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General description of the institution

General description of the institution:
– History
Prior to the mid XVIII century, Poland’s military forces were composed of regular units and those that depended upon mass conscription. There also existed some a permanent army – so called quart army (after the name of a tax) or, later, also supplementary army, called the comput army. Development of fire-arms in XVI and XVII century enhanced requirements for soldiers and officers training. Therefore, modern military education of young nobles was recognized as necessary. Such education was postulated as early as in 1594 by the bishop of Kiev, Józef Wereszczyński.

After over 170 years, in 1765, the Polish king, Stanisław August Poniatowski, accomplished bishop Józef Wereszczyński’s postulate and established the Nobles’ Academy of the Corps of Cadets – commonly called the Knights’ School or Corps of Cadets. Prince Adam Czartoryski organized the academy and became its commandant. The school was located in the Kazimierz Palace.
The aim of the school was to teach cadets in the field of military knowledge and general education. Young nobles were educated in the atmosphere of patriotism – the cadet was obliged to serve his country both as a soldier and citizen. A well-educated modern nobleman also meant strengthening of royal power and reforming the country.
With royal funds, a building was bought in Warsaw, called Kazimierz Palace (today, it belongs to the University of Warsaw) as well as uniforms and other educational equipment.
The king, being in charge of the school, had the right to choose the commanding and teaching staff. Thus he appointed prince Adam Kazimierz Czartoryski the commandant of the school.
The first commandant of the Knights’ School brought specialists from abroad and supervised the establishment of the military staff. He also founded partly the library. The supervision over the teaching process was the duty of the director of science.
The school admitted boys between the age of 7 and 12. The studies lasted seven years. The first years were dedicated to learning languages (Polish, French, German and Latin), basics of artillery, fencing and dancing. The curriculum of three further years included also military constructions, history, Polish literature, geography, rhetoric and drawing. The last two years were devoted to specialization. Cadets could study law and cameralistics, which is the science of public administration and management. The second specialty was strictly military and cadets were educated in tactics, military engineering and the art of artillery.

The Knights’ School’s graduates included such well-known officers as Tadeusz Kościuszko, Jakub Jasiński, Karol Kniaziewicz, and Józef Sowiński as well as distinguished scholars in the fields of education, science, philosophy, and literature, including Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz, Kazimierz Sapieha, and Józef Hoene-Wroński.

At the time of the Kingdom of Poland (so called Congress Kingdom), there appeared four military schools: Cadets’ Corps in Kalisz, and in Warsaw: Military College of Infantry and Cavalry, Winter School of Artillery, and the Application School of Artillery and Engineering (military School for Commanders).
The Application School of Artillery and Engineering in Warsaw was to educate high rank military personnel for the needs of the General Staff. Thus, it became the highest military school in the Kingdom of Poland. Every year the school admitted up to 24 distinguishing graduates from the Cadets’ Corps, artillery graduates and non-commissioned officers. In order to become a student of the school, one had to pass a difficult competitive examination.
The curriculum included mathematics, graphic geometry, physics, architecture, chemistry and foreign languages (Russian, French and German). Students were also taught military subjects, such as permanent and field fortifications, topography and geodesy, strategy, tactics and pyrotechnics. Officers graduated from this school with a specialization in logistics, engineering or artillery.
There were prominent professors of the Polish Kingdom who participated in the educational process – physics was taught by Prof. Józef Karol Skrodzki, mathematics by Rafał Skolimowski and French by Mikołaj Chopin, father of the famous Polish composer, Fryderyk Chopin. After the outbreak of the November Uprising in 1831, the school suspended its activities with its academic staff and students having joined the uprising forces.
After the collapse of the uprising, military education developed abroad on emigration. The aim of the training centres abroad was to prepare soldiers for the next military uprising. The main educational centre was in France, and many Poles graduated from French military schools. There were also attempts to create military training centres in Italy, Germany, Belgium and even Turkey. The main advocates and establishers of military education in exile were prince Adam Czartoryski, Gen. Karol Kniaziewicz, Józef Wysocki, Ludwik Mierosławski and Józef Bem. Prior to and during the First World War, many Polish soldiers and officers were trained in military schools throughout Europe. These men would later form the basis for the Armed Forces of the re-born Polish state. They also defended Poland’s independence during the Polish-Boshevik War of 1920.
During formation of the Polish Armed Forces, the lack of officers prepared for working at staffs of various army units as well as in the General Staff became particularly evident. The General Staff War College was founded in 1919. It changed its name to the Higher War College on 16 August in 1922.
The main problem was the lack of Polish academic staff. In the first years of the college’s existence, these were usually French officers who ran classes with the students, yet with the French being accompanied by their Polish assistants. Polish staff replaced French officers in 1928. The aim of the college was to prepare officers, in both theory and practice, for service in the new Polish republic’s military staff institutions. The studies lasted two years. On average, there were 60 to 70 students each year. The conditions that candidates had to meet in order to be admitted to the Higher War School was at least 5 years of service, ability to serve on the front, a high evaluation, permission to take exams (approved by the Chief of Staff) and passing of all exams.
The curriculum was dominated by military subjects such as general tactics, tactics of types of forces and services, staff service, and horse riding. One could also study war history, military and political geography, political economy and foreign languages. In order to broaden students’ knowledge in the field of the humanities, distinguished civilian scientists were invited to give lectures. Among the college’s guests were Prof. Tadeusz Kotarbiński, Prof. Edward Lipiński and Dr. Marian Kukiel.

