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Civil War in Poland, 1942-1948 (Studies in Russia and East Europe) Hardcover – 1 Oct 2004

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About the Author

ANITA J. PRAZMOWSKA is Senior Lecturer in International History at the London School of Economics. She is the author of Britain, Poland and the Eastern Front (Cambridge University Press, 1987), Britain and Poland 1939-1943 (Cambridge University Press, 1995) and Eastern Europe and the Origins of the Second World War (Palgrave Macmillan, 2000).

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A much-needed revisit 26 Dec. 2010
By R. L. Huff - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Poland's post-'89 leadership has aggressively sought to deconstruct and devaluate all connected with the era of the Peoples' Republic, especially its founding. Ms. Prazmowska has done English-reading students of this time and place a great favor in rescuing wartime and postwar Polish history from triumphalist derangement.

In recounting the Polish resistance she shows it to have been far from unified; that the "London Poles" were as divided among themselves as they were from the Moscow-supported "Lublin Poles." The civil war within the larger war would have erupted into a major conflagration had not one of the Allied powers established its military presence in the wake of the retreating Germans. Logically, this could only have been the USSR, and thus the Lublin Poles "prevailed." The Americans were willing to accept this reality. Churchill, however, dreamt that "his" Poles could somehow be forced on the Red Army to return the country into a conservative, anti-Soviet frontline state.

Internal factors were just as decisive, however, in securing the Lublin Committee's postwar ascendancy. The 20 years of Polish independence had left many festering, unresolved issues and the Committee took full advantage of its opportunities to provide a long-overdue leadership on land reform, the German minority, the eastern territories with their non-Polish majority, the acquisition of Danzig, East Prussia, and Silesia. Getting the factories up and running was more important to Polish workers than questions of ownership. While the Committee's "solutions" left much to be desired in modern terms, its prescriptions were seen as valid by many Poles who were tired of the old regime, its politicos and prima donnas. In truth the London Poles, their Home Army allies on the ground, and the Catholic Church had no positive program, and could only fight a rearguard spoiler campaign based on anti-Communism, anti-Semitism, and the "hope" for a Third World War and "rescue" by the West.

I disagree with Ms. Prazmowska on one point: she blames the pre-'89 regime for its shoddy treatment by the West in "not allowing" the full story of postwar Poland to be openly told. The fact is that the West, and those Poles who stayed in the West, have always vigorously promoted "the London side" as the only patriotic course of "true Poles" and damned the other as treasonous, exactly the same as Warsaw did with them for 45 years. This PoV prevails now thanks to the symbiotic alliance of post coldwar leadership and pre-WW II mythology. Ms. Prazmowska has rescued Polish history from its "freshest" layers of political sludge.
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