Hey!  I’m a re-enactor!  Can I join your group?

Probably not.  We’re a little different from most re-enactor clubs for many reasons.  One that comes to mind is that we rarely, if ever, do “battle reenactments” wherein we’d shoot blanks at each other, run around, etc.  Don’t get me wrong, that’s loads of fun and all, but we feel that educating the public about Polish history is top priority, and I can think of about 1,887.5 ways to do that don’t include a pretend battle.  We hold ourselves to a pretty high standard.  If you haven’t already  done so, read Education and Interpretation in Reenacting, then if you think you have what it takes, drop us a line or come see us at an event, and we’ll see what you can contribute.

Hey!  I’m a serious reenactor, and I’m geeked about being authentic and accurate in reenacting.  Can I join?

It sounds like you have a very keen sense of detail and are very meticulous and serious about even the smallest part of your kit.  It sounds like you get excited counting stitches, hunting for correct buttons, and pouring over transitional tunics to find only super-accurate stuff for reenacting.  So do we.   The small details often make the best historic impressions, but educational living history doesn’t stop there.  The energy used to research fine details must be equaled or surpassed by the energy spent to educate the public—anything less leaves much to be desired when we’re seen as educators.  Our members harness their vigorous attitude toward fine details and use it to become successful, innovative historic interpreters.  We’ve seen reenactors with fantastic impressions completely strike out with the public because they ignored them, made a fool of themselves in front of them, or even offended them, all because they failed at interpreting.  Interpretation’s not all that hard, but some reenactors just aren’t cut out for it.

I’m Sad.  Why aren’t you accepting memberships?

You see, our group gets a lot of exposure in the reenactment community.  To be honest, there are some real nutballs in that world, as any reenactor will attest.  That hobby is a mixture of individuals who have a real desire to educate through history, and others who like to play soldier, drive jeeps/tanks/etc., and shoot guns.  There is a fundamental misunderstanding between the philosophy of our group and that of the latter.  At the usual event, we encounter many starry-eyed people who practically drool on themselves at the thought of being a famed “reenactor.”  Most of the time, those unfortunate folks don’t understand the responsibility of being an educator, and seek only escapism—they’re only interested (severely, and sometimes annoyingly) in being part of a group and/or wearing a kewl uniform while brandishing a weapon.  Those people are a handful, to put it mildly, and we’d rather not deal with them.  Hopefully, the reasons why are obvious.  Cheers.

So what exactly do you guys do at your events?

We have some artifacts and large storyboards that tell the story of the Warsaw Uprising and some more general Polish WWII history.  Those of us dressed in period clothing supplement the educational value of them by interpreting to the public, and we enhance the atmosphere by appearing as someone from 1944.  We talk to people about Polish history, or artifacts, or other relevant topics.  Think of us as costumed interpreters at a museum; we use our historic impressions to arouse curiosity, stimulate conversation, and create an attractive and exciting atmosphere where people can learn and in some cases, reminisce.  We also sell educational media, fundraise, and distribute pamphlets and other resources to our guests.

What kind of film work have you guys done?

Our members have been involved in a number of local film projects that promote the kind of cultural awareness we’re all about.  We offer historic and artistic consultation services to writers directors who want to go the extra mile for accuracy.  We’re also pretty comfortable in front of the camera lens, too.  If you’re shooting a movie and would like us to help, just send an email and tell us more.

What’s with you guys and the Polish Mission?

You can tell a lot about the Polish Mission by looking at their website.  They are the best thing for Polish culture since the dock boys at Gdansk started getting angry.   That organization is the centerpiece of a new American Polonia, and we are in full cooperation with them to reach Polish people both in Michigan and across the nation.  “Burza” supports their educational outreach and museum development projects, and they’ve graciously allowed us complete access to their collections, which allows to create rich displays and build innovative programs.

Do all the artifacts and stuff you have belong to the Polish Mission?

Some of them do, but most of them are owned by individual members.  Lots of people we’ve met have some very nice collections of WWII artifacts.  Simply put, as hobbyists, we all collect things because we like to have them; we like the thought of knowing that our stuff belongs to us, for our sole enjoyment.  That’s fine, but we’ve been very privileged have some people in our club who are using their collections for a more important purpose; educating others!  Being cool enough to allow others to appreciate and learn from your private collection is a very admirable characteristic.  Just because we’re huge on education doesn’t mean that we get artifacts for free–each one is very collectible, and more than likely had a huge price tag for one of us.  We really dig it when folks genuinely appreciate being able to handle that rare rifle, or put on that original helmet.