In the interwar period, as well as in the first years after the Second World War, research and teaching activities in crystallography were traditionally conducted in Poland in mineralogy departments. In the early 1950s, however, it turned out that the mineralogy departments with their own problems could not meet the tasks and needs resulting from the rapid development of chemistry and physics. Knowledge of the crystal structure of new materials and chemical compounds became essential, and for this purpose new methods of X-ray structure analysis had to be used. Professor Włodzimierz Trzebiatowski was the first to understand it, and we owe his initiative to the beginnings of modern crystallography and structure analysis in Poland. Thanks to the Professor's efforts, the Scientific Secretariat of the 3rd Department of the Polish Academy of Sciences established the Commission of Crystallography of the Polish Academy of Sciences, composed of:

Prof. dr Włodzimierz Trzebiatowski - chairman
Dr. Kazimierz Łukaszewicz - secretary
Doc. Dr. Julian Auleytner
Prof. Dr. Zbigniew Bojarski
Prof. Dr. Antoni Łaszkiewicz

The Secretariat of the Department authorized the Commission to expand its composition and establish the following sections:

Section of Structure Analysis
Dr. Kazimierz Łukaszewicz - chairman
Doc. Dr Maria Bukowska-Strzyżewska
Dr. Zdzisław Gałdecki
Dr. Zygmunt Kałuski
Dr. Janusz Leciejewicz

Section of Physical Crystallography and Defects in Crystals
Doc. dr Julian Auleytner - chairman
Prof. Dr. Bronisław Buras
Doc. Dr. Józef Chojnacki
Dr. Józef Damm

Section of Crystal Growth
Prof. dr Antoni Łaszkiewicz - chairman
Dr. Robert Gałązka
Dr. Andrzej Modrzejewski
Dr. Tadeusz Niemyski
Doc. Dr. Wiesław Wardzyński

Simultaneously with the establishment of the Crystallography Commission, the National Committee for the International Union of Crystallography was established. Thanks to the efforts of the Committee, Poland was admitted to this organization at the VII International Congress of Crystallography in Moscow in July 1966. The composition of the National Committee was the same as the composition of the Presidium of the Crystallography Commission, which greatly facilitated the work, as a number of domestic issues also concerned the problems of scientific cooperation with foreign countries.

Already in the first year of operation, on September 4-30, 1967, the Crystallography Commission organized in Ustroń, with the participation of eminent Soviet specialists, the 1st Summer School of X-ray Structure Analysis. The school lasted four weeks and ended with a verification test. The school in Ustroń was a success, and the next Crystallography Schools, thanks to outstanding scholars coming to us from both the East and the West, achieved higher and higher levels.

In the next term of office, 1969-1971, the Crystallography Commission comprises 4 sections. The Applied Crystallography Section, headed by Prof. Dr. Zbigniew Bojarski, and the chairmanship of the Crystal Growth Section, after the prematurely deceased professor Antoni Łaszkiewicz, covers from November 12, 1971, Doc. Dr. Józef Żmija. In the next term of office, 1972-1974, Doc. Dr Kazimierz Łukaszewicz, deputy chairman Prof. Dr. Julian Auleytner, and Adam Pietraszko as the secretary.

Particular Sections conducted a lively and largely independent activity. The Section of Structure Analysis took care of the X-ray Meetings (later renamed Crystallographic Meetings - Konwersatoria), organized annually in Wrocław at the Institute of Low Temperature and Structural Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Specialist nationwide seminars devoted to current problems were also organized. The Section of Physical Crystallography and Defects in Crystals, in cooperation with the Institute of Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Polish Physical Society, organized summer schools in the field of its interests. The Section of Applied Crystallography dealt with the dissemination of applied X-ray methods in the country and the improvement of the qualifications of specialists in this field of knowledge by organizing specialist scientific conferences and consulting and information activities. The section provided scientific supervision and co-organized the conference "X-ray Structure Analysis in Metallurgy and Metallography" held every two years at the Institute of Ferrous Metallurgy in Gliwice.

