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Life of PTTK

History of PTTK


Polish Tatry Society
(founded in 1873)

On 3rd August 1873, in old manor of Ludwik Eichborn (in Zakopane) Tatry Society was established. Feliks Popławicki put its project forward - a captain in Austrian army and a Member of Galician Parliament; he presented conceptions of priest Józef Stolarczyk, doctor Tytus Chałubiński, Eugeniusz Janota, Franiszek Biesiadecki, doctor Bolesław Lutestański and others.

Founding actions were formalized by 31st December 1873 and the first Statutes called the Society: "Galician Tatry Society" (seated in Nowy Targ); its aims were: studying mountains and approaching them to people. There were a few changes made soon, so there were more aims introduced marmots and chamois' protection and other animals' protection (by creating Tatry guard); also territorial range of the Society was enlarged. In consequence of these changes, the Society was renamed into "Tatry Society" seated in Krakow.

In the first decade of existence of the Society, its first branches were created in Stanisławowo (1876), Kołomyja (1876), Lwów (1883). Afterwards following branches were created: Pieniński Branch in Szczawnica (1893), Babiogórski Branch in Żywiec (1905) and "Beskid" branch in Nowy Sącz. Further territorial enlargement took place after the World War I when branch in Warsaw, Nowy Targ, Łódź, Poznań and Cieszyn were created.

The end of World War I and the revival of Poland enabled next change of the Society's name (in 1919) for "Polish Tatry Society". Those facts contributed to a change in the Society's programme. In 1922 The Assembly of Tatry Society officially approved of programmes of the following sections: Hiking, Skiing, Nature Preservation and Voluntary Mountain Rescue Team. New organisation forms included mountain guidance as well. Main aims were studying Karpaty Mountains (especially Tatry and Pieniny Mountains) and enabling hiking in there, mountains' animals' preservation and support of climbing and hiking activities.

Realisation of statutory aims of Polish Tatry Society helped to create (among others) a network of meteorological stations in the mountains which helped to forecast weather for tourists; studying Karpaty mountains included: geography and geology, climate studies, biology, anthropology, ethnography, speleology, music studies, history and museums, history of tourism and mountaineering. The Polish Tatry Society was also working on enabling people climbing. The Society's effects were as following: building a railway and a national road from Krakow to Zakopane, building and lightening streets of Zakopane, marking climbing trails and many others. A lot of attention was paid to building and organising huts and tourist stations. Until 1939 the Society had 54 huts, 81 tourist stations and 10 unorganised huts, with total amount of places to sleep for 4543 people. A lot of them serve tourist up to today.

New aims and tasks for the Society arose after World War II. Changes in territory and population (and especially specific social and political situation) made the Society to seek for such new forms of organisation that would unify tourists. The similar problem had second Polish tourist Society that was created in 1906 in Warsaw - Polish Country Lovers' Society. In the effect of discussions led between two societies the Assembly of Delegates was held on 17th December 1950. A union of both societies took place and was named Polish Tourist Country Lovers' Society (PTTK).

Polish Country Lovers' Society.
(established in 1906)

Polish Country Lovers' Society was created in Russian annexation in 1906. Its establishers were: Aleksander Janowski - an employee of Warsaw - Vienna railway, Karol Hofman - a journalist, Kazimierz Kulwieć - an educator and naturalist, Zygmunt Gloger - a scientist and ethnographer, Kazimierz Czerwiński - a teacher and naturalist.

One of the main aims of the Society was showing (especially teenagers) the beauty of the homeland to develop patriotism. This aim was stated in the Society's motto: "Through knowing one's country to loving it, through loving to selfless acts" which was approved by tsarist authorities in the Societies statutes. The statutes stated that the Society's aims were collecting and teaching information about the country, organising trips, creating branches, organising exhibitions, nature and historical monuments' preservation.

The role of guide (and teacher as well) was taken by many of the Society's members who were co-operating with the Trips Commission (which was created in 1909). Among those worth mentioning are Aleksander Janowski and Mieczysław Orłowicz - propagator of mountain and lowland sightseeing.

World War I interrupted for a short time activity of the Society. After the war and consolidation of Polish territory, reactivated Society operated in whole Poland. New branches were created especially in the previous areas of German and Austrian annexations. That development was interrupted by the outbreak of World War II. The reality of after - war - world forced the Society to co-operation with Polish Tatry Society. Finally it came into union of Polish Tatry Society and Polish Country Lovers' Society.

Union of Polish Tatry Society (1873) and Polish Country Lovers' Society (1906)
(Unifying Assembly - 1950)

The idea of connecting the two societies wasn't new as they were co-operating for a long time despite the differences in organisation, programmes and territory range. Changes in the political situation and awareness of creating a strong society that would be active all around Poland influenced the decision of unification. There were many doubts about the unification and many people opposed the idea.

Commission of Agreement was created in 1948 to solve all problems and come with the model of the future society. "Ideological basis and future statutes" appeared as the effect of its work.

The last Assembly of Delegates of two societies took place on 16th December 1950. The next day (17th December 1950) on the Assembly of Polish Tatry Society and Polish Country Lovers' Society the unification was made and the new society was called Polish Tourist Country Lovers' Society" (PTTK).

Next years (up to today) confirmed that it was a good decision. PTTK has continued traditions of both societies and has become a leading group of propagating tourism and a significant intellectual organisation. It is worth mentioning that the power of the Society lies in the democratic rules (which often contradicted "official suggestions") of creating all structures. Probably that, next to tourist and sightseeing passions and social engagement, is the most important value of PTTK.