country in Central Europe
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Poland, officially the Republic of Poland (Polish: Rzeczpospolita Polska), is a country in the eastern European Union. It is bordered by Lithuania to the northeast, Belarus and Ukraine to the east, Slovakia and the Czech Republic to the south, Germany to the west, and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast (a Russian exclave) to the north. Its capital and largest city is Warsaw.

Jeszcze Polska nie zginęła.
Poland is not yet lost. ~ Józef Wybicki
And said Poland: "Whoever comes to me, will be free and equal, because I am freedom." ~ Adam Mickiewicz
The soul of Poland is indestructible... she will rise again as a rock. ~ Winston Churchill
A great nation, only the people are cunts. ~ Józef Piłsudski
After two years of traveling almost exclusively to Western Europe and the Middle East, Poland feels like a geopolitical spa. ~ Thomas L. Friedman
But while Poland could be invaded and occupied, and its borders even erased from the map, it could never be erased from history or from your hearts. In those dark days, you have lost your land, but you never lost your pride. So it is with true admiration that I can say today, that from the farms and villages of your countryside to the cathedrals and squares of your great cities, Poland lives, Poland prospers, and Poland prevails. ~ Donald Trump
Let Poland be Poland. ~ Jan Pietrzak
Babia Góra National Park
They have some really sharp tractors. ~ Dave Barry
Wolin National Park
Drawa National Park
Tatra National Park

Quotes edit

  • I judged the Poles by their enemies. And I found it was an almost unfailing truth that their enemies were the enemies of magnanimity and manhood. If a man loved slavery, if he loved usury, if he loved terrorism and all the trampled mire of materialistic politics, I have always found that he added to these affections the passion of a hatred of Poland. She could be judged in the light of that hatred; and the judgment has proved to be right.
  • Poland has experienced a tremendous amount of history due to the fact that it has no natural defensible borders, which makes it very easy to conquer. Many times the other nations didn't even mean to invade Poland; one night they'd simply forget to set the parking brakes on their tanks, and they'd wake up the next morning and discover that, whoosh, they had conquered Poland.
    But thanks to advances in international law such as the speed bump, Poland is now a totally independent nation, and it has managed to greatly improve its lifestyle thanks to the introduction of modern Western conveniences such as food. Today Poland proudly boasts the nickname "The North Dakota of Europe," and is well worth a visit if you happen to be in the neighborhood for some reason, such as your plane has crashed.
    • Dave Barry, Dave Barry's Only Travel Guide You'll Ever Need (1991), New York: Fawcett Columbine, p. 148-149
  • What to See in Poland
    They have some really sharp tractors.
    • Dave Barry, Dave Barry's Only Travel Guide You'll Ever Need (1991), New York: Fawcett Columbine, p. 149
  • Poland was the driver to what was to happen in Eastern Europe in 1989, first in Hungary, then in East Germany, and then elsewhere. Despite the suppression of Solidarity in 1981, Poland after 1956 was a relative island of freedom in Eastern Europe and, indirectly, was the inspiration for what would happen by the late 1980s. The weakness of the Eastern European regimes was demonstrated anew in Poland, both by the activities of underground Solidarity and by the serious strikes that began in April 1988. The government had grudgingly sought to widen its support by negotiating with other elements, but it wished to exclude Solidarity. The Catholic Church, however, refused to create a co-operative Christian labour movement as the government wanted, preferring to leave the more intransigent Solidarity as the key body for negotiations. The Communists were opposed to trade union pluralism, but, as a sign of movement on the government’s part, the amnesty of 1986 had freed political prisoners. The 1988 strikes discouraged the Party leadership and demonstrated its failure to find a solution to Poland’s problems. Combined with Gorbachev’s renunciation of intervention on behalf of Communism, this failure encouraged the leadership to move toward yielding its monopoly of power.
