The Poles: Myths and Reality

Yehuda Cohen, Ph.D.
Independent Researcher, Formerly – A Postdoctoral Researcher at the Political Science Department of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel

Series: Post-Nationality in the European Union’s East and North
BISAC: HIS010000

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Volume 10

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Volume 2

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Special issue: Resilience in breaking the cycle of children’s environmental health disparities
Edited by I Leslie Rubin, Robert J Geller, Abby Mutic, Benjamin A Gitterman, Nathan Mutic, Wayne Garfinkel, Claire D Coles, Kurt Martinuzzi, and Joav Merrick

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Among the EU states in Eastern and Northern Europe, Poland is the most populous one. In terms of its economic forté and financial balance sheet, it was not a clear-cut conclusion that Poland ought to join the EU. Thus, the Poles’ decision, made in a referendum, to join, may be interpreted as their self-identity resolution: an unequivocal assertion that they are first and foremost Europeans. The peasants in Poland from the 9th century did not have a Polish identity. Such identity was mainly in possession of the nobility and, starting in the 18th century, some of the urban dwellers’ as well. A true Polish identity was crystallized during WWII.

The ones who saw Polish nationality as the birthright of all ethnic Poles, peasants included, were the leaders of the Polish Communist Party; they knew how to stand firm in the face of the Soviets during 1945-1989, while adhering to an independent line vis-à-vis Moscow regarding those issues they considered vital for the Poles (e.g., the Polish agrarian policy which did not toe the line Moscow sought to dictate). Thanks to such a stance, Polish nationality started being viable, including peasants. That nationality adopted included the thousand years of old Polish myths and history, and the epic memory of warfare conducted by Polish kings and noblemen.
All of the above as well as the rise of the Solidarity movement headed by Lech Wałęsa, stand witness to the Polish nationality’s inner strength. This was an inverse state of affairs to the absence of Polish nationality for centuries (until it began budding in WWI).

During the period between the two world wars, Poles readily exhibited compliance. Thus, for instance, after just a few days of street clashes in Warsaw they submitted to Pilsudski’s dictatorship that instilled severe censorship and incarcerated opposition figures without encountering any meaningful impediment from the Polish public. Even after Pilsudski’s death, the Poles submissiveness persisted. That state of feebleness is the inverse state to that which the Poles exhibited between 1945-1989, under the leadership of the Communist Party and (later) Solidarity, as described previously.

Such an inverse state may be understood from the fact that in post-1945 Poland, nearly all the state’s citizens were ethnically Polish and therefrom their nationality crystallized. Conversely, during the period in between the two world wars ethnic Poles constituted only 70 percent of the citizenry. This allows for the understanding that a state that is ethnologically compact can more easily form a sound nationality from within.This volume demonstrates that the Polish nationality, which only existed for a few decades when Poland joined the European Union, was fledgling (from a research point of view) but ancient in terms of the mythological sentiments sensed by the Poles. The quality of nationality was deeply rooted, vibrant and multi-generational just as the Poles crowned over themselves a pan-European sovereign (the EU) which was preferred over their own unique nationality; thus expressing their centuries’ old, deep-seeded desire to be an integral part of Europe.
(Imprint: Nova)

Preface

Series Preface

Acknowledgments

Introduction

Part I: The Poles during the Middle Ages

Chapter 1. The Pre-State Era

Chapter 2. Poland's Origin

Chapter 3. The Early Years of Existence of the Polish State

Chapter 4. The Age of Maturity: the Polish Kingdom

Chapter 5. A Hundred Years of Economic Growth and Social Change

Chapter 6. The Polish Crown at the Height of Power during the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries

Part II: A Community of Nobility

Chapter 7. The Polish Golden Age Era (1492-1586)

Chapter 8. The Polish Community at a Turning Point (1586-1648)

Chapter 9. The Polish Communities during the Crisis Years (1648-1696)

Chapter 10. The Crisis of Sovereignty (1697-1763)

Chapter 11. Provisional Reforms under the Russian Auspices (1763-1788)

Chapter 12. Society and Culture in Poland during the Age Of Enlightenment

Chapter 13. The Struggle for Independence and Reform of a Kingdom United (1788-1794)

Part III: Poland under Foreign Rule (1795-1918)

Chapter 14. The Napoleonic Period (1795-1815)

Chapter 15. The Polish Kingdom and the November Uprising (1815-1831)

Chapter 16. On the Eve of the Agrarian Revolution (1832-1849)

Chapter 17. An Age of Uprising (1850-1864)

Chapter 18. Positivism and Triple Loyalty: an Initiation of the Proletariat Movement (1864-1885)

Chapter 19. The Formation of the Mass Political Parties: Nationality and Socialism (1885-1904)

Chapter 20. The Age of Revolution and the Approaching of a European War (1904-1914)

Chapter 21. World War I and the Reconstruction of the Polish State (1914-1918)

Part IV: Poland (1918-1939)

Chapter 22. Defining the Borders and Drafting a Constitution (1918-1921)

Chapter 23. The Parliamentary Government (1922-1926)

Chapter 24. Prosperity and Crisis: the Struggle for the Legalization of the Pilsudski Dictatorship

Part V: from World War II until the Disintegration of the Soviet Bloc

Chapter 25. World War II

Chapter 26. the Communist Party: the Poles Standing up to the Soviets

Chapter 27. The Developments in Poland during 1946-1980

Chapter 28. Poland Departing the Soviet Bloc's Framework

Part VI: The Third Republic and the European Union

Chapter 29. The Third Republic

Chapter 30. The Polish and Catholic Culture: Are These a Nationality's Foundations?

Chapter 31. The Poles' Approach toward Europe, Nato, And The EU

Summary

Alphabetical References

References

About the Author

Index

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The book is targeted at both the academia and policy makers as well as to the broad public. It is interesting especially to:

(a) Scholars of
a. EU political sciences
b. History
(b) EU policy makers in both European and states’ levels as well as medium level officers, including:
a. European Commission politicians and staff
b. European parliament’s members and advisers
c. Governmental officials and politicians in EU states
(c) European countries’ broad public and,
(d) European mass media journalists and editors.

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