The didactic work and scientific activity required ordering the Polish crystallographic vocabulary. In 1970, a team of authors (Z. Bojarski, A. Łaszkiewicz and K. Łukaszewicz), on behalf of the Commission, developed a glossary of crystallographic terms in Polish, English and Russian, published by Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe. The next, extended edition of the glossary of crystallographic terms in the English-Polish version was published in 1990 by the Institute of Low Temperatures and Structurel Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences. The Crystallography Commission has repeatedly analyzed the progress of scientific work in the field of crystallography in Poland. Thanks to this work, crystallographic problems have taken their rightful place in the national research plans.

The activity of the Crystallography Commission cannot be separated from the work of the National Committee for the International Union of Crystallography. The Committee was in constant contact with the Union's authorities, informing Polish crystallographers about the current state and plans in the field of international cooperation in the field of crystallography, at the same time seeking the support and assistance of the Union in our plans. This was facilitated by the fact that Doc. Dr. Kazimierz Łukaszewicz became a member of the Executive Committee of the Union in 1972-1978, and several Polish crystallographers participated in the work of the Union commission.
In 1975, Department III of the Polish Academy of Sciences elevated the Crystallography Commission to the rank of the Committee for Crystallography of the Polish Academy of Sciences. The existing sections carried out the same activities as before, and the Presidium of the Committee continued to perform the functions of the National Committee for the International Union of Crystallography.

Crystallographic research conducted in Poland has gained international recognition. The Union entrusted Poland with the organization of the XI International Congress of Crystallography in 1978 in Warsaw. We had the opportunity to present our achievements to guests from all over the world. The European Crystallographic Committee (ECC) coordinated international cooperation in the field of crystallography in Europe. As an expression of our activity in international cooperation, we entrusted professor Kazimierz Łukaszewicz with the function of the chairman of the European Crystallographic Committee (ECC) during the 1984-1987 term. As international crystallography congresses are traditionally held every three years, and in the years when there is no congress, the European Crystallography Committee commissioned individual countries to organize European Crystallography Conferences. Commissioned by the ECC, the European Crystallographic Conference ECM 10 was organized in Wrocław in 1986.

In 1997, a decision was made to transform the European Crystallographic Committee (ECC) into the European Crystallographic Association (ECA). At the request of the European Crystallographic Association, the 20th European Crystallographic Conference, ECM 20, was held in Krakow on August 25-31, 2001.

Kazimierz Łukaszewicz


Committee in the 21st century

In 2000, the Committee for Crystallography, as a whole, took over from the Section of Structure Analysis the organization of the annual Crystallographic Meeting. In 2007, the Polish Crystallographic Society joined the organizers of this extremely important event for the Polish crystallographic environment. Special half-day Scientific Sessions of PTK were organized on selected, current topics, and since 2008 - full-day practical workshops for students, doctoral students and young scientists.

In May 2003, after the election of the new authorities of the Committee, Prof. Kazimierz Łukaszewicz resigned after many years, and this function was taken over by Prof. Adam Pietraszko and held it for two terms until 2011. Prof. Łukaszewicz was awarded the title of Honorary Chairman. He held this position until his death, on May 23, 2016. He was the last living member of the Crystallography Commission of the Polish Academy of Sciences, established in 1966. Professors Włodzimierz Trzebiatowski and Antoni Łaszkiewicz died in the 1980s, and we said goodbye to professors Julian Auleytner and Zbigniew Bojarski in 2003 and 2010.

2008 was a year of a double jubilee: the International Union of Crystallography celebrated its 60th anniversary, and the 50th edition of the Polish Crystallographic Meeting. On this occasion, the ceremonial session of the conference was held in the Knight's Hall of the Wrocław City Hall with the participation of the authorities of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the city of Wrocław.

In the elections in December 2011, a new presidium of the Committee was elected, composed of:

Prof. dr hab. Maria Gdaniec - chairman,
Prof. dr hab. Janusz Lipkowski - vice-chairman,
Prof. dr hab. Urszula Rychlewska - secretary,
Prof. dr hab. Grzegorz Bujacz,
Prof. dr hab. Adam Pietraszko,
Dr hab. Danuta Stróż,
Prof. dr hab. Andrzej Szytuła,
Prof. dr hab. Józef Żmija,

which started work on two important undertakings of the Committee in the 2012-2015 term: preparation of the events of the International Year of Crystallography 2014 and the National Crystallography Olympiad.

