Let us defend Mount Kosciuszko
We have received the text of Dr. Jan Pyszko, Chairman of the Union of Polish Organisations in Switzerland, in which he defends Mount Kosciuszko in Australia. We publish parts of his letter.
The Poles, who made a considerable contribution into the development of the Australian continent, including numerous discoveries of natural resources, belonged to the first immigrants who settled in the southern coast of 'the new world'.
Our fellow countrymen rendered undeniable services to geographical researches and geological discoveries of the fifth continent. One of the most known and meritorious pioneers of Australia was Count Paul Edmund Strzelecki (1797-1873), scholar, geologist, geographer, traveller, and explorer of gold in New South Wales. Strzelecki discovered Gippsland, made geological maps of Tasmania and New South Wales. The name of the great Pole has also been known in the USA and Canada, where he discovered deposits of copper ore near the Ontario Lake and rich mineral deposits in Minas Gerais, Brazil. The Strzelecki Creek as well mountain peaks in central Australian and Finders Island were named after him. Streets and settlements in many cities as well as a national park vaunt his name.
In the year 1840 he was the first to explore the highest peak in the Australian Alps and named it Mount Kosciuszko, in recognition of our national hero (2228 meters).
However, the name of Mount Kosciuszko has been disturbing some anti-Polish circles on the continent. They try to wipe out the Polish name of the general awareness of inhabitants and wipe it off geographical atlases and school manuals in order to replace it with an Aborigine name.
The task of the Polish diplomacy and Polish immigrants' organisations, especially in Australia, is to defend the good name of our country, Polish culture and scientific output, and thus Mount Kosciuszko as well.
The Union of Polish Organisations in Switzerland protests against the change of the name of Mount Kosciuszko and demands the name being preserved. Mount Kosciuszko is a historical and geographical term, recognised by state departments and geographical organisations. The Australian authorities cannot allow the nationalist circles to stir up unrest between ethnic groups, which have traditionally lived in harmony and mutual respect. The defense of the name of Mount Kosciuszko is the defense of democracy and Polish honour.
Dr hab. med. Jan Pyszko, PhD
Chairman of the Union of Polish Organisations in Switzerland
Binningen / Basel, 1 November 2004