Polonia – a sleeping giant
Henryk Pawelec from the Patriotic Discussion Club talks to Professor Jerzy Robert Nowak.
Henryk Pawelec: – Within the last five months you had many meetings and speeches in Canada, at the convent of the Association of Organisations for Polish community in Latin America (USOPAL) in Uruguay and during your three trips to America, to the Polish immigrants living in the United States. What are your most important impressions from these meetings with Polish immigrants (Polonia)?
Professor Jerzy R. Nowak: – The conviction I had expressed for years was strengthened, namely that the Polish community is a sleeping giant and collaborating with it would be of great significance for Poland’s development, almost like the contribution of the Irish American community to accelerating the economic jump in Ireland. The successive Polish authorities, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and various Polish diplomats in the USA and Canada acted against the necessary collaboration with the Polish immigrants. The domineering ‘lying-elite’, having communist background, were simply afraid of a stronger influence of the people from the anti-communist Polonia on the directions of development in the country. Instead of collaborating with the Polish community they often tried to divide it and weaken it, attacking its key leaders, commencing with the President of the Polish American Congress Edward Moskal and Jan Kopylanski, the President of USOPAL. In spite of the numbers (several millions of Polish immigrants in the USA) and good material situation (it is estimated that the Polish minority is the second national minority in the USA), the Polish community is far from creating a suitably strong political lobby. However, we should remember that it was the Polish community that played a decisive role in inclining the US President and the Department of State to exert an effective pressure on the government of Kohl to recognize the border on the Odra and Nysa Rivers in the early 1990s. But Poles know little about the achievements of the Polish community.
Unfortunately, the achievements of Polonia in politics, culture and economy have been completely unknown. For example, the PWN encyclopaedias omit the famous scientist of Polish origin living in the USA Professor Hilary Koprowski, who discovered the vaccine against Heine-Medina disease. The achievements of Professor Iwo Cyprian Pogonowski, the author of precious books defending the Polish reason of state, have been practically unknown, apart from the media connected with Radio Maryja. Among his many works he wrote the monumental book ‘Jews in Poland’ (1993). During my recent stay in Washington I had the chance to talk to the famous independence activist Zofia Korbonska, widow of one of the heroes of the Underground Poland, the Government Delegate at Home. She was very sorry that the political and cultural achievements of the Polish immigration had been unknown to a great extent. It is worth adding that many a time the American Polonia and the Canadian Polonia fought, without any support of the Polish authorities, against the anti-Polish campaign in the media and publications. The speeches of President Moskal, the manifestation of over 3,000 Poles in front of the anti-Polish newspaper ‘Toronto Star’ and such publications as ‘Kielce 46’ by Marek Poul or ‘Polish Holocaust’ by Tadeusz Piotrowski were quite famous.
– What is your opinion about the Polish debates concerning the lampoon ‘Fear’ by Gross?
– Bismarck was said to having woken up Polish people by his persecutions. Today we can claim that Gross wakes up many Poles from their inertia towards anti-Polishness by his new calumnies in ‘Fear’ and sometimes his almost idiotic statements. Naturally, one should keep the proportions: Gross’s trash is far from the work of Poland’s sophisticated enemy Bismarck. But it was good that Gross’s lies were severely criticised but such figures as Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz or such gremia as the Senate of the Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw or the board of the Institute of National Remembrance. My 21 articles written for ‘Nasz Dziennik’ and the book ‘Nowe klamstwa Grossa’ [Gross’s New Lies] played some role in denying Gross’s lies. ‘I belong to the numerous figures of the Polish community that highly evaluated your book ‘Nowe klamstwa Grossa’ and I dream of its English edition in America. But I am astonished by the fact that your book was not noticed in many Polish media, even in the partly right-wing ones.’ ‘You should not be surprised! My book is not politically correct to many publishers and media. I deal with too many taboo subjects. To mention some examples: the horrible role of the Jewish police towards their fellow countrymen; the role of the Jewish communists in the Security Police and in the process of Stalinization of the judicial system, the army, economy, press, science and culture; the role of the Jewish communists in the process of making Russia Bolshevik and in Stalinization of Hungary, the Czech Republic or Romania. How uncomfortable to some people is the enormous load of factography concerning the subjects I mentioned, which were totally ignored during several decades!
