Poland, 1939-1947

Poland, 1939-1947

Poland, 1939-1947

Poland, 1939-1947

Excerpt

Poland's experience occupies a special and tragic place in the history of the Second World War and the construction of post-war Europe. No occupied country fared worse at the hands of the Nazis between 1939 and 1945 or fought with such determination and heroism to regain its independence. Yet the defeat of the Germans in 1945 also marked the defeat of the Polish Government-in-Exile and the underground State in Poland, which together held the allegiance of the vast majority of the Polish people. Poland was liberated from the Germans, but fell under the domination of the Soviet Union which very many Poles regarded as a second hostile power. The Communist-led government installed in Poland was viewed from the start by a large part of the Polish nation as neither legitimate nor truly Polish. Many Poles would argue that within the Grand Alliance Poland was the only 'Ally' which lost the Second World War.

A good deal has been written in English on the Polish question as a problem of international relations between the Great Powers during and after the war. The future of Poland is well recognized as one of the key issues in the negotiations between the Big Three on the post-war settlement in Europe and as a significant factor in the onset of the Cold War. However, there has been very little exploration of the impact of these great external events from the point of view of Poland's internal politics. While we would not for a moment deny the huge importance of external pressures -- arising from Soviet policy and East-West relations -- in shaping the basic pattern and course of Poland's development, we would argue that her own political forces and culture have also had a far greater influence throughout Poland's recent history than is generally assumed in the West, or indeed by many in Poland. This volume focuses on this Polish perspective on the politics of war, liberation and reconstruction. We hope it will go some way to fill what has hitherto been a gap in the literature on modern Polish history.

One of the reasons for the comparative neglect of Poland's internal politics is of course the problem of obtaining primary source material from the Polish and Soviet archives. This material is not generally accessible to Western scholars for the relevant period. However, at least so far as the Polish documentary evidence is concerned, a great deal of important material has now been published in little-known Polish secondary sources and by Polish émigrés in the West. For example, most of the transcripts of . . .

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