President confers posthumously Order of the White Eagle upon 25 Poles

The president conferred the distinction among others upon Olga Drahonowska-Małkowska and Andrzej Małkowski, Polish scouting movement activists. Rafał Guz/PAP

On Poland's Independence Day on Sunday, President Andrzej Duda conferred posthumously the Order of the White Eagle, the highest Polish distinction, upon 25 Poles "merited for the glory, prosperity and benefit of Poland."

The ceremony was held at the Royal Castle in Warsaw.

"Each of these persons is surely an outstanding personality, and each of them is also a symbolic person," the president wrote on his website.

The order was conferred upon Maria Skłodowska-Curie, an outstanding Polish scientist and a two-time Nobel Prize winner, Stanisław Banach, one of the most outstanding mathematicians of the 20th century, Hilary Koprowski, a physician and inventor of a vaccination against the poliovirus which causes poliomyelitis or infantile paralysis, and Ignacy Daszyński, a Polish pre-war politician and prime minister.

The distinction was also granted to Roman Dmowski, a politician and a diplomat, one of the leaders of Poland's independence movement, Stanisław Mierzwa, a peasant-movement activist, Maciej Rataj, a politician, an independence activist and Sejm (lower house) speaker, Halina Konopacka, Poland's first woman athlete to win an Olympic medal, and Stanisław Sosabowski, an independence activist and general of the Polish Armed Forces in the West during WWII.

The order was also conferred upon archbishop Antoni Baraniak, the secretary of Poland's Primates August Hlond and Stefan Wyszyński, bishop Juliusz Bursche of the Evangelical-Augsburg Church, Father Szymon Fedorowicz, the chief Orthodox chaplain of the Polish Army, and Baruch Steinberg, the chief rabbi of the Polish Army - the latter two were murdered by NKVD Soviet security forces in the 1940 Katyń Forest Massacre, in which some 22,000 Polish officers and members of the intelligentsia were murdered.

The president conferred the distinction upon Janusz Korczak (Henryk Goldszmit), a writer and a social activist, Holocaust victim, Leon Kryczyński (Mirza Najman), an outstanding representative of the Tartar minority in Poland, Wojciech Kossak, one of the most popular Polish painters, Zofia Kossak-Szczucka, a writer and one of the organisers of aid to Jews during WWII, Olga Drahonowska-Małkowska and Andrzej Małkowski, Polish scouting movement activists, Jędrzej Moraczewski, an independence activist and Polish PM in pre-war Poland, and Leon Petrażycki, an outstanding lawyer and a politician.

The order was also conferred upon writers Kornel Makuszyński, Władysław Stanisław Reymont (a Nobel Prize winner) and Stefan Żeromski, and composer Karol Szymanowski.

The Order of the White Eagle is Poland's highest distinction, established in 1705, and given for outstanding civilian and military merit to the country. It has been bestowed on the most outstanding Polish people and foreigners.