Sokół ( _pl. Polskie Towarzystwo Gimnastyczne "Sokół", "Polish Gymnastic Society "Falcon") is the Polish off-shoot of the Pan-Slavic
Sokol, and the oldest youth movementorganization Poland. Created in Lwówin 1867, by the end of World War Ithe movement had its units (called "nest" or "gniazdo" in Polish) in all parts of Poland, as well as among the Polish communities abroad.
The Sokół was formed
February 7, 1867in Lwów, then a capital of Austro-Hungarian Galicia. The basic aims of the society were promotion of gymnastics and national revival in all parts of partitioned Poland. In 1885 the first chairman, Józef Millertmanaged to convince the German authorities to allow for Sokół nests to be formed in German-held parts of Poland. After the Revolution of 1905the Sokół expanded into the Russian Empire.
As opposed to the
Scouting movementwhich emerged in Poland simultaneously (by large promoted by Józef Piłsudski's socialists), the Sokół was largely rightist, with the majority of important posts taken by supporters of Roman Dmowski's National League. It promoted gymnasticsand healthy life, as well as traditional moral values. Interestingly, the movement opposed football, as a plebeian sports. Because of that, many members left the organization in early 20th century and founded their own football clubs, among them the Czarni Lwów- the first football team in Poland.
After Poland regained her independence, in 1919 the nests formed in various partitions were united in the "Union of Gymnastic Societies "Sokół". After the Polish defeat in 1939 the new Soviet and Nazi authorities banned the Sokół and it was not allowed to emerge after the war. It was not until 1988 that the ban was lifted by the Communist authorities of Poland. During that time only minor nests continued their activity abroad, among the Polish diaspora in the
United Kingdom, United States(" Polish Falcons"), Franceand several other countries. The following year, on January 10the first nest since WWII was officially registered and on March 1, 1990, the society was again registered in Poland. Currently the organization has 86 nests and claims to have approx 10,000 members both in Poland and abroad.
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