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"Amnesty"

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  • Mark and Oyun
    Dear Group, I know we have all become accustomed to adding the inverted comas to the word amnesty when we talk about THE amnesty of 1941 as if to denote some
    Message 1 of 8 , Mar 31, 2012
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      Dear Group,

      I know we have all become accustomed to adding the inverted comas to the word "amnesty" when we talk about THE amnesty of 1941 as if to denote some ironic Soviet perversion in the usage. Here's something to consider: Dr Joseph Retinger, the Eminence Grise of the exile government, puts the responsibility for using the word "amnesty" rather than "release"   entirely on the Polish side and not on Moscow.

      In his memoirs Retinger writes; "I am afraid that the responsibility for this lies on the shoulders of a good Polish diplomat, Mr Potulicki, who drafted this document.". According to Retinger, Potulicki had erroneously used the word "amnesty" and not "release" in the text of the treaty and there was no time to change the document before the signing took place.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amnesty_for_Polish_citizens_in_the_Soviet_Union citing: Retinger, Joseph (1972). Memoirs of an Eminence Grise. pages 119 - 120: Sussex University Press. pp. 265. ISBN 0856210021.

      Just an observation. I don't have a copy of Retinger's book, but it would be interesting to confirm this.

      Best regards, Mark Ostrowski

    • stefan.wisniowski@kresy-siberia.org
      Hi Mark Just shows you how language can be so important. Do you think that the Soviet side questioned the incorrect usage and the Polish side rejected changing
      Message 2 of 8 , Mar 31, 2012
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        Hi Mark

        Just shows you how language can be so important.  Do you think that the Soviet side questioned the incorrect usage and the Polish side rejected changing the language?  I doubt it!

        Of course, the word "amnesty" remains a perversion, whoever is responsible, and shall remain treated as such by us whose families were its beneficiaries.

        Kind regards,
        Stefan Wisniowski
        Sydney Australia

        -------- Original Message --------
        Subject: [Kresy-Siberia (est.2001)] "Amnesty"
        From: "Mark and Oyun" <mark_oyun@...>
        Date: Sat, March 31, 2012 6:36 pm
        To: Kresy-Siberia@yahoogroups.com

         
        Dear Group,
        I know we have all become accustomed to adding the inverted comas to the word "amnesty" when we talk about THE amnesty of 1941 as if to denote some ironic Soviet perversion in the usage. Here's something to consider: Dr Joseph Retinger, the Eminence Grise of the exile government, puts the responsibility for using the word "amnesty" rather than "release"   entirely on the Polish side and not on Moscow.
        In his memoirs Retinger writes; "I am afraid that the responsibility for this lies on the shoulders of a good Polish diplomat, Mr Potulicki, who drafted this document.". According to Retinger, Potulicki had erroneously used the word "amnesty" and not "release" in the text of the treaty and there was no time to change the document before the signing took place.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amnesty_for_Polish_citizens_in_the_Soviet_Union citing: Retinger, Joseph (1972). Memoirs of an Eminence Grise. pages 119 - 120: Sussex University Press. pp. 265. ISBN 0856210021.
        Just an observation. I don't have a copy of Retinger's book, but it would be interesting to confirm this.
        Best regards, Mark Ostrowski
      • Mark and Oyun
        Dear Stefan, Do you think that the Soviet side questioned the incorrect usage and the Polish side rejected changing the language? Quite so. From their
        Message 3 of 8 , Mar 31, 2012
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          Dear Stefan,
           
          Do you think that the Soviet side questioned the incorrect usage and the Polish side rejected changing the language?  Quite so.  From their twisted Soviet  logic it was the correct word to use. It is just unfortunate that the Polish side couldn't have come up with an alternative before the fact. We seem stuck with it now. My point is simply to point out that is was more a linguistic inexactitude rather than the cynical word play it has come to represent. Certainly the Soviets did not question it, but they wouldn't would they!? If Retinger is to be believed, we/our side/the Polish side should have given it a little more thought. As you rightly say, language is important, and posterity is unforgiving.
           
          Best regards, Mark Ostrowski
        • John Halucha
          Well said, Stefan. No matter who is responsible for the term amnesty it is understood by most English-speakers as forgiveness for wrongdoing. Since Polish
          Message 4 of 8 , Mar 31, 2012
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            Well said, Stefan.
            No matter who is responsible for the term "amnesty" it is understood by most English-speakers as forgiveness for wrongdoing. Since Polish people who were deported, arrested, imprisoned, enslaved and/or murdered by the Soviet regime were the victims of wrongdoing as opposed to the perpetrators of wrongdoing, I absolutely will continue to use inverted commas around "amnesty" to indicate its inappropriate use.

