Międzynarodowe Targi Poznańskie MTP POZNAŃ Polska

Fair creators

Cyryl Ratajski

Into the Europe and into the World
Cyryl Ratajski A person of a cult, the president of Poznań, the only one, who lived long enough to wait for its own monument. Graduate from the Law Faculty of Berlin University, moved to Poznań from Racibórz in 1911. Remembered by the contemporaries as the "father of the city", who made it the most European of all Polish cities in the times of Second Republic of Poland. The years of his term of office are recalled as "the golden period" in the modern history of Poznań. In 1924, when he was offered to take a position of Minister of Internal Affairs, he did not resign from his position of the President of Poznań but took an unpaid leave.
He used his personal contacts he had established in Warsaw for the good of Poznań, as well as for the good of his pride - Poznań International Fair. As early as 1924 he won the central authorities for the idea of making the Poznań Fair international, which took the effect one year later. "Poznań and the Fair architect" - he was called without exaggeration and then commented: "He found the Fair of wood and left it built of bricks". At the end of his presidency, the Fair was nearly a separate district of Poznań, with 14 pavilions and 48 thousand square meters of the exhibition area. "Always willing to support the Fair financially" - journalists wrote of him. "His passion and main concern - it`s creating. He is always out of time. Five minutes is too much. Heart and soul of the Fair!" In 1929 his efforts succeeded in organising PWK - General National Exhibition- the biggest venture promoting of Poland and its historical achievements through the history.

Edward Mazurkiewicz

Inventor of the idea of the Poznań International Fair
Edward MazurkiewiczOn a cloudy afternoon of 24 April 1931, a crowd of guests dressed in mourning clothes gathered in a decorated with black woollen cloth representative hall of the House of the Polish Commerce at Zwierzyniecka 12. You could recognize the most important people in Poznań among the guests: Cyryl Ratajski, the president of Poznań, Witold Hedinger, president of the City Council, Seweryn Samulski, the president of Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Kazimierz Otmianowski, the president of the Union of Commerce Associations and finally Mieczysław Krzyżankiewicz, the director of Poznań International Fair accompanied by his right hand, baron Stefan de Ropp.
At half past three sharp, priest councillor Putz started the ceremony of the last goodbye to one of the most vigorous merchants, the recent secretary of the the Union of Commerce Associations, Edward Mazurkiewicz, who had died three days earlier of a serious heart disease. Among many contributions of the late Mr Mazurkiewicz, enumerated by the officials in their speeches, one was repeated clearly: Mazurkiewicz was the real creator of the Poznań Fair, today known as Poznań International Fair.
If we trust an eyewitness of the conception of the idea of establishing a fair in Poznań, we can say that the place of its birth was "Varsowia" restaurant, situated at 27 Grudnia Street, afterwards known as "Ziemiańska". The famous idea was conceived in the afternoon:
"It was early March forenoon, 1919. Three young attorneys sat down at "Ziemiańska", Kazimierz Frąckowiak, Alfred Hundt and Jerzy Stam, a born journalist, holding the position of director of the the Union of Commerce Associations in Poznań (during the presidency of Szambelan Cegielski).
As they were sitting lost in the lecture of morning newspapers, Edward Mazurkiewicz, Cegielski`s right hand and vice-president of a commerce association, joined them. You could easily notice a copy of "Leipziger Zeitung" daily, delivered to the president`s desk every day, sticking out of Mazurkiewicz`s pocket. He said to them:
- You know, Leipzig with its Fair is impressing but also irritating - Mazurkiewicz started. Is Poznań nothing to Leipzig? What do you think of the idea of a fair in Poznań?
It was like the die was cast - Jerzy Stam recalled later. I called the president of Poznań, Jarosław Drwęski, in great urgency, about the idea that had been conceived an hour or two before. Drwęski listened to us carefully and finished our very short conversation with one sentence - It is obvious, we shall do it!"
The whole issue appears rather uncomplicated and effortless in memories, but there are many factors proving that without Mazurkiewicz`s idea eagerly caught by his colleague, president Drwęski, the biggest Polish fair would not be held in Poznań now but in a completely different city.
The need to launch a venture where merchants from all the three territories of former annexation would be having an occasion to meet, was also recognised in former territories of Galitia and Congress Kingdom of Poland. Also Varsovians presented their ambitions in this respect, as well as citizens of Gdańsk and Lwów. Mazurkiewicz - "the advocate of accomplished facts policy" - ingeniously predicted that the race for title of the capital of commerce would be won by this city which simply organises a fair first. This vigorous merchant lead quickly to establishing a resolution on the organisation of a fair in Poznań, during the congress of Union of Commerce Associations (in March 1920). Also, together with other active merchants in Poznań, he managed to win over the biggest Polish finance-industrial institution which was the Warsaw "Lewiatan", i.e. Central Union of Mining Industry, Trade and Finance.
At that time, Poznań`s competitors started giving up. Despite having organised a small fair in 1920, Gdańsk was outplaced by the Versailles Treaty establishing Free City of Gdańsk.
The capital city did not have - which was obvious! - the right reputation to undertake such an important venture, because it was widely known that "contracts concluded in the Congress Kingdom of Poland are not observed". Ambitions of Lwów were finally cut off by its poverty.
Fourteen months, which passed by since the introduction of the idea of the fair by Edward Mazurkiewicz, were enough for Poznanians to organise the first Poznań Fair on the grounds inherited from previous "East German Exhibition" (1911). The exhibition - which presented "rather shoddy" in the opinion of the contemporaries - was located in a big shed near "Górnośląska Tower" (an awful remain after the German exhibition) and in three schools at Berwińskiego, Słowackiego and Różana streets, where companies applying until the very last moment were located.
Nevertheless, the organisers had indisputable reasons for satisfaction: the very first fair, which lasted nine days (from 25 May to 5 June 1921), attracted 1200 exhibitors and forty thousand of visitors.
Pleased magistrate and City Council rapidly issued a resolution legislating takeover of the fair by the city. By the year 1925 the Poznań Fair had already become an international event.
First steps were therefore taken to found the most famous Poznań company and to launch the unquestionable modern symbol of the city.
There is no point in searching for the name of Edward Mazurkiewicz in "Wielkopolska Biographic Dictionary" published in 1981, comprising approximately 900 pages. Neither a street, nor a square in Poznań has been named after this brilliant merchant. When reading a memory plate placed several years ago in the hall of the PIF Board of Directors, we can learn that the creator of the Fair was the first president of Poznań - Jarogniew Drwęski. And for Mazurkiewicz, not a word!

