Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Rota- Anthem of the Polish National-Territorial Region

The Polish National-Territorial Region (Polish: Polski Kraj Narodowo-Terytorialny) was an autonomous region in Lithuania, self-proclaimed by the local Poles on 6 September 1990. The region included areas surrounding Vilnius, capital of Lithuania, where Poles formed the majority (60–90%). This Eastern part of Lithuania had been part of Poland (from 1922) before being attached to Lithuania under the Mutual Assistance Treaty with the Soviet Union in 1939.

The autonomy region with capital in Naujoji Vilnia included 4,930 km² and population of 215,000 (66% of them Poles). The Polish autonomous movement was related to the Yedinstvo movement and had tacit support from Moscow (thus, when following the Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania the Soviets applied a blockade against Lithuania, the areas of Eastern Lithuania with significant minority population were mostly spared of the blockade, with the aim of gaining minorities' support for Moscow). In the region, the Polish Red-and-White flags were used as official flag and Rota was used as an anthem in the region.

Rota's lyrics were written in 1908 by Maria Konopnicka. The music was composed two years later by Feliks Nowowiejski. Konopnicka's poem came into being as a protest against the German Empire's oppression and suppression of Polish culture in German-occupied western Poland — lands that from the late 18th century after the Partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to 1918 were under Prussian — and later, German — rule.

Rota was first sung publicly during a patriotic demonstration in Kraków on July 15, 1910, held to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Polish-Lithuanian victory over the Teutonic Knights at the Battle of Grunwald. The anthem quickly became popular across partitioned Poland. Until 1918, Rota served as the anthem of the Polish Scouting movement. After Poland regained independence in 1918, Rota, in 1927, found itself under consideration for a time as a possible Polish national anthem.

The Lithuanian government declared the formation of the Polish autonomous district in Lithuania unconstitutional. After the August Coup of the Soviet hardliners had failed, the Lithuanian parliament suspended on 3 September 1991 the democratically elected local councils that had sought autonomy or secession from Lithuania, thus abolishing the anthem.

Above is a FDC of the composer of Rota, Feliks Nowowiejski, issued by Poland in 2010