Jan Trepczyk

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Jan Trepczyk (1907-1989)

Jan Trepczyk (1907-1989)

Jan Trepczyk (csb: Trepczik; born 22 October 1907 in Strysza Buda by Mirachowo, died 3 September 1989, in Wejherowo) – one of the most accomplished Kashubian poets, song writer; member of the Regional Kashub Association of Kartuzy;  member of  “Zrzeszeńcy” ( en. “associationists”), and the Kashub-Pomeranian Association;  Kashubian ideologist, lexicographer, author of the Polish-Kashubian Dictionary, pedagog; co-founder of the Kashub-Pomeranian Literature and Music Museum in Wejherowo.

Early years

Born as the youngest of the five children to a farmer couple of Jan and Berta (maiden name: Hebel), between 1914 and 1921, he attended elementary school in Mirachowo (first in German, later in the Polish language).  It was where he met Aleksander Labuda for the first time. In 1921, he enters the state run Teacher’s Seminary for Males in Kościerzyna. Here, one of his teachers was a priest, Leon Heyke, who instilled in Trepczyk interest in the Kashubian culture. Following his graduation, Trepczyk started teaching at an elementary school in Kartuzy. In 1927, he accepted a teaching position in Miszewo, near Żukowo.

During the summer of 1928, together with A. Labuda, he paid Dr. Majkowski a visit and the latter soon became Trepczyk’s spiritual mentor. Along with A. Labuda and A. Stoltmann, Trepczyk organized a teachers’ conference in Kartuzy which culminated with the establishment of the regional Association of the Kashubs. Elected its secretary, he later became one of the most active members of the “Zrzeszeńcy” organization.  In 1930, Trepczyk married Jan Rompski’s sister Aniela with whom he fathered Bogusława, Mirisława, Damroka, Sława, Świętopełek, and Mestwin.  Also in 1930, he debuted as an author in the “Chëcz Kaszëbskô” periodical, concurrently publishing in “Grif Kaszëbsczi” and “Zrzësz Kaszëbskô” (later becoming its editor in chief.)

In 1934, Trepczyk was ordered to move to Rogoźno and a year later, to Tłukawy in Wielkopolska as a result of the Polish government’s attempt to weaken the local Kashubian establishment accused of separatist tendencies.  While “banned,” he released a tome of Kashubian songs; continuously publishing, he remained committed to his views on Kashubian matters.

World War II

September 1939 found Trepczyk in Tłukawy, where he was sentenced to live and work. In the summer of 1940, he returned to Kashubia accepting a job of a cashier at the Sianowo’s administration office.  In June of 1943, he was drafted into the German Army (Wehrmacht).  Completing his basic training in Hanover, Germany, he later served in Belgium and Italy, primarily taking care of the horses.  Deserting in Italy, he associates with an Italian resistance unit. Later, captured by the Allied Forces, he joins the ranks of General Anders’ Polish Army.

Kashubian Activist. Work and personal life

In June of 1946, he returned to Kashubia and resided in Wejherowo (first on Bukowa St., then Kopernika St.) Here, for 20 years he worked as a music teacher in the Elementary School (school no. 4.) Apart from music, he also taught geography, arts, and mathematics.  In 1951, following the death of his wife Adela, he married Leokadia Czaja, becoming a stepfather to her daughter Zofia. He retired in 1967 and two years later moved to a new house on Zwycięstwa Street.  Along with some of his family members, he lived there until his passing away.

Following his post WWII return to Kashubia, from the very beginning, Trepczyk supported  local cultural and social affairs.  He continued publishing in “Zrzesz Kaszëbskô,”  “Echo Ziemi Wejherowskiej,” “Kaszëbë,” and later also in “Pomerania” and a few other periodicals. He wrote short novels and sketches, but chiefly poems and songs featuring his own and other authors’ lyrics. His talent and melodic sense compensated the lack of formal musical training, something that’s prevalent especially in his choral compositions.  Albeit better known for his singing skills, he also played piano and violin.  Between 1952-54, he collected relics of Kashubian culture in villages and towns. While focusing on Kashubian language (along with its grammar and vocabulary), he put forth an enormous effort to normalize its spelling. All in all, he soon became one of the most recognizable activists of the region.

