LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies (CREES) has organized a memorial ceremony for the late Anna M. Cienciala, professor emerita of history and REES, who passed away Dec. 24, 2014, at age 85. Representatives of the Polish Embassy in the United States will also be at the memorial to present the Commander’s Cross posthumously to Cienciala. The memorial and associated award service will take place from 3:30-5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 22, in the Jayhawk Room of the Kansas Union.
In 2014 the president of the Republic of Poland, Bronislaw Komorowski, awarded Cienciala the Commander’s Cross with Star, the second-highest decoration under the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland. She was awarded the Commander’s Cross for the exemplary service she rendered to the Polish nation as one of the most eminent Polish-American scholars specializing in the history of Polish foreign policy of the interwar period.
“The Commander’s Cross with Star of the Order of Merit was awarded to Anna Cienciala in acknowledgement of the decades of her work, which contributed to the advancement of Poland’s good name,” said Konrad Zieliński, vice consul of Culture, Education and Media, Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Chicago. “In her many works, Professor Anna Cienciala showed the actions of Polish diplomacy against the backdrop of international politics. Over the decades she also researched and shed light on such important events in world history as the Katyn massacre and the Warsaw Uprising.”
An expert in the fields of diplomacy in Eastern Europe and wartime relations in the 20th century, Cienciala experienced as a child much of the turmoil that she taught and wrote about. Born in the Free City of Danzig (Gdansk, in Poland after World War II), she attended middle and high school in England, then university studies in England, Canada and United States (bachelor's degree, Liverpool, 1952; master's degree, McGill, 1955; doctorate, Indiana, 1962). She taught at the University of Ottawa and the University of Toronto before coming to KU in 1965.
Cienciala retired in June 2002, but she resided in Lawrence and remained strongly involved in the educational mission of the Department of History and CREES. Specializing in 20th century Polish, European, Soviet and American diplomacy 1919-1945, Cienciala published extensively with more than 200 publications to her name as of 2014. Her latest major work was “Katyn: A Crime without Punishment” (Yale University Press, 2007, reprint, 2009). She is also the author of an Internet course ("Nationalism and Communism in East Central Europe") utilized in Wikipedia and other online sources.
Cienciala is listed in The Who’s Who of American Women and the Zlota Ksiega Nauk Humanistycznych 2013 (The Golden Book of Humanities Studies, Poland). In 2000, she was honored by the History Institute of Gdansk University and the city of Gdansk. In 2007 she received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in America, and in October 2013 she was awarded the Bene Merito decoration of honor by Poland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs in recognition of her role in strengthening Poland’s international position.
Cienciala is survived by a sister living in Canada and by Roma Boniecka, her life companion.