November 4, 2017 - Speaking shortly after the bicentennial of General Thaddeus Kosciuszko’s death, Dr. Marek Jan Chodakiewicz opened the 10th Annual Zdzislaw Zakrzewski Kosciuszko Chair Conference.
The first session of the conference centered on the shadow cast by Putin’s Kremlin. Examining Russian interference in U.S. internal affairs, Mr. David Satter explored the question: “Is Russia at war with the U.S.?” Speaking as a veteran correspondent, Mr. Satter delved into the heart of U.S.-Russian relations as they unfolded from the twilight of the Soviet era to the brutal conflicts on Kiev’s Euromaidan.
Complementing Mr. Satter, Mr. Piotr Trabinski examined a tried and tested tool of the Russian security services: active measures. Unlike the erstwhile Soviet Union, today’s Kremlin has enjoyed the benefits of cyberspace. Unsurprisingly, Mr. Trabinski demonstrated how the old active measures combined seamlessly into the present digital context.
The second session examined Poland’s history: from the golden years of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to the tragedies and travails of Poland during the Second World War. What principles made the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth so unique and dedicated to freedom? None other than the very principles held dear by the United States. While differences certainly existed, Ms. Maria Juczewska argued that both political entities bore similarities in not only structure, but in the thoughts and attitudes that nurtured both commonwealths.
Joining the conference from the University of Adam Mickiewicz in Poznan, Professor Jakub Isanski moved the discussion to twentieth century history. Professor Isanski’s lecture pulled from his intensive research through the diaries of migrants, forced from their homes amid invasion, total war, and occupation. Covering a period from 1944 through to the end of the 1950s, Professor Isanski ventured through a maze of thousands of works to deliver a shocking visualization of one of the greatest tragedies to befall the Polish nation.
At the end of the conference, Dr. Tomasz Sommer premiered his groundbreaking documentary on the Anti-Polish Operation of the NKVD: Shoot the Poles. Navigating neglected NKVD documents, Dr. Sommer pieced together the democide of nearly 200,000 Poles living within the Soviet Union in 1937 and 1938. The screening of the film was made possible thanks to the generosity of the Bak Foundation.