In December 1965, while supporting the task of organizing the Kashub-Pomeranian Association, Trepczyk became president of its Wejherowo chapter. Finding for it a suitable downtown location, he expanded its engagement to include drama, music, lectures, and exhibitions.  He asked to be relieved from his position at the Kashub-Pomeranian Association in 1961, following the accusations of holding separatist sentiments and sympathizing with German revisionists.  Consequently, the organization he helped to establish, issued him a formal reprimand, thus temporarily crippling his cultural and artistic endeavors. Still, Jan Trepczyk continued to write poetry and songs, patronizing the Wejherowo Sea Song Festival, instituting choirs and folklore groups, and striving to establish the Kashub-Pomeranian museum in Wejherowo. In 1967, he was awarded the “Stolem Medal” and in 1971, Poland’s Golden Cross of Merit.  Rehabilitated to his former position at the Kashub-Pomeranian Association, he led  it for two more cadences (1967-73).

Pinnacle of his activity

In the 1970s, for the first time after the World War II, Trepczyk resumes publishing. He commenced with a volume of poems “Mòja stegna“ (1970) followed by two song collections based on the work of a Lębork-native musician, Juliusz Mowiński  entitled “Rodnô Zemia” (1974). He published “Mòja chëcz” in 1978, and the children rhymes called „Ukłôdk dlô dzôtk“in 1975. Still, mis main accomplishment of the time is the sizable poetry tome named “Òdecknienié” (1977) consisting of more than 80 poems.  The preface to the book was written by Tadeusz Bolduan with Trepczyk’s biography added by Edmund Puzdrowski.  In 1979, Trepczyk became a member of the Polish Writers Association.  In 1980, his “Ukłôdk dlô dzôtk” was republished and the celebrated song collection “Lecë choranko” containing excess of 80 songs released.  Works of Jan Trepczyk were also added to several anthologies, including the Kaschubische Anthologie (1973). In 1979, the author had been honored by the publication of “Pasja twórczego życia” dedicated to Marian Mokwa and Aleksander Labuda.  At the end of 1986, Trepczyk becomes honorary member of the Kashub-Pomeranian Association.

Trepczyk’s late years were spent very fruitfully. He kept writing poems, songs, and memoirs while continuing publishing. He conducted various choruses, often performing solo or in small groups with his wife, daughter Zofia, and son-in-law, Edmund Kamiński. He completed his great Polish-Kashubian Dictionary and was looking for a publisher (unfortunately he didn’t live to see the release.)  Suffering from the laryngeal cancer, he relied on voice amplifier. In addition, toward the end of his life, he also suffered from shingles infection.  He died suddenly on 3rd September, 1989 in Wejherowo, we’re he also was buried. His wife Leokadia died almost 10 years later, on 28 November, 1998.


Jan Trepczyk will remain to be known as one of the busiest contributors to Kashubian culture, a man full of enthusiasm, extensive interests, and many talents. In his poetry, he praised Kashubian landscapes, its history, and inhabitants.  His songs, classic and melodic, inventive, full of honest emotion, humor, and sometimes exaltation are inimitable. Trepczyk’s song collection consists of 133 recognized songs arranged mostly by Juliusz Mowiński and Zbigniew Szablewski. As a writer and lexicographer, he tried to preserve the riches of the Kashubian Language, contributing to its vocabulary base by adding contemporary words (while retaining consistency with the language’s demands), and many archaisms. His work in this area cannot be overrated and, arguably, matches that of rev. Bernard Zychta. The remaining artistic legacy often becomes canvas for the artistic endeavors for the new generations of Kashubian artists.  Similarly, his maxim “Pòjmë w przódk z kaszëbizną” to this day reverberates in the hearts of the Kashubian activists.

“Słownik Polsko-Kaszubski” was published post mortem in 1994. It contains about 60 thousand entries and has an impressive addendum written by prof.  Jerzy Treder.  Republished in 1997, in its augmented version, was Trepczyk’s song collection “Lecë choranko” accompanied by an audio cassette including 27 songs while in 2004 some of these songs were released on a CD entitled “Mòrze. Kaszubskie piesni o morzu.” On 18 June 2004, Miszewo Elementary School, were Trepczyk had been a teacher for seven years, was given his name.  Similarly, the Wejherowo Singing Association added Trepczyk’s name as an integral part of its name designation.  In fact, the Wejherowo Singing Association’s debut performance took place in Miszewo during the school’s name change ceremony.