– Professor Nowak, what is the most effective method to oppose Gross’s falsification?
– I think that the Polish American Congress and other Polish immigrants’ organizations should write letters expressing their strong protest against the book by Gross to the Rector of Princeton University, showing it as an extreme example of anti-scientific false theses originated from racial enmity towards Poles. I would also consider legal way against the Znak Publishing House because of its having published and promoted the slanderous book against the Polish hierarchs, especially against Cardinal Sapieha. I would suggest accusing Znak of promoting the book that publicises the opinions of Gross, which undermine the rightness of the decision taken in Potsdam and denying the Polish rights to ownerships in the Restored Lands. I think that the lack of dissociation from Gross’s views (cf. ‘Fear’ p. 86) means a betrayal of Polish national interests. The Catholic and national media in Poland and in the Polish communities abroad should thoroughly criticise all lies of Gross, showing that he is only a cynical anti-Pole, an impostor. In order to oppose the lies of Gross and his followers in such influential media as ‘TVN 24’, ‘Wyborcza’, ‘Dziennik’, ‘Newsweek’, etc. one should develop an action, as big as possible, of talks and discussions concerning Gross’s slanders. I have planned my schedule of speeches on this subject in several cities, including Krakow, Kielce (twice), Czestochowa (twice), Lodz, Warsaw, Wroclaw, Lomza, Bydgoszcz (twice), Mielec, Szczecin, Inowroclaw and others.
– What are your publishing plans?
– Within next weeks, to reply to Gross’s lies, I have decided to publish a revised enlarged version of my book ‘Przemilczana zbrodnia’ [Ignored Crime] which was published in 1998, about the Jewish communists’ crimes against Poles in the former Polish borderlands in the years 1939-41. In a few weeks, before Easter, I am publishing an almost 400-page book entitled ‘Zydzi – Polacy. Spory o historie’ [Jews – Poles. Disputes about History]. The book will include the former publications ‘Zydzi w historii swiata’ [Jews in the World History], ‘Kogo musza przeprosic Zydzi’ [Whom Must Jews Apologize?] and ‘Przemilczani patrioci polscy’ [Polish Forgotten Patriots] (about the pro-Polish Jewish trend – the assimilated Jews). Within two years I intend to publish (I count on sponsors) my first thorough analysis of the Polish-Jewish relationships. The book will have about 1,000 pages in two volumes. The important fact is that the book will be written from the Polish point of view. So far only Jewish writers have presented the history of Polish Jews and their relationships with Poles. But that did not favour objectivism. In ‘Polityka’ the famous historian Professor Stefan Kieniewicz pointed to the onesidedness of the publications about the Polish-Jewish relationships written by the authors belonging to the Jewish minority. Prof. Kieniewicz stated that the Jewish authors had the custom to focus on two subjects: the contribution of the Jewish minority into Polish culture, science, etc. and the problem of the discrimination of the Jewish minority by the Polish majority. Such an approach was far from presenting all subjects of the relationships between the two nations. My book will break with this unwise practice that most books concerning the Polish-Jewish relationships presented only the Poles’ attitude towards the Jews and not the Jews’ behaviour towards Poles. This year, perhaps by the end of June, the work of my life will be published – a 1,200-page book about the history of Poland in the years 1733-1939, in two volumes. This book will include a selection of several hundred most interesting texts of the Polish political thought in the years 1733-1939, preceded by colourful sketches of the authors of the texts, commanders, insurgents, soldiers and artists. I have prepared this book for a long time, since 1979, and the book was enthusiastically reviewed by the outstanding historian Professor Jerzy Skowronek. But in the early 1990s the publishing house broke off the contract with me because it preferred to earn on publishing popular books than to publish a historic book. Now the situation has changed and at last I have means to publish the book, which will show a versatile picture of various trends of Polish thought and activities that contributed to Poland’s independence.
The conversation was conducted in New York on 30 January 2008.