Oleandry

Oleandry, Kraków

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Everything began in Oleandry! It is from here that the First Cadre Company set forth in 1914, and from where the first Polish legionnaires went fighting for the independence of their homeland on the fronts of the Great War. What used to be Oleandry near Kraków is today a block between Mickiewicza Avenue to the East, 3 Maja Avenue to the south, Reymana Street to the west, and Reymonta Street to the north. It is crossed by three streets: Oleandry, Kadrówki and Ingardena, and its other part is taken up by Jordan Park. The historic building at al. 3 Maja 7 is named after Marshal Józef Piłsudski.

In 1912, the Exhibition of Architecture and Interiors in a Garden Setting was organised on the lawn between Jordan Park, and today’s Mickiewicza Avenue. It presented modern architectural solutions for the districts incorporated into Kraków in 1910–15 following the initiative of Mayor Juliusz Leo. The entire area of the exhibition took its name from the Oleandry summer theatre operating within. Early in the 20th century, Oleandry became a popular destination for walks, and a place for people to meet, enjoy themselves, and participate in festivities and popular entertainment organised here together with sports competitions, which were also held on the nearby Błonia Common Green. Thus the Oleandry area was full of life!

It was also precisely here that the idea of an armed fight for independence sprang to life. In the summer of 1914, a summer shooting school was organised here for the members of the Kraków’s “Strzelec” Association and the Polish Riflemen Teams as an initiative of Józef Piłsudski. Its participants later became members of the First Cadre Company (also set up by Piłsudski): the first Polish military formation in decades. On the morning of 6 August 1914, the “Kadrówka” set forth from Kraków to the Kingdom of Poland (i.e. the Polish territories occupied by Russians). The soldiers reached the border between the Austro-Hungarian and Russian partitions in Michałowice near Kraków and knocked down the border posts, thus symbolically rejecting the division of Poland between the partitioning powers. The steps taken by Piłsudski and the march of the First Cadre Company quickly attracted the attention of the Austrian authorities, who demanded that the developing Polish military units were disbanded or incorporated into the Imperial and Royal Austrian army. However, the efforts of the Mayor of Kraków Juliusz Leo in the Austrian Parliament in Vienna helped to reinforce the status of the Polish Armed Forces. Leo received permission to establish the Polish legions as part of the military forces of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy.

The events of 6 August 1914 are commemorated every year by the annual March along the Trail of the First Cadre Company. The anniversary was first commemorated by the legionnaires themselves in 1923 by a march along the 122-kilometre-long route from Kraków to Kielce. After the Second World War the communist authorities banned the marches, and the tradition only re-emerged in 1989.

 

Oleandry, Kraków
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