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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without one, symbolizes the triumph of the Church in modern Polish society as a whole. In , the election of Cardinal Wojtyła as Pope John Paul II conferred the ultimate accolade of the Polish Church triumphant. The survival of the Polish peasantry has also defied earlier predictions. In calling off the collectivization campaign of the Stalinist period, Gomułka was guided by his own experiences as a young trainee in the Ukraine twenty years before when he had witnessed the mass murders and

absolute allegiance to the Soviet Union, and eager young conscripts were weaned on the notion that Polish patriotism and admiration of the Soviet Union are one and the same thing. All military equipment conformed to Soviet standards, and most of it, together with the main fuel reserves, communications networks, and ammunition dumps, was supplied and controlled by Soviet agencies. Key items, such as warheads for missiles or transporters for the parachute brigades, were normally withheld. As was

in all his actions. He signed the Gdan´ sk Agreement with a huge pen topped with the picture of Pope John Paul. His immediate advisers included many prominent Catholics like Tadeusz Mazowiecki, sometime editor of the Catholic journal, Wie˛z´ (The Link) who edited the Union’s own weekly, Tygodnik Solidarnos´c´. He paid extravagant homage to the Pope, during a much publicized visit to Rome in January . At the same time, the Church took care to keep its lines open with the Party. It is highly

Although several of the leading names such as Karol S´ wierczewski, Aleksander Zawadzki, or Antoni Siwicki were Polish by origin, very few had ever seen Polish service and many of them were unable to speak anything but Russian. The bulk of the soldiers were Polish, however, being drawn from the still considerable pool of Polish refugees and deportees in Russia. Their numbers were expanded rapidly, from some , in  to over , in , as soon as conscription could be introduced in the

to satisfy his own ambitions. When Napoleon created the Duchy of Warsaw in , however, hopes rose once more. The Duchy was confined to the lands of the former Prussian partition, although in  it absorbed Cracow and Lublin. It had its own Polish administration, its own parliamentary Constitution, its own Army under Poniatowski, and it received the Napoleonic Code; but it was also subjected to an absentee Duke (the King of Saxony), who was entirely answerable to French orders, and to the

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