compendium of knowledge of XX century literature "From Pure Form to Literature of Fact". Recently, he finished his book on Polish literature in the 1918-1945 period. He was critical of the post-war period, which did not win him the favour of the authorities of People’s Republic of Poland. His passport was confiscated several times, he was denied the right to leave the country and his texts were censored.

At the Toruń’s university, he educated 450 Masters of Arts in Polish Philology, 12 doctors and 8 assistant professors. He loved to teach. Until last year, despite his retirement, he still delivered monographic lectures. During his visit at the Toruń university in June 1999, John Paul II mentioned the Professor among persons who greatly contributed to the development of Polish science. Professor Hutnikiewicz, who was forced to leave his beloved Lvov, has always been emotionally attached to Toruń, which he calls "my little place on Earth, my home”.

® Municipal Office in Toruń