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A Concise History of Poland

Jerzy Lukowski & Hubert Zawadzki, A Concise History of Poland (2nd edition, Cambridge University Press 2006)

This is an absurdly overpriced book, obviously intended for the captive college textbook market, and it's a bit superficial. I found it useful to build a timeline. Following are my few notes from a second reading:

1796: Russia, Prussia, and Austria completed dismemberment of Poland on the basis of "the need to abolish everything which can recall the memory of the existence of the kingdom of Poland." p132

Russian rule corrupt: "In Russian Poland the wholesale evasion of government rules and regulations, as an expression of contempt for the tsarist regime, was proverbial; it was a habit that was to weigh heavily on life in restored Poland after 1918." p213

Polish-Ukrainian offensive reached Kiev 7 May 1920, but over-reached and had to retreat. "It was now Lenin's turn to implement his grand vision; over the corpse of 'bourgeois Poland' the Red Army was to bring the proletarian revolution into the heart of Europe." p225

Russian army destroyed in "the last great cavalry battle of modern warfare, involving 20,000 horsemen on each side..... Bolshevik ambitions of a European revolution had been checked." p225

March 1923 the Allies recognized Poland's eastern border. "Poland's inter-war borders were no more unfair than many of those redrawn elsewhere in central and eastern Europe." pp231-232

Ukrainians the largest minority at about 4 million. Early 1920s an underground war against Polish rule. 1.5 million Belorussians. About 1 million Germans. 2.2 million Jews, four-fifths speaking Yiddish. p233

1937 Stalin put to death most members of the Polish Communist Party residing in Soviet Union, 1938 dissolved the organization; 1937-38, over 100,000 Soviet Poles (half from the Ukraine) were executed by his order. p249

Germans suffered 50,000 casualties in invasion of Poland 1939, more than it would lose in France in 1940, and lost 500 aircraft and 1,000 armored vehicles. Polish military casualties over 200,000. "Tens of thousands" of soldiers and airmen escaped via Hungary to France; navy had already left via Baltic ports. Government moved to Romania, then France. p255

Polish pilots consituted 10 percent of RAF Fighter Command, downed over 200 German aircraft, one-seventh of total. 303 Sq highest scoring squadron in BOB. At its height in 1944 Polish air force in Britain amounted to 14 squadrons. p264

Difficulties in forming Polish army compounded by bureaucratic obstuctions, Russian refusal to recognize any but ethnic Poles among those imprisoned, and the absence of the officer corps. In the end, 70,000 soldiers and 40,000 "emaciated civilians" allowed to leave via Iran summer 1940. "Tens of thousands" remained behind. p267

Berling's force plus Communist People's Army amounted to 400,000 by the time Poland fully liberated. p272

Poland's total wartime losses amounted to a fifth of the population. Stalin annexed over two-fifths of prewar Poland. p278 "With wartime material destruction estimated at two-fifths of its productive capacity, Poland was the most devastated country in Europe, comparable only to the ravaged Soviet republics of Belarus and the Ukraine." Population down to 24 million from 35 million prewar--but more ethnically homogeneous. p281

150,000 Polish community in Britain. Recognized by the Vatican, Spain, and some others. p292

Radio Free Europe founded 1952 by US (CIA, actually) in Munich, broadcasting 19 hours a day to Poland. p293

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