Christianity in East Central Europe: Late Middle Ages.Edited by Jerzy Kloczowski, Pawel Kras, and Wojciech Polak. Lublin. Instytut Europy Srodkowo-Wschodniej (Institute of East Central Europe, ul. Curie-Sklodowskiej 58/1, 20-029 Lublin, Poland. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org). 1999. 446 pages. Paper. In French, German, and English.
The Institute of East Central Europe in Lublin has initiated publication of archival works on Polish history, as well as scholarly commentaries on the yet-unpublished sources. A similar process had been initiated by Dmitrii S. Likhachev in Russia half a century ago. The difference is that Polish medieval history (and East Central European medieval history in general) was larger and richer than the Muscovite one, even though the second has been studied extensively in America's Slavic departments, while the first remains virtually unknown outside the borders of the respective East Central European countries (and sometimes, within these borders). While many archival sources have been destroyed by wars and looting (the war machine had repeatedly been put to work by Germans and Russians), whatever remains shows a vibrant Christian culture in East Central Europe already in the twelfth century. Another difference between Likhachev's and the East Central European one is that Likhachev had at his disposal the bottomless treasury of the Soviet Russian communist colossus (as well as many supporters abroad), whereas the Lublin Institute has limited means.
These works bring to scholarly attention parts of East Central European history that were edited out of Western history owing to East Central Europe's status as territory occupied by colonial powers in the nineteenth century. Norman Davies has already initiated the process of integrating the region's history into Greater Europe (Europe: A History, Oxford, 1996), but that was only the beginning, so far as the general public is concerned. Powerful ideological interests work against Davies' book.
Christianity in East Central Europe is divided into six sections: Pastoral Programmes and Religions Life, Intellectual Culture, Socio-Religions Situation in Bohemia in the 15th-16th Centuries, The Problem of "Borderland" between the East and the West, Liturgy and Hagiography, Religions Orders. Each section is represented by four to nine essays written by scholars of diverse provenance. Alas, French prevails as the language of discourse; would that it were English, the book would have had a broader audience. The book's editor, Jerzy Kloczowski, is arguably Poland's greatest living historian. He teaches at the Catholic University of Lublin.
On the minus side, the book barely outlines the subject. Some essays abound in generalities, having been written in an academic style that has all but disappeared from American universities. A more lively style reflecting an awareness of recent academic methodologies would have enhanced the book's appeal. Some essays sound like outlines of doctoral dissertations rather than exhaustive works of scholarship.
Zakony i klasztory w Europie Srodkowo-Wschodniej, X-XX wiek [religious orders, monasteries and convents in East Central Europe from the tenth to the twentieth century]. Edited by Henryk Gapski and Jerzy Kloczowski. Tables, statistics. Lublin. Instytut Europy Srodkowo-Wschodniej. 1999. 438 pages. Paper. In Polish, English, Czech, Slovene, and French.
This extremely well documented volume begins with a generalist section, followed by sections on the Middle Ages, Modernity, and the Twentieth Century. Virtually all material is brand new and unknown, so far as American scholarship is concerned. If absorbed by American scholars, it would considerably update the image of the Middle Ages. Among the most revealing essays are "The Significance of Turkish Sources for the History of the Church" by Olga Zirojevic;" "The Medieval Network of Monasteries in Great Poland and Kujavia. The Present State, Research Necessities and a Preliminary Analysis of the Problem" by Andrzej M. Wyrwa; and "The Activities of Nuns in Poland in the 20th Century" by Witold Zdaniewicz SAC.
Churches and Confessions in East Central Europe in Early Modern Times. Edited by Hubert Laszkiewicz. Lublin. Instytut Europy Srodkowo-Wschodniej. 1999. 199 pages. Paper. In English, French, German.
Again, a multilingual volume. It covers various denominations in the Age of Reformation. Of particular interest is Judith Kalik's "The Jews and the Various Churches of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth." The author hails from Israel and provides a Jewish perspective on the remarkable religious freedom that existed in the old Polish Respublica. The author points out that Jewish communities accumulated huge debts to the Uniate, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox Churches in the 17th-18th centuries, a fact little known among Polish gentiles. 80 percent all loans taken by Jews came from the Roman Catholic Church. "They totalled hundreds of thousands of Polish zloty. What made the loans so attractive and worthwhile to the [Jewish] communities was the fact that the interest (which was usually set at 7% annually) was the lowest available and always fell short of the inflation rate. Furthermore, the interest on loans from the church was calculated from the capital alone and all the installments were equal. In other words, the interest was not cumulative but constant. Therefore, the real value of the amount to be repaid diminished rapidly all the time." (145-6)
Wizja Polski na lamach Kultury, 1947-1976 [the vision of Poland in the monthly Kultura], 2 vols. Edited by Grazyna Pomian, E. Muszynska and Irena Pielak. Introduction by Grazyna Pomian. Lublin. Maria Curie-Sklodowska University Press. 1999. Vol. 1, 441 pages; vol. 2, 455 pages. Index. Paper. In Polish. A selection of articles from the Paris Kultura from the times when Kultura was virtually the only independent Polish periodical in Europe. The two volumes are divided into sections titled, in translation, "Poland from up close and from afar," "Assessments and prognostications," "The Intelligentsia in People's Poland," "The [Roman Catholic] Church and Modernity," "I and the Other," and "Emigrant and Native Opinions of People's Poland."
