Polak W Swiecie

Article excerpt

Adam Bromke. Polak w iwiecie. Warszawa: Graf-Punkt, 1995. 297 pp.

The review of this book is long overdue, particularly if one considers that its main thematic contents cover the substantial bulk of Canadian political and academic life over a period of forty years. Adam Bromke, one of the most prominent CanadianPolish political scientists during the "cold war" era, gives in his memoirs a lively and colourful account of his activities as a member of the Canadian Association of Slavists, as Chairman of the Department of Political Science at Carleton University in Ottawa, and later as a respected Professor at McMaster University in Hamilton. Sizable fragments of the book are also devoted to his controversial relations with the Polish emigr6 community at large in the Western hemisphere. As his saga unfolds through a long and impressive chain of events, actions, reflections, comments and encounters with important personalities of the time, it is marvelously intertwined with some very open confessions about his private life (not devoid of suffering), his family (married twice), sons and friends. It is done with elegance and grace, without any gossipy inclinations or petty spite and, in the final analysis, lends the book a very human touch. In short, Bromke's memoirs constitute a fascinating rendition of his tenure as a Canadian scholar and a Polish emigre. When he writes about Canada and Poland, he does it with an equal emotional attachment and love for both countries.

By and large the book can be divided into three thematic parts: 1) Poland and Polish emigration after World War II; 2) academic career and professional engagement in the Canadian Association of Slavists (CAS) linked with the expansion of Slavic studies in Canada; and 3) contacts with high ranking members of the Canadian and American political establishments which rendered possible the exercise of a certain influence on the formation of a common policy toward the Soviet Union and the presentation of a Canadian political science approach to the question of explaining the enigma of the Soviet bloc in its vagaries. Obviously it is difficult to separate these three realms of activity and intellectual endeavour. Bromke begins his memoirs by relating about his family roots and early youth in Warsaw, his participation in the Home Army (Armia Krajowa) resistance movement, escape to and studies in the West. The latter component of his biography seems to have made a strong impact on the assessment of East-West political relations, particularly after Stalin's death and the XXth Congress of the CPSU. His views were determined not so much by the status of a Polish emigre, but by his Western sense of pragmatism-a factor which eventually brought Bromke into conflict with Polish political emigres who right from the end of the World War II adopted, understandably so, an uncompromising attitude toward Soviet imperial lust for the conquest and subjugation of Central Europe. However, one cannot pass in silence over yet another possible source that may have shaped Bromke's political preferences, namely, Narodowa Demokracja (National Democracy-ND), a political force advocating from the dawn of its existence (mainly through the writings of its leader Roman Dmowski), that is, long before the outbreak of World War I, the necessity of finding some sort of modus vivendi with Russia. Gradually Bromke develops his own ideas and strategies with regard to the question of how to handle the Soviet threat. He arrives at the conclusion that the answer lies in working out a long range programme of dialogue rather than confrontation. It became clear in the second half of the 1950s that one could not count on armed conflict, that is, a third world war-a thought still cherished at the time by some refugees from Eastern and Central Europe. Consequently, in his research and public activities Bromke began to focus on the question of East-West relations, with Poland remaining as his central point of reference. …