By Larry Clark
It was a hot afternoon on Wednesday as Anna Maria Anders, Senator for the Polish government, toured the Broad St. section of Little Poland. Anders spent the full day in New Britain, leaving a positive impression on those she met.
“She is a very warm person, well spoken and an asset to the current government of Poland,” said Elizabeth Wasiutynski, one of the founders of the Polish American Foundation Inc.
Anders is not only a Senator for the North-East district of Poland (where many who immigrated to New Britain are from), she is also an official representative for the Prime Minister’s office. Sen. Anders spent much of June in Washington D.C., meeting with congressmen and congresswomen. She was able to stop in New Britain before heading up to Boston.
Before the tour of Broad St., Sen. Anders had lunch at the Belvedere restaurant with many of the community members on the tour. The meal consisted of Choldnick (a Polish summer cold beet soup), chicken and mashed potatoes with some sides, and naleśniki (a Polish crepe). Sen. Anders spent the meal meeting with members of the Polish American Foundation and the Polonia Business association. After the meal, local attorney Adrian Baron from the Polonia Business presented Sen. Anders with a plaque and named her an honorary citizen of Little Poland.
Baron also was involved with leading the group through Broad St., accompanied by Jonathan Shea, a language professor at Central Connecticut State University. Sen. Anders visited multiple shops, and even bought some souvenirs along the way.
“Of 106 shops on Broad St., 70 of them are Polish,” said Baron before the tour started. “When I go to Poland I buy my souvenirs here because I can save some space on packing that way.”
The tour took Sen. Anders to Poldarex, Polmart, Max Mart, and Zieleniak Deli. Other stops included Sacred Heart church (where Pope John Paul II gave mass) and the Welcome to Little Poland sign.
After the tour Sen. Anders spoke at the Polish American Foundation and gave their members a chance to ask her questions. Sen. Anders introduced herself and shared some of her history.
Daughter of World War II General Wladyslaw Anders who, during the war, led the displaced Polish Army to take Monte Cassino, securing a victory for the Allies in Italy. Sen. Anders was born in England post WWII where she went to school and University. She went on to get her masters in business at Boston University. When Sen. Anders returned to Poland she was appointed as a diplomat for the Prime Minister, she was also recently elected senator this year.
“The first time I was in Poland was in ’91, after it was free,” said Sen. Anders when speaking about herself. “That’s still the most important for me, that I’m General Anders Daughter and will always be,” she said later in regards to her identity.
Once the audience was able to ask questions, the conversation quickly turned to the polish economy and how Poland was recovering from gaining it’s freedom just 20 years ago. One major topic, was the fact that the Polish government has yet to return much of the land that the people lost during communism. There were also concerns about how the money going into Poland was leaving, and how to get Poland to be prosperous.
It wasn’t the Senator’s first time meeting with members of the Polish American Foundation. Earlier in the year the foundation hosted a bus trip through north eastern Poland (much of which Sen. Anders represents). Sen. Anders learned of the group through Dr. Michael Speidel, and invited them to visit her office in Warsaw on their way home.
“As other ethnic neighborhoods gentrify, Little Poland has retained its ethnic heritage. It has become the cultural hub of the Polish community in New England,” said Baron. “When Poland wins the Eurocup it’s better for business on Broad St., more people come to the bars to watch the games and stop in the shops.”