Polish Consulate General

Monday, 21st September, we had a great  opportunity to be guests of Michael A. House, president of Chicago Defender. Presenting us history of magazine and telling how it changed during long period of existence Michael A. House and staff of Chicago Defender were very kind and showed us that they really appreciated  presence of students from Europe  in the editorial office.  The meeting in Chicago Defender was not the only one that day.

In the afternoon we have  had scheduled joint meeting with Polish and German Consuls General, Zygmunt Matynia and Onno Hückmann, which took place at Polish Consulate General. Polish diplomat, as a host of the meeting, welcomed us in a beautiful room which serves daily as a kind of conference room for Polish Consulate. Before talking about immigration issues we had been introduced to the history of building and Polish Conculate as a diplomatic post.

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The Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Chicago was established in 1920 as the first consular office representing a Central European country. It has jurisdiction over 13 U.S. states of the Midwest: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. The building at 1530 N.Lake Shore Drive, built in 1916 as a private residence, is one of the finest surviving examples of the grand mansions which lined Lake Shore Drive at the turn of the Century. In 1974 it was purchased by the Polish Government. In 1989 it was included on the list of Gold Coast historical monuments of Chicago.

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After short introduction Consul Zygmunt Matynia and Onno Hückmann started presenting the main issues which are under jurisdiction of Consuls Generals. Both of them pointed, as a important element of consular service, co-working with Polish and German organizations from Chicago like Polish daily newspaper called “Dziennik Zwiazkowy” . Consul Matynia presented two main issues of polish immigration decades ago which he later grouped as  political and economical.  Polish Consul mentioned that political immigration from Poland has stopped since falling down of communism and this economical has still been changing because of better financial situation in Poland. Another concern of Consul Matynia was situation between community of polish immigrants in America, which in his opinion is not united such as Mexican or Asian. Consul Onno Hückmann really impressed all the students when he was talking about career during his 30 years long period in diplomatic service. He pointed that there is growing number of people from United States who are applying for German citizenship (a lot of them are Jewish). Both of the Consuls talked about procedures when person from their country is stopped by police (authorities should let know Consul about stopping a citizen of another country in 72 hours). Students were very curious about opinions about visas to the United States. Consul Matynia answered that we need to respect American law even if we think that it is not as it should be at some points. After some other questions and discussion there came moment when we had to finish our meeting which by the way was pretty interesting experience and I think we all really enjoyed.

Aleksander Podsiadło


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