This is a very illustrative picture of language distribution in Poland in the 1930's.http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/39/Mother_tongue_poland_1931_census.png
on behalf of John Halucha
Sent: Sun 16/12/2012 16:58
Subject: Re: [www.Kresy-Siberia.org] Deportations in Eastern European History
Thank you for the clarifications. Here are some of my own, along with some followups.
do not misunderstand me when I talk of the Poland of pre WW2 years as militaristic and anti democratic."
I didn't misunderstand that, nor did I question it. I questioned your casual use of "fascist", which Mark explained as distinct from "Fascist" and you have since clarified as "undemocratic ... militaristic, anti-Semitic and racist" rather than a simple repetition of Stalinist name-calling.
"You are quite right that pre-war Poland was not in the same league of evil as The Soviet Union or Nazi Germany and I am not saying it was."
Thank you for clarifying what you did not mean when you wrote, "The late 1930's and early 1940's saw very aggressive territorial demands by Russia, Germany, Hungary and Poland against their neighbours that resulted in what in the 1990's we began to call 'ethnic cleansing'."
"No deportations are reported from the areas taken from Czechoslovakia but it is hardly a justification to seize land from a sovereign
neighbour country simply because others are doing it."
Thanks for further clarification that you did not mean to imply that Poland was guilty of the same ethnic cleansing as Russia and Germany in the statement quoted in the previous point.
I trust you are not implying that I justified the Cieszyn action. Recall that what I actually wrote was: "I am not suggesting that Poland was right to reclaim the rest of Cieszyn in 1938, but I am questioning how it can be listed as "very aggressive", equivalent to the German and Russian invasions of Poland, Western Europe, the Baltic States, Finland, etc."
"Neither am I saying that Poland 'contributed' to its downfall at the hands of the Nazi's and Soviets."
I take that as clarification of what you did not mean to imply when you wrote, "Political mistakes contributed to Poland's fate often as much as invaders from east or west."
"The issues I am addressing are those of the 1930's. Poland
was one of the countries that reformed after years divided between Tsarist Russia and Austria-Hungary. Like many other re-emergent nations it took on severe nationalistic form. This was of course seen again in the 1990's when Yugoslavia disintegrated. I have first hand experience of the kind of nationalism that emerged there so I think I can imagine the Europe of the 1930's."
I'm still confused on this one. Are you back to saying the Polish demand for Cieszyn was "violent nationalism" that was parallel to the mass murder, mass deportations and other "ethnic cleansing" seen later in the former Yugoslavia? You have already explained that there were no deportations in the Cieszyn action, so I ask again if you can provide some sources to support your contention. And regarding what you "imagine" to be the Europe of the 1930s - can you explain how this applies to your Poland-Yugoslavia parallel?
"As for the definition of the Polish People I am
talking about a culture not a race and less still a nationality. ... I would prefer to identify with a culture and language rather than any pernicious ideas about nationhood and race."
This appears to be in partial response to my plea for clarification of your statement about Poland being "tyrannised by the Soviets and their Polish allies." So you are saying that Stalin's "Polish allies" were people who identified with Polish culture and language rather than a nationality or race. In the course of an unrelated matter you told Mark, "It is not my intention to place the blame for any of this on the Polish people as a whole." I take it you are similarly not blaming the Polish people as a whole for what you term "Polish allies" of Stalin.
Similarly, when you say "the Poles", as in, "The final years of communist rule in Poland saw the Poles themselves as oppressors of their own people," I now understand you to mean Jaruzelski and his henchmen
rather than the Polish people as a whole. However, I am still confused by your statement, "a militaristic dictatorship emerged under General Jaruselski, who imposed martial law and civil oppression as enthusiastically as any Soviet general that preceded him". Do you mean that his was a home-grown Polish dictatorship rather than a direct outcome of Soviet occupation and oppression, and that you see Jaruzelski as being distinct from Soviet generals? Your statement elsewhere congratulating Poles for resisting "Hitler, Stalin, Gomulka & Jaruselski" implies that you recognize the latter two as being imposed from the outside just as the first two were outsiders.
No cultural or linguistic group is proud of its criminals or traitors, but I don't see why Polish people (or any other people) should be ashamed of their history for the actions of a few abberants - especially those imposed by other powers.
I see that in your response to Mark you said
"Poland's anti-semitic parties declared an anti Jewish month during which substantial economic damage was done to the Jews. While this was not on the scale of the Reichkristallnacht there are several parallels." I trust that when you say "not on the scale of Reichkristallnacht" you mean you do not suggest that a call for an economic boycott in Poland was parallel to the violence and vandalism of the Reichkristallnacht in Germany. I agree.
