Ryszard Kuklinski, Polish Patriot and American Hero

Ryszard Kuklinski

Ryszard Kuklinski. Photo by Krzysztof Langowski.

Ryszard Kuklinski, Polish patriot and American hero, secretly helped prevent nuclear war and World War III in the 1980s.  His story is told in the 2014 film Jack Strong, the title a reference to his American code name. If you want a true life spy thriller I thoroughly recommend the film. I did pick up on more historical nuances than my husband since I write on Polish topics, but it’s still a great story of the Cold War. His name stands worthy of remembrance and respect. Here’s why.

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U.S. Olympic Swimmers Visit Krakow Poland in 1936

Henry Zguda's personal scrapbook

From Henry Zguda’s personal scrapbook, 1936. US Olympic swimmers Peter Fick and Jack Medica visit Krakow.

Watching the Rio Olympics, I’m reminded of how far the sport of swimming has come. Henry Zguda began his lifelong career as a swimmer in the Krakow YMCA in 1933. At that time, the indoor 25-meter pool was the most modern and newest pool in all of Poland. The YMCA eventually built pool facilities in other major cities in Poland, and sponsored swim competitions throughout the country. In 1936, following the Berlin Olympics, three American swimmers visited Kraków on a goodwill tour. Henry spoke fondly of swimming against gold medalist Jack Medica, silver medalist Ralph Flanagan, and Peter Fick who placed sixth overall in the men’s 100-meter freestyle.

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