Higher War College
graduate’s badge Apart from graduate courses, Higher War College also ran specialized courses, e.g. in the field of communications, armament, armoured weapon, etc. They were to prepare officers in the rank of a colonel and lieutenant colonel to serve at the highest positions of operational level formations. The activity of the college also included development of theoretical concepts connected with armed forces development. Among those who significantly contributed to the college’s research activity were Stefan Mossor, the author of „The art of war in the conditions of modern warfare”, and Stanisław Rola-Arciszewski.
An achievement of the college’s nearly twenty-year existence was educating of over 1300 officers for the armed forces of the young Polish State. As the main military college in Poland, it was of international renown. Its graduates included officers from France, Georgia, Estonia, Latvia and even Japan. It is also worth noticing that officers of the Ukrainian Army of hetman Petlura were also educated at the college. Both, the academic staff and graduates, demonstrated their military skills on the battlefield during the Polish September Campaign of 1939. The majority of Higher War College’s personnel formed the staff of the Poznań Army.


The Higher War College ceased activity at the outbreak of the Second World War for about a year. In November 1940, in accordance with the order of the Commander in Chief, the college resumed activity initially in London and, then, in Scotland. The officers recruited to Higher War College in Exile were in the rank of a lieutenant and captain. Officers of the Czechoslovakian army also studied at the college. The aim of the studies was to prepare officers to serve in staffs of brigades and divisions of the Polish Armed Forces in the West. The curriculum and teaching methods were similar to those used in the Higher War College in Warsaw. The British provided the college with theoretical framework for exercises, instructions and other normative documents so as to allow conducting common operations. The school’s staff consisted of officers of the Supreme Commander’s Staff. During the day they fulfilled their regular duty and in the evenings they taught at the college. The functioning of the Higher War College in Exile ceased in 1946.

After the Second World War, the tradition of Polish military higher education was continued in Poland.


