The Most Famous

POLITICIANS from Poland

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This page contains a list of the greatest Polish Politicians. The pantheon dataset contains 15,710 Politicians, 226 of which were born in Poland. This makes Poland the birth place of the 13th most number of Politicians behind Japan and India.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Polish Politicians of all time. This list of famous Polish Politicians is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Polish Politicians.

Photo of Paul von Hindenburg

1. Paul von Hindenburg (1847 - 1934)

With an HPI of 84.01, Paul von Hindenburg is the most famous Polish Politician.  His biography has been translated into 77 different languages on wikipedia.

Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg (pronounced [ˈpaʊl ˈluːtvɪç hans ˈantoːn fɔn ˈbɛnəkəndɔrf ʊnt fɔn ˈhɪndn̩bʊɐ̯k] (listen); abbreviated pronounced [ˈpaʊl fɔn ˈhɪndn̩bʊɐ̯k] (listen); 2 October 1847 – 2 August 1934) was a German general and statesman who led the Imperial German Army during World War I and later became President of Germany from 1925 until his death in 1934. During his presidency, he played a key role in the Nazi seizure of power in January 1933 when, under pressure from advisers, he appointed Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany. Paul von Hindenburg was born on 2 October 1847 to a family of minor Prussian nobility in Posen. Upon completing his education as a cadet, he enlisted in the Third Regiment of Foot Guards as a second lieutenant. He then saw combat during the Austro-Prussian and Franco-Prussian wars. In 1873, he was admitted to the prestigious Kriegsakademie in Berlin where he studied for 3 years before being appointed to the Army's General Staff Corps. Later in 1885, he was promoted to the rank of major and became a member of the Great General Staff. Following a five-year teaching stint at the Kriegsakademie, Hindenburg steadily rose through the army's ranks to become a lieutenant-general by 1900. Around the time of his promotion to General of the Infantry in 1905, Count Alfred von Schlieffen recommended that he succeed him as Chief of the Great General Staff but the post ultimately went to Helmuth von Moltke in January 1906. In 1911, Hindenburg announced his retirement from the military. Following World War I's outbreak in July 1914, he was recalled to military service and quickly achieved fame on the Eastern Front as the victor of Tannenberg. Subsequently, he oversaw a crushing series of victories against the Russians that made him a national hero and the center of a massive personality cult. By 1916, Hindenburg's popularity had risen to the point that he replaced General Erich von Falkenhayn as Chief of the Great General Staff. Thereafter, he and his deputy, General Erich Ludendorff, exploited Emperor Wilhelm II's broad delegation of power to the German Army to establish a de facto military dictatorship that dominated national policy for the rest of the war. Under their leadership, Germany secured Russia's defeat in the east and achieved advances on the Western Front deeper than any seen since the conflict's outbreak. However, by the end of 1918, all improvements in Germany's fortunes were reversed after the German Army was decisively defeated in the Second Battle of the Marne and the Allies' Hundred Days Offensive. Upon his country's capitulation to the Allies in the November 1918 armistice, Hindenburg stepped down as Germany's commander-in-chief before retiring once again from military service in 1919. In 1925, Hindenburg returned to public life to become the second elected President of the German Weimar Republic. While he was personally opposed to Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party, he nonetheless played a major role in the political instability that resulted in their rise to power. Upon twice dissolving the Reichstag in 1932, Hindenburg ultimately agreed to appoint Hitler as Chancellor of Germany in January 1933 when the Nazis won a plurality in the November elections. In response to the Reichstag Fire allegedly committed by Marinus van der Lubbe, he approved the Reichstag Fire Decree in February 1933 which suspended various civil liberties. Later in March, he signed the Enabling Act of 1933 which gave the Nazi regime emergency powers. After Hindenburg died the following year, Hitler combined the Presidency with his office as Chancellor before proceeding to declare himself Führer und Reichskanzler des deutschen Volkes (i.e. "Leader and Reich Chancellor of the German People") and transform Germany into a totalitarian state.

