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Polish myths. Poland is one of the countries that count in the world.


Stefan  
7 Jan 2006 /  #1
During the last ten years while living abroad in Australia I have seldom heard the word Poland mentioned in the local mass media. On the other hand watching the Polish news broadcast by the state owned Australian channel catering to immigrants, I have been flooded with the constant flood of Poland's achievements on the international and, to a lesser extent the local, arena.

The Polish president Mr. Kwasniewski, who is by now being replaced by a new one, has been very busy creating goodwill by traveling frequently to countries around the world. The Poles have joined the former enemy pact NATO and the Poles have become a member of the EU, two important achievements.

Also, the Polish president has more staff than the French, although Poland is the poorest country in the union. This surely must mean something. The Poles seem to be preparing early for the next position, although overtaking France will take some time.

Unfortunately, Poland is still, in spite its all achievement a rather obscure backwater; a second or third tier country. Not much of importance happens there worth reporting by the international news agency. Why is it so?

The answer partially lies in Poland's past. As part of the former communist block, Poland, as well as the rest of the block had been hiding behind the "iron curtain" for almost fifty years. Thus, its - mostly modest - achievements went for many years unnoticed. On the other hand the Polish language has been a hindrance - most exposure, as you are probably aware of, get countries speaking English, Chinese, French or Russian, not only because these are big languages spoken by a large numbers of people, but also because these are the countries with big and influential economies. Compared to those, Poland is a poor cousin, with not much to offer.

When it comes to internationally famous Poles in principle we have only two: Chopin, the famous music composer, although of French origin, and long dead, and the still alive Mr. Walesa, the self-made electrician-politician, heralded as the savior of the Eastern Europe from communism, but without any real political clout.

Not much more really. Except for Copernicus, but he hardly counts, He's been dead for hundreds of year now.

So what is there to brag about? The Polish economy is not much unless you want to impress the rest of the world with 20% unemployment, except for the fact that for the next five years it will get a huge boost from the EU of almost 50 billion euro (let's call it a charitable donation) that will hopefully move the country forward into the 21 century.

Still, if you were to visit the country and talk to the average Pole, you would be surprised to notice how high they think of themselves. Poland, a country of long and proud traditions still manages to instill in its citizens the feeling of self-importance. True, we are not one of the superpowers but we used to be one in the middle ages. True, we are not all that known around the globe, but we have had many outstanding writers, composers, warriors. The only problem being that they are hardly known to anyone outside of the country.

On the other hand, Poland is not alone in this situation. Most of small countries are finding it very hard, even impossible, to make their voices heard. Since the capacity to influence the international politics and economy depends on the country's wealth and other resources, Poland does not have an easy task to impress the rest of the world with its achievements.

The Poles can be proud of their place in Europe, traditions, culture, but the problem is making the rest of the world take a notice.

Stefan
Guest  
11 Jan 2006 /  #2
what a nice few lines here.
I have a polish girlfriend, been to poland twice last year, What a lovley place, so different to the UK.
But 250,000 poles have come to the UK to work... Great for those looking for work, Helping their families back home and the economy her. Cant fault any polish people i know.

Half my street speaks polish!!!
Robert1  
11 Jan 2006 /  #3
Hi Guest, Lucky you!:) 250K is not that big number; in Chicago alone there are more than 1 million of Polish people. Do you think all of them would come back to Poland or many just stay and start a new life in the UK?
Romek  
13 Jan 2006 /  #4
I think many will stay. Young people don't want to go back to Poland because of high unemployment rate and low wages. On the other hand, people who have the money can have really good living in Poland. But most don't so it'st catch 22. It's good Poles can work in other countries now as they are good workers. Girls are nice too and I bet many of them will end up marrying a foreign guy.
Guest  
8 Apr 2006 /  #5
@Stefan

What`s your point ? We don`t see any news about Australia here either, and ?

Have you ever read any reports about Polish economy or do you know any economic data about Poland ?

I recommend the OECD and World Bank websites as a good start for making your lecture.

It seems to me that you don`t have any idea about the simplest issues concerning Polish economy as well as the EU. (hint: the EU structural funding for Poland is 61 billion EUR and the unemployment rate is 17,8% while the real unemployment is c.a. 10%).

