European Heritage Days. A Man of Pioneering Times. Kazimierz Haska: Sailor, Sculptor, Museum Professional

This year's West-Pomeranian Heritage Days' slogan is "Procession of Generations", which refers to, among others, achievements of people who arrived in Szczecin after World War II and took up the effort to re-build the destroyed city. On this occasion, The Department of Ethnography of Pomerania is pleased to present Captain Kazimierz Haska, associated mostly with sailing, nonetheless, merited for culture and heritage of the region as well, and a fomer longstanding employee of our Museum. 

Kazimierz Haska was born in Poznań on January 12th 1912. He was brought up in a family connected with the sea, in the spirit of patriotism and respect for the labour ethos. He has been involved in sailing for his whole life. This sport that requires a strong character, perseverance, organisation abilities and diligence. He began his adventure with water scouting in the 1920s. In 1923 he joined the Jan Kiliński 17th Poznań Scout Team, which in 1925 was renamed into "Sea Dogs" Scout Team and went down in history as the cradle of Greater Poland region sailing. In 1932 he participated in an international rally of water scouts on Lake Garczyńskie. In the years 1936–1939 he made training cruises on the ZHP "Zawisza Czarny" sailing ship under the command of the pioneer of Polish sailing, General Mariusz Zaruski. In the last years before the outbreak of World War II, he was the captain of the Scout Sailing Centre in Kiekrz near Poznań, he was also an instructor at sailing courses.

In August 1939, in the face of the approaching war, Haska was drafted into the army. He fought in the September Campaign in the 57th Infantry Regiment of the Poznań Army, took part in the battles on the Bzura River and in the Kampinos Forest, and with his unit he made his way to the fighting capital. After the end of Regiment existence, he managed to avoid being sent to a POW camp. He spent the occupation in Poznań, first working in the Heeres Zeugamt arms factory, then as a sculptor in the stonemason's workshop of Jan Maria Jakób. During the war, he lost all his property, both his family home in Chwaliszewo and his apartment in Aleje Marcinkowskiego. This contributed to his decision to leave Poznań. Driven by his passion for sailing, he decided to settle permanently in Szczecin, which he considered to be the best place to practice water sports. He arrived in the city on July 15th 1945. His wife and daughter joined him in September.

Despite the difficulties struggled by Szczecin, severely damaged as a result of military operations, at the beginning of August 1945, a branch of the Maritime League was opened in the city, along with the Sailing Section, of which Haska became a chairman. The structures of the organisation then gave the beginning to "Gryf" Yacht Club of the Maritime League  the first sailing club in West Pomerania, performing training and organizational activities. Captain Haska was the deputy commander and sports captain there. On his initiative and with his cooperation, the club organized numerous sailing events, including the first Polish Szczecin's intra-club sailing reces (in 1948) and the oldest in Poland, held since 1949 until today, inter-club Autumn Race for the Blue Ribbon of Lake Dąbskie.

In the early 1950s, after the liquidation of "Gryf" Yacht Club and the Maritime League by the communist authorities, Haska joined the Academic Sports Association. In 1952 he took the position of the chairman of the Sailing Section at the Provincial Committee of Physical Culture, which he held until 1953. In the years 1957–1964 he was the president of the District Sailing Association in Szczecin. At that time he organized the International Races for the "Pomeranian Griffin" Cup. The event under the patronage of the Chairman of the Provincial National Council Presidium in Szczecin was a significant event and opened a new chapter in the history of Polish sailing. Beginning in 1958, every year it gathered crowds of sailors from Poland, East and West Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and the USSR.

At the turn of 1958 and 1959, thanks to Haska's efforts, the management board of the Polish Sailing Association adopted a resolution to establish the Central Sailing Centre in Trzebież, which would be a training base and a place for regatta training.

From the very beginning of his residence in Szczecin, Haska became involved in the search and collecting of sailing equipment. On his initiative, many hulls of former German boats were excavated and renovated. Based on his pre-war experience in water scouting, he was also involved in organizing sailing courses. The first one took place as early as in August 1945. He tried to popularise sailing ideas especially among children and youth. Thanks to his efforts, it was possible to start building cadet and optimist class youth units. He raised several generations of sailors.

