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Upcoming appearance: Pyrkon 2014, Poznan

Next weekend I'm going to be in Poznan, Poland, for Pyrkon 2014 at the Poznan World Trade Center—a really remarkably large multigenre SF convention (last year had over 13,000 attendees, making it more than twice the size of a worldcon). Yes, I'll be giving a talk and bloviating on panel discussions as usual: also present from the English language sector will be Tad Williams and Lauren Beukes. See you there!

Obviously I'll be short of blogging time over the next ten days, but Elizabeth Bear will be dropping in by and by ...



multigenre SF convention

Don't you mean "multigenre fan convention"?


It's multigenre: they do SF and fantasy. ("We got all kinds of music here; we play country and western".)


Hm, you might be eligable for Polish citizenship, BTW. Only if you want to, of course, and the details are somewhat tricky...

(Please note that I guess the text seems to be somewhat mistaken, since IIRC it's not just people who left after 1918 who can apply).


My grandfather left in, IIRC, 1905 or 1906. So this may not be applicable. (Might still be worth bearing in mind, however, if Scotland votes "no" to independence and then the Conservatives are re-elected for the UK with a manifesto commitment to a referendum on leaving the EU. Which would be Bad.)


I hope you have a great time in Poland. It is deplorable that the con is promoted by a strip-tease and a dice bath:


I like the dice bath. The striptease, not so much...


As already said, I think this section is somewhat mistaken, since a part of the rationale of the first citizenship law was to deal with the, err, Polish diaspora that left in the years of no independent Poland existing, AFAIK there is a similar rationale for Italy, and one Italo-American applying for Italian citizenship was the reason I looked it up:

So it makes little sense of excluding anyone who left before 1918. In fact, AFAIK quite a big number of the German Polish minority left for Poland after 1918 (my grandparents thought about it, but didn't carry it through since there was already quite some family), so this squares somewhat if such a law was in place.

Actually, 1918 only figures in the laws in question

with relation to parts of Silesia, a notorious issue for German, Polish and Czech nationalism. Else, only thing mentioned is your ancestors living in Poland before 1908, so your grandfather should be included. One likely problem is not applying for foreign military service, though I guess British military is less of a problem than the Wehrmacht my father was in, though then, I've heard even that one is not necessarily a problem.

As for the advantages of Polsih citizenship, well, it might depend somewhat on the internal politics of Poland, which seem to be somewhat, err, complicated.

Whatever, have a nice stay in Poland, if I had heard about Pyrkon earlier I might have pressed my father for a little visit to our relations there... ;)


I believe my mother's grandfather left around the same time, though I don't have any certain idea of when and where from. We always say he, and his six brothers, came from Lithuania, but must have been near enough to Poland that he visited relatives and was 'abducted' into the Polish cavalry when he was about 19 (we have a picture of him in uniform). His family had to sell the farm to get him out, and sent the brothers to America where they all took different names and scattered.

Personally, I wouldn't be too interested in Polish citizenship, any more than another country that I (and Charlie) could presumably get citizenship, but don't think I'd care for the eastern Mediterranean climate, among other things.


Well, at about 1908 there would have been no independent Poland or Lithuania, just a Lithuania part of the Russian Empire and a Poland divided into parts ruled by Russia, Prussia and Austria. after 1918, there was quite some enimity between Poland and Lithuania about certain areas.

So if this was before 1918, it is likely he crossed from Russian Lithuania into de facto Russian Congress Poland

which would explain somewhat the conscription, since being a foreigner with only some relationship would mean he was likely to be in the contingent:

Of course, it might also be he was forcefully conscripted after 1918.

Thing is, family stories can be somewhat difficult interpret, my grandparents actually originally are from close to Poznan (then Germany), but there is a story of one of our ancestors having it with the "cossacks", which only makes sense if they were a lot more in the East. My surname clustering somewhat in the area around Warsaw (then Russian) might make for some interesting family history...