When it comes to the Polish role in the World... well I don`t want to lecture you about the over 1000 years of Polish history.. but lets take only XX and XIX century.. only a few examples:

- If Poland wouldn`t have stopped the Bolshevik invasion in the 1920s during the Polish-Soviet War most of Europe would become communist - how would the world looked today then ?

- How would you drive in bad weather without a windscreen wiper - a Polish invention, how many people would die if the metal detector wouldn`t have been discovered - another Polish invention..

- How would the World looked like today if the Polish army wouldn`t have destroyed 1/3 of all German forces, if Poles wouldn`t have discovered the Enigma codes and defended the UK during the battle over Great Britain.

- How would the world look like if Karol Wojtyla wouldn`t have been elected Pope during the 70s ?

- How would the world looked like today if Solidarity wouldn`t have been the first succesfull initiative to overthrow a communist regime ?

- How would the World look like if Zbigniew Brzezinski wouldn`t have been directing the US forgain policy to support the Mujahedin in Afganistan ?

- How would the situation in Ukraine would develope without our involvement ?

Well those are only the most basic egzamples.

...

"Unfortunately, Poland is still, in spite its all achievement a rather obscure backwater; a second or third tier country. Not much of importance happens there worth reporting by the international news agency. Why is it so?"

Really ? How about viewing some European media ?

...

"Chopin, the famous music composer, although of French"

Well he had a French father. How does that make him French ? Following the same logic Lenin was German/Jewish and Washington was British.

...

"When it comes to internationally famous Poles in principle we have only two"

Hmmm..

What about:

- Karol Wojtyla vel JPII
- Kosciuszko (btw. isn`t there a Mount Kosciuszko in Australia.. ..the highest mountain peak on the Australian continent ?)
- Pulaski
- Maria Sklodowska-Curie
- Stanislaw Lem (who died this month)
- Copernicus (though yes - it was long ago)

or a little bit less known:

- Jan III Sobieski
- Wislawa Szymborska
- Henryk Sienkiewicz
- Feliks Dzierzynski (the founder of KGB ..very fameous in Russia :) )

ect.
Guest  
8 Apr 2006 /  #6
"but lets take only XX and XIX century.."

I`ve ment XX and XXI century.. ..I`m still shocked about what the author of this article wrote and I still can not gather myself :)
Wroclaw 44 | 5,387  
8 Apr 2006 /  #7
Stefan,

I found your text somewhat patronizing. It's like you wanted to say something but weren't sure what.

Add to the list of the famous: Mountaineers, Olympic Athletes, Film Directors, Nobel Prize Winners.
Guest  
8 Apr 2006 /  #8
Stefan ...film directors: Polanski, Wajda ...com`on You`ve must have heard of them.

I would like to add to the list posted by Wroclaw also some fameous Polish imigrants:

Marta Kostyra (a.k.a. Martha Stewart) ..you must have heard of her.. and Zbigniew Brzezinski (the US President Security Advisor and the first director of the Trilateral Comission)

btw. after teading what Stefan wrote I have the following thaught:

We`re all living in very strange times in which more and more Europeans are being ashamed of being European as well as of the European culture. This applies to many European nations (i.e. the Brits). And this facts comes often comes from the lack of knowlage or is a result of the over-politically-correct education system in W.Europe... ...But when it comes to lack of respect for the own nation/culture and history (and in result for ourselves), then we Poles (well, at least some of us) are among the top 3 in Europe...

BTW. Here`s a very iteresting study:

www-news.uchicago.edu/releases/06/060301.nationalpride.shtml
mira  
9 Apr 2006 /  #9
I think Poland should not take less pride than Germany (for example). But also Poland is not the center of the world as some may believe :).
clex  
5 Feb 2007 /  #10
if Chopin was not Polish , no one famous comes from australia as all of them are migrantts or thir descendents, like Chopin was.

not to name the guy who named/found Kosciuszko mountain in Australia. for me as a pole that name might not be known as there few other more famous living in Poland but for the guy from Australia it is a shame...
Grrrr  
19 Feb 2007 /  #11
Not much more really. Except for Copernicus, but he hardly counts, He's been dead for hundreds of year now.

Anna Maria Kirri.... And hmmm by the way? Are there any other countries in europe that are much better?