  • On 30 November 1988, there was a televised debate between Lech Walesa and Alfred Miodowicz, the head of the official trade union federation and a member of the Politburo. This was a highly significant step as the television served as a means of controlling the dissemination of opinion. On 6 February 1989, Round Table talks between government and the technically illegal opposition began, with the Church, an institution of great prestige in Poland, playing an important mediatory role. Under an agreement, signed on 5 April 1989, reached against a background of widespread strikes, elections were held in Poland on 4 June. Only 35 per cent of the seats in the lower house, the Sejm, were awarded on the basis of the free vote, the remainder going to the Communists and their allies, but all of these seats were won by Solidarity. This expression of the public will was a dramatic blow to the old order. Communist cohesion collapsed, not least with the Communist Party being abandoned by its hitherto pliant allies. Strikes and other protests meanwhile continued. The new government was headed by Tadeusz Mazowiecki, a member of Solidarity and a Catholic intellectual. He became the first non-Communist Prime Minister behind the Iron Curtain. There was, however, to be a major division between those who endorsed the ‘Round Table’ political settlement of 1989 as a way to avoid bloodshed, and those who criticised it as, allegedly, a compromise providing subsequent cover for ex-Communists to pillage the state.
  • After two years of traveling almost exclusively to Western Europe and the Middle East, Poland feels like a geopolitical spa. I visited here for just three days and got two years of anti-American bruises massaged out of me. Get this: people here actually tell you they like America – without whispering. What has gotten into these people? Have all their subscriptions to Le Monde Diplomatique expired? Haven't they gotten the word from Berlin and Paris? No, they haven't. In fact, Poland is the antidote to European anti-Americanism. Poland is to France what Advil is to a pain in the neck. Or as Michael Mandelbaum, the Johns Hopkins foreign affairs specialist, remarked after visiting Poland: "Poland is the most pro-American country in the world – including the United States."
  • Because Poles would never elect a pro-Soviet government, Stalin imposed one—the cost, though, was a permanently resentful Poland, as well as a growing sense among his American and British allies that they could no longer trust him.
  • And said Poland: "Whoever comes to me, will be free and equal, because I am freedom."
  • Cultivation, old civilization, beauty, history! Surprising turnings of streets, shapes of venerable cottages, lovely aged eaves, unexpected and gossamer turrets, steeples, the gloss, the antiquity! Gardens. Whoever speaks of Paris has never seen Warsaw. [...] Whoever yearns for an aristocratic sensibility, let him switch on the great light of Warsaw.
    • Cynthia Ozick, Jewish novelist and short story writer. Her character, Rosa Lublin, from Rosa (p. 21), Ozick, Cynthia (1989). The Shawl (A Novel and Novella). Alfred A. Knopf. 
  • Forbid it, England—by thine own great self,
    By thine own yet unviolated hearths,
    . . . .
    Let not thy minister go forth in vain :
    The fate of Poland now is at thy will;
    The Autocrat will hear and heed thy voice ;
    England, my glorious country, speak, and save!
    • Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Fisher's Drawing Room Scrap Book, 1833 (1832) 'The Right Honourable Lord Durham – Now on an Embassy at the Court of Russia'
  • I have placed my death's-head formation in readiness, for the present only in the East, with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language.
  • There are few virtues which the Poles do not possess and there are few errors they have ever avoided.
  • I would like those Poles to come back. I would welcome all Polish people who went abroad. If only they could come back, it would be a great day for Poland.
  • [About Poland] A great nation, only the people are cunts.
  • Around the same time, communism in Central and Eastern Europe finally fell, but its economic rivalry with capitalism had, of course, long since been decided. It’s easy to think that these countries were never close to the market economies, but in 1950 countries such as the Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary had a GDP per capita about a quarter higher than poor Western countries such as Spain, Portugal and Greece. In 1989, the eastern states were nowhere close. The eastern part of Germany was richer than West Germany before World War II. When the Berlin Wall fell on 9 November 1989, East Germany’s GDP per capita was not even half that of West Germany’s. Of these countries, those that liberalized the most have on average developed the fastest and established the strongest democracies. An analysis of twenty-six post-communist countries showed that a 10 per cent increase in economic freedom was associated with a 2.7 per cent faster annual growth. Political and economic institutions have improved the most in the Central and Eastern European countries that are now members of the EU, not least the Baltic countries, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Today, they are some of the freest countries in the world and have more than tripled average incomes since independence. But one can also observe a recent reformer like Georgia. It was seen as an economic basket case, but after the Rose Revolution in 2003 it increased per capita incomes almost threefold and cut extreme poverty rates by almost two-thirds.