Photo of David Ben-Gurion

2. David Ben-Gurion (1886 - 1973)

With an HPI of 83.25, David Ben-Gurion is the 2nd most famous Polish Politician.  His biography has been translated into 97 different languages.

David Ben-Gurion ( ben GOOR-ee-ən; Hebrew: דָּוִד בֶּן-גּוּרִיּוֹן‎ [daˈvid ben ɡuʁˈjon] (listen); born David Grün; 16 October 1886 – 1 December 1973) was the primary national founder of the State of Israel and the first Prime Minister of Israel. Adopting the name of Ben-Gurion in 1909, he rose to become the preeminent leader of the Jewish community in British-ruled Mandatory Palestine from 1935 until the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, which he led until 1963 with a short break in 1954–55. Ben-Gurion's passion for Zionism, which began early in life, led him to become a major Zionist leader and executive head of the World Zionist Organization in 1946. As head of the Jewish Agency from 1935, and later president of the Jewish Agency Executive, he was the de facto leader of the Jewish community in Palestine, and largely led its struggle for an independent Jewish state in Mandatory Palestine. On 14 May 1948, he formally proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel, and was the first to sign the Israeli Declaration of Independence, which he had helped to write. Ben-Gurion led Israel during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, and united the various Jewish militias into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Subsequently, he became known as "Israel's founding father".Following the war, Ben-Gurion served as Israel's first prime minister and minister of defense. As prime minister, he helped build the state institutions, presiding over national projects aimed at the development of the country. He also oversaw the absorption of vast numbers of Jews from all over the world. A centerpiece of his foreign policy was improving relationships with the West Germans. He worked with Konrad Adenauer's government in Bonn, and West Germany provided large sums (in the Reparations Agreement between Israel and West Germany) in compensation for Nazi Germany's confiscation of Jewish property during the Holocaust.In 1954 he resigned as prime minister and minister of defense but remained a member of the Knesset. He returned as minister of defense in 1955 after the Lavon Affair and the resignation of Pinhas Lavon. Later that year he became prime minister again, following the 1955 elections. Under his leadership, Israel responded aggressively to Arab guerrilla attacks, and in 1956, invaded Egypt along with British and French forces after Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal during the Suez Crisis. He stepped down from office in 1963, and retired from political life in 1970. He then moved to Sde Boker, a kibbutz in the Negev desert, where he lived until his death. Posthumously, Ben-Gurion was named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Important People of the 20th century.

Photo of Lech Wałęsa

3. Lech Wałęsa (1943 - )

With an HPI of 82.46, Lech Wałęsa is the 3rd most famous Polish Politician.  His biography has been translated into 151 different languages.

Lech Wałęsa (; Polish: [ˈlɛɣ vaˈwɛ̃sa] (listen); born 29 September 1943) is a Polish statesman, dissident, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who served as the President of Poland between 1990 and 1995. After winning the 1990 election, Wałęsa became the first democratically elected President of Poland since 1926 and the first-ever Polish President elected in popular vote. A shipyard electrician by trade, Wałęsa became the leader of the Solidarity movement, and led a successful pro-democratic effort which in 1989 ended the Communist rule in Poland and ushered in the end of the Cold War.While working at the Lenin Shipyard (now Gdańsk Shipyard), Wałęsa, an electrician, became a trade-union activist, for which he was persecuted by the Communist authorities, placed under surveillance, fired in 1976, and arrested several times. In August 1980, he was instrumental in political negotiations that led to the ground-breaking Gdańsk Agreement between striking workers and the government. He co-founded the Solidarity trade-union whose membership rose to over ten million people.After martial law in Poland was imposed and Solidarity was outlawed, Wałęsa was again arrested. Released from custody, he continued his activism and was prominent in the establishment of the Round Table Agreement that led to the semi-free 1989 Polish legislative election and a Solidarity-led government. He presided over Poland's successful transition from Communism into a free-market liberal democracy, but his active role in Polish politics diminished after he narrowly lost the 1995 Polish presidential election. In 1995, he established the Lech Wałęsa Institute.Since 1980, Wałęsa has received hundreds of prizes, honors and awards from many countries of the world. He was named the Time Person of the Year (1981) and one of Time's 100 most important people of the 20th century (1999). He has received over forty honorary degrees, including from Harvard University and Columbia University, as well as dozens of the highest state orders, including: the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Knight Grand Cross of the British Order of the Bath, and the French Grand Cross of Legion of Honour. In 1989, Wałęsa was the first foreign non-head of state to address the Joint Meeting of the U.S. Congress. The Gdańsk Lech Wałęsa Airport bears his name since 2004.