As for interest in Polish citizenship, let's just say it would make saying "idiot Germans" in my day to day life somewhat easier. ;)


Oh, and a tribute to the state that crashed both the jihadis

and the crusaders:



Well, yes it is family lore, unfortunately I don't have anyone to ask about it. My great-grandfather died when I was little, and my grandparents since then. I should have said that we think he came over sometime around WWI, my mother thinks after, but who knows. The photo we have looks older. There's another photo (which I've seen, but don't have) with his head pasted onto the body of a soldier on horseback. The story, as I heard it years ago, is that he was visiting the relatives, when there was a knock on the door one night and all the military age men were taken and conscripted. I've heard that there were different regiments sorted by language/ethnicity, and assume he would've been in a Yiddish speaking one, I haven't been able to find anything out about them, but it's been years since I looked into it.


Well, if the picture shows the uniform or any insignia, you could try an identification. For a start, there'd be

Actually, the cantonist system was abolished in 1857, though I'm not aware how the military district system that succeeded it worked; after that, the second Polish Republic did conscription, too, but reading some accounts of the Polish-Soviet wars, especially in the early years it depended somewhat on veterans from the Germany, Austria and Russia armies and volunteers.

Of course, question is if one is that înterested...


Thanks, I'll give it a look tomorrow, after I find the photo.


Nope, and sorry if I bored you with keeping it up. ;)


{Meanwhile, back at the point}

It's not like Elizabeth actually needs any introduction.


Not bored, was just getting late here.

And no, Elizabeth Bear needs no intro here.


Charlie, compliments on "Neptunes Brood", was a bit iffy at first but brilliant absolutely brilliant!


Okay, this will be my last off-topic comment on this subject. Apparently my great-grandfather is wearing a Russian Hussar uniform (?), very much like theses. At the bottom of this page, on the right, basically take the man leaning on the left's uniform, without the cape and rank, with the cap of the other man. Also these pictures: on the left:


Well, thanks for the update, though that doesn't rule out the second Polish Republich army, namely former Russian or other hussar units incoperated; I'm not that fit in uniformology (wiki says this really is the term) and was hoping for a more telltale sign, like the notorious double-headed eagles of Russia or Austria-Hungary:

As for Jewish cavalry units in the Polish army, there was one in the 18th century Ko┼Ťciuszko uprising:

Though I haven't found much about Second Republic Hussars, there were some units mentioned, but quite a few of those were former Russian calvalry units in the wars in Lithuania and Ukraine.

Thing is, immediately after WWI there was a war between Poland and Lithuania for the area around Vilnius, harbouring a big Polish population:

Funny thing that, reminds one of recent events. Though Pilsudski doesn't look that much the part of Putin...

In the case in question, that might make for problems both going from Lithuania to Poland and getting drafted as a soldier and not interned as a spy. OTOH, if your grandfather was from one of the contested areas, one might argue he was easily drafted, especially if troops were needed.

Well, let's stop it here, if you are still interested I might ask the usual suspect if he knows anybody into this area (my local war nerd is more into the German Imperial Navy, don't ask which flag we had in entrance when we shared an appartment). And as already said, sorry to you and anybody else if I annoyed you. Was just one of these endless ADHD hyperfocus prattles bordering on High Functioning Autism on my part(DSM abolished Aspergers, AFAIR).


Okay, that was my second to last word on the topic, because I just put the photo of my great-grandfather on facebook. I think this link will work.

Also thank you; I learned some things, always a good thing. And I've some revising of the old story to do. I assume that while people were officially living in the Russian Empire, they would still think of themselves as being Lithuanian, Polish, etc. Hopefully I'll someday be able to get back to doing some genealogy, tried several years ago but it can get expensive.


Update: I'm at Pyrkon. It's Saturday lunchtime, and Pyrkon has just passed 19,500 attending members and is likely to pass 20,000 later today. That makes it probably the biggest SF convention ever in Europe, and about 3-4 times larger than a worldcon; it's on the same scale as DragonCon or one of the smaller Comicons. (Last year had 13,000 members; before that, in 2010, it was 3000.)