    • Johan Norberg, The Capitalist Manifesto: Why the Global Free Market Will Save the World (2023)
  • To my mind, imperialism is something very simple and clear and it exists as a fact when one country, a large country, seizes a certain strip of territory and subjects to its laws a certain number of men and women against their will. Soviet policy after the beginning of the second world war was precisely this. There is no difficulty in pointing this out, but the difficulty lies in the fact that when one quotes from memory one will forget one or other argument. Because the Russians, thanks to the second world war, have quite simply annexed the three Baltic States, taken a piece of Finland, a piece of Rumania, a piece of Poland, a piece of Germany and, thanks to a well thought-out policy composed of internal subversion and external pressure, have established Governments justifiably styled as Satellites, in Warsaw, Prague, Budapest, Sofia, Bucharest, Tirana and East Berlin - I except Belgrade where the regime is unique thanks to the energy and courage of Marshal Tito. If all this does not constitute manifestations of imperialism, if all this is not the result of a policy consciously willed and consciously pursued, an imperialist aim, then indeed we shall have to start to go back to a new discussion and a new definition of words.
  • It has been said that Poland is dead, exhausted, enslaved, but here is the proof of her life and triumph
  • This homage has been rendered not to me – for the Polish soil is fertile and does not lack better writers than me – but to the Polish achievement, the Polish genius.
  • Well, from here I will go to Bonn and then Berlin, where there stands a grim symbol of power untamed. The Berlin Wall, that dreadful gray gash across the city, is in its third decade. It is the fitting signature of the regime that built it. And a few hundred kilometers behind the Berlin Wall, there is another symbol. In the center of Warsaw, there is a sign that notes the distances to two capitals. In one direction it points toward Moscow. In the other it points toward Brussels, headquarters of Western Europe's tangible unity. The marker says that the distances from Warsaw to Moscow and Warsaw to Brussels are equal. The sign makes this point: Poland is not East or West. Poland is at the center of European civilization. It has contributed mightily to that civilization. It is doing so today by being magnificently unreconciled to oppression. Poland's struggle to be Poland and to secure the basic rights we often take for granted demonstrates why we dare not take those rights for granted. Gladstone, defending the Reform Bill of 1866, declared, ``You cannot fight against the future. Time is on our side.'' It was easier to believe in the march of democracy in Gladstone's day -- in that high noon of Victorian optimism.
  • Poland has been a source of trouble for over five hundred years.
  • Poland is like an island on the north European plain. At times the island has been swamped by a tide of iron or steel helmets converging from Germany and Russia. At times it has drifted suddenly with the current; if the continent of Africa had drifted relatively as much as the boundaries of Poland have drifted in the last two hundred years, then Africa would at one time have touched the north pole and at another the south pole.
  • The Poles... belong to a community which has acquired its modern sense of nationality in active opposition to the policies of the states in which they lived.
    • Norman Davies, God's Playground: A History of Poland, Volume 2 (1981)
  • The Polish soldier is a marcher of extraordinary endurance.
    • Charles de Gaulle, as quoted in Warsaw 1920: Lenin's Failed Conquest of Europe (2008), William Collins, p. 105.
  • Quant à l'action qui va commencer, elle se passe en Pologne, c’est-à-dire nulle part.
    • As to the action which is about to begin, it takes place in Poland – that is to say, nowhere.
    • Introduction to the premier of Ubu Roi in Paris in 1896. Quoted in Jarry, Alfred; transl. Beverly Keith and Gershon Legman (2003). Ubu Roi. Dover Publications. 
  • The soul of Poland is indestructible... she will rise again as a rock, which may for a spell be submerged by a tidal wave, but which remains a rock.