            Your background information and explanation is fascinating, Mark. I'm not clear to me whether the document was written in Polish and then translated to English and Russian by Mr. Potulicki, but we can hope that a Polish version exists someplace and the wording is more appropriate.
            Isn't it ironic that "amnesty", which has garnered such contempt for so long, might just be the result of a well-meaning Polish diplomat for whom English was a second language relying on a Polish-English dictionary? Any of us who have seen the Google translator in action can appreciate how dangerous that can be.

            Stefan, I also strongly support your point that language is important and Mark, I like how you put it in your response: "As you rightly say, language is important, and posterity is unforgiving."
            That's why I believe it's necessary to challenge not only abominations like "Polish death camp" in reference to Nazi installations in German-occupied Poland, but also more subtle inaccuracies like "the Germans invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941," which endorses the Soviet-Nazi view that our Kresy became part of the USSR upon unilateral annexation in 1939. We on this forum know different - this territory remained a part of Poland until 1945 when the puppet government installed in Warsaw by Stalin signed it over. Prior to that it was occupied in turn by the Soviets, Germans and Soviets again, but it remained Poland in the eyes of the Poles, British, Americans and virtually all the rest of the world until 1945. The revisionist distortion that it was already part of the USSR as of 1939 seeks to let Churchill and Roosevelt off the hook for colluding to hand this territory to Stalin, affecting the lives of millions.
            This mistake and related errors have been made so frequently that they are repeated even by the likes of Timothy Snyder, who makes them frequently in Bloodlands although he also correctly describes the Kresy as occupied Poland elsewhere in the book. It is particularly ironic because Snyder makes a strong statement on the importance of correct terms. Letting this slide is demonstrating the accuracy of Mark's observation that posterity is unforgiving.

            John Halucha
            Sault Ste Marie, Canada


            From: "stefan.wisniowski@..." <stefan.wisniowski@...>
            To: Kresy-Siberia@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Saturday, March 31, 2012 5:40:34 AM
            Subject: RE: [Kresy-Siberia (est.2001)] "Amnesty"
            Hi Mark
            Just shows you how language can be so important.  Do you think that the Soviet side questioned the incorrect usage and the Polish side rejected changing the language?  I doubt it!
            Of course, the word "amnesty" remains a perversion, whoever is responsible, and shall remain treated as such by us whose families were its beneficiaries.
            Kind regards,
            Stefan Wisniowski
            Sydney Australia

            -------- Original Message --------
            Subject: [Kresy-Siberia (est.2001)] "Amnesty"
            From: "Mark and Oyun" <mark_oyun@...>
            Date: Sat, March 31, 2012 6:36 pm
            To: Kresy-Siberia@yahoogroups.com
             
            Dear Group,
            I know we have all become accustomed to adding the inverted comas to the word "amnesty" when we talk about THE amnesty of 1941 as if to denote some ironic Soviet perversion in the usage. Here's something to consider: Dr Joseph Retinger, the Eminence Grise of the exile government, puts the responsibility for using the word "amnesty" rather than "release"   entirely on the Polish side and not on Moscow.
            In his memoirs Retinger writes; "I am afraid that the responsibility for this lies on the shoulders of a good Polish diplomat, Mr Potulicki, who drafted this document.". According to Retinger, Potulicki had erroneously used the word "amnesty" and not "release" in the text of the treaty and there was no time to change the document before the signing took place.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amnesty_for_Polish_citizens_in_the_Soviet_Union citing: Retinger, Joseph (1972). Memoirs of an Eminence Grise. pages 119 - 120: Sussex University Press. pp. 265. ISBN 0856210021.
            Just an observation. I don't have a copy of Retinger's book, but it would be interesting to confirm this.
            Best regards, Mark Ostrowski
          • Mark and Oyun
            Dear John, Whilst I agree with your comments, I would just add that my interest in this is simply an academic point. Being a native English speaker I can see
            Message 5 of 8 , Mar 31, 2012
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              Dear John,

              Whilst I agree with your comments, I would just add that my interest in this is simply an academic point. Being a native English speaker I can see why we use the "__", but my question is when did we [and by we I mean the Polish community at large] start using the inverted comas in a Polish language context? I think the original problem was the lack of a good Polish/Russian dictionary.  