Jarogniew Drwęski

the one who made it possible!
A son of a landlord Kazimierz Drwęski and Klaudia Skoroszewska; he was born 6 December 1873 in Glinno, near Poznań. Graduate from the University of Berlin, in contemporaries` opinion he was not only a great lawyer but also a great organiser and administrator. During two terms of office he was a member of the German City Council of Poznań. On 11 November 1918 he was appointed first Polish supermayor of Poznań and on 17 April 1919 he became the president of the City.
In October 1920, he became a head of 44-member Exhibition Committee (future Poznań International Fair). Inspired by Poznań merchants to organise first Fair, he was convinced that "this city to host a trade fair will be the one which first organises it".
He had to fight fiercely for the fair. The City Council members thought that Poznań was too poor to undertake such a big venture because of having been used as "the hospital city" during the war with Bolsheviks. They said that "with such ideas Drwęski should be put into a cage and shown at a zoo". In spite of the councillors` attitude, he managed to organise the fair and thanks to him, the city assigned the grounds inherited from "East German Exhibition" to the purpose of the fair organisation, together with other buildings and the amount of 6 million of Polish Marks. From that moment the Fair was financed from the Poznań budget and held by Poznań Fair Committee. Without Drwęski`s determination the race for the fair organisation in independent Poland would probably not have been won.
Drwęski did not enjoy his life success for long - he died three months after the completion of the first Fair, on 14 September 1921.

Mieczysław Krzyżankiewicz

First director and the "brain of the Fair"
Mieczysław KrzyżankiewiczHe was a merchant who specialised in the pharmaceutical-chemist branch having learnt his profession in Munich and Berlin. He became the director of the Fair rather accidentally. After 1918 many Germans came back to their "Vaterland". This was the reason that many job positions, which required professional background and skills, were filled under criteria of honesty and integrity, and these were surely the attributes of Mieczysław Krzyżankiewicz. His contemporaries underlined other advantages of Krzyżankiewicz: "Expansive and restless nature, ex-globetrotter, a devoted linguist. Full of ideas and hard-working, sometimes even to exaggeration". He proved to be an efficient manager, full of energy. He neatly reconciled the position of the Fair director and the director of several wool markets - "with admirable persistence carried on his shoulders the burden of Górnośląska Tower and its hard times". He co-organised Poland`s first airlines and also had enough time to promote tourism and to perform the honours of Finnish consul.
On the other hand, also his weaknesses were recalled: "He lacked a world class imaginativeness and appropriate appearance, as he was a man of middle height, with receding dark hair combed to the side and he wore a pince-nez. Others added: "He could never remember where he had put his things, and also for some unjustified reason he hated cars.
His appearance defects and lack of good manners were no obstacle for him to run the company efficiently and skilfully, until the year 1939. The only exception was 1929 when PWK run with Stanisław Wachowiak`s iron grip, proudly took over the fairgrounds for several months.
In 1931 second director`s chair was introduced at the Fair and it was soon occupied by baron Stefan de Ropp. The managing duet split the responsibilities smoothly: Krzyżankiewicz took on internal issues of the Fair and administration of buildings while finance, advertisement and foreign contacts became Ropp`s tasks.

Stefan de Ropp

a world class director
Thirty-four-year-old Stefan de Ropp, arrived in Poznań and at the Fair in 1926 and since the very beginning he became a member of the company`s management. His professional background gave him the best credentials. The descendant of aristocratic family from Polish Inflants - with the title of baron - and with wide family and professional connections.
Comprehensively educated: in 1924 he graduated from engineering faculty of an Eglish university, he also studied at mathematics and psychics as well as law in Belgium. He also studied psychology and administrative law in Johannesburg. Before coming to Poznań, he travelled around the world, worked in African gold mines, American banks and gave lectures at several universities. He reconciled his various functions with great success: managing the Fair, giving English language lectures at Wyższa Szkoła Handlowa (Trade University), compiling manuals, as well as organising other lectures and talks. In 1928 he joined into the organisation of PWK and two years later he became a director of famous and successful International Communications and Tourism Exhibition (popular KOMTUR). This paved his way to become the second - together with Mieczysław Krzyżankiewicz - director of the Poznań Fair in 1931.
Despite having begun co-running the company during hard times he did not allow its fall.
In 1934 he initiated the activities of Poznań Fair Contractors` Council (Rada Interesantów Targów Poznańskich), an association comprising 159 national organisations. The Poznań Fair Contractors` Council became the biggest polish economic association. Many of his other ambitious projects - i.e. establishing Poznan University of Technology - were destroyed by the outbreak of the Second World War, which found Ropp in United States where he represented Poland at the International Exhibition in New York.

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