I take this as clarification of your earlier statement that "Government led pogroms against Jews were orchestrated", because you meant actually political parties rather than government, and boycott rather than pogrom. Also, by "government led pogroms" you actually meant, "The Polish government did nothing to prevent this". As you did with student evictions of Jews, where you admit, "there is no evidence that the Polish Government orchestrated" - though you hold on to personal scepticism along the same lines as
you do with Nazi Germany: "this it should be understood that there is also no 'evidence' that the Nazi party ordered Kristallnacht." Of course, it would be a stretch to infer that you are equating a Polish student boycott and the German Kristallnacht.
Thank you for addressing several of your statements that left me confused. I am hoping that you will still clarify your comments around Pan-Slavic state, Polish "overtures towards Nazi's and Soviet communists alike", and Polish dreams "mirroring the lebensraum doctrines of Nazi Germany."
I am also looking forward to you sharing what you discover about the Soviets using Cieszyn as part of their justification for taking the Kresy. Since you did not address my concern that the way you framed the question could be taken to mean you are labelling Poland an aggressor equivalent to Nazi Germany and that Poland had only itself to blame for the Soviet takeover of the Kresy, I am confident I got it
right when I guessed you don't mean that because it would be absurd.
Forgive me for pressing, but some of your assertions and juxtapositions sounded so outrageous that I was sure I misunderstood because of your impressive credentials as a senior lecturer in two universities and a Sovietologist. In response to another member's recent challenge on an unrelated matter, you outlined your long and commendable involvement with the Polish community in the UK. All that commands respect and your words hold weight, so I want to be absolutely sure I understand what you are saying. With your journalism connection, I am confident you share my conviction that clarity is important.
No apology is necessary for the polemic. And I do appreciate that you are a researcher in history and not an apologist for any despot, which is partly why language reminiscent of Soviet propaganda was so confusing to me.
My main goal on this forum is to be educated. You are an
exceptional contributor who appears willing to share your learning. Thank you.
Sault Ste Marie, Canada
From: Barry Turner (Journalism) <mailto:bturner%40lincoln.ac.uk
Sent: Sunday, December 16, 2012 7:36:01 AM
Subject: RE: [www.Kresy-Siberia.org] Deportations in Eastern European History
I most strongly applaud the gallantry of the Polish nation in its struggles against superpower aggressors. The bravery of those who stood up to Hitler, Stalin, Gomulka & Jaruselski can never be forgotten. The bravery of Poles who hid and fed Jews throughout the war at
mortal danger themselves and their families also is not spoken of enough and it was Polish citizens who armed the freedom fighters in the Warsaw uprising, not the allies. So please do not misunderstand me when I talk of the Poland of pre WW2 years as militaristic and anti democratic. I am not attacking the ordinary people, they as citizens in any dictatorship had no say.
You are quite right that pre-war Poland was not in the same league of evil as The Soviet Union or Nazi Germany and I am not saying it was. No deportations are reported from the areas taken from Czechoslovakia but it is hardly a justification to seize land from a sovereign neighbour country simply because others are doing it. Neither am I saying that Poland 'contributed' to its downfall at the hands of the Nazi's and Soviets. The simplemindedness of some Polish politicians in their appraisal of the threat however very closely resembles the head in the sand approach adopted by
Britain and France until it was too late. Of course British and French politicians had no problem with Hitler at first since he vowed to destroy communism.
The issues I am addressing are those of the 1930's. Poland was one of the countries that reformed after years divided between Tsarist Russia and Austria-Hungary. Like many other re-emergent nations it took on severe nationalistic form. This was of course seen again in the 1990's when Yugoslavia disintegrated. I have first hand experience of the kind of nationalism that emerged there so I think I can imagine the Europe of the 1930's.
As for the definition of the Polish People I am talking about a culture not a race and less still a nationality. Nationalism and race are a poisonous brew and I would prefer to identify with a culture and language rather than any pernicious ideas about nationhood and race. Modern Poland is a part of the EU and has given up part of its political sovereignty,
this time voluntarily, for a greater good
I hope for a brighter future for the people of Byelarus and that they be freed from the yoke of tyrrany that they still suffer. Obviously I don't blame them for the evil government they have anymore than I blame the Poles of the 1930's for the dictatorship they endured.
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