Joanna Kozińska-Frybes, Consul General of the Republic of Poland in Los Angeles, presented the medal to Ms. Tegnazian during the Polish Independence Day ceremony on Nov. 10, 2012, hosted by the Consulate as part of the 2012 Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles, Calif.
“To receive this medal is truly an honor. To have my work recognized in this way by the Polish government means a great deal to me,” said Ms. Tegnazian, who is not of Polish heritage. “I look forward to bringing more of the amazing stories of Poland’s heroism and her critical contribution to the Allied victory in World War II to the wider world.”
Aquila Polonica Publishing, founded by Ms. Tegnazian and Stefan Mucha in 2005, is dedicated to publishing, in English, the Polish experience of World War II with first-hand accounts, memoirs, photographs, artwork, poetry, literature and historical studies. Although a relatively young company, each of its titles has won awards, as well as favorable critical reviews.
The Los Angeles imprint’s latest title, The Auschwitz Volunteer: Beyond Bravery by Captain Witold Pilecki, is an outstanding example of a WWII story little known outside of Poland. It is Polish Army officer Pilecki’s first-person report of his nearly three-year undercover mission as a prisoner in Auschwitz. Published for the first time in English, this Aquila Polonica title carries an introduction by Professor Norman Davies and a foreword by the Chief Rabbi of Poland. The book has been featured in the New York Times, the Atlantic Monthly and Maclean’s Magazine, among others. Yale Professor Timothy Snyder (Bloodlands) calls The Auschwitz Volunteer "a historical document of the greatest importance" and says Pilecki's volunteering for Auschwitz was "perhaps one of the most courageous things anyone has ever done."
The Auschwitz Volunteer and Witold Pilecki will be featured at events in January 2013 at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. and the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City. “It’s important that the world never forget heroes like Witold Pilecki,” said Ms. Tegnazian. “The sacrifice, courage and resilience of the Polish people in the face of tremendous evil stands like a beacon for us today, perhaps now more than ever.”