The Foreign Service Journal, October 2022

68 OCTOBER 2022 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL Retired Senior Foreign Service Officer Jonathan B. Rickert spent the majority of his 35-year career in or dealing with Central and Eastern Europe. His final two overseas posts were as deputy chief of mission in Sofia and then Bucharest. I n June 1995, while I was still serving in Bucha- rest before taking over as director in the State Department’s Office of North Central European Affairs, I made a brief familiarization visit to Warsaw. Though Poland was by far the most popu- lous and, in some ways, most important country in what was to be my new portfolio, I had never been there before. Among those whom I encountered at the embassy during my ori- entation meetings was my old friend, U.S. Defense Attaché Col. Branko Marinovich. It was a pleasure to see the Montenegro-born Branko again—he had been our next-door neighbor in Bucharest for about two years and was an enthusiastic antiquer. He kindly offered to showme around town a bit after I had finished my program for the day. While perambulating, Branko took me to an antique store in the completely and beautifully rebuilt old town area of The Swedish Cannonball BY JONATHAN B . R I CKERT Warsaw. He wanted to showme some- thing special there, he said, with a twinkle in his eye. On the floor of the store was a large carton filled with baseball-sized, old- looking iron spheres: cannonballs. Branko pointed to the English-lan- guage, photocopied “certificate of authen- ticity” accompanying each projectile. It read: “Authentic XVII c. cannonball used by Swedish artillery during the siege of Czestochowa [1654, sic ].”The price of each was the equivalent of about $5. Know- ing of my Swedish connections (my wife, Gerd, hails from there), Branko urged me to buy one. As I learned subsequently through some online research, the Swedish siege of Czestochowa (more accurately, the siege of the Jasna Gora Monastery), which took place in late 1655 during the Second Northern War or Deluge (1655-1660), was an important event in Polish history. It pitted the Protestant Swedes and their allies against the Roman Catholic Poles and theirs. The fortified monastery and home to the famous Black Madonna icon was stoutly defended by a small band of monks and volunteers. This band successfully held off a much more numerous Swedish-led force, largely comprising German and other mercenar- ies. Both sides used cannons, mainly four- and six-pounders on the Swedish side (the cannonball I obtained weighs just over four pounds). The Protestant forces withdrew after five weeks or so without having achieved their objective, proving a significant victory for the Poles. Though intrigued, I told Branko that I thought cannonballs available in that REFLECTIONS JONATHANRICKERT