Photo of Władysław IV Vasa

4. Władysław IV Vasa (1595 - 1648)

With an HPI of 78.56, Władysław IV Vasa is the 4th most famous Polish Politician.  His biography has been translated into 50 different languages.

Władysław IV Vasa or Ladislaus IV of Poland (9 June 1595 – 20 May 1648) was King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania and claimant of the thrones of Sweden and Russia, who ruled from 1632 until his death in 1648. Władysław IV was the eldest son of Sigismund III Vasa and his wife, Anna of Austria. Born into the House of Vasa, Władysław was elected Tsar of Russia by the Seven Boyars in 1610 when the Polish army captured Moscow, but did not assume the throne due to his father's position and a popular uprising. Nevertheless, until 1634 he used the titular title of Grand Duke of Muscovy, a principality centered around Moscow. Elected king of Poland in 1632, he was largely successful in defending the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth against foreign invasion, most notably in the Smolensk War of 1632–34, in which he participated personally. He supported religious tolerance and carried out military reforms, such as the founding of the Commonwealth Navy. Władysław was also a renowned patron of the arts and music. He failed, however, at reclaiming the Swedish throne, gaining fame by defeating the Ottoman Empire, strengthening royal power, and reforming the Commonwealth's political system. Despite these failures, his personal charisma and popularity among all segments of society contributed to relative internal calm in the Commonwealth. He died without a legitimate son and was succeeded to the Polish throne by his half-brother, John II Casimir Vasa. Władysław's death marked the end of relative stability in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, as conflicts and tensions that had been growing over several decades came to a head with devastating consequences. The Khmelnytsky Uprising in the east (1648) and the subsequent Swedish invasion ("the Deluge", 1655–60) weakened the country and diminished Poland's status as a regional power. For this reason, Władysław's reign was seen in following decades as a bygone golden era of stability and prosperity.

Photo of Vladislaus II of Hungary

5. Vladislaus II of Hungary (1456 - 1516)

With an HPI of 78.16, Vladislaus II of Hungary is the 5th most famous Polish Politician.  His biography has been translated into 42 different languages.