And Chopin is Polish... He lived in poland his whole childhood. What makes him French is just his father

So please, can someone here tell my how does it come that Poland takes less pride in its achievements than Germany

BRAVO !!! I would even say more! We have lots to be proud about. Maybe this isnt much to you.

1. The polish cavalry was known over the whole world and didnt loose EVEN once for 126 years.
2. We were known as the protectors of Europe after we had fought back the turks who without our help could take the most of europe

3. Anna maria kirri is one of the 3 who has got the nobel price twice
4. It wasnt anybody else than us who took care of the Jews for hundreds of years while everybody else was pretty much throwing them away.

5. A new IQ test has shown that poland is the third smartest country in the world right after germany and the netherlands.
6. We have never attacked a country. Only fighting back once a country attacked us we were contrattacking.
7. In the battle of britain a the poles were the ones to shoot down the most german planes even though they joined after a month

A thing i would also like to add was that. Before 1800 when POland dissapeared from the map we had 2 Austrian Kings. But i can also agree to it that we destroyed ourselfs by arguing about stupid things.

P.S ofcourse we are not the best country in the world.... But is there one?
Matyjasz 2 | 1,544  
19 Feb 2007 /  #12
BRAVO !!! I would even say more! We have lots to be proud about. Maybe this isnt much to you.

Certainly! But I think that you got little carried away:

2. We were known as the protectors of Europe after we had fought back the turks who without our help could take the most of europe

It's not that simple, but surely they would make a serious cause of danger for Europe.

6. We have never attacked a country. Only fighting back once a country attacked us we were contrattacking.

Never say never. Just as almost every country on the continent we were an expansionist country at one time.

The rest would be just picking, so let's leave things that way.

As for being proud, just like you said, we have a lot of reasons for that. Starting with the great strategist and kings like hetman's Koniecpolski, Żółkiewski, Tarnowski, Chodkiewicz, Zamoyski, Sobieski, Czarnecki, Chrobry, Mieszko I, Bolesław Krzywousty, etc the authors of some really amazing victories in wars with Russia, Sweden, Ottoman Empire, Teutonic Knghts, Tatars, Kosacks, Holy Roman Empire of The German Nation, etc.. the old Polish military art, the "husars sabre" (the best white weapon in the world), one of the best cavalry in the world, etc... Too much to name and there’s also science, literature, music, cuisine, fashion (especially the one from the nobles of the XVI and XVII century), believes, customs and demonology... I hope that I will have the chance to discuss at least a part of those topics with you on this board. :) It would be nice in deed.
Llyvellyn - | 15  
21 Feb 2007 /  #13
Not much more really. Except for Copernicus, but he hardly counts, He's been dead for hundreds of year now.

I think you should have known Polish contribution to world music much better than me, a total foreigner. Okey, Chopin may be half-French, but then the Russian Dimitri Shostakovich had a Polish father too. Tchaikovsky in a letter to Madam Von Meck expressed his belief that he had a Polish ancestry too (just look at an extraordinary amount of his beautiful Mazurkas, Polonaises and his Third Symphony-Polska). About true Polish composers, beside Szymanowski, henryk Wieniawski was a brilliant composer and intrumentalist for violin, who even the great contemporary violinist Joshue Bell considers as 'the God of Violin'. Talking about intrumentalists, I suppose you should now that Poland has produced two of the greatest pianists of all time: Ignacy jan Paderewski and Artur Rubinstein (this one was actually a Polish Jew, marrying a Catholic Pole. One of his most patriotic act for Poland was in San Francisco conference 1945 (which founded the UN) when he played the Dabrowski's Mazurka before the whole gatherings after noticing that there were no Polish representatives whatsoever).

Anyway, I think you underestimate your own Polish heritage. Certainly, its contribution is not as influential as, say, France or Greece, but it is immensely interesting and abosolutely valuable to the whole Europe. Criticism of your own country or yourself is fine and encouraging but just make sure it will not turn into self-pity or cynicism. You want your country to be great? Cool, just make yourself great first (not necessarily materially)!
lef 11 | 478  
21 Feb 2007 /  #14
I accept the points Stefan is making, he is not having a go at Poland but just making a observation, I think what you have to understand quest is that people want to live in the present and not dream about the past, most people are concerned with making ends meet in daily living, something which is very difficult to achieve in the new Poland.
xyz  
11 Mar 2007 /  #15
I'm 1/4 polish, and from what I know, Poland is a poor country. A doctor in Poland for example, earns about 1/16th of what he/she would earn in the UK. No wonder they all move here. Also, Poland, although it is a great country, isn't as important as some of the others. Probably in the top 20, not in the top 10 though.
Grzegorz_ 51 | 6,163  
11 Mar 2007 /  #16
Probably in the top 20, not in the top 10 though.

