Heart of Europe: The Past in Poland's Present

Heart of Europe: The Past in Poland's Present

Norman Davies

Language: English

Pages: 519

ISBN: 0192801260

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The image of Poland has once again been impressed on European consciousness. Norman Davies provides a key to understanding the modern Polish crisis in this lucid and authoritative description of the nation's history. Beginning with the period since 1945, he travels back in time to highlight the long-term themes and traditions which have influenced present attitudes. His evocative account reveals Poland as the heart of Europe in more than the geographical sense. It is a country where Europe's ideological conflicts are played out in their most acute form: as recent events have emphasized, Poland's fate is of vital concern to European civilization as a whole. This revised and updated edition tackles and analyses the issues arising from the fall of the Eastern Bloc, and looks at Poland's future within a political climate of democracy and free market.

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suit. The Polish Party wanted to regain control of its affairs from the stranglehold of the military and the security services, for it knew that popular resentment could not be long contained. In June , seventy-four workers and militiamen died in the city of Poznan´ following riots over ‘Bread and Freedom’. The obvious move was to appoint a Party leader with a greater measure of public confidence and a more pragmatic approach to national problems. The obvious man was Gomułka, the victim of

Many Poles were defensive and assertive. Several nationalist splinter groups and Fascist gangs made their appearance. The Church was being dragged into politics. Too many Catholic priests were being carried away by the nationalist tide. The Army was reformed within the bounds of its resources. Poland’s first economic plan, which established the Central Industrial Region (COP) together with a state-controlled armaments industry, took a belated step towards greater self-sufficiency. The real source

had helped to shape Dmowski’s philosophy in the first place. In the s, as in the s, many people in Poland—and not just the communists—were forcibly impressed by the primacy of the German menace; by the need to collaborate with Russia or perish; by the ‘alien’ forces threatening to engulf Polish culture; by the perception of a hostile Jewish element (in this case within the Soviet-backed security organs); by the necessity to give priority to economic reconstruction; by the rise of a new

Tsarism. It was the most active element. And it is a pity that few of the people who sing Ehrenberg’s words today are told that their author, who spent over half his life in exile in Siberia for his pains, was the natural son of a Russian Tsar. The tradition of Conciliation* arose from the constant need to forge a working compromise between the opposing camps of Loyalism and Resistance, between the immovable object of absolute Government and the unstoppable force of popular demands. In Polish

Court, he became a personal confidant of the young Alexander I, and in the first decade of Alexander’s reign served as one of the Tsar’s leading ministers and chief adviser on foreign affairs. Despite his constant concern for the Polish Question, and his attempts to persuade the Tsar to take some bold initiative in favour of the Poles, Czartoryski must be viewed in this period as essentially a political loyalist. In the following decades, however, freed from the constraints of the highest office,

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