               

              Are the inverted comas a post-war construct or were they generally used at the time? The irony must surely have been apparent to everyone, even in 1941, but I can find little evidence to show this. http://www.pism.co.uk/archive/A7-307-documents.html , the Polish Government files of the Delegatura, frequently use the term as in ...the amnestying of Polish citizens...

              ... there are 1,200 amnestied special-settlers...

              ... the distribution of amnesty "udostowierenij" [the inverted comas here are used to denote the Russian word for identity papers written in Polish].

              ...to speed up the release of amnestied Polish citizens from prisons and camps.

               

              There are literally hundreds of examples of the use of the word amnesty in Polish in its verb/noun and adjectival form; and not an ounce of irony anywhere. My, albeit small and unscientific survey only found one example of the comas at:

              http://pism.co.uk/A7307/A7_307_13a.pdf [Document 8].  This delegate writes... the so called "amnesty" Apart from this, the word is used in a matter of fact way. Given that the people writing were in the Soviet Union and had a very good idea of what they were talking about, why did they continue to use this word with no correction or comment? It's not as if they were worried about the Russians actually reading these documents. The reports are a sad account of death, murder and repression which surely would have caused more problems to the writers than a couple of comas. 

              From another source, take this example, [my translation]...:

               

              12.VIII.1941 Today, at last, it was announced on the radio that the Supreme Soviet, as per the Soviet-Polish agreement,  has declared an amnesty for all Poles. We have been pardoned for being Poles fulfilling our duty to our country. What an irony. We have been forgiven our undeserved "guilt".

              Chronicle of the 13 Wilenski Rifle Battalion, 5th Kresowa Infantry Division, 1941 - V.1944 http://pism.co.uk/C/C129I.pdf

              The meaning is spot on, but the word amnesty is without the irony comas... the word "guilt" has them.

               

              As I said above, my sampling is rather small and I may be missing something, but when did "amnesty" become common currency? Melchior Wankowicz uses the comas in Bitwa o Monte Cassino, Page 289. [Rome, 1945].  He calls it a sneering word.  Ramie Pancerne, 2 Polskiego Korpusu [Rome, 1946] also says "amnesty". Both of these works were post-war. Does anyone have any other, earlier sources?

               

              Best regards, Mark Ostrowski

               

            • Dan Ford
              Well, it could be that the question answers itself. People all the time use words wrongly, because others around them are doing the same. In American usage,
              Message 6 of 8 , Mar 31, 2012
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                Well, it could be that the question answers itself. People all the time
                use words wrongly, because others around them are doing the same. In
                American usage, almost everyone calls a chaise longue a chaise LOUNGE.
                Almost everyone uses decimate to mean destroyed when it actually means
                killing one out of ten. Almost everyone says careen when they mean
                career (a verb, as in "he careened along the highway").

                Besides, if I were in the Gulag and somebody came up to me and said,
                "Okay, here's an amnesty, you can go home now (if you can get there)," I
                would be more inclined to hug him around the neck than to correct his
                choice of words. -- Dan Ford, New Hampshire USA

                On 3/31/2012 4:50 PM, Mark and Oyun wrote:
                > Given that the people writing were in the Soviet Union and had a very
                > good idea of what they were talking about, why did they continue to
                > use this word with no correction or comment?
              • John Halucha
                Dear Mark, I appreciate your academic interest in amnesty and am surely not alone hoping you will continue to share your findings here. Incidentally, kudos
                Message 7 of 8 , Apr 1 1:56 PM
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                  Dear Mark,
                  I appreciate your academic interest in "amnesty" and am surely not alone hoping you will continue to share your findings here.
                  Incidentally, kudos for your use of the inverted commas in this context in your thesis published at

                  Do you know if the Polish version of the "amnesty" agreement uses "amnestia"? If so, can you or anyone else with greater proficiency than mine in Polish say whether it shares the English meaning of "pardon for an offence"?
                  In your example from 12.VIII.1941, it is not only "amnesty" but also "pardon" that could take inverted commas. Why the writer chose to reserve them only for "guilt" is a mystery to me because of the inconsistency, but maybe he fully intended the effect of that punctuation reserved just for the end to highlight the absurdity of the terms used without the punctuation earlier. It's almost poetic.
                  I agree with Dan that anyone who survived incarceration/enslavement by the Soviets was unlikely to have argued about terms. They would have focused what energy they had left to see if they actually could take advantage of the opportunity to leave and to live. Still, language is important and we have the ability to consider it today without those pressing priorities.