The Internayional Year of Crystallography 2014 resulted in numerous lectures, papers, competitions, and exhibitions for young people and adult audiences. A commemorative plaque was unveiled in Max Laue's hometown - Poznań, and crystals and crystallography were discussed at many science festivals across the country.

An important event of the Year of Crystallography was the 1st National Crystallography Olympiad organized by the Commission of the Crystallography Committee headed by Dr. hab. Edward Michalski. The successful finals of the Olympiad were played in Wrocław in June 2014, and it was decided to organize the Olympiad in a two-year cycle. The 2nd edition took place in 2016, 3rd in 2018.

In 2014, the authorities of the Polish Academy of Sciences conducted an assessment of the activities of scientific committees, as a result of which the Committee for Crystallography was classified as very good 2nd among the scientific committees of Division III - Natural Sciences and Geosciences - PAS.

In 2016, elections to the Committee for the 2016-2019 term were held, as a result of which Prof. Marek Wołcyrz became the chairman, and Prof. Marek Główka becomes the vice-chairman. The most important undertakings of the Committee for this term of office were the conduct of the 3rd National Crystallographic Olympiad in 2018 and, in cooperation with the Polish Crystallographic Society, the Joint Polish-German Crystallographic Conference in Wrocław (February 23-27, 2020), which this year replaced both the Polish Crystallographic Meeting and the Congress of the German Crystallographic Society. The conference ended just before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

At the turn of 2019 and 2020, elections for the 2020-23 term were held in accordance with the new electoral law online. Due to the Covid-19 epidemic, the inaugural meeting of the Committee was held on May 13, 2020 in the form of an online conference. The chairman of the Committee was again prof. Marek Wołcyrz, deputy chairman prof. Krzysztof Woźniak, and the secretary is dr. hab. Marek Daszkiewicz. The plenary meeting resolved to introduce a new structure of the Committee, divided into 5 sections, which was to reflect the interdisciplinary nature of crystallography:
1. Biological and medical crystallography section – chairman: prof. Grzegorz Bujacz
2. Section of chemical and pharmaceutical crystallography – chairman: prof. Michał Cyranski
3. Physical crystallography section – chairman: prof. Wojciech Paszkowicz
4. Section of crystallography in materials science and technology - chairman: prof. Zbigniew Kaszkur
5. Section of theory, methodology and didactics of crystallography - chairperson: dr hab. Elżbieta Bartozak-Adamska

The term was marked by three editions of the Polish Crystallographic Meeting (in 2021 and 2022 in remote mode in cooperation with INTiBS PAN and the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw, and in 2023 again in stationary mode in cooperation with INTiBS PAN and the Wrocław University of Science and Technology. A special feature of the Meetings was the participation of a very significant number of PhD students and senior students. Two editions of the National Crystallography Olympiad were also held, the 4th in 2021 (remotely) and the 5th in 2023 (on-site). The Commission for the Crystallography Olympiad was chaired by prof. Jarosław Chojnacki.

Another important initiative of the Committee is the annual awards for the best publications of Polish crystallographers, "Crystallographic Diamonds", awarded annually since 2017. "Diamonds" have become valued awards, especially among young Polish crystallographers.

The Committee supported the efforts of Polish crystallographers to participate in thematic commissions of the International Union of Crystallography by supporting them and sending applications to the Union's Executive Committee. Thanks to the support of the Committee, Polish crystallography can boast of a large, approximately 20-person representation of scientists operating in this organization.

After Russia's attack on Ukraine in February 2022, the Committee decided to strongly protest by submitting, together with the French committee, a request to the International Union of Crystallography to suspend Russia from the rights of a member of this organization. At the same time, the IUCr Bulletin published an article about the war in Ukraine by prof. Wojciech Paszkowicz. Unfortunately, the Committee's efforts were unsuccessful: at the Union congress in Melbourne in August 2023, the proposal was rejected by a large majority.

In the first twenty years of the 21st century, the Committee supported dozens of schools and scientific conferences, popularized crystallography at various forums, commented on the level of crystallography teaching at Polish universities, and supported the efforts of Polish scientists to gain access to modern research centers and current scientific information. Above all, however, it served as a meeting place and a forum for exchanging views of all Polish crystallographers.

Marek Wołcyrz