Centenary of Polish Immigration
At the end of the 18th century, Poland lost its independence and did not regain it until 1919. In the meantime, the Polish territory experienced several waves of diasporas – or Polonias as the Poles say. The first French Polonia was political: it began in the early 1830s, after the failure of the insurrection of 1830-1831, and continued until 1870 with successive uprisings against the Russian occupiers and the repression that ensues. During these forty years, around 30,000 Poles settled in France. Coming from the wealthy strata of society, they laid the foundations of a lasting cultural presence, reinforced at the end of the 19th century by the arrival of artists, intellectuals and scientists: Maria Skłodowska, who will be remembered as Mary Curie, took up residence in Paris in 1891.
At the beginning of the 20th century came the time of economic migration. With prosperity, France needed labor, particularly in the mining sector: in 1909, a first wave of Polish miners came to work in the mines of Nord and Pas-de-Calais.
On the eve of the First World War, however, only 10,000 minors of Polish origin were present on French territory. It was between the wars that the Polish presence in France became truly massive. Paradoxically, while 1923 saw the definitive return of peace to Poland, it was the year when the greatest number of Poles settle in France: more than 154,000 of the 500,000 who will cross the French borders in the 1920s. Although this immigration dried up with the crisis of the 1930s, ties remained strong between the two countries: hundreds of thousands Poles have settled in France, where they have contributed to spreading Polish culture.