                  John Halucha
                  Sault Ste Marie, Canada


                  From: Mark and Oyun <mark_oyun@...>
                  To: Kresy-Siberia@yahoogroups.com
                  Sent: Saturday, March 31, 2012 4:50:47 PM
                  Subject: [Kresy-Siberia (est.2001)] Re: "Amnesty"

                   
                  Dear John,
                  Whilst I agree with your comments, I would just add that my interest in this is simply an academic point. Being a native English speaker I can see why we use the "__", but my question is when did we [and by we I mean the Polish community at large] start using the inverted comas in a Polish language context? I think the original problem was the lack of a good Polish/Russian dictionary.  
                   
                  Are the inverted comas a post-war construct or were they generally used at the time? The irony must surely have been apparent to everyone, even in 1941, but I can find little evidence to show this. http://www.pism.co.uk/archive/A7-307-documents.html , the Polish Government files of the Delegatura, frequently use the term as in ...the amnestying of Polish citizens...
                  ... there are 1,200 amnestied special-settlers...
                  ... the distribution of amnesty "udostowierenij" [the inverted comas here are used to denote the Russian word for identity papers written in Polish].
                  ...to speed up the release of amnestied Polish citizens from prisons and camps.
                   
                  There are literally hundreds of examples of the use of the word amnesty in Polish in its verb/noun and adjectival form; and not an ounce of irony anywhere. My, albeit small and unscientific survey only found one example of the comas at:
                  http://pism.co.uk/A7307/A7_307_13a.pdf [Document 8].  This delegate writes... the so called "amnesty" Apart from this, the word is used in a matter of fact way. Given that the people writing were in the Soviet Union and had a very good idea of what they were talking about, why did they continue to use this word with no correction or comment? It's not as if they were worried about the Russians actually reading these documents. The reports are a sad account of death, murder and repression which surely would have caused more problems to the writers than a couple of comas. 
                  From another source, take this example, [my translation]...:
                   
                  12.VIII.1941 Today, at last, it was announced on the radio that the Supreme Soviet, as per the Soviet-Polish agreement,  has declared an amnesty for all Poles. We have been pardoned for being Poles fulfilling our duty to our country. What an irony. We have been forgiven our undeserved "guilt".
                  Chronicle of the 13 Wilenski Rifle Battalion, 5th Kresowa Infantry Division, 1941 - V.1944 http://pism.co.uk/C/C129I.pdf
                  The meaning is spot on, but the word amnesty is without the irony comas... the word "guilt" has them.
                   
                  As I said above, my sampling is rather small and I may be missing something, but when did "amnesty" become common currency? Melchior Wankowicz uses the comas in Bitwa o Monte Cassino, Page 289. [Rome, 1945].  He calls it a sneering word.  Ramie Pancerne, 2 Polskiego Korpusu [Rome, 1946] also says "amnesty". Both of these works were post-war. Does anyone have any other, earlier sources?
                   
                  Best regards, Mark Ostrowski
                   


                • ryszardsys
                  Certainly on both my grandfathers release papers, the word амністыя (amnestya) is clearly shown. Maybe this was a very clever move by this diplomat
                  Message 8 of 8 , Apr 1 11:50 PM
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                    Certainly on both my grandfathers "release" papers, the word амністыя (amnestya) is clearly shown.

                    Maybe this was a very clever move by this diplomat when he used the word amnesty as by definition, an amnesty clears any record of a criminal offence having been commited whereas a pardon simply forgives that offence and a release simply keeps the offence, simply letting you out early.

                    My Sys-Grandfather had been "convicted" of belonging to the Polish Army and was sentenced to 10 years hard labour (in Kolo). If he had been simply released or pardoned then the "offence" of belonging to the Polish Army would still exist whereas the amnesty meant that it was not an offence.

                    I know my Koziol-Grandfather thought it was all a paper exercise anyway as he thought the Russians had helpfully removed him from his home to protect him from the Germans as evidenced by the Germans killing his brothers family when they finally invaded "Belarus". Incidentally, he thought himself as a White Russian anyway. I remember his argument was that he had been born in Russia (as it was in 1900) and that the last time it was "Poland" it was actually Lithuania !

