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New Post-WWI Nations, Polish-Jewish Relations, "Polish Fatalism", Versailles "Injustices" to Germany Exposed

jan peczkis|Friday, September 30, 2011

This review is from: Balkanized Europe: A study in political analysis and reconstruction, (Paperback) The author examines the numerous nations that had arisen after WWI, and other peoples (e.g., the Slovenes) who had not become separate nations. He does not seem to use the term "Balkanized" in a pejorative sense.

Mowrer discusses both Pan-Germanism and Pan-Slavism. He quips: "But Bautzen, Kottbus, Zerbst, Dresden, Leipzig, Chemnitz, Torgau, Glogau, Stargard--all these are old Slav names, Germanized...the ancient Slav lands, the valleys of the Elbe and the Oder..." (p. 298).


     
 
       


The author analyzes the Ruthenians (Ukrainians) of eastern Galicia. He affirms the fact that the Austrian authorities, "Took care to encourage by every possible means the national sentiment of the Ruthenians, so as to be able to play them off, in case of need, against the Poles..." (p. 208).

Although the author often mentions Poles as anti-Semitic, he does come to a point in which he blames both sides for the negative aspects of their relations. He writes: "None of these racial minorities are likely to be a cause of serious trouble except the Jews, who form an unassimilated and utterly foreign body, in language, customs and religion no less than in sentiment... [Jewish population concentration in Poland.] No other explanation is needed of the friction which has manifested itself between the two races, both prolific, both intelligent, both religious and both stubborn...Assimilation, which is not impossible, may truly begin only when the Poles, on their part, will adopt a liberal policy, as indeed they now seem inclined to do, and when the Jews, on theirs, will frankly accept Polish sovereignty and cease their subtle agitations against the newly founded state." (p. 210).

As for the Zydokomuna (Bolshevized Judaism), Mowrer traces its origins as follows: "As for the Jews their sympathies may well be Bolshevist. Obliged under Czarism [tsarism] to dwell outside the pale, that is, west of the river Dnieper, intelligent, visionary, unhappy and oppressed, they absorbed extreme ideas out of Germany like so much blotting paper. Indeed, it may be said that it was through the Jews, living as they did near the German border, that socialism first penetrated into Russia." (pp. 141-142).

When it comes to Polish attitudes towards Communism, Mowrer notes that, notwithstanding the wrongs faced by Polish peasants (p. 142), Communism had minimal appeal among Poles, for religious and patriotic reasons, notably the following: "Bolshevism to them [Poles] means simply a Russian army which tried to overwhelm them, and very nearly succeeded. It is the `hereditary enemy' disguised in a social formula." (p. 142).

Clearly, although both Poles and Jews experienced oppression, their diametrically opposite views of Communism stemmed largely from the fact that many of Poland's Jews had no real solidarity with Poles and Poland. Consequently, unlike the Poles, these Jews had no problem with the Russian conquest and continued rule of eastern Poland. Also, unlike religious Poles, religious Jews were willing to overlook the antireligious and murderous aspects of Communism.

Poland's detractors, notably the cleanliness-oriented Germans, have tended to look down on Poles as a dirty, fatalistic people who eschew order and discipline. Mowrer considered this idea in the context of peasant Poles' resistance to modern measures that would end typhus: "This indifference and this fatalism seem to be based largely on the fact that not only typhus but many other forms of human misery are endemic in Poland. The villages are dirty and poor, the towns overcrowded, seeming to consist largely of slums." (p. 109). The Poles' resistance to authority stemmed from over a century of harsh foreign rule. Mowrer comments: "Again, the very fact that the government orders them to bathe is sufficient reason for the Poles to evade the order, if they can. For generations, the only government these unhappy people have known has been a government of oppression. For generations, they have been accustomed to suspect a hidden motive of oppression in every edict, and a hostile trap in every decree. They have therefore developed to a high degree the quality of passive resistance, and even knowing that the present government is wholly different from the old, they cannot change their attitude in a day." (p. 112).

Both Poles and Jews had their irrational beliefs: "There is a time-honored superstition in Poland, among Jews and Christians alike, that body-lice ward off disease." (p. 112). This, of course, made typhus hard to eradicate.

Now consider the Versailles accords. Mowrer points out that, instead of being penitent for their aggression, the Germans prefer to think of themselves as wronged by the peace accords. (p. 303). [Publishing this book in 1921, Mowrer could not have known that the "injustices" of the Versailles accords eventually would be (and still are today) used as an excuse for Hitler's rise to power.] Ironically, the Germans damaged their own economy to enhance the credibility of their whining: "Finally, in order to prove its utter incapacity to pay the proposed indemnities, the German government seems to be making a deliberate effort to force the country into bankruptcy." (p. 304). Finally, the premise that the Versailles accords were unduly punitive of Germany is fallacious. Mowrer comments: "As for the pretended misery of German industry, the German newspapers, in October, 1920, report the payment of dividends of twenty-two per cent by the Lindenberg metallurgical plants, twenty-two and a half per cent by the Runingen flour mills, thirty per cent by the Zypen metallurgical plants, sixty per cent by the Ammendorf paper mills, etc. With the exception of the United States, Britain, France and Belgium, Germany is already in better condition, in every respect, than any other of the recent belligerents." (p. 305).
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