  • Un polonais – c'est un charmeur; deux polonais – une bagarre; trois polonais, eh bien, c'est la question polonaise.
    • One Pole is a charmer; two Poles – a brawl; three Poles – well, this is the Polish Question.
    • Voltaire, quoted in Davies, Norman (1996). Europe: A History. Oxford University Press. 
  • There was a thousand-year-old tradition in Poland that I feel far closer to than the religious traditions based on Torah and Talmud and halakha. Now much of that tradition is religious. But it represents my history, my Polish Jewish ancestors. Poland is the center of my Jewish cultural roots, and the destruction of that center in Eastern Europe has created the deprivation of my life. My mission is to try to figure out how to continue here.
    • Irena Klepfisz Interview (1997) in Meaning and Memory: Interviews with Fourteen Jewish Poets by Gary Pacernick (2001)
  • When the Jews finally staged the uprising in April 1943, the Polish underground refused them almost every form of assistance. Even though they were facing the same enemy, even though their country was occupied, the Poles could not overcome their anti-Semitism and join the Jews in the struggle for the freedom of both groups, and instead chose to stage a separate Polish uprising more than a year later.
    • Irena Klepfisz "Anti-Semitism in the Lesbian/Feminist Movement" (1981) in Dreams of an Insomniac: Jewish Feminist Essays, Speeches and Diatribes (1990)
  • We shall soon have the scenes of the Polish Diets and elections re-acted here, and in not many years the fate of Poland may be that of United America.
  • Who only knows Latin can go across the whole Poland from one side to the other one just like he was at his own home, just like he was born there. So great happiness! I wish a traveler in England could travel without knowing any other language than Latin!
  • Wielka mnogość religii, które się w nich roją, zwłaszcza w Polsce, o której mówią przysłowiowo, że jeżeli ktoś utracił swoją religię, to niechaj jej poszukuje w Polsce, a znajdzie ją z pewnością. Jeśli nie, to będzie mógł uznać, że zniknęła ze świata.
    • Great wealth of religions existing, especially in Poland, about which they say that if someone has lost religion, let them search it in Poland and they will find it there, surely. If not, they are to think that the religion disappeared from the face of the Earth.
    • Sir Edward Sandys
  • With respect to us, Poland might be, in fact, considered as a country in the moon.
    • Edmund Burke, in a parliamentary debate about Britain's war against France. Quoted in Cobbett, William; John Wright, Thomas Curson Hansard (1817). The parliamentary history of England, from the earliest period to the year 1803. T.C. Hansard for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme & Brown. 
  • Через труп белой Польши лежит путь к мировому пожару.
    • (Cherez trup beloy Pol'shi lezhit put' k mirovomu pozharu.)
    • Over the corpse of White Poland lies the road to world-wide conflagration.
    • Mikhail Tukhachevsky, order of Russian invasion of Poland in 1920. Quoted in Davies, Norman (1996). Europe: A History. Oxford University Press. 
  • For two centuries, Poland suffered constant and brutal attacks. But while Poland could be invaded and occupied, and its borders even erased from the map, it could never be erased from history or from your hearts. In those dark days, you have lost your land, but you never lost your pride. So it is with true admiration that I can say today, that from the farms and villages of your countryside to the cathedrals and squares of your great cities, Poland lives, Poland prospers, and Poland prevails. Despite every effort to transform you, oppress you, or destroy you, you endured and overcame. You are the proud nation of Copernicus—think of that—Chopin, Saint John Paul II. Poland is a land of great heroes. And you are a people who know the true value of what you defend. The triumph of the Polish spirit over centuries of hardship gives us all hope for a future in which good conquers evil and peace achieves victory over war. For Americans, Poland has been a symbol of hope since the beginning of our Nation. Polish heroes and American patriots fought side by side in our War of Independence and in many wars that followed. Our soldiers still serve together today in Afghanistan and Iraq, combating the enemies of all civilization.