Sports successes went hand in hand with successes in the organizational and educational field. Haska remained an active sailor, for years he was one of the leading competitors in the region. He had the qualifications of a yacht captain of great sailing and a captain of motorboat great sailing. During his sports career, he won leading positions in both inland and offshore regattas. One of his greatest successes was winning the International "Pomeranian Griffin" Race in 1960.

His sporting activity was closely related to being a sailing referee. He was one of the oldest post-war referees of the Polish Yachting Association and since 1952 he was a state-class referee. For his teaching and social activities, he was honored with numerous awards and entered into the Book of Merit for the City of Szczecin.

Along with his sailing passion, Haska developed his artistic skills. In the years 1927–1931 he practiced as a sculptor, in 1933 he graduated from the State School of Decorative Arts and Artistic Industry in Poznań at the Faculty of Sculpture, Bronze and Jewellery. Before the war, he made a living from art. During the occupation, most of his works were destroyed, and after coming to Szczecin he continued his artistic activity.

In his works, Haska often referred to topics related to life. He mainly made realistic sculptures of human figures. An example is, belonging to the collection of The National Museum in Szczecin, "Harvester Woman", a small wooden sculpture created in 1951, depicting a smiling woman with a sheaf of grain in her hands. In addition to sculpture, he devoted a lot of time to medallic art, he also made folders, posters, pennants, and commemorative plaques.

Starting from his participation in the 2nd Exhibition of the Members of the Association of Polish Artists and Designers in 1946, he showed his works at regional exhibitions. Since 1947 he belonged to the Association of Polish Artists and Designers.

Apart from numerous achievements sailing and work in the artistic field, Kazimierz Haska also made an invaluable contribution to the Szczecin museology. Immediately after arriving in the city, he was actively involved in securing post-German collections and museum buildings (at Wały Chrobrego and ul. Staromłyńska). Together with Lech Krzekotowski – the first director – he co-founded the City Museum (presently The National Museum in Szczecin). In September 1945 he took the position of the administrative manager of this institution. Apart from administrative activities, he also performed other necessary works. He inventoried and photographed the collections, carried out the most urgent conservation procedures, worked on the removal of damages and supervised renovations. He participated in the discovery of the tomb crypt in the Pomeranian Dukes' Castle and participated in expeditions in the voivodeship, which resulted in the museum's acquisition of surviving works of art, mostly sacred, as well as objects of great historical and cultural value. In 1949, he co-created the first maritime exhibition opened on the occasion of the Days of the Sea.

From the Department of Administration, at his own request, Haska moved to the Maritime Department, where he could fully use his knowledge and marine passion. He was in favor of transforming the department into an independent Maritime Museum, which he saw as a thriving centre of widely understood maritime education. However, this idea was never implemented.

In the years 1952–1953 he worked on the permanent exhibition on fisheries and marine biology. For the needs of the department, he used his artistic skills, creating mock-ups and models, including a model of a Mediterranean fortress and a map of Polish fishing settlements by the Baltic Sea. Thanks to his efforts, the then director, Władysław Filipowiak, consented to creating the large-scale collection of yacht models in the museum. As a result, the collection was enriched with models of both small training units and large sea-going yachts. Haska supervised and accepted works in this field commissioned by the museum. Under his supervision, among others, a model of the Conrad II yacht, excavated in the early 1950s from the bottom of the Dziwna River, was made by Włodzimierz Pelczarski.

In 1965, Kazimierz Haska co-organized the Museum of the City of Szczecin.

He achieved his greatest successes in museum work while managing the Wood and Metal Conservation Studio. His duties included conservation and reconstruction of relics, doing experiments and training new staff. Thousands of objects passed through his hands. In his work, he combined knowledge, experience and manual skills, which allowed him to achieve highly valued results. He was therefore one of the leading museum conservators in Poland. He conducted research on the methods of using chemicals for the preservation of wood and iron. He created recipes for formulations that he later used in his work. A page with his original recipe for colouring metals has been preserved to this day.