OMG ! I thought we're number one ! :(
Member 223  
11 Mar 2007 /  #17
How I love to read old threads.
ArturSzastak 3 | 593  
11 Mar 2007 /  #18
The Poles can be proud of their place in Europe, traditions, culture, but the problem is making the rest of the world take a notice.

You're too kind. :)

the best white weapon in the world

Yup. I even found myself educating my Social Studies teachers on this issue. They said it was modern weapons like the B2-Bomber or the A-Bomb. But then I googled it for them real quick and they almost **** themselves.

Who esle can decapitate 3 men with one swipe???
Ze Frensh?? I zink not!
Kévin  
22 Jun 2007 /  #19
wtf ? r u making a competition to make Poland the best country in the UE ?
truhlei 10 | 332  
15 Jul 2007 /  #20
True, we are not all that known around the globe, but we have had many outstanding writers... The only problem being that they are hardly known to anyone outside of the country.

You have mentioned one of the worst phenomenons. Very few works translated from Polish.
No Pasek translations no Rzewuski.
Sometimes it occures to me that people abroad should collect money for translating of Polish-Lituanian literature in different languages (Russian in my case) to an Endowment able to organize this work
CharlesSchitzk  
16 Jul 2007 /  #21
Somewhat ironically, or fittingly (depending on how you wanna look at it) Poland now finds itself in a position to wield some power in Europe through its relationship with Germany. This might seem a bit counterintuitive, but a German-Polish rapprochement would have the capacity to act as a counterbalance to Russian bullying, might offer the Poles an energy security guarantee and could usher Poland into 21st century EU politics with a staff in its hand rather than a chip on its shoulder. I like the way this website has posed it.

atlantic-community.org/index.php/articles/view/The_Case_for_German-Pol ish_Rapprochement.
Enjoy, and be proud of a bright future!
Matyjasz 2 | 1,544  
16 Jul 2007 /  #22
This might seem a bit counterintuitive, but a German-Polish rapprochement would have the capacity to act as a counterbalance to Russian bullying, might offer the Poles an energy security guarantee and could usher Poland into 21st century EU politics with a staff in its hand rather than a chip on its shoulder.

Thanks for the very interesting link. As for the Polish German relationship, Schroeder cutting a deal with Russia really put a big damage to it. Although Frau Merkel seems to have a different approach to Germanys relations with Russia than her predecessor, the "wound" is still very fresh and it will take time for us to fully trust our neighbor’s foreign policy. But I hope that eventually we will reach consensus. The sooner the better.
Bratwurst Boy 5 | 10,377  
16 Jul 2007 /  #23
Read the comments to this article Maty:

atlantic-community.org/index.php/articles/view/Merkel%27s_Momentum%3A_ Grading_the_German_EU_Presidency

It's the Poles who have to do something for our relationship...
Or as one commentator put it:

"...The problem I see is that without a reciprocal effort by the polish side, the german side will have lost interest by the time the polish public has “caught up”..."
Matyjasz 2 | 1,544  
16 Jul 2007 /  #24
The truth is that if we really want to achieve a compromise both our nations have to want it and do something about it. It's a mutual thing you know. But thank you Bratwurst for pointing me into the right direction. I actually found the answer to our dispute in the very first comment on that site, made by Peter Manner. :

"Strategic partnerships are definded by - well - strategic interests. There is a huge number of such between Germany and Russia. Not only does the german industry provide the machinery and knowhow to restore the russian infrastructure. Russia also is our biggest supplier of energy ressources. Both countries are interested in a world without one single superpower and want to regain lost influence. Together we have a better chance of succeeding. No matter how much Poland may be praised - it is not going to even be able to help us in this regard.

Aside from the point that they wouldn't do so even if they could. Probably the biggest difference between Russia and Poland would be the stance towards Germany".


