Prompted by the first four lines of Pan Tadeusz, a ten thousand line poem by Adam Mickiewicz (poet; 1798-1855), which was finished and published in Paris in 1834**, Sergeant Mikolaj Rogalski, Polish Army Second Corps, wrote on the back of a personal photograph:
Poland! My Fatherland.
Only he who once lost you
Can love you the more .....
Underneath that, Sergeant Rogalski cites the photograph as testament of his release to freedom from a Russian detention camp.
These words, inspired by Mickiewicz, are more significant than one can possibly imagine because they touch upon the eighteenth century partitions of the historical Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which comprised the Kingdom of Poland and the Duchy of Lithuania. The Duchy was a feudal state, which included Ruthenia, the regions of modern Belarus and western Ukraine. The partitions of the Commonwealth, and their consequential aftermath, threw these countries, their citizens, and their histories into turmoil for decades. The legacy of the adults at Tweedsmuir Camp is deeply rooted in their understanding of this history and is influenced by the events of interwar (1918-1939) Poland.
By 1990, 'their Poland' started to evolve into a modern country which has managed to tease out the differences between its history and its politics, where the former is the discipline of historians and the latter the domain of politicians.
Today Poland exists as a European country in its own right.