This is truly a publication that will enter history, if only because of the dearth of publishing outlets in those grim years.
And yes, SR columnist Sally Boss managed to squeeze herself into these volumes! She began to write for Kultura in 1976, and her first article appears in the collection.
Diecezja minska okolo 1830 roku [the Minsk diocese in 1830]. Part 1, Struktury parafialne [parish structures]. Part 2, Struktury zakonne [religious orders]. By Ignacy Borejko Chodzko, edited by Marian Radwan. Lublin. Instytut Europy Srodkowo-Wschodniej. 1998. Part 1, 263 pages. Part 2, 213 pages. Tables, appendices. Paper. In Polish.
This is the fifth installment of Materials on the History of the Catholic Church in the Polish Respublica and in Russia published by a research institute in Lublin, Poland. Volumes one and two were reviewed in the January 2000 issue of SR. Part 1 contains a history of Catholic parishes in what today is central Belarus, Part 2 provides a history of religious orders in the same region. They were written by Ignacy Chodzko (1777-1851), but had never been published. A Catholic priest named Bronislaw Ussas saved these and other materials from destruction by Soviet hands, and he gave them to the KUL Archives. There is a wealth of material in both volumes, and this material has never been integrated into the history of Catholicism or of the region itself. The distortive intervention of Russian colonialism prevented information contained in these and similar works from reaching scholars and the general reader.
Pierwszy naród ukarany: Polacy w Zwiazku Radzieckim, 1921-1939 [the first nation to be punished: Poles in the USSR, 1921-1939], by Mikolaj Iwanow. Warsaw-Wroclaw. Panstwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe. 1991. ISBN 83-01-10537-2. 399 pages. Index of persons, bibliography, summary, illustrations. Paper. Zl.12.99. In Polish.
A scholarly work detailing the fate of Poles in the USSR. According to the 1926 Soviet census, 782,300 persons in the USSR declared themselves to be of Polish background. Only half said that Polish was their first language. 204,000 lived in the Russian Federation, 496,000 in Ukraine, 97,000 in Belarus, 6,000 in the Caucasus, and 3,000 in Central Asia. However, during the 1929 Congress of the Polish Diaspora, the figure of one million was quoted for the USSR. In 1930, the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimated the number of Poles in the USSR to be 955,000. After a lengthy argument, Iwanow estimates that before World War II, Catholic Poles in Belarus numbered 300,000, and in Ukraine, 650,000.
Iwanow points out that under the Soviet regime, Poles did not develop a sense of unity and solidarity across the Soviet republics and across the Russian Federation. This unfortunate characteristic prevented them from helping one another in times of particular pressure. Thus Poles in Siberia kept apart from Poles in the Far East, and neither group felt solidarity with Poles in Ukraine. At the same time, all those groups of Poles felt loyalty to the Second Polish Republic (1918-1939), a fact which made them targets of sometimes savage persecution.
Another factor was Catholicism. In 1930, Soviet papers published cartoons presenting three greatest enemies of the Soviet regime: the wrecker (saboteur), the capitalist, and the Pope. Ideological indoctrination was particularly vigorous in areas inhabited by Poles. Attempts to foment class hatred (rich vs. poor peasant) were frequent. Attempts to create a "Polish proletarian culture" were undertaken by Polish communists such as Witold Wandurski and Jan Hempel. Presentations of the Second Polish Republic as a country similar to Rwanda in the 1990s were routine. Cartoons (reproduced in the book) showed Poles in Poland starving and dying. Anti-Catholic propaganda was ferocious, and arrests of Polish Catholic priests became more and more frequent as the 1930s rolled on. In 1937, there remained only 11 Catholic churches and nine active Catholic priests in the entire USSR. By that time, several hundred thousand Poles from western regions of the USSR were forcibly deported to Siberia and Turkestan, and executions of Poles (as wreckers and/or religious fanatics) became frequent, especially in the countryside. Collectivization of agriculture dealt a decisive blow to Polish rural communities in the USSR.
Narodowe Sily Zbrojne "Zab" przeciw dwu wrogom, by Marek Jan Chodakiewicz. Introduction by Andrzej Czuma. Edited by Piotr Szucki. 2d enlarged ed. Warsaw. Fronda (ul. Reymonta 30/61, 01-842 Warsaw). 1999. 497 pages. Index. Paper. In Polish.
