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I recently realized that Dariusz is a) a reasonably popular given name in Poland, and b) sounds a lot like the modern Iranian name Daryush, which is derived from the name of Darius, one of the most famous kings of the (Persian) Akhaemenid Empire and responsible, among other things, for the battle of Marathon.

As far as I can tell, this name is not particularly popular among non-Poles in surrounding countries. However, the wp page about Darius as a given name has a number of entries from Lithuania*, and several from Hungary and Romania.

What is the reason for this popularity? A internet search turned up references to the Anders army, which might be summed up as a plan to evacuate interned Polish soldiers from the Soviet Union to the West during WWII, and which resulted in about 100,000 Polish citizens (both soldiers and civilians) passing through Iran.

However, what I found on the internet did not seem very reliable. Moreover, from what I understand, most of Anders' Army ended up in Western Europe (i.e. not in Poland) after the war. And Poland has a certain tradition of great historic novels and movies, so I imagine it might also be derived from one of these (I am not aware of any such works about Darius, though)


*the popularity of the name Darius in Lithuania is possibly related to Steponas Darius, a Lithuanian pilot who crashed and died in (what is now) Poland during a record-breaking Transatlantic flight attempt in 1933.

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  • You may want to add that the Polish WP article states scarcely sourced that the male version Dariusz gained popularity much later than the female one Daria, ie during the 20th century. Alas, from there it goes to Polish language printed books, somewhat difficult to come by &/or skim through on the net alone… Mar 30, 2022 at 9:44
  • It wasn't only soldiers that ended up in Iran - there were also civilians, which later returned to Poland after the war
    – Yasskier
    Apr 6, 2022 at 1:29
  • @LаngLаngС Darya is also the Persian word for sea.
    – user40948
    Sep 15, 2023 at 10:17

1 Answer 1

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It might be a bit speculative answer, but looking at statistics, it might have a grain of truth:

According to semi-official data, currently in Poland there are approximately 314 thousand males named "Dariusz" of which 120 thousand were born in the 1960s.

Of course, as the OP mentions, "Dariusz" is the Polish version of the Persian "Darius" and in such form, this name is still popular in Iran. So what is the connection between the Iran and Poland?

During the WWII, Poles from the eastern parts of Poland were forced to move deep into Soviet Union, usually to work in Gulags (work camps). In August 1941, shortly after USSR was invaded by Germany, Stalin has agreed to release those prisoners and form the Polish army. A big part of those prisoners, including women and children, were moved to (invaded by British and Soviet forces) Iran.

Iranians openly received the Polish refugees, and the Iranian government facilitated their entry to the country and supplied them with provisions. Polish schools, cultural and educational organizations, shops, bakeries, businesses, and press were established to make the Poles feel more at home.

Starting in 1942, the port city of Pahlevi (now known as Anzali) became the main landing point for Polish refugees coming into Iran from the Soviet Union, receiving up to 2,500 refugees per day. General Anders evacuated 74,000 Polish troops, including approximately 41,000 civilians, many of them children, to Iran. In total, over 116,000 refugees were relocated to Iran. (source)

Now, how is this connected? For people forced to barely survive in Soviet camps, life in Iran must seem like a paradise, so when they've reached the reproduction age (which would be indeed around 1950s-1960s) back in Poland, some of them would choose "Dariusz" (or the female form "Daria") as the name of their children.

Once that "wave" of names has begun, it took a while to stop it, as many people of that name became famous for various reasons, and many people want to name their kids after they favourite sportsman or actor. In the 1980s

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