After the conclusion of the Second World War, the Council of Ministers decreed the establishment of the General Staff Academy, which opened its doors in 1947. The Academy was the first military tertiary education institution in post-war Poland. Initially, the Academy was located in the building of the former Polish Free University in Warsaw. In 1954 the Academy was moved to the premises of the pre-war Infantry Training Centre in Rembertów. The Academy’s main goal was to conduct research in the field of military science and to educate officers for commanding and staff positions. Among the academic teachers at General Staff Academy there were also civilian lecturers, including Prof. Tadeusz Kotarbiński and Prof. Wincenty Okoń.
In 1960, the Academy created new departments: Missile and Artillery as well as Air Defence and Air Force. It also opened the Institute of Management and Command Technique, Military Pedagogy Branch, Chair of NBC Defence Tactics as well as the Scientific Studies Group. At the same time, there were defined requirements for the candidates, including: completed secondary education; graduation from a military college; minimum three-years of experience in commanding positions (not lower than a company commander) and the age under 35. Gen. Józef Kuropieska, Commandant of the General Staff Academy, significantly influenced its development in the years 1964-1967.
During the 1970s, the Academy expanded its efforts and began publishing books on the art of war and developing cooperative arrangements with civilian education institutions. The first books on the art of war were written, for example, by Prof. Julian Kaczmarek and Prof. Kazimierz Nóżka. The Academy also started its cooperation with civilian educational centres.
On 1 October 1990, the Council of Ministers decreed the transformation of the General Staff Academy into the National Defence University. Today, the National Defence University is the heir to the traditions that began in 1765 and proudly carries them into the future. The reflection of history and traditions the NDU inherits is the Hall of Tradition where many celebrations take place in and which is visited by every delegation. The Hall of Tradition is also a place where candidates for students learn about the NDU’s history and its glorious traditions during the day of open door.

The first commandant of the NDU was LtGen Professor Tadeusz Jemioło, who stayed in the office till 2000.
In the subsequent years, the function of the commandant-rector was held by:
MajGen Professor Bolesław Balcerowicz (2000-2003)
LtGen Dr. Józef Flis (2003-2006)
LtGen Assoc. Prof. Józef Buczyński (2006-2007).
BrigGen Assoc. Prof. Janusz Kręcikij (2007-2009)
Maj Gen Romuald RATAJCZAK, PhD (2009-

– Organizational units
National Security Faculty
Management and Command Faculty
Strategic Research Institute
War Games and Simulation Center
CBRN Defence Training Centre
Officers Training Centre
Foreign Languages Teaching Centre
Physical Education and Shooting Training Branch
Studies Organization Department
Financial Office
Human Resources Department
Logistic Department
Science and Research Branch
Promotion of Education and Culture Branch
Protection of Classified Information Branch
Work Safety Section
National Defence University Publishing House

– Mission and tasks
The National Defence University (NDU) is the highest level academy for the Polish Armed Forces, which educates students and conducts scientific research especially for the needs of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Poland. The NDU also educates civilians in the field of national defence and prepares them to work i.e. in the Parliament as well as national and local administration. The university meets all criteria required in the field of higher education and promoting academic staff. The National Defence University is therefore a vital element of national educational system and co-establishes Polish science.

For the academic staff and for students gaining knowledge does not only mean participation in the process of education, but also cultivation of Polish military educational traditions. The National Defence University is continuing the work that was started in the XVIII century by king Stanisław August Poniatowski, who established the Knights’ School.

The aim of the University is to provide students with knowledge and skills inevitable for fulfilling duties in various commands, staffs, academies as well as military and civilian institutions dealing with state defence.
In case of civilian students, the NDU educates them for state defence needs, so that after graduating, they can work in any institution dealing with state security and defence, e.g. Ministry of National Defence, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Interior and Administration, National Security Bureau as well as scientific and research institutes.
The National Defense University is the only academic institution in Poland of command-staff character. Apart from its educational function, it also serves as a scientific centre dealing with theory of military science and providing particular solutions for practical needs of the armed forces and defence system in the Republic of Poland including NATO standards.
The University conducts scientific research in military science embracing most important problems of strategy, operational and tactical issues for the land forces as well as for aviation and air defence, and humanistic and economic science. Research papers are of prognostic, modeling or analytical character. The NDU also takes part in scientific research carried out by the NATO Defense College.

Areas of research undertaken by the academic staff deal with:
• national defense system and defense strategy of the Republic of Poland;
• contemporary military conflicts;
• Land Forces and Air Force in defense system of the Republic of Poland;
• peace support operations;
• command and managing in crisis situations (including contemporary terrorism);
• territorial and civil defence;
• Host Nation Support (HNS) and CIMIC (Civil-Military Cooperation);
• logistics and economics of defence;
• education in the Armed Forces.