A detailed history of the commander of the right-wing Holy Cross Brigade (Brygada Swietokrzyska--NSZ) which was part of the Polish Underground in Nazi- and Soviet-occupied Poland during World War II. A great deal of material has been gathered in this volume which could have profited from professional editing. Books of this kind are very much needed to tell the part of the Polish story during World War II with which the first world is unfamiliar. Soviet totalitarianism deprived two generations of Poles of access to their own history, submitting instead for public consumption a history that still survives in Western textbooks of World War II in particular.
A longer review to follow.
Among Other Books Received:
Idei v Rossii / Ideas in Russia / Idee w Rosji, edited by Andrzej de Lazari. Vols. 2-3. Lódz. University of Lódz Press. 1999-2000. Vol. 2, 477 pages. Vol. 3, 501 pages. Paper. Trilingual (Russian, English, Polish).
Volumes second and third of Professor de Lazari's monumental work follow the format of the first: articles in alphabetical order range from Russian anthems to Aleksandr Zinovev, and from Liubov Akselrod to Iosiv Kablitz. Volume 3 reprints Andrzej Walicki's review of volume 1 published in Sarmatian Review (September 1999). All three volumes draw on scholars in several countries. Philosophical topics include Logos, bezpopovtsy, Hammer, Hand-fist, I-we-they, dvoeverie, Russian ideology, socialist revolutionary ideas, will, and philosophical education in Russia. A useful compendium of information that otherwise is difficult to obtain.
On the Field of Glory, by Henryk Sienkiewicz. Translated by Miroslaw Lipinski. New York. Hippocrene Books. 2000. 257 pages. Hardcover.
A new translation of Sienkiewicz's historical novel based on late seventeenth-century history. The action takes place some ten years after the last events described in Pan Wolodyjowski. Considerably less known than the Trilogy, this lovely tale brings to bear the dynamic features of Polish national mythology.
Uciec z wiezy Babel, by Jerzy Narbutt. Krakow. Arcana. 1999. 158 pages. Paper. In Polish.
A collection of essays previously published in various Polish journals of opinion. Some of them are truly revealing; others suffer from a journalistic quality. A longer review to follow.
Tozsamosc, odmiennosc, tolerancja a kultura pokoju [identity, difference, tolerance and the culture of peace], edited by Jerzy Kloczowski and Slawomir Lukasiewicz. Lublin. Instytut Europy Srodkowo-Wschodniej. 1998. xiii + 485 pages. Paper. Summaries in English or French, table of contents in Polish and Russian. Texts in Polish.
Papers from a conference titled "Identity, difference, tolerance and the culture of peace" held in December 1995 in Lublin and sponsored by the Institute for East Central Europe. Among several dozen authors there are well known names. The conference's intent was to foster tolerance in the region where both the tradition of tolerance and the sense of identity varied greatly from country to country.
Slup ognia, by Karl Stern. Translated by Magda Sobolewska. Warszawa-Zabki. Biblioteka Frondy (ul. Reymonta 30/61, 01-842 Warszawa). 1999. 365 pages. Paper. In Polish.
Originally published by Harcourt Brace & Co. under the title The Pillar of Fire (1951), this story of conversion of a prominent Jew to Catholicism is engaging and moving. There are various kinds of conversions; this one is as thorough as could be, with the author understanding fully the mode of perception and feeling of his new faith. A good read.
Samoidentyfikacja mniejszosci narodowych i religijnych w Europie srodkowo-wschodniej: Historia i historiografia. Edited by Jerzy Kloczowski. Lublin. Instytut Europy Srodkowo-Wschodniej. 1999. 146 pages. In Polish and English.
On national minorities in East Central Europe and the ways in which these minorities express their separate identities.
Obraz pokolenia, by Tadeusz Pawlowicz. Krakow. Jagiellonian University Press. 1999. 269 pages + illustrations. Paper. In Polish.
Memoirs of a former President of the Pilsudski Institute in New York. Skillfully written, they add to the considerable body of books about the fate of survivors of Central European slaughters during World War II and the post-war Stalin era.
W obliczu konca [facing the end], by Marian Zdziechowski. Warsaw. Fronda. 1999. 231 pages. Paper. In Polish.
A reprint of a book under the same title published in Wilno (Vilnius) in 1937 and authored by the famous Polish eschatological philosopher. Reflections on German, Russian, Polish and European topics. A review to follow.
Korzenie i owoce: Wspomnienia i listy, by Ewa Karpinska-Gierat. Bethlehem, CT. Domek. 1998. 816 pages. Paper. In Polish.
The contents of many archival folders to which a book cover has been added.
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