Due to the various anniversary celebrations, Trepczyk’s name kept returning to public conscience fairly regularly.  Streets in Wejherowo, Rumia, and Bolszewo have been renamed to commemorate Trepczyk; he is also present in newspapers and periodicals. In 2008, his biography was released in “Feliks  Marszalkowski i inni Zrzeszincy a rozwój jezyka oraz literatury kaszubskiej.”  The 20th Sea Song Festival was the justification to the release of Trepczyks’ two song collections arranged for solo vocalist and chorus (“Hej mòrze, mòrze” and “Marika”).  At the same time an anthology entitled “Jubileusz Ogólnopolskich Festiwali Piesni o Morzu w Wejherowie (1966-2008)” summing the songs performed at various festivals with the sea theme, was released.  As evident in this work, Jan Trepczyk is the most popular composer in this category. A comprehensive biography of the author is being prepared by E. Kamiński.


  • Kaszebskji pjesnjôk. Dzél I, Rogoźno Wlkp. 1935 (32 songs)
  • Moja stegna, Gdańsk 1970 (28 poems)
  • Rodnô Zemia, Gdańsk 1974 (songs arr. by Juliusz Mowiński)
  • Ukłôdk dlô dzôtk, Gdańsk 1975 (9 songs)
  • Odecknienié, Gdańsk 1977
  • Moja chëcz, Gdańsk 1978 (5 songs arr. by Juliusz Mowiński)
  • Lecë choranko, Gdańsk 1980 (85 songs)
  • Ukłôdk dlô dzôtk, Gdańsk 1980 (reprint)
  • Słownik polsko-kaszubski, Gdańsk 1994
  • Lecë choranko. Pieśni kaszubskie, Wejherowo 1997 (extended release accompanied by audio cassette)
  • Hej mòrze, mòrze. Zbiór pieśni 1, Wejherowo 2008
  • Marika. Zbiór pieśni 2, Wejherowo 2008


  • L. Bądkowski, “Zarys historii literatury kaszubskiej”, Gdańsk 1959, 2006
  • F. Neureiter, “Geschichte der Kaschubische Literatur”, München 1978, 1991
  • E. Kamiński (opr.), “Pasja twórczego życia”, Wejherowo 1979 (życiorys)
  • R. Ostrowska, I. Trojanowska, “Bedeker kaszubski”, Gdańsk 1963, 1974, 1979 (krótki życiorys)
  • F. Neureiter, “Historia literatury kaszubskiej. Próba zarysu”, Gdańsk 1982
  • A. Bukowski (opr.), “Literatura polska”, t. I-II, Warszawa 1984- 85
  • J. Drzeżdżon, “Współczesna literatura kaszubska 1945-1980”, Warszawa 1986
  • T. Bolduan, “Nie dali się złamać. Spojrzenie na ruch kaszubski 1939-1995”, Gdańsk 1996
  • R. Osowicka, “Bedeker wejherowski”, Gdańsk 1996, 2002, Wejherowo 2006
  • T. Bolduan, “Nowy bedeker kaszubski”, Gdańsk 1997, 2002
  • J. Treder i in., “Historia, geografia, język i piśmiennictwo Kaszubów”, Gdańsk 1999
  • “Mësla dzecka. Antologiô kaszëbsczich wiérztów dlô dzôtków i młodzëznë”, Banino 2001 (życiorys)
  • J. Kutta, “Druga Rzeczpospolita i Kaszubi 1920-1939”, Bydgoszcz 2003
  • C. Obracht-Prondzyński, “Zjednoczeni w idei. Pięćdziesiąt lat działalności Zrzeszenia Kaszubsko-Pomorskiego (1956-2006) “, Gdańsk 2006
  • “Feliks Marszałkowski i inni Zrzeszińcy a rozwój języka oraz literatury kaszubskiej”, Wejherowo 2008
  • E. Kamiński, “Jubileusz Ogólnopolskich Festiwali Pieśni o Morzu w Wejherowie (1966-2008)”, Wejherowo 2008

Translation: Yurek Hinz

The above article is governed by the *GNU Free Document License* (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) and is a translation of text published in the Free Encyclopedia *Wikipedia* by its author.
Article URL: Jan Trepczyk.

Image from:Dzëczé gãsë”, Wydawnictwo Region, Gdynia 2004