From the little-known sacrifices of faithful Latter-day Saints isolated in a small branch in Selbongen, Poland, during the mid 1940s through the early 1970s, have come some deeply dedicated members of the Church. (See Gilbert W. Scharffs, “The Branch That Wouldn’t Die,” Ensign, Apr. 1971, pp. 30–33.) Early this year a long-awaited dream came true for them—the Book of Mormon was printed in the Polish language. Now Polish members and nonmembers the world over, at present numbering well over 36,000,000, have a better opportunity to come to know the truths of the restored gospel.
Under the direction of the General Authorities, the Book of Mormon is being made available in each language spoken by members and prospective members of the Church, as soon as it is practical. According to Eb Davis, director of the Translation Division of the Church, this is one of the ways the Church is taking the gospel to all the world. The story behind the translation of the Book of Mormon into Polish is a remarkable example of this inspired work.
The primary figure in the work on the Polish Book of Mormon has been Maria Krolikowska. Born and raised in Poland and converted to the Church in 1966 while in Oxford, England, Maria was prepared in a number of ways to be the main translator. She studied English, Russian, and Spanish languages at a Polish college and university, and later worked as a translator of business correspondence, translating Polish to English and English to Polish. She gained additional experience with the English language while in England, Canada, and the United States in her work as a secretary. Of inestimable value was Maria’s mission for the Church to Alaska-British Columbia and subsequent leadership positions in wards and stakes at Brigham Young University and later in Salt Lake City. These experiences helped her gain a clearer understanding of Church doctrines.
“When the Brethren say, ‘Now we will go in this language,’ we go; and we’re amazed to see, if we do our work well, that the translators are there and they are prepared,” Brother Davis explains. “So when the time came and Poland was opened, a qualified translator—Maria—was ready. It’s a tremendous responsibility to translate the scriptures. They have to be done precisely—there are no liberties that can be taken with the text,” Brother Davis adds. “You have to have the right translator. All I can say is that Maria was led to us.”
According to Irvin B. Nydegger, who recently retired as director of the Translation Division, “Maria just walked into the office one day. She was then interested in studying nursing and had no thought whatsoever of what was ahead of her as a translator of the Book of Mormon. As we got to know her, we felt that she was to be the main translator. In translation work we do a lot of worrying, a lot of thinking, a lot of praying in order to find the right people.”
“As a translator I believe that the language used should be familiar and comfortable for people to read, so that it can speak to their hearts,” Maria says. “When we translate scriptures we try to be very strict. The translation must be literal, but it also must allow for the people to understand the spirit of the scripture and thus recognize and accept the truthfulness of it. While translating the scriptures, I learned a lot more about understanding the gospel, about understanding the Book of Mormon. I came to know what it means to know with all my heart that it is the word of God. My greatest satisfaction and reward is that my people will be able to understand this book of scripture and say, ‘It is true.’”
According to Maria, it has been only in the last few years in Poland, a strongly Roman Catholic country, that most of the people have been interested in discussing religion. Until recently the only Bible known to Catholics there was a sixteenth-century translation by Wujek, a Roman Catholic priest. During her work on the Book of Mormon, Maria became aware of three new Polish translations of the Bible, which had recently been published to celebrate one-thousand years of Catholicism in Poland. Two of the editions are in the contemporary language. Now that the Book of Mormon in Polish has been added to that body of scripture, Polish people have the privilege of learning more fully the history of the Lord’s work.
The translation of the Book of Mormon into Polish has involved a number of people in addition to Maria, among them reviewers and revisers, as well as the many people who were part of the printing and publishing process.
Because of the work of Maria Krolikowska and others, three thousand copies of the Polish Book of Mormon are now available to Polish-speaking people; more will be printed as the need arises. An encouraging result of their work is that the Translation Division was able to obtain permission from the Polish government to distribute the book in Poland. Copies are now available at the newly established Church information center in Warsaw. The book can also be obtained from the Salt Lake City Distribution Center (1999 West 1700 South, Salt Lake City, Utah 84104), and from or through other distribution centers worldwide.
The Polish Book of Mormon is one of the Church’s most recent translations of this latter-day scripture. During the 1850s it was translated into Danish, German, French, Italian, Welsh, and Hawaiian. The late 1800s saw translations into Swedish, Spanish, Maori, and Dutch. In the 1900s the book was printed in such languages as Samoan, Turkish, Armenian, Portuguese, Tongan, Norwegian, Rarotonga, Chinese, Afrikaans, Thai, and Hungarian. By 1980 it had been translated into Bulgarian, Navajo, Quichua-Ecuador, Arabic, Czech, Vietnamese, and Fijian, among others. The year 1981 saw the publication of this scripture into still more languages: Catalan, Russian, Icelandic, Niuean, Quechua-Bolivia, Cuna, Romanian, Polish, and Hebrew. Translation into additional languages continues to move forward as missionaries take the gospel to still more areas of the world.