Vladislaus II, also known as Vladislav, Władysław or Wladislas (1 March 1456 – 13 March 1516; Hungarian: II. Ulászló), was King of Bohemia from 1471 to 1516, and King of Hungary and Croatia from 1490 to 1516. As the eldest son of Casimir IV Jagiellon, he was expected to inherit Poland and Lithuania. George of Poděbrady, the Hussite ruler of Bohemia, offered to make Vladislaus his heir in 1468. Poděbrady needed Casimir IV's support against the rebellious Catholic noblemen and their ally, Matthias Corvinus, king of Hungary. The Diet of Bohemia elected Vladislaus king after Poděbrady's death, but he could only rule Bohemia proper, because Matthias (whom the Catholic nobles had elected king) occupied Moravia, Silesia and both Lusatias. Vladislaus tried to reconquer the four provinces with his father's assistance, but Matthias repelled them. Vladislaus and Matthias divided the Crown of Bohemia in the Peace of Olomouc in 1479. The Estates of the realm had strengthened their position during the war between the two kings. Vladislaus's attempts to promote the Catholics caused a rebellion in Prague and other towns in 1483, forcing him to acknowledge the dominance of the Hussites in the municipal assemblies. The Diet confirmed the right of the Bohemian noblemen and commoners to freely adhere either to Hussitism or Catholicism in 1485. After Matthias Corvinus seized Silesian duchies to grant them to his illegitimate son, John Corvinus, Vladislaus made new alliances against him in the late 1480s. Vladislaus (whose mother, Elizabeth of Habsburg, was the sister of Matthias's predecessor) laid claim to Hungary after Matthias's death. The Diet of Hungary elected him king after his supporters defeated John Corvinus. The other two claimants, Maximilian of Habsburg and Vladislaus's brother, John Albert, invaded Hungary, but they could not assert their claim and made peace with Vladislaus in 1491. He settled in Buda, enabling the Estates of Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia and both Lusatias to take full charge of state administration. Like previously in Bohemia, also in Hungary Vladislaus always approved the decisions of the Royal Council, hence his Hungarian nickname "Dobzse László" (from Czech král Dobře, in Latin rex Bene – "King Very Well"). Due to the concessions he had made before his election, the royal treasury could not finance a standing army and Matthias Corvinus's Black Army was dissolved after a rebellion, although the Ottomans made regular raids against the southern border and after 1493 even annexed territories in Croatia.

Photo of Sigismund II Augustus

6. Sigismund II Augustus (1520 - 1572)

With an HPI of 77.21, Sigismund II Augustus is the 6th most famous Polish Politician.  His biography has been translated into 45 different languages.

Sigismund II Augustus (Polish: Zygmunt II August, Lithuanian: Žygimantas Augustas; 1 August 1520 – 7 July 1572) was King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, the son of Sigismund I the Old, whom Sigismund II succeeded in 1548. He was the first ruler of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and the last male monarch from the Jagiellonian dynasty. Sigismund was the only son of Italian-born Bona Sforza and Sigismund the Old. From the beginning he was groomed and extensively educated as a successor. In 1529 he was crowned vivente rege while his father was still alive. Sigismund Augustus continued a tolerance policy towards minorities and maintained peaceful relations with neighbouring countries, with the exception of the Northern Seven Years' War which aimed to secure Baltic trade. Under his patronage, culture flourished in Poland; he was a collector of tapestries from the Low Countries and collected military memorabilia as well as swords, armours and jewellery. Sigismund Augustus' rule is widely considered as the apex of the Polish Golden Age; he established the first regular Polish navy and the first regular postal service in Poland, known today as Poczta Polska. In 1569 he oversaw the signing of the Union of Lublin between Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which formed the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and introduced an elective monarchy. Sigismund Augustus married three times; his first wife, Elizabeth of Austria, died in 1545 at just eighteen. He was then involved in several relationships with mistresses, the most famous being Barbara Radziwiłł, who became Sigismund's second wife and Queen of Poland in spite of his mother's disapproval. The marriage was deemed scandalous and was fiercely opposed by the royal court and the nobility. Barbara died five months after her coronation, presumably due to ill health, however, rumours circulated that she was poisoned. Sigismund finally wedded Catherine of Austria, but remained childless throughout his life. Sigismund Augustus was last male member of the Jagiellons. Following the death of his sister Anna in 1596 the Jagiellonian dynasty came to an end.

Photo of Casimir III the Great

7. Casimir III the Great (1310 - 1370)

With an HPI of 77.03, Casimir III the Great is the 7th most famous Polish Politician.  His biography has been translated into 55 different languages.