                    Rys
                    UK



                    --- In Kresy-Siberia@yahoogroups.com, John Halucha <john.halucha@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > Dear Mark,
                    > I appreciate your academic interest in "amnesty" and am surely not alone hoping you will continue to share your findings here.
                    > Incidentally, kudos for your use of the inverted commas in this context in your thesis published at
                    > http://www.angelfire.com/ok2/polisharmy/abstract.html%c3%82%c2%a0
                    >
                    >
                    > Do you know if the Polish version of the "amnesty" agreement uses "amnestia"? If so, can you or anyone else with greater proficiency than mine in Polish say whether it shares the English meaning of "pardon for an offence"?
                    > In your example from 12.VIII.1941, it is not only "amnesty" but also "pardon" that could take inverted commas. Why the writer chose to reserve them only for "guilt" is a mystery to me because of the inconsistency, but maybe he fully intended the effect of that punctuation reserved just for the end to highlight the absurdity of the terms used without the punctuation earlier. It's almost poetic.
                    >
                    > I agree with Dan that anyone who survived incarceration/enslavement by the Soviets was unlikely to have argued about terms. They would have focused what energy they had left to see if they actually could take advantage of the opportunity to leave and to live. Still, language is important and we have the ability to consider it today without those pressing priorities.
                    >
                    >
                    > John Halucha
                    > Sault Ste Marie, Canada
                    >
                    >
                    > ________________________________
                    > From: Mark and Oyun <mark_oyun@...>
                    > To: Kresy-Siberia@yahoogroups.com
                    > Sent: Saturday, March 31, 2012 4:50:47 PM
                    > Subject: [Kresy-Siberia (est.2001)] Re: "Amnesty"
                    >
                    >
                    >  
                    > Dear John,
                    > Whilst I agree with your comments, I would just add that my interest in this is simply an academic point. Being a native English speaker I can see why we use the "__", but my question is when did we [and by we I mean the Polish community at large] start using the inverted comas in a Polish language context? I think the original problem was the lack of a good Polish/Russian dictionary.  
                    >  
                    > Are the inverted comas a post-war construct or were they generally used at the time? The irony must surely have been apparent to everyone, even in 1941, but I can find little evidence to show this. http://www.pism.co.uk/archive/A7-307-documents.html , the Polish Government files of the Delegatura, frequently use the term as in ...the amnestying of Polish citizens...
                    > ... there are 1,200 amnestied special-settlers...
                    > ... the distribution of amnesty "udostowierenij" [the inverted comas here are used to denote the Russian word for identity papers written in Polish].
                    > ...to speed up the release of amnestied Polish citizens from prisons and camps.
                    >  
                    > There are literally hundreds of examples of the use of the word amnesty in Polish in its verb/noun and adjectival form; and not an ounce of irony anywhere. My, albeit small and unscientific survey only found one example of the comas at:
                    > http://pism.co.uk/A7307/A7_307_13a.pdf [Document 8].  This delegate writes... the so called "amnesty" Apart from this, the word is used in a matter of fact way. Given that the people writing were in the Soviet Union and had a very good idea of what they were talking about, why did they continue to use this word with no correction or comment? It's not as if they were worried about the Russians actually reading these documents. The reports are a sad account of death, murder and repression which surely would have caused more problems to the writers than a couple of comas. 
                    > From another source, take this example, [my translation]...:
                    >  
                    > 12.VIII.1941 Today, at last, it was announced on the radio that the Supreme Soviet, as per the Soviet-Polish agreement,  has declared an amnesty for all Poles. We have been pardoned for being Poles fulfilling our duty to our country. What an irony. We have been forgiven our undeserved "guilt".
                    > Chronicle of the 13 Wilenski Rifle Battalion, 5th Kresowa Infantry Division, 1941 - V.1944 http://pism.co.uk/C/C129I.pdf
                    > The meaning is spot on, but the word amnesty is without the irony comas... the word "guilt" has them.
                    >  
                    > As I said above, my sampling is rather small and I may be missing something, but when did "amnesty" become common currency? Melchior Wankowicz uses the comas in Bitwa o Monte Cassino, Page 289. [Rome, 1945].  He calls it a sneering word.  Ramie Pancerne, 2 Polskiego Korpusu [Rome, 1946] also says "amnesty". Both of these works were post-war. Does anyone have any other, earlier sources?
                    >  
                    > Best regards, Mark Ostrowski
                    >  
                    >
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