Polish-Jewish Relations During the War: An Interpretation

Polish-Jewish Relations During the War: An Interpretation

For the last two hundred years, with the exception of a brief interval between the two World Wars, Poland has been either partitioned, occupied, or governed by proxy. Squeezed between Russia and Germany, Poles took nourishment and continuity as a historical nation from remembrance of things past whenever their sovereignty as a political nation was curtailed or abolished. Lately these efforts were inspired by a conviction that even if present-day institutions could not be changed, a halfway victory over totalitarianism’s attempts to destroy social solidarity could still be won if the community’s history were rescued from the regime’s ambition to determine not only the country’s future but also its past. Thus, the wonderful intuition that totalitarianism must destroy the entire context of social reality independent of its own dictate, and acquire a copyright not only on what is but also on what had been, came to the Poles not because they read Orwell’s 1984, but because for well over one hundred years they nurtured the idea of the Polish nation against all the odds of nineteenth-century geopolitics. Once before, when they lost their national sovereignty, the Poles locked in on their past spiritually and it worked: Poland was resurrected.

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