Skip to comments.How the Poles Saved Civilization, Part I
Posted on 05/28/2012 7:02:56 AM PDT by marshmallow
On a June evening in 1979 I was having a drink on a small balcony outside a sixth-floor apartment in downtown Warsaw with a very civilized, elderly Polish intellectual, a retired mathematics professor who had taken a degree at Cambridge between the two world wars and spoke a refined, witty, patrician English. Inside the apartment about a dozen much younger Poles, twenty-five to forty-five years old, were having a secret meeting, their voices inaudible due to the classical music being played so as to hide or muffle their discourse in case the apartment was bugged. They had each arrived separately, by pre-arrangement, from different parts of the city. The elderly professor, whom I will call Professor X, had discreetly let them into the apartment, then offered me a drink and retired with me to the balcony, apparently either uninterested in their conversation or prudent enough not to want to know its content. (As a non-Polish speaker, I could not follow it anyway.)
Among the young men in the apartment were several figures who would later become known for their prominent participation in the underground Polish anti-Communist movement and some who already were, including my friend Pawel B., a meteorologist who had brought me along by a circuitous route that required our rapid and sudden exit from a tram-car, the immediate flight to two hidden bicycles, and a fast ride across a large urban park, measures designed, successfully, to elude the two Polish secret service agents who had clearly been following us both, and one of whom was apparently assigned to watch his apartment full time. (It was an apartment that Pawel and his family shared with another family, where in the single bathroom the only toilet paper consisted of successive pages torn out of a stack of the Polish-language edition........
(Excerpt) Read more at crisismagazine.com ...
Wouldn't be the first time.
For a good, entertaining, and informative read, Poland by James Michener
bookmark for later
“Put your trust in your sword and your sword in the Poles!!!”
—Yul Byrnner as Taras in the film "Taras Bulba" 1962;) Oh and according to Elie Wiesel the Poles weren't so much either... ...but the Polish Pope and Lech Walesa with the Gipper and the Iron Lady did real good.
Very interesting. History is filled with “tipping points” but the real truth is not always told in history books.
Just watched the first installment of Niall Ferguson’s “Civilization” on PBS. Included was an interesting discussion of how Sobieski and his Polish army arrived to save Vienna (and all of Western Civ) just in the nick of time.
(BTW & IMHO, Ferguson has given us an all-around good offering, in spite of the show’s being on PBS. But I guess that any minute now, we can expect a huge negative blowback from the leftwing commentariat. I mean, how can PBS possibly run such a piece of blatant rightwing propaganda??!!)
hard to believe this guy was educated at Columbia and teaches at BU.
Good stuff, I hope I remember to look for the 2nd part tomorrow.
When I read the headline, I immediately thought of the 1683 battle.
expect mr. ferguson to recant.
Battle of Vienna — wasn’t it September 11?
In “The Covenant” he did not endeavor to excuse apartheid but he certainly made it more understandable.
Put your trust in your sword and your sword in the Poles!!!
As Nikolai Golgol tells it in his eponymous 1835 short story, Taras Bulba and his Cossacks quickly came to a different point of view when they attacked and besieged the Polish city of Dubno. The Poles eventually broke the siege and captured Taras Bulba's son, whom they tortured to death.
My first thought was of the all but forgotten Battle of Warsaw in 1920 in which the Poles turned back the Bolsheviks and may have prevented them from sweeping across Europe.
>> expect mr. ferguson to recant <<
Not a chance. He already has tenure at Harvard, which means virtually ironclad protection. Plus he has a slew of previously published books and articles that have more-or-less cast his views in cement. He can’t possibly back down at this point.
(And FWIW, his best-selling book — also called “Civilization” — came under vicious attack by the lefties back in late 2011, for example, in the New York Review of Books. But obviously this assault didn’t knock the PBS series off the air. Must illustrate some kinda “token conservtism” on the part of the PBS poobahs. Maybe we can thank Juan Williams!)
“All but forgotten”? How about all but never heard of. And I thought I was pretty good with 20th century history.
Thanks for the informative read.
What is the name of Golgol’s story?
Was hankering for a good book to read. Will give ‘Poland’ a download on the kindle. Thanks.
In return, during the partitions of Poland in the 18th century, Austria took chunks of Poland only in two of the three partitions, and did not take part in the other one.
The Battle of Vienna was a hard-fought war with an uncertain outcome. The Turks nearly conquered the city. All that saved Europe was the arrival of a relief force headed by Polish King Jan Sobieski. Jan Sobieski and his troops won a major victory against the Turkish forces on September 11, 1683. The victory was so compete that Polish King Jan Sobieski purportedly described the windfall in a letter to his wife as follows:
“Ours are treasures unheard of ... tents, sheep, cattle and no small number of camels ... it is victory as nobody ever knew of, the enemy now completely ruined, everything lost for them. They must run for their sheer lives . . .”
from Islam Watch (blog), Andrew Stunich, 09.11.2008
The short story “Taras Bulba” was published in 1835 and revised in 1842 after it ran into trouble with the czarist censors.
I have never heard this important story before. I guess the story didn’t fit with the anti-colonial post World War One storyline we are spoon fed.
When Poland was re-created after WWI, they tried to take part of Russia while they were fighting their civil war. The Bolsheviks stopped them; apparently the Polish defense of the Russian counter-attack was to protect the countries that DIDN’T attack Russia.
Poland has a long & proud history; they should be proud of their defense in 1920, but probably not of the attack which brought it about. In fairness to Poland, US and allied troops were fighting against the Bolsheviks in the north of Russia, unsuccessfully trying to keep supplies that had been sent to support the Tsar’s WWI war effort from falling into Bolshevik hands.
The Bolsheviks had their revenge in 1939; unlike the Germans, the Soviet Union didn’t have war declared on them when they divided Poland (in cooperation with Hitler) and killed their officer dorps.