Marek Jan Chodakiewicz discusses a current trend in Poland to honor the Nazi and Soviet resistance

by Kevin Dunne  |  March 22, 2016  |  PRESS RELEASES

On Tuesday, March 15th, IWP professor Marek Chodakiewicz continued the Intermarium lecture series, with a lecture on the topic of "Glory to Heroes: The Commemorations of Poland's Anti-Nazi and Anti-Communist Insurgents," sponsored by the Kosciuszko Chair of Polish Studies at IWP. In this lecture, Professor Chodakiewicz covered two principal topics: first, he summarized the history of Poland's period of resistance against Nazi and Soviet repression and aggression; second, he highlighted how resistance is receiving new attention in Poland-adding that such commemoration is fundamentally good for Polish society, as it helps reinterpret the past along more patriotic and spirited lines as well as resurrect the truth.

Dr. Chodakiewicz started by outlining the major periods of Polish insurgency after World War II. Insurgent groups proliferated through WWII and into the mid 1950s. Initially, the abundance of guerillas in Poland made it very difficult for the Soviets to control much of Polish territory reliably. This period of modest freedom was subsumed by a more pervasive Soviet apparatus by 1950. There was some insurgent activity during this period; however, it was sporadic and essentially ineffective. But the insurgency hung on until the collapse of the Soviet world, with a few Polish insurgents coming out of hiding as late as the early 1990s.

With the 2015 elections, said Dr. Chodakiewicz, Poland's government has taken an active interest in involving itself with the recent bout of demonstrations by Polish youth, who seek to commemorate their brave forbears. This urge has taken the shape of more reenactment marches, more paramilitary demonstrations, and a greater interest in Polish media for exploring the war hero motif. He concluded his lecture by commenting on the importance of studying history, because it gives an appropriate due to those who fought to defend Poland from radical ideologies on both sides.