Transitional Economic Systems: The Polish-Czech Example

By Dorothy W. Douglas | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
U.S.S.R. INFLUENCES

F rom the outset of their post-war life Poland and Czechoslovakia have been within the Soviet orbit, not only geographically but in economic and social terms as well. Before the war these countries' borders with the Soviet Union for long periods had been virtually 'blind, borders,1 and ideologically their separation from the Soviet Union had been great.

In intent and direction now the two countries are socialist countries in the Communist pattern. When they first took shape the U.S.S.R. was the only example of this economic form. Moreover it was a huge and powerful neighbour and by so much bore the weight of great prestige; its new institutions by this time were fixed; and its interest in these countries was made the more intense by its past historical relations with them. It is futile to speculate as to what might have been the course of these two countries if the Soviet Union had never existed. To abstract from history in this manner assumes too much else that never happened. It is enough to realize that the effect of the Soviet Union upon the direction these countries took subsequent to the War has without question been enormous. The existence of that setting must at all times be allowed for as we consider developments in the post-war years.


Origins

As we shall see later, the period of occupation by the Germans and partisan resistance brought about powerful left parties, both Communist and Socialist in Poland, and Communist especially in Czechoslovakia, many of whose leaders had even spent a great deal of time as refugees in the Soviet Union. In the case of Poland the very government that subsequently established itself, namely the Lublin Committee, so-called, had taken form from the Union of Polish Patriots formed in the Soviet Union during the war. Con-

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1
Less than 1 per cent of Czechoslovak trade had been with the Soviet Union, and in 1938, less than 1/2 per cent of Polish.

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