  • Poles cherish a heroic image of themselves, unshared by and little known in the outside world. One of their self-glorifying images is that of the defiant Pole. According to the Polish version of history, the Czechs allowed German occupation and the Poles resisted. The Czechs accepted communism in 1948 and the Poles resisted. The Poles rebelled in 1956 and supported the uprising in Budapest, while the Czechs said nothing and remained loyal to Moscow. Poles recall the fact that they sent a food shipment to support the Hungarian rebels, but the trucks had to pass through Czechoslovakia, where they were stopped. In the complicated pecking order of central Europe’s national images, Poles say that in 1956 “the Hungarians acted like Poles, the Poles like Czechs, and the Czechs acted like pigs.” Now the Czechs, whom the Poles had sneered at under Novotny’s Stalinist anachronism, were becoming the vanguard communist nation, the one to be followed. “It was surprising to see the Czechs ahead of us. They were supposed to be the opportunists and cowards,” said Eugeniusz Smolar.
  • An independent Polish state should be erected which should include the territories inhabited by indisputably Polish populations, which should be assured a free and secure access to the sea, and whose political and economic independence and territorial integrity should be guaranteed by international covenant.
  • Poland is a country that has been victimized by Nazism, by Communism. The world’s greatest crimes, the Holocaust, have occurred here
  • These contests happened throughout Europe, but it could still be argued that the Cold War began in Poland. There, Stalin’s policy of imposing strict Soviet control clashed with the wishes of his allies and those of the great majority of Poles. Britain had gone to war with Germany over the fate of Poland in 1939, and it would be hard for any British government to accept Soviet occupation and dictatorship in that country. Churchill was led by the exigencies of war and a great deal of wishful thinking about Stalin’s intentions to accept the Soviet plan for a reorganization of the Polish government over the heads of the Poles themselves. But this was only a first step in the Soviet campaign to bring Poland to heel. When the Poles had rebelled against the Germans in Warsaw in the summer of 1944, the Red Army deliberately stopped its offensive outside the Polish capital, allowing the Nazis to destroy the Polish Home Army. Stalin reckoned that the fewer Polish officers alive, the better for Soviet control of the country. When the Red Army was finally ordered to take Warsaw, a quarter of a million Poles had already been killed by the Wehrmacht and the SS and most of the city had been razed to the ground. Even so, after entering the Polish capital, Stalin’s secret police kidnapped many of the surviving leaders of the resistance and shipped them off to Moscow for a typical Stalinist show trial. Stalin had instructed the Soviet judges to give them “light” sentences, as a favor to his great power allies. All but a few were to die in captivity anyway.
    • Odd Arne Westad, The Cold War: A World History (2017)
  • Poland, a major center of Yiddish culture and literature before the Second World War
    • Ruth Whitman and Robert Szulkin Introduction to An Anthology of Modern Yiddish Poetry
  • The French writer, Albert Camus, once lamented that "man eventually becomes accustomed to everything". I have always believed that this is an unjustly pessimistic view of our human condition; and in recent weeks I have seen enough to convince me that Camus, on this point at least, was wrong: 30,000 East Germans abandoning home, friends, jobs, everything, to escape to a new life of opportunity but also uncertainty in the West; thousands of Soviet miners striking not for more pay, but for better supplies; the joy of Poles as they greet their first non-Communist Prime Minister in 40 years; over a million inhabitants of the Baltic states forming a human chain to protest against the forced annexation of their nations; demonstrators in Prague braving the security forces to mark the 21st anniversary of the Warsaw Pact invasion; or in Leipzig calling for freedom of speech. Clearly the peoples of the East have not become accustomed to their lot. Totalitarian rule has not made people less attracted by freedom, democracy and self-determination. The opposite is true. Nor has it made them incapable of exercising these values through political organization and self-expression: look at the debates in the new Congress of the People's Deputies, the activities of the popular fronts, Solidarity in Poland or the opposition parties in Hungary. The demand for pluralism and reform can now be heard in every Eastern nation.

See also edit

External links edit

  •   Encyclopedic article on Poland on Wikipedia
  •   Media related to Category:Poland on Wikimedia Commons
  •   The dictionary definition of Poland on Wiktionary
  •   Poland travel guide from Wikivoyage