And this is the place where the dog is really buried, as we say in Poland. Although some people would like to see the polish-German problem only as some historical dispute the real cause of this whole situation lies not in the politics of the first part of XXth century, but in the current events. Mister Manner is right; Poland won't be able to offer more to Germany than Russia can. We don't have the energy resources Russia has, and certainly there are a lot bigger opportunities for German businessmen to earn money there than in Poland. Russia seems to be of a more strategic partner for Germany than Poland probably ever will be. Thus it's quite logical that Germany will want to have a good relationship with Russia. It's all getting much more sense now. But there still is one piece of this puzzle that seems to give me a headache. It's been less than two decades since the USSR collapsed. The recent years saw Russia standing slowly on it's own feet thanks to the recent rise in the worth of oil and gas. It was just a matter of time when Russia will try to regain it's influence in eastern Europe, and as we all know, it stands in conflict with Polish interests. I guess we can say a lot of nasty things about Germans, but defiantly not that you are stupid. Since the good relations with Russia are so precious to you, more precious than your relations with your neighbor and fellow member of EU, why did you advocate so strongly Poland's accession to EU? Wouldn't it be a lot of easier if you would omit Poland? Why Bratwurst? I don't get it.

Putin has no interest in strong EU. He tried, tries and will continue to try to destabilize the Union. He uses gas as a means to manipulate EE countries and strengthen his position in Eastern Europe. Don't you think that Germanys role as a member of EU should be more stronger stance in defense of fellow members rather that to cut deal behind their backs with their opponent? My God I still remember Schrodered saying how paranoid Poles are and how democratic Putin is. A former KGB agent, hehehe... and then after his political carrier ended he accepted a post as the head of the shareholders' committee in a Russian-led consortium, controlled by Gazprom. What a laugh. I am sure it doesn't have anything to do with him lobbying for Putin. :)

In conclusion, if you want us to accept german hegemony in EU at least show us that the good of fellow members is more important for you than your private one. After all, isn't union about careing for the common good of the members rather than for a private one? Isn't it about putting your members interest before some outsiders. And if that's to much to ask, at least don't play surprised when we will try to find help outside of that fine Union and wont allow you to make decision that deeply concern us without us. Simple.
ogorek - | 165  
16 Jul 2007 /  #25
But i can also agree to it that we destroyed ourselfs by arguing about stupid things.

..no we didn't!!!!
tornado2007 11 | 2,274  
16 Jul 2007 /  #26
Poland needs to stand up for itself and be counted. I mean really there are things that i could say but i really think you Polish would find it offensive so i won't.

Show these other countries and cultures that you mean business and that Poland COUNTS and isn't a walk over whenever somebody decides they want a piece of extra land or some people to work for pittance money

I love Poland and Polish people of course it counts :)
ogorek - | 165  
16 Jul 2007 /  #27
Poland needs to stand up for itself and be counted.

Poland has been doing this for over 1000 years now. You have no
idea of the effort, blood and tears that have been given to just
preserve her very existance. Remember once not too long ago
Poland dropped her guard and dissapeared for 120 years.
Poland is standing up for itself, but it's not easy being sandwiched
between Germany and Russia.
truhlei 10 | 332  
25 Jul 2007 /  #28
Putin has no interest in strong EU. He tried, tries and will continue to try to destabilize the Union. He uses gas as a means to manipulate EE countries and strengthen his position in Eastern Europe.

What for, Matyjasz?
East Europe doesn't give any benefit to Russia. These are quite subdevelopped countries. The only reason why Russia is anxious about them is their possible transit blackmail.

As to Ukraine, remember only one thing. In 1990 Poland had to pay world prices for gas. That was a tremendous period but Poles survived with idea that it is the price of independence. After Yushenko victory Ukranians denied any possibility to pay Russia for gas the same price as Poland. That could mean that an average Ukranian with 180 dollars salary would receive some 15 dollars less for some 1-2 years. The majority didn't want to pay such maney for independence. USA Government supported Ukranians in their desire to pay less to Russia altough 16 years earlier Poland had to cope with its energetical problems.

That is the Ukranian independence.

It was just a matter of time when Russia will try to regain it’s influence in eastern Europe, and as we all know, it stands in conflict with Polish interests.

