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Them: Stalin's Polish Puppets

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Harpercollins (April 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0792442210
  • ISBN-13: 978-0792442219
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,906,312 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
This is an in depth interview by Teresa Toranska with persons directly involved in the repressive communist regime.

It is to Toranska's credit that she managed to get these persons to reveal the details of the system they were working for.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x95dac36c) out of 5 stars 4 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x95dafeb8) out of 5 stars The Stalinist leaders tell their stories 22 Sept. 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
It is a great pity to see this book out of print. In the early 1980s, before the imposition of martial law, Toranska interviewed five aged Polish politicians: Julia Minc, Roman Werfel, Edward Ochab, Stefan Staszewski and Jacob Berman.
Each had served in the leadership of the Stalinist "Polish People's Republic" between 1945 and 1956, and played some part in implementing the various Stalinist policies: propaganda and press control, agricultural collectivization, purges of the non-communist parties and the anti-Nazi Home Army, and dealings with Stalin and Khrushchev. One (Staszewski) has turned against communism; the others are unrepentant.
Taken piece by piece, "Them" offers remarkable first-person glimpses of history -- feuds within the Politburo, decisions to repress farmers in 1954 and avert Soviet military intervention in 1956, the purge and reappearance of Party Secretary Gomulka, the attempts of the Party leader Bierut to ask Stalin to locate earlier Polish Communist figures who had been executed during the Soviet Great Purge of 1937 and 1938.
Taken as a whole, the accounts of arrests, rhetorical formulae, executions, and repression amounts to a remarkable self-portrait of the Stalinist mind.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x95e6748c) out of 5 stars Glimpses of the Communists' World, the Zydokomuna, etc. 31 July 2006
By Jan Peczkis - Published on
Format: Paperback
Anyone with even a cursory familiarity with Communist doublespeak will immediately recognize the time-honored fantasies spoken by the interviewees. We learn that it was really only the Soviet Union that beat Nazi Germany and that, were Poland to leave the Soviet orbit, there would be no Poland at all (or, at best, a Congress Poland). Without a doubt the USA and West Germany would quickly seize the Recovered Territories. We hear the Soviet puppet state rationalized by the fact that "There really is no such thing as a sovereign nation anymore.", and so anything goes. After all, Soviet involvement in Polish politics is really no different from US involvement in Italian politics (sic)! Another Soviet rationalization for "a friendly Polish government" was the need for protection against a repeat of Pilsudski's "attack" on the USSR in the 1920 Polish-Bolshevik war. Yes, indeed, the Soviet lion of 1944 stood in desperate need of protection from the Polish rabbit!

A number of the top Communists ignore the strong resistance of Polish peasants to collectivization and insist that Poland never adopted Soviet-style collective farming only because it never became a priority for Polish Communists. In fact, the top Polish Communist leaders take credit for the fact that, even during the days of Stalin, Polish Communism never was as harsh as Soviet Communism, or even that of many other eastern European nations.

Stefan Staszewski recognized the fact that the imposition of Communism on postwar Poland caused nothing short of a civil war: "But, good Lord, there was nothing to compare with the period of violence, cruelty and lawlessness that Poland experienced in the years 1944-7. Not thousands but tens of thousands of people were killed then, and the official trials that were organized after 1949 were merely an epilogue to the liquidation of the Home Army, of activists of independent parties, and of independent thought in general."(p. 139). [Perhaps, just perhaps, this atmosphere of "violence, cruelty, and lawlessness", if nothing else, had something to do with the 600 postwar Jews killed by Poles in property disputes, the so-called Kielce Pogrom, etc., trumpeted by Jan Thomas Gross in his widely-publicized book FEAR.]

There is some interesting information presented by the interviewees. For instance, Jakub Berman claims (p. 246) that the idea of Poland as the seventeenth Soviet republic had still been propagated as late as the beginning of 1943. Berman also asserts (p. 248) that there never was any chance that the Curzon Line would have been extended in a manner that left Lwow (Lviv, Lvov, Lemberg) on the Polish side of the postwar Polish-Soviet frontier. Edward Ochab had this to say on Chinese attitudes towards Soviet hegemony over Poland: "All I know is what Chou En-lai told us when he came to Poland in 1957. He said they had opposed the Soviet proposal to intervene in Poland and asserted that the Poles, even if they go astray, should find their own solutions to their own problems."(p. 70).

While some commentators have tried to minimize the fact or at least significance of the strongly disproportionate Jewish participation in Communism (the Zydokomuna), the top Communists surveyed in this book do not do so. For example, Roman Werfel, a Communist Jew himself, had this to say about the much-hated Communist terror police, the UB (U. B., or Bezpieka): "There's one principle you have to stick to in beating, however: Johnny has to be beaten by Johnny, and not by Moshe. I can see now that there were too many Jews in the security services, because we hadn't considered the security services in that light."(p. 109). Jakub Berman, a Jewish Communist also, contrasts the unwillingness of educated Poles to accept Communism with the willingness of a very disproportionate number of Jews to support Communism: " Bierut, I was against too large a concentration of Jews in certain institutions; it wasn't the right thing to do and it was a necessary evil that we'd been forced into when we took power, when the Polish intelligentsia was boycotting us."(p. 321). Considering the fact that postwar Polish Jews constituted only 1% of Poland's population, this fact assumes added significance. Ironically, Communists progressively turned against the Zydokomuna, and the various top Communists interviewed in this book lament the growth of open anti-Semitism in the ranks of the Communists.

Jakub Berman, who died (in 1984) soon after being interviewed, suggested (p. 354) that Poles are slow to accept realities, and that they would freely accept Communism within 50 or 100 years. How one wishes that Berman had lived another five years! The refusal of older Poles to accept the Communism forced upon them (1944-1989) should serve as an inspiration for modern Poles' refusal to accept the anti-Christian and anti-moral dictates forced upon them by the European Union.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x95e674b0) out of 5 stars When Evil was the Only Reality 10 Mar. 2016
By Matthew J. Brennan - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Lots of finessed "truths"best read in small bites. These traitors, the leaders, nomenklatura, and apparatchiks of communist Poland during and after World War Two, matter-of-factly rationalize their actions, blame everyone else for their crimes, and weave a fabric of blatant falsehoods. Read it and prepare to be angry.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x95f2e9d4) out of 5 stars Five Stars 15 Oct. 2015
By Krzysau - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Must read for anyone trying to understand how totalitarian regimes function, communism in particular.
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