I am at a loss; what is this, I don't even ...!


That's explosive growth. And yes, since that's well past the Finncon 15K memberships, I'd expect it is the largest in Europe.

I hope there hasn't been the mess that happened at Nottingham's first SF convention a few days ago, when there were apparently 2500 people and facilities unable to cope.

(What do you mean, you think there have been previous Nottingham SF conventions? No, illusory. The Nottingham Post says it was the first and they should know.)


I really hope this growth pattern will stop, because in 2011 there were 3k attendees, in 2012 - 6k, in 2013 - 12k and now, in 2014 - 24k. I'm not sure if 48k people will fit within the Trade Fair grounds. :-)


Well, these are numbers we can only dream about in Germany for a SF con, here numbers of visitors are usually in the lower hundreds; anime and RPG cons can grow somewhat bigger, though still usually staying south of 5000 visitors.

Though that doesn't say if German con comitees' dreams about bigger cons are pleasant or nightmares...


Strapping young lad. ;)

If you don't mind, I saved the image and would like to show it to some guys into Eastern European history. A German friend is teaching Old Church Slavonic at the university here, maybe he knows someone. If you don't mind and would like to stay informed on the results, drop me a line at


substituting "(Sztrudel)" with the appropriate sign. I I use this address for somewhat pseudonymous communication.

As for genealogy, I can hear you, though that'd have to wait for some time in my case. Maybe I should visit a Polish language course again before...


Err, forgot to tick the reply tag for the comment above. The text was in my queue for some time, in the end I just deleted most talk about history. ;)


That would figure; apart from Sabine Furlong and yourself pretty much all the German con-goers I know are role-players and/or cosplayers.


Post-Mortem: Pyrkon hit 24,513 members before they opened the barriers and stopped charging for admission (around 3pm on Sunday, a couple of hours before the end). 25,000 attendees is therefore not implausible.

Very SFnal, many Poles, much cosplay, wow!

(I've suggested they bid for a worldcon. We litfans could take over the adjacent Sheraton; the Pyrkon regulars would barely notice us ...!)


I was going to ask - was it an amateur organised convention, or one with a commercial organisation behind it. Because if that's fan-run, I am doubly impressed.


It was organized by Druga Era Association - non-profit organization. None of us is paid for the job :)


I suppose I don't mind. I had second thoughts about putting the picture online, though I don't think there's much chance of it showing up elswhere. I don't really do much email, at least not with people I don't actually know, but I'll certainly be around here, if you should happen to learn anything interesting. Thanks anyhow.

A little bit of information that you don't particularly need to know. His name was Gedaliah Kossoy (not sure of spelling), when he came to America he took the name Joe Abrams. That story is that he and his brothers came and all took new 'American' names from the phone book, and he ends up with another Jewish one.


Well, my idea was to use a somewhat more official e-mail address for answering, I just didn't want to post it; and then there is this issue with having a somewhat rare surname for Germany, with all other bearers related. Whatever, I'll mention anything I find answering to one of your posts here.

As for the new name your grandfather chose, maybe it was somewhat deliberate to keep some relation to his roots. The original name doesn't seem that rare BTW:


I'm probably one of the few people nowadays that only has one email address, and I don't put it out in public.

I hadn't heard of that Kossoy. A few years ago was wandering around the Manhattan diamond district (looking for a bookstore) and saw a jewelry shop called Kossoy's. That was the first time I had seen the name elsewhere, I've seen a few more since then. I didn't think to go in and ask about it at the time.


Possibly useful website:


Oh yeah, thanks. That's one site I'd forgotten about, it's been several years since I've done any genealogy. One problem, though, is not being sure of name spelling and having no idea where exactly my ancestors came from.



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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on March 16, 2014 5:48 PM.

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