Poland History (1900 – 2022)

In 1985 the Polish journalist Teresa Toraska published a book of interviews with people who had been members of the PPR(Polska Partia Robotnicza, Polish Workers Party, led by Wadysaw Gomuka) right after WWII. She called the book Them (Oni), because she was a member of the anticommunist opposition and viewed the subjects of her book as the enemy. Her style of interviewing is not unusual in Poland, though it strikes many American readers as startlingly aggressive. Here is one passage, from an interview with the head of the security services during the Stalinist era, Jakub Berman:

  • Toraska: You communists brought yet another disaster upon this nation [after WWII].
  • Berman: Thats not true. We brought it liberation.
  • Toraska: Did you?
  • Berman: Yes, we did. We didnt come to this country as its occupiers, and we never even imagined ourselves in that role.We wanted to get this country moving, to breathe life into it; all our hopes were tied up with the new model of Poland.Was it plausible at any moment to imagine that Poland would be again the country it had been between the wars? In this configuration? With this distribution of forces? Surely thats inconceivable. You have to be deaf and blind not to see that we, the Polish communists, rescued Poland from the worst.The world has changed, cant you see that? There arent any sovereign states any more, only semi-sovereign ones. The degree of dependence can be lesser or greater, but its always there.

What do you think about Bermans argument? What other justifications do you think the members of the PPR might have offered for their activities in the 1940s and 1950s, including their social and economic policies, their ruthless seizure of power, and the authoritarian regime they established afterwards? 

PPR – (Polska Partia Robotnicza), Polish Workers Party, led by Wadysaw Gomuka

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