Casimir III the Great (Polish: Kazimierz III Wielki; 30 April 1310 – 5 November 1370) reigned as the King of Poland from 1333 to 1370. He also later became King of Ruthenia in 1340, and fought to retain the title in the Galicia-Volhynia Wars. He was the third son of Ladislaus the Short and Jadwiga of Kalisz, and the last Polish king from the Piast dynasty.Casimir inherited a kingdom weakened by war and made it prosperous and wealthy. He reformed the Polish army and doubled the size of the kingdom. He reformed the judicial system and introduced a legal code, gaining the title "the Polish Justinian". Casimir built extensively and founded the Jagiellonian University (back then simply called the University of Krakow), the oldest Polish university and one of the oldest in the world. He also confirmed privileges and protections previously granted to Jews and encouraged them to settle in Poland in great numbers.Casimir left no lawful male heir to his throne, producing only daughters. When he died in 1370 from an injury received while hunting, his nephew, King Louis I of Hungary, succeeded him as king of Poland in personal union with Hungary.

Photo of Władysław III of Poland

8. Władysław III of Poland (1424 - 1444)

With an HPI of 76.38, Władysław III of Poland is the 8th most famous Polish Politician.  His biography has been translated into 46 different languages.

Władysław III (31 October 1424 – 10 November 1444), also known as Władysław of Varna, was King of Poland and the Supreme Duke (Supremus Dux) of Grand Duchy of Lithuania from 1434 and King of Hungary and Croatia from 1440 until his death at the Battle of Varna. He was the eldest son of Władysław II Jagiełło, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, and the Lithuanian noblewoman Sophia of Halshany.Władysław III of Varna is known in Hungarian as I. Ulászló; in Polish as Władysław III Warneńczyk; in Slovak as Vladislav I; in Czech as Vladislav Varnenčík; in Bulgarian as Владислав Варненчик (Vladislav Varnenchik); in Lithuanian as Vladislovas III (or Vladislovas Varnietis); in Croatian as Vladislav I. Jagelović.

Photo of Wojciech Jaruzelski

9. Wojciech Jaruzelski (1923 - 2014)

With an HPI of 76.37, Wojciech Jaruzelski is the 9th most famous Polish Politician.  His biography has been translated into 72 different languages.

Wojciech Witold Jaruzelski (Polish: [ˈvɔjt͡ɕɛɣ ˈvitɔlt jaruˈzɛlskʲi] (listen); 6 July 1923 – 25 May 2014) was a Polish military officer, politician and de facto leader of the Polish People's Republic from 1981 until 1989. He was the First Secretary of the Polish United Workers' Party between 1981 and 1989, making him the last leader of the Polish People's Republic. Jaruzelski served as Prime Minister from 1981 to 1985, the Chairman of the Council of State from 1985 to 1989 and briefly as President of Poland from 1989 to 1990, when the office of President was restored after 37 years. He was also the last commander-in-chief of the Polish People's Army, which in 1990 became the Polish Armed Forces. Born to Polish nobility in Kurów in eastern Poland, Jaruzelski was deported with his family to Siberia by the NKVD after the invasion of Poland. Assigned to forced labour in the Siberian wilderness, he developed photokeratitis or snow blindness which forced him to wear protective sunglasses for the rest of his life. In 1943, Jaruzelski joined the newly created First Polish Army and fought alongside the Soviets against Nazi Germany in the Eastern Front, most notably in the liberation of Warsaw and in the Battle of Berlin. Following the Polish October and the expatriation of Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky back to the Soviet Union, Jaruzelski became the chief political officer of the Polish People's Army and eventually Polish Minister of Defence in 1968. Jaruzelski became the First Secretary of the Polish United Workers' Party and leader of Poland after the brief one-year term of Stanisław Kania. Kania's predecessor, Edward Gierek, left Poland severely indebted by accepting loans from foreign creditors and the country's economy almost collapsed by the time Jaruzelski became head of state. As Poland headed towards insolvency, rationing was enforced due to shortages of basic goods, which only contributed to the tense social and political situation. The declining living and working conditions triggered anger among the masses and strengthened anti-communist sentiment; the Solidarity movement was also gaining support which worried the Polish Central Committee and the Soviet Union that viewed Solidarity as a threat to the Warsaw Pact. Fearing a Soviet intervention similar to those in Hungary (1956) and Czechoslovakia (1968), Jaruzelski imposed martial law in Poland on 13 December 1981 to crush the anticommunist opposition. The military junta, curfew and travel restrictions lasted until 22 July 1983. By the mid-1980s, censorship lost its importance and the authority of the United Workers’ Party disintegrated, allowing more freedom in already liberal Poland. During the revolutions of 1989 in Central and Eastern Europe, Jaruzelski supported the change of government for the benefit of the country and resigned after the Polish Round Table Agreement, which led to multi-party elections in Poland. He briefly served as President of Poland but exercised no real power and, in the 1990 Polish presidential election, Lech Wałęsa succeeded him as the first President elected in a popular vote. Jaruzelski remains a controversial figure in Poland today; he was fiercely criticized by contemporaries for instigating martial law, during which thousands of opposition activists were imprisoned without definite charges and as many as 91 executed.

