The reborn federalist conception is once again surfacing and gaining traction in the Intermarium – the Central and Eastern European lands between the Black and Baltic Seas. The notion of resurrecting the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth has not perished, in spite of the region’s tumultuous past. For several centuries, the Polish-Lithuanian-Ruthenian polity united the lands between the Black and Baltic seas, constituting an eastern borderland of the West. The Rzeczpospolita was partitioned by Prussia, Russia, and Austria at the end of the 18th century, and once again dismembered and overrun by the German Nazis and Soviet Communists during the 20th century. All of these foreign conquerors sought to discredit and destroy the legacy of this premodern federation. The Tsarist Muscovites, the Bolshevik propagandists, and the local ethnonationalists (particularly the Lithuanian, Belarusian, and Ukrainian ones) shared one common feature: all three demonized the Commonwealth as nothing more than a vehicle for “Polonization” and “oppression” by “Polish landlords (Pany).” Yet, miraculously, the historical memories of this once unique European polity exert a posthumous influence even during the 21st century – and not only in the most likely places, such as Poland, whose people often view themselves as the chief and rightful heirs of the Commonwealth.
For example, www.kharkov.com, an internet forum in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv (Russian: Kharkov) – a heavily Sovietized and Russified region – has opened a discussion about rebuilding the Commonwealth in a modern form, which would include: Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, and Latvia. A poll posted on the website revealed that 43 percent of the 151 voters support the idea, with 40 percent against, and 16 percent in favor of the EU (the last group may contain individuals sympathetic to the Intermarium federation). (See http://www.kharkovforum.com/showthread.php?t=2320544).
In neighboring Belarus, run by “Europe’s last dictator,” the Sovietonostalgic Aleksandr Lukashenka, the regime’s main newspaper, Belarus Segodnya (Belarus Today; previously Sovetskaya Belarus, or Soviet Belarus) chose to mention a discussion on the free Belarussian internet portal, www.bramaby.com, which was favorable to reconstituting the Commonwealth based on a Polish-Belarusian confederation. The regime daily was critical but, surprisingly, not openly hostile. Perhaps the regime, seeing the notion gaining adherents, feels compelled to “manage” the debate rather than allow independent forces to monopolize it. (See: http://sb.by/post/131336).
Apparently, the old Rzeczpospolita and her legacy in the Intermarium continues to beckon.
Note: Prof. Marek Jan Chodakiewicz’s book, Intermarium: The Land Between the Black and Baltic Seas, is forthcoming from Transactions Press this fall.