Order of Polonia Restituta, Grand Cross (1939-1992)
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The Order of Polonia Restituta was established by the Polish Parliament in 1921. It continued to be awarded by the Government of the Republic of Poland in exile during and after the Second World War and was simultaneously awarded by the People’s Republic of Poland during the post-war period. It was re-established by the Republic of Poland in 1992 following the collapse of the communist regime and remains one of the preeminent decorations in Poland.
The Order is conferred upon Polish civilians and military personnel in recognition of achievements in education, science, culture, the arts, the economy, defence, social work, and civil service. Prior to the establishment of the Order of Merit in 1974, it was frequently awarded to foreigners as a diplomatic decoration. It is still conferred upon foreigners, although this is no longer its primary purpose. The President of the Republic is Grand Master.
There are two different models of the Grand Cross that differ in inscription. The first model was awarded by the government of the Second Polish Republic and the Government of the Republic of Poland in exile and is currently awarded by the government of the Third Polish Republic. It features “1918” on the reverse medallion and a crowned eagle on the obverse medallion. The second model was awarded by the Polish People’s Republic. It features “1944” on the reverse medallion and an uncrowned eagle on the obverse medallion.
There may be additional versions of the Grand Cross that differ in size, manufacturer, or composition.
The later versions are listed in the Orders of the Polish People’s Republic (1944-1989) and the Third Polish Republic (1989-).
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