The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Scout), a member of the Związek Harcerstwa Polskiego (ZHP; League of Polish Scouts), a voluntary mass organization of children and young people. The ZHP educates Harcerze in the spirit of socialism and communism. Adults—especially teachers, students, workers, and members of the Polish People’s Army—take part as instructors. The ZHP receives ideological guidance from the Polish United Workers’ Party.

The ZHP was initially formed in 1918 through the union of various groups that had developed as part of the international scouting movement before World War I. In addition to the bourgeois nationalist ZHP, democratic organizations for children were established in the 1920’s and 1930’s; their activities were linked with the struggle of the working class. These democratic organizations included Wolne Harcerstwo (Free Scouts, 1923), Pionier (Pioneer, 1924–25), and Czerwone Harcerstwo (Red Scouts, 1926–39).

The ZHP was reestablished on Dec. 30, 1944, in the city of Lublin, the provisional capital of people’s democratic Poland. The activities of the new organization continued the traditions of the prewar democratic organizations.

The ZHP has its own charter, oath, rules, and insignia. Each Harcerz wears a special lapel button with the motto “Czuwaj!” (“Be ready!”). The league is divided into three groups: Zuchy (Daredevils), aged eight to 11; Junior Harcerze, aged 12 to 14; and Senior Harcerze, aged 15 to 16.

The chief bodies of the ZHP are the Congress, the Main Council, and the Main Staff. The league belongs to the World Federation of Democratic Youth, to the federation’s International Committee of Children’s and Adolescents’ Movements (CIMEA), and to the Federation of Socialist Unions of Polish Youth. The Friends of the ZHP, which was established in 1958, includes members of public organizations who take part in the league’s work. The Main Council of the Friends of the ZHP is headed by the minister of defense of the Polish People’s Republic. In 1977 the ZHP had more than 2.7 million members, including 100,000 instructors.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.