Polish troops came to Haiti to fight in the Revolutionary war against the Nepoleanic forces. Some Poles then stayed on in Haiti after the war and into independence and because Haitian citizens. The classic treatment of this contribution is found in POLAND'S CARIBBEAN TRAGEDY by By Jan Pachonski and Reuel K. Wilson

Bob Corbett's notes on this book (not his review of the book above, maybe be found here.

E-mail list discussion of the Poles in Haiti

21 Jul 1996

Subject: Polish subscriber needs info about Polish in Haiti

ludwik lilienthal ludwik@amanda.dorsai.org

I am looking forward to learning more about Haiti's past and present. I am Russian/Polish/Jewish and my interests with Haiti started two years ago after being exposed to some of the most beautiful folk tales from that land. Since then I also became a a big fan of Leon Dimanche, a great Haitian singer. Leon Dimanche to me is a Haitian Charles Aznavour. He is touring his native Haiti this week after a 12 year absence with a repertoire of new and old songs in Creole and French. Although I understand French I would like to learn Kreyol this year. I have to admit that prior to my exposure to Haitian literature, art and music I knew very little about Haiti except for one historical item (taught in history classes in my native Poland) involving Polish soldiers sent to Haiti by Napoleon to quell the revolution. Poland was allied with Napoleonic France, its liberator, and also participated in the Napoleon's invasion of Russia. Polish cavalry carried banners saying : "For Your and Our Liberty". I would like to find out if the Polish soldiers left any legacy in Haiti. Are there any Polish communities? About 6 month ago there were very interesting articles about Jews in Haiti and their legacy.

ludwik lilienthal


22 Jul 1996

Giles C. Charleston gcharle@Glue.umd.edu

About Polish settlements in Haiti

I know for fact that, of the Polish soldiers sent by Napoleon, many of them defected to the cause of the Haitian Revolution in 1804. And they were given lands by Dessalines and other high-ranked officers in the Haitian army as a reward for their involvements. They were located in the region of "Kazale" (sorry for the mis-spelling) very near of Cabaret. Since then there are children descent of these former Polish settlers and the local Haitians that still live there. I do not have the references off hand to refer you to. But I think you can find many historians that will account of the veracity of these historical facts.

"La patience ouvre la porte du destin."
"Le temps perdu ne se rattrape jamais."
"Aux Ames bien nees, la valeur n'attend point le nombre des Annees."

Giles C. Charleston


Subject: Rouzier responds about Polish troops
22 Jul 1996

Pierre Rouzier gcmedia@gate.net

The little that I know, the Polish troops sent by Napoleon to Haiti joined forces with the Haitian army in the defeat of Napoleon's forces. In so doing the polish people forged themselves a special place in the heart of Haitians; although this might not be common knowledge to the city people nowadays.

Also because of this fact, the polish people were spared by Bookman and Dessalines when all white people were killed during the famous "Koupe tet Boule kay".

There are also many descendants of these polish soldiers still living in Haiti. The Potensky family is one, and there are many more peasants of polish descent, but I forgot the name of the community.



22 Jul 1996

Fequiere Vilsaint vilsaint@chuma.cas.usf.edu

Subject: Vilsaint tells of village with Polish presence

I often hear that in the village of Fond Des Blancs, a few miles south of Miragoane, Haiti, one can find also several descendants of the Polish soldiers sent by Napoleon. In the discussion about this subjects I only read about Casale, not about other communities in the South or in Plateau Central. Any comments?

F. Vilsaint


22 Jul 1996

Barthol Joseph bjj2170@garnet.acns.fsu.edu

Subject: More on the Poles in Casale and the Pope's visit

You are right about the Pope John Paul II's visit to Casale. He went to meet the Polish community there. Casale is near Cabaret(formerly Duvalierville). I heard that Casale is culture rich community. I have not visited yet, since the list is talking about it, I am going to visit in August.


22 Jul 1996

Stewart R. King stumo@teleport.com

Subject: Stewart King discusses the Polish troops

>I know for fact that, of the Polish soldiers sent by Napoleon, many of
>them defected to the cause of the Haitian Revolution in 1804. And they
>were given lands by Dessalines and other high-ranked officers in the
>Haitian army as a reward for their involvements.

It seems that there were a few, perhaps as many as a hundred, who defected in 1804. Their presence was played up for propaganda reasons and in (vain) hopes of defusing criticism that the Dessalines regime was going to massacre all whites.

> They were located in
>the region of "Kazale" (sorry for the mis-spelling) very near of
>Cabaret. Since then there are children descent of these former Polish
>settlers and the local Haitians that still live there.

I've been there. There were maybe a few more lighter-skinned people around than in most rural areas in Haiti, and some Polish surnamed people, but basically if you didn't know the history you wouldn't notice anything much different. Remember that women are generally the teachers of children and the transmitters of cultural tradition, so these Polish soldiers married to Haitian women would have passed on little of their culture to their children. Kind of like the Norse who settled Normandy -- in a century, their descendents who conquered England thought of themselves as Frenchmen and thought of the Vikings as their enemies!

Stewart King


23 Jul 96

Greg Chamberlain 100074.2675@CompuServe.COM

Subject: Chamberlain comments on Casale and the Pope's visit

I'm surprised to hear that the Pope went to Casale. I'm pretty sure he didn't. He was only in Haiti for 10 hours on March 9, 1983. I see no mention of such a visit in my records. I can't lay my hand, for the moment, on that day's Haitian newspapers to prove it definitively, but this is the first time I've heard of it, and I was following things very closely. He would also barely have had time to get there and back.

But can anyone quote clear evidence that he was there? The incident referred to at Cazale was on March 26, 1969, when a group of members of the Haitian Communist Party (PUCH) seized the village for six hours and explained their cause before retreating to the hills. Two months later, Papa Doc's thugs massacred most of the party leadership as they met in a house in Port-au-Prince.

Greg Chamberlain


25 Jul 1996

LeGrace Benson lbenson@sescva.esc.edu

Subject: Papal visit did not include Casale

My recollection of the Papal visit to Haiti is similar to Greg's. I was there at the time, watched the plane come in, then followed the event on TV. At the ceremony greeting the pope --I believe I recall that the moment was actually during the long period of the offereings of the people, incorporated into the Mass, that a contingent of folks from Kazal(sp?) dressed in farmer's blue chambray shirts and jeans, the shirts starched to the nines, men wearing handsome straw hats which I beleive they may have actually woven ( ask Gisele Fleurant about that detail) and presented a harvest from their fields. TV announced explained that they were decendants of the Polish troops who fought on the side of the slaves. Their greeting from the Pope was, as one would expect, warm. This may be the event that has come to be reported as a Papal visit to Kazal. The events of the short visit were so compacted that I, like Greg doubt the Pope any farther than the diplomatic residence of the Nuncio.


22 Jul 1996

Ralph Reid rafreid@primenet.com

Subject: Ralph Reid tells of experience in Polish rooted village

I think the village Ralph means is Kasoley in the Artibonite.

I remember spending a fews days during the summer of 1985 in the small town of Casale (sp?). A friend of my parents had a small country home there. I met some of the polish descendants and they were very friendly.

Three things I want to mention:

  1. I remember watching some kind of ritual dance during a "fete champetre" and I was told it was some kind of mixture of voodoo rythms and Polish folk songs. The dancer was wearing a strange attire that look like an old military uniform with all kind of decorations.
  2. One of the Polish descendant was also telling my parents of stories of a massacre in his community that happened in the 1960's. He even showed us a memorial stone.
  3. I also remember when Pope Jean-Paul II came to Haiti, the government arranged for him to meet a representant of Casale.


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