Ask Our Man in Warsaw
By Robert Strybel, "The Polish Answer Man" Ask Our Man in Warsaw

Q: You wrote a while ago about how hot Poland’s real estate market is and that means you can make a lot of money on real estate there. Here in the US the market is not good and it’s really hard to sell homes. Is the Polish real estate market still hot and can a Polish American get a piece of the action if he’s willing to invest? Please do not print my full name and address in the paper, because I still haven’t made up my mind on this.

A.S. St. Clair Shores, MI

A: Since mid-2007, when the market was really hot and some people were getting 100% returns and more on their investments within a year’s time, things have cooled off somewhat, but the market is still doing OK. To find out what’s available and how to go about it, please visit Web site: Good Luck!

Q: Last year, I applied for Polish citizenship through the Polish Consulate in Sydney, Australia. I have had no response regarding the application and was told by the Consulate that they were unable to advise on the progress of any applications. May I enlist your help in obtaining my Citizenship through you in Poland? I am currently living and working in London, whilst I await my Citizenship. Any help that you can give on the matter would be gratefully appreciated.

NICOLE CHESSEL, e-mail: [email protected]

A: The delay you are experiencing is par for the course. Since Poland jointed the European Union the volume of such applications has vastly increased, and the bureaucrats are not equipped to handle the extra work load. The normal wait is 5 years which can be reduced to 3 years if the applicant marries a Polish national. In a few special cases, decided by the President of Poland, fast-track citizenship may be possible. I have no way of assisting you, as I am not connected in any way with Poland’s citizenship-granting authorities, nor am I a legal expert. Engaging a citizenship lawyer might be helpful, although that is quite pricey.

Q: I am trying to learn about my distant ancestor Henry Walenty Kurzontkowsky who was born in Poland in 1784, fought in Napoleon’s army under the command of Polish generals Dabrowski, Kniaziewicz, Jablonowskiego and Wielchorskiego and died in Philadelphia in 1866. I found some mention of him in the military archives in Paris but was told that most of the records were returned to Poland after World War II. Is there any way I could gain access to those records?

JANUSZ CHOJNOWSKI, e-mail: [email protected]

Q: I was wondering if you have any idea how to go about finding a list of Polish Dance Schools in New Jersey? A: I suggest you contact the New Jersey Division of the Polish-American Congress which should be able to point you in the right direction: 177 Broadway, Clark, NJ 07066; Phone: (908) 862-2050, (908) 862-1700; Fax: (908) 862-1029; e-mail: [email protected]

Q: I was asked whether the Poland’s Central Address Bureau had an e-mail address and learned that it had changed its name and location. For some years now I've been telling people to write to the Biuro at ul.  Kazimierzowska 60, 02-543 Warsaw for information on the addresses of their relatives in Poland, but I’d hate to give people bad information.

FRED HOFFMAN, Genealogist, Chicago, IL, e-mail: [email protected]

A: Yes, the Centralne Biuro Adresowe is now called the Wydzial Udostepniania Informacji (Information Access Section)  and is part of the Interior Ministry’s Citizens Affairs Department. It is located at:  ul. Domaniewska 36/38, 02-672 Warsaw, Poland, and the phone number is: (+48 22)  849 18 38. This office can provide the address of all living Poles on condition that the party being sought agrees to have their data released. Inquiries should be directed to the above postal address or phone number. They do not list an e-mail address, probably so as not to get swamped with more inquiries than they are equipped to handle.

Q: We were considering buying a used Polish Fiat for our apartment in Krakow. What year do you suggest and what problems have you come with this vehicle I should know before hand?

JOHN BLACHA, Waterford, MI, E-MAIL: [email protected]

A: I would suggest a low-mileage Polish Fiat not more than two years old. Cars that are five to six-years old tend to show rust and in damp weather may have problems with the electrical system. All in all, however, a Fiat is your best bet in Poland, because even mechanics in remote villages know how to repair them in case of a breakdown and service and spare parts are cheaper than with most other makes. For an economical small car I would recommend the three-door Fiat 600 hatchback or the five-door Fiat Panda, a kind of mini-SUV.


Q: I am a 20-year-old student of Polish ancestry seeking a Polish penfriend. My great-grandfather came to America from Poland in 1869. My interests include weight-lifting, outdoor pursuits, history and genealogy. Could you please help me find a penpal my age in Poland? another question. Can a Polish-American serve in the Polish army?

ANDREW OSANTOWSKI, 1790 E. Parnall, Jackson, MI 49201

A: Perhaps someone reading this column will decide to reply to your request. Nowadays, however, nearly all penpal contacts are done by e-mail. I suggest you contact the following Polish penpal website: In general, a person needs to have Polish citizenship to serve in Poland’s armed forces. Possibly some exception could be made in extremely special cases, but ordinarily it would be out of the question.


Q: If my husband gets reassigned to Michigan, we may be moving there this summer. I would like to enroll our 10-year-old daughter Amy in a Polish dance group and wonder where I might find some addresses. No address please.


A: The Polish Art Center of Hamtramck, MI, has compiled an extensive listing of Michigan’s Polish dance groups. I suggest you get in touch at: [email protected] or visit their website:


Q: I am interested in the town crest of Wilamowice, Poland. My assumption is that it predates or has its origins prior to the 20th century, as most Polish iconography does. In addition to dating the adoption of the crest, I would like to learn about its heraldic/geographic meaning.

DALE DENDA, e-mail: [email protected]

A: The municipal crest of the village of Wilamowice in southern Poland’s Bielsko-Biala area is the all-seeing eye of
Divine Providence in gold set against a blue shield. (You can see it at the village’s Web site: .  According to village official Eugeniusz Bilczewski, the symbol was found on the facade of a 200-year-old building (no longer standing) in which his ancestors had operated an inn. He did not know exactly when it originated as the Wilamowice crest but suggested that after the 1241 Battle of Legnica, when the country lay in ruin following the Mongolian invasion, the Polish king brought in colonists from Western Europe including Holland, Flanders and Scotland to re-cultivate the region. One of them may have brought the symbol along. For more information please visit and/or


Q: This is probably a strange question, but we used to have Warsaw Falcon dill pickles in Syracuse, New York. Now, they are gone.  Would you happen to know what happened to them or where I might purchase them.                                                                                  

JANIS JONES, e-mail: [email protected]

A: It’s a perfectly good question and I can only hope you find this answer adequate. The Warsaw Falcon Pickles were made by a company called Bay Valley Foods out of Green Bay, Wisconsin, which has permanently discontinued the product. They do not carry any other Polish-style products. If you want to inquire of complain, their customer service line is 1-800-236-1119 .