History of Poland: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Kathryn Miedema Dominguez

Kathryn has taught elementary students for over ten years and has her master's degree in elementary education.

Poland is a European country that has had to fight hard for its independence. It has had some devastating events that changed its identity forever. In this lesson, you'll learn about the major events that have shaped Poland's history.

Where is Poland?

Did you know that the United States and Poland both have an eagle as their symbol? They don't have the same eagle though. A white eagle represents Poland and a bald eagle represents the United States.

Poland is a country in central eastern Europe surrounded by seven other countries, though it is most known for being east of Germany. Its landscape is mostly flat plains, but has two mountain ranges in the south and borders the Baltic Sea in the north. Many battles have been fought on its ground.

Poland at the center of Europe
Poland in Europe

Let's discover more about the history of Poland!

From Tribes to Kingdom

The first Polish people were a group of native Slavic people that settled in this region around the fifth century. Their tribe name was Polanie which means 'people of the fields'. Various bands thrived in the region for hundreds of years before they became a kingdom.

In 966 CE, tribes in the region joined together to become a state under the rule of Duke Mieszko I. In 1025, it became an official kingdom and its borders reached close to what Poland's borders are today.

Poland continued to prosper on its own, but it became stronger when it joined forces with Lithuania. They became one country in 1569 CE. Together, they helped fight each other's enemies. Poland was already one of the larger countries in Europe and became five times larger with Lithuania. They were one of the most powerful countries for a couple hundred years.

Poland Lost and Regained

Since Poland was a strong country with a lot of land, other countries wanted to take control, and in 1772, Russia, Prussia (present-day Germany), and Austria took over and divided the land among themselves. Sadly, Poland was not a country for 123 years.

After many decades, the Poles wanted to have their independence again. Various political groups worked hard to free themselves from Russia, Austria, and Germany. In 1918, after World War I, Poland regained its statehood.

World War II

Twenty years later, Poland was invaded by Germany (who had been taken over by the Nazis under the dictator Adolf Hitler) and Slovakia. This was the beginning of World War II, in which Germany wanted to rule Europe and began invading its surrounding countries.

There was a large Jewish population that lived in Poland. The Nazis built concentration camps where they imprisoned and killed millions of Jews, one of the most tragic events in human history.

One of the concentration camps in Poland where millions died.
Concentration camp

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