Doesn't seem to be so. You don't take into account Ukraine, Belarus and Latvia. They occupy territory from Black to Baltic seas and can blackmail Russia and other countries by gas transit. Poland will also have problems with Ukraine. As to Ukraine its growth is real and has prospects. Russia won't be able to interrupt it. In this case Poland will be interested in Baltic gas tube. Poland can cope with its problems but as to Ukraine I'm not sure

It was just a matter of time when Russia will try to regain it’s influence in eastern Europe

The generations of 45 years and younger in Russia aren't interested in territories away from today Russian borders. They know the main challenges and the main prospects are within today Russian territory. Russia as superpower doesn't attract the majority of population because it is not profitable and takes Russian away from solving its own problems.

Some 34% are satisfied by today fronteers and this percentage grows.
But the West provokes Russians.
The Kosovo problem can strengthen those who want to use it as precedent in South Osetia, Abhasia and South Ukraine. It will be more uneasy to persuade the man in the street that Kosovo is one thing and Osetia is quite different (by the way do you know any difference? I don't).

Antimissil awakes military budget vampires. They feel themselves better in case of confrontation.
Lugovoj extradition demand is quite a crazy thing. In 1993 Russian conservative perlament who opposed to democratic changes and new Constitution adoption was bombed by tanks. I was the witness. Approximately 150 of its defensores were killed. They were enemies of president and new Russia (sometimes protesting against changes) but that was Russian blood. And now Russia should forget its blood by British desire to forget Russian constitution adopted following that bombing.

The most interesting fact is that the West doesn't have any force to make Russia follow its desire. And no profitable proposaks to millions of Russians.

That's the reason why we have this situation.
As to Poland...
Well? do you think there are profitable proposals the EU can make? Think on that and you won't be anxious about German attitude
porta 18 | 297  
25 Jul 2007 /  #29
Acctually, my favorite skijumper is Adam Malysz(did i spell that right?) And wasn't Chopin from Poland?
truhlei 10 | 332  
25 Jul 2007 /  #30
Putin has no interest in strong EU. He tried, tries and will continue to try to destabilize the Union.

Sometimes united nature of the EU is also in use. For example Russia received a wide oportunity to ignore its EU neighbours from East Europe by the pretext they are not independent enough and problems with them can be solved on level of EU. Thete are many examples of the sort.

As to EU collisions, they are also a reality the exists despite Russia. These collisions won't desappear by the reason that there are very different countries within EU and collisions are possible. Russia uses both collisions and united nature.

Poland won’t be able to offer more to Germany than Russia can. We don’t have the energy resources Russia has, and certainly there are a lot bigger opportunities for German businessmen to earn money there than in Poland. Russia seems to be of a more strategic partner for Germany than Poland probably ever will be. Thus it’s quite logical that Germany will want to have a good relationship with Russia.

I'm sure Germany can have a good business in Poland as well as in Russia All these activities can't contradict one to another. Polish business is also represented in Russia, not only German one.

As to gas challenge, Poland seem to be interested in it in the same degree as Germany. As far as I know gas use per capita in Poland is the same as in Germany. Yuo have tubes only from Russia but even if gas from Central Asia goes to Europe by tubes away from Russia, yuo will continue buyng Russian gas. No way to ignore Russia is possible because Cantral Asia isn't so democratic and secure. So the situation may change only a little.

Even if gas is substituted by nuclear power stations and biofuel (quite a logical thing), I don't think EU is going to admit complete isolation of Russia. There are many Nations surrounding EU and with all these Nations EU may have problems. That's the reason why any isolation is admissible.

So Germans seem to think on problems everybody in the EU should think. The reason for polish criticism can exist only if Poles already have proposals what to do with Russia and but Germans reject these interesting ideas.

So, Matyjasz,
You are offered to represent Polish (at least your own) vision on:
1. How to contribute to Russian democratization. Ideas about Human Rights controle are not admitted by the reason that no controle is possible for forceless people. Idea of strengthening of Kasianov's opposition is also out of discussion by the use by such oposition of extremist Limonov's commandos.

2. What shall EU propose to Russia. Shall Russia feel comfort if the Nation takes into account EU demands?

These are quite easy questions. If you answer them Germans will feel a great shame

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