Photo of Sigismund I the Old

10. Sigismund I the Old (1467 - 1548)

With an HPI of 76.17, Sigismund I the Old is the 10th most famous Polish Politician.  His biography has been translated into 45 different languages.

Sigismund I the Old (Polish: Zygmunt I Stary, Lithuanian: Žygimantas II Senasis; 1 January 1467 – 1 April 1548) was King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1506 until his death in 1548. Sigismund I was a member of the Jagiellonian dynasty, the son of Casimir IV and younger brother of Kings John I Albert and Alexander I Jagiellon. He was nicknamed "the Old" in later historiography to distinguish him from his son and successor, Sigismund II Augustus. Sigismund was born in the town of Kozienice in 1467 as the fifth son of Casimir IV and his wife Elizabeth of Austria. He was one of thirteen children and was not expected to assume the throne after his father. Sigismund's eldest brother and rightful heir Vladislaus II instead became the King of Bohemia, Hungary and Croatia as the successor to George of Poděbrady in Bohemia and then to Matthias Corvinus in Hungary, thus temporarily uniting these kingdoms. When Casimir died, the Polish-Lithuanian realm was divided between the remaining two older sons, with John Albert being crowned King of Poland, and Alexander as Grand Duke of Lithuania. Alexander inherited Poland following John Albert's sudden death in 1501. Hence, Sigismund's reign only began when he succeeded Alexander to both titles in 1506 at the age of 39. A capable monarch and a patron of arts, Sigismund established Polish rule over Ducal Prussia and annexed the Duchy of Mazovia with Warsaw, while retaining the nation's wealth and prominence in the region. He made sure that his nephew Albert, Duke of Prussia, and Albert's Protestant successors would pay feudal homage or tribute to Polish monarchs as a sign of political and diplomatic dependence. This was observed until the Treaty of Bromberg in 1657 when Prussia gained its sovereignty. Sigismund and his commander Jan Amor Tarnowski also defeated Moldavia at Obertyn in 1531, and Muscovy in 1535, thereby strengthening the country's eastern borders. His 42-year reign was further marked by decisive contributions to Polish architecture, cuisine, language, and customs, especially at the behest of his second wife, the Italian-born Bona Sforza. Italian styles and fashions dominated at the height of the Polish Renaissance and Polish Golden Age, which developed the Roman Catholic identity of Poland. He was commemorated on a contemporary 200-złoty banknote. Sigismund was married twice, first to noblewoman Barbara Zápolya from Hungary and then to Bona Sforza, the daughter of Gian Galeazzo Sforza, Duke of Milan. Their only son and the last Jagiellon king, Sigismund Augustus, was co-crowned vivente rege in 1529 and formally assumed throne when Sigismund the Old died in 1548.

Pantheon has 226 people classified as politicians born between 379 and 1980. Of these 226, 40 (17.70%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living politicians include Lech Wałęsa, Horst Köhler, and Egon Krenz. The most famous deceased politicians include Paul von Hindenburg, David Ben-Gurion, and Władysław IV Vasa. As of October 2020, 28 new politicians have been added to Pantheon including Pylyp Orlyk, Stanisław Koniecpolski, and Werner Naumann.

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