Piast Concept

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Piast concept is a political idea of Polish state based on its initial territories under the Piast dynasty, and containing mostly Polish population. For its supporters is also mostly identified with the idea of westernization, attachment to Europe and its ideas, close relationship with western countries and pragmatism in international relations, while avoiding unwise adventures in the East.[1] It held that Poland made out of mostly Polish territories in the west during Middle Ages was a strong, westernized state, equal to other western European countries. It was believed that modern Polish nationalists should restore its central values such as westernization, focus on development of Polish trade and economy and creating a Polish middle class. Jan Poplawski had developed the "Piast Concept" in the 1890s, and it formed the centerpiece of Polish nationalist ideology, especially as presented by the National Democracy Party, known as the "Endecja," which was led by Roman Dmowski. It was also supported by Polish peasant parties[2]

Rival Jagiellon Concept[edit]

There was a rival Jagiellon Concept, one endorsed by the interwar governments dominated by Józef Piłsudski. Its advocates idealized the grandeur of the Poland under the Jagiellonian dynasty in the later Middle Ages, which linked Poland-Lithuania, Bohemia, and Hungary under Polish kings.[3] The Jagiellon Concept looked more to the underdeveloped eastern territories inhabited mostly by Ukrainians, Lithuanians and Belarussians and as such was criticized by supporters of Piast concept for neglecting interests of Polish population in the West, focusing on underdeveloped agricultural territories instead of industrial regions and putting Poland unnecessarily at odds with the powerful Russian state while ignoring the threat from Germany, which was considered far more dangerous in its ability to eradicate Polish identity than Russia. Since Jagiellonian Poland ultimately led to Poland being extinguished from international arena, it wasn't seen as an attractive model to follow by the followers of Piast concept. Today modern Poland follows the ideas of Piast concept, by following a western-orientated foreign policy.[4]

After 1940[edit]

Joseph Stalin at the 1943 Tehran Conference discussed with Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt new post-war borders in central-eastern Europe, including the shape of future Poland. He endorsed the Piast Concept in order to justify a massive postwar shift of Poland's frontiers to the west. After discussions over many months Britain and the U.S. agreed with Stalin on the new borders, but the Polish government-in-exile remained opposed.[5]

After 1945 the Communist regime adopted the Piast Concept, because it supported their claim that they were champions of Polish national interests.[6] Calling the newly acquired formerly German territory "Recovered Territories," the Communist regime made an enormous effort to justify the acquisition in terms of the Piast Concept.[7][8]

Criticism[edit]

Hosking and Schöpflin argue that the Piast Concept "rested on a simple and persuasive historical myth."[9] They summarize the essence of this "myth" as follows:

"A thousand years ago and more, the Polish population had supposedly lived on its ancestral land in unity and harmony, ruled by the benevolent hand of its first legendary ruler, a peasant called Piast....however, the Poles lost their unity and lost control of their native land. All manner of aliens and intruders - Germans, Jews, Ukrainians and Russians ...took large parts of Poland's towns and countryside for themselves....Poland was robbed of her inheritance. So the message was clear. All patriotic Poles had a duty to unite and drive all foreigners from their native soil: 'Poland for the Poles!'"[10]

Historian Norman Davies says that Dmowski based his vision of Poland on the "primitive" and "uncorrupted by alien influence" Piast period.[11]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ http://tygodnik.onet.pl/35,0,38779,polska_piastow_kontra_polska_jagiellonow,artykul.html Krzysztof Strachota / 28.12.2009 Polska Piastów kontra Polska Jagiellonów Tygodnik Powszechny
  2. ^ http://tygodnik.onet.pl/35,0,38779,polska_piastow_kontra_polska_jagiellonow,artykul.html Krzysztof Strachota / 28.12.2009 Polska Piastów kontra Polska Jagiellonów Tygodnik Powszechny
  3. ^ Victor S. Mamatey (1978). Rise of the Habsburg Empire, 1526-1815. Krieger. p. 24. 
  4. ^ Główne kierunki polityki zagranicznej rządu Donalda Tuska w latach 2007-2011. By Paweł Musiałek, p. 14
  5. ^ Tony Sharp, "The Origins of the 'Teheran Formula' on Polish Frontiers," Journal of Contemporary History (1977) 12#2 pp. 381-393 in JSTOR
  6. ^ Davies. Heart of Europe. pp. 286–87. 
  7. ^ Geneviève Zubrzycki (2009). The Crosses of Auschwitz: Nationalism and Religion in Post-Communist Poland. University of Chicago Press. pp. 61–62. 
  8. ^ T. David Curp, A clean sweep?: the politics of ethnic cleansing in western Poland, 1945-1960 (2006)
  9. ^ Geoffrey A. Hosking and George Schöpflin (1997). Myths and Nationhood. Routledge. p. 152. 
  10. ^ Geoffrey A. Hosking and George Schöpflin (1997). Myths and Nationhood. Routledge. p. 152. 
  11. ^ Norman Davies (2001). Heart of Europe: The Past in Poland's Present. Oxford U.P. p. 197. 

1. Ewolucja systemu politycznego w Polsce w latach 1914-1998. T. 1. Odbudowanie niepodległego państwa i jego rozwój do 1945 r. Cz. 1, Zbiór studiów 1999. Polska myśl zachodnia XIX I XX wieku Czubiński Antoni