Haska's particular achievements in conservation activities include securing works performed on a set of iron anchors from the 17th and 18th centuries, which were successful despite the lack of experience in renovating such large objects and technical limitations of the studio. The the conservation procedure was described by Haska in detail in the article entitled "Conservation of Historical Iron Anchors from the Collection of the Museum of West Pomerania in Szczecin" published in "Materialy Zachodniopomorskie" from 1963. Two years later, also in "Materialy Zachodniopomorskie", his second text devoted to the conservation of relics, "Securing Works on the Charbrowo Boat", appeared.

In late 1960s, Kazimierz Haska participated in research expeditions organized by the Museum, during which he stayed temporarily in the fisheries of the North Sea, where he documented the work of deep-sea fishermen; he also visited the coast of West Africa, participating in research on the living and working conditions of fishermen. He collected specimens of marine fauna, which were presented at the "Nature of the Sea" exhibition in 1970.

Inspired by African art, he created a series of copies of cult sculptures and masks. He made them with the use of plaster moulds he had prepared. The moulds for making copies of the Baga mask from Guinea and the Nago (Yoruba) mask from Benin have survived to this day. At the Museum there is also his copy of a stone sculpture related to the cult of the ancestors and vegetation forces of the Kissi people from southwestern Guinea.

Kazimierz Haska died suddenly on August 22nd 1976. The sailing community, which owed him a lot, took a number of initiatives to commemorate the captain. In 1979 his name was given to COŻ Trzebież training yacht, and in 2008 to the marina in Gocław. In 2016, a sculpture by Paweł Szatkowski was erected on the Piastowski Boulevard in Aleja Żeglarzy. It was made on the basis of a photo from the family archives, taken during the aforementioned rally of water scouts on Lake Garczyński. It shows a 20-year-old Haska, wearing a scout a uniform, leaning on a "Sea Dogs" totem made by himself.

In 2017 International Szczecin Sailing Awards were established. One of the prize categories has bee named Captain Kazimierz Haska Award for Sailing Popularizer, awarded to people who popularize sailing in Szczecin, West Pomerania or Hither Pomerania. A member of the jury is Piotr Owczarski, Kazimierz Haska's grandson, who continues the sailing traditions.

The Szczecin museum professionals did not forget about Kazimierz Haska. In 1977, "Materialy Zachodniopomorskie" published a memorial written by director Filipowiak. Haska's work for the museum was discussed by Bogdana Kozińska in the article entitled "Szczecin Museum Professionals  Co-Authors of the Achievements of The National Museum in Szczecin", which appeared in a publication released on the occasion of the centenary of the main building of the museum. A display case with objects related to the captain was put on the exhibition entitled "From the History of Polish Sailing in West Pomerania 1945–2010". Dr. Szymon Piotr Kubiak is in charge of Haska's artistic output.

Present West-Pomeranian Heritage Days are a great occasion to recall the figure of Kazimierz Haska, who crucially contributed to the history of our region not only as a sailing pioneer, but also as a merited museum professional, whose work preserved numerous relics and had an impact on re-building and developing the Museum.  

Edited by Agnieszka Słowińska



Haska K., Konserwacja zabytkowych kotwic żelaznych ze Zbiorów Muzeum Pomorza w Szczecinie, „Materiały Zachodniopomorskie” 1963, vol. IX, , p. 477–487.

Haska K. Prace zabezpieczające przy łodzi charbrowskiej, „Materiały Zachodniopomorskie” 1965, vol. XI, p. 843–854.


Filipowiak W., Zygfryd Kazimierz Haska (1912–1974), „Materiały Zachodniopomorskie” 1977, vol. XXIII, p.395–396.

Kozińska B., Szczecińskie muzeum wczoraj, in: 100 lat muzeum w Szczecinie, ed. S.P. Kubiak, D. Kacprzak, Szczecin 2013, p. 14–181. 

Leksykon żeglarstwa i sportów wodnych Pomorza Zachodniego, ed. P. Owczarski, vol. 1, Szczecin 2017.

Owczarski P., Kazimierz Haska, pionier szczecińskiej kultury i żeglarstwa, „Przegląd Zachodniopomorski” 2002, year XVII (XLVI), book 1, p. 225–247.


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