From the Editor

We know little of Michal Glazer, author of the Memorandum featured in this issue. He was a Polish Jew who in 1937 submitted to the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs a project concerning planned emigration of Jews from Poland to Palestine and the United States. The Memorandum eventually found its way to the Hoover Archives. While the Holocaust decided the fate of Polish Jewry and shaped the attitude of many Jews to Poles in a possibly irreversible fashion, the Memorandum and the accompanying documents are not without interest to the present generation. They document the relations between the largely unassimilated, Yiddish-speaking Jewish minority in Poland (some 10% of the population) and the traditionalist Polish people who perceived themselves as Catholic. One has to remember that contemporary notions of national identity, as based on language and political institutions rather than on religion and remembered history, were only sprouting in the inter-war period in Europe. In spite of these caveats, the Catholic-Jewish relations in the Polish legal sphere were civil, contrary to the readings of history which have since accumulated and which have been put forth, one presumes, partly because they fit the image of the world which the interpreters have cherished.

These documents are also interesting as an instance of speculations in which people of the 1930s engaged concerning world economy, the probability of war and relations between the states. Mr. Glazer did not believe a major war would occur in his lifetime. But on many other counts he was right. His view of the economy, although Marxist-influenced in its pessimistic assessment of the struggle for world markets, was that of a prudent and far-sighted man. He pointed out the weaknesses of the American system of installment buying and consumer debt long before they became a serious problem in America. He was skeptical of Keynesian economy long before Lord Keynes became a household word. He might have underestimated the powerful engine called technology, which alone is capable of raising the standard of living of the world's poor, but he realized that even technology would not help those individuals who consume more than they earn. Implicitly, Mr. Glazer recommends frugal living and putting one's capital to work in productive enterprises.

Glazer's Memorandum also demonstrates that political issues have an economic dimension, and that it is foolhardy to discuss politics without discussing the financing of politics. Poles and Polish Americans have conducted many a discussion on how to fix problems, without dealing with the procurement of means necessary for putting plans into practice. The teaching of Polish subjects in high schools and universities, the publication of Polish books by the leading publishing houses - all these require subsidies which few Polish Americans are willing to provide and for which even fewer are willing to work. Similarly, the unglamorous collection of funds for presidential elections in Poland in December 1995 engages few, if any, pundits on the right side of the political spectrum in particular. Polish political armies seem to consist mostly of generals, with hardly any GIsmarching behind. Mr. Glazer's detailed (though somewhat vague) proposal about the transfer of Jewish capital from Poland to other countries deserves attention precisely for being so detailed and for trying to serve Jewish interests in a way acceptable to all parties concerned.

The answer Mr. Glazer received from the Foreign Ministry is disappointing in its briefness but encouraging in its tone. Had these negotiations started several years earlier, history might have taken a different course.

We would like to thank the Hoover Archives for providing us with access to Mr. Glazer's Memorandum and the accompanying documents.

We also publish in this issue a translation of two Soviet questionnaires which both Catholic and Jewish Poles had to fill out when they were seized by the Soviet state police, the NKVD, after the Soviet invasion of Poland in September 1939. We extend our thanks to the Hoover Archives for access to these documents. Thanks are also due to Norman Davies for permission to publish an excerpt from his forthcoming book, Europe: A History.

Return to September 1995 Issue
The Sarmatian Review
Last updated 09/30/97