Quote of the Day: ‘Rosyjskie Diabły’

 

I learned that little Polish phrase from the late Mr. She, not very long after I met him, on a day when we were swapping stories about our eccentric and (in wholly different ways) exceptional families. It’s one of the few (SFW) bits of Polish I know, and I say it with great determination and verve, although, unlike the lady in the photo at the top of this post, I don’t usually spit before enunciating.  Over the decades, I’ve found it to be an excellent party trick after a few drinks, and I have reduced more than a handful of Polish friends, acquaintances, and co-workers almost to tears of joy at my effort.

Russian Devils.

I became acquainted with the lady in the photo only posthumously, as she died many years before Mr. She and I met, but she’ll be known to me first and foremost, always, as my husband’s “barrel-shaped Polish grandma.” (He adored her.)

Aniela (anglicized as ‘Angela’) Skczrypek (roughly: ‘Pschipik’) arrived on these shores through the port of Galveston, TX, on the SS Koln on March 9, 1908.  Accompanying her were her husband, Caryl (Cyril, Carl) Zbozny, and their daughter–Helenia, age 3–who’d been born in the Old Country.  (I won’t be more specific than that, because we’re talking about that area of Europe that changed hands so often that it’s almost impossible to pin any location down to a specific country for any length of time).  The little family was headed for Englewood, CO, where Caryl hoped to take up his trade as a miner.  And indeed, some digging around in the census records of the time turns up the fact that Caryl started work not long after at St. Mary’s Beacon Mine, just south of Cripple Creek.

Family lore has it that Carl and Angela had six more children (well, that’s an actual fact), all in different states, as they moved around following the work and the mines.  Ancestry records almost bear that out, revealing that Stephen and Mary were born in AZ and NM (referred to in the records as ‘Mexico’ at the time), while Bill, Sophie, Frank, and Joe were born in different towns in NY and PA, after the family moved East.  We don’t know why they made the move (a project for a later time) but by 1920 they were in Binghamton, NY, Carl was working as a machinist at a shoe manufacturer, and Helen rolled cigars at a cigar factory.

Eventually, they fetched up in Pittsburgh, and the men of the family entered the steel-working trade, something at which they excelled, and that was pretty much universally expected of them–and in which Sophie joined them, in a ‘Rosie the Riveter’ role during WWII.  Most of the boys of the family were exempted from service because of their essential work at the mill (Jones & Laughlin, or as it was known on the South Side of Pittsburgh, “JayNell”) but Bill and Joe served as Seabees in the Pacific.  Eventually, a family member broke the mold and went to college, astonishing some, and breaking his other grandmother’s heart, as she’d mapped out a career for him in the church.  (“But, Gram, I might like to get married one day.”  “Pffft.  You can always have a housekeeper.”)

But that’s a story of another generation, for another time.

It was a hard life, even when the family had settled for good on the low-lying riverside flats of Pittsburgh’s South Side (Hell with the lid taken off).  There was never enough money, there was an overabundance of hard, endless work for both the men and the women, whether in the mill or at home, and there was a material filthiness, and overweening harshness to life that the pajama-people of the twenty-first century would find repellent and probably unsustainable.

But they never complained.  They were safe, productive, and happy, sure that they were making better lives for themselves in the new country that they’d come to love and had adopted as their own.  There was warmth, stability, and affection.  And stories.  Helen’s (multiple) runaway marriages.  Steve’s wooden leg and the dog that bit it one day, getting the surprise of its life.  Grandma’s fractured English, and how she’d send the young Mr. She down to the numbers guy on Carson Street with the daily number for the racket.  The bars.  The drunks.  The joy.  The heartbreak.  And the hermaphrodite dwarf.

Lost in the mists of time, though, is exactly why Caryl, Aniela, and Helenia came to the United States in the first place.  Perhaps, like so many of the time, they came to work and make a better life for themselves.  Perhaps they were fleeing war and dislocation on the home front.  Perhaps they had other reasons.  It’s hard to know.  Complexities abound when you’re researching family history. I’ve always thought those in the ‘Smith’ or ‘Jones’ families must have it particularly hard, but there are other unique challenges to overcome when your relatives have names like ‘Zbozny’ and ‘Skczrypek’  and never talked much about their lives before America.  It’s so much easier on my own side of the family, where my maiden name–although uncommon and prone to misspelling–is at least a lot more regular and discoverable–for me, anyway.  I guess that’s my British privilege speaking.

Given Grandma’s linguistic proclivities, I’ve always wondered if the Rosyjskie diabły played a part in the family’s flight, as they have, for so long, and so often among the people of that region of the world.  (Book recommendation: Peter Hopkirk’s The Great Game: On Secret Service in High Asia. It’s almost 700 pages, and breathtaking in its scope and cinematic prose. Somewhere about page 70 on my first-time through, I raised my head to breathe, and said to a friend, “this book has given me more insight into why Russia is such a basket-case of a country than anything else I’ve ever read, seen, or heard.”  There’s an audiobook available, and my second-time through, I went in that direction on a trip halfway around the world and back.  It was just as good listening to it as it was reading it.)

I’ve been very fortunate in my own life.  But I’ve known many who were not so.  I’ve known of quite a few who fell afoul–through no fault of their own–of Rosyjskie diabły and lived (or didn’t) to tell the tale.  Many of the stories are appalling and grotesque.  The heartbreak comes afterward, when there’s time for it.

One of the more repeatable stories:  Many years ago, I worked with a Hungarian woman, from a fairly well-off, and old-money Budapest family.  When the Soviets moved into and occupied Hungary in the late stages of, and years after, World War II, they came after my friend and her family, threw them out of their home, and a troop of Russian officers established themselves as in charge.  The parents ‘disappeared’ and my friend (who was in her early teens) and her younger sister remained.

It was a convivial evening pursuit by the Russian officers to force my friend and her sister to drink enough alcohol to get them roaring drunk, and then require them to dance on the dining room tables while raucous music was played.  I’ll leave it to your imagination to envision what happened next.

Russian Devils.

My friend used to say that she and her sister prayed for the Nazis to come back.  Because, compared to the Russians, the Germans were “gentlemen.”  Now, I know–and she knew also–that that isn’t true either, but still.

Russian Devils.

There seems to be an increasing number of op-ed pieces, articles, posts, and commentaries these days suggesting that–“Oh, well, the Russians aren’t so bad.  Why, they’re the same color as ‘us,’ (unlike the evil ChiComs) and–under Putin–Christianity is almost OK again, so let’s not worry too much about this.  Anyway, the Crimeans probably appreciate the fact that the Russians took them over, and the Ukrainians would likely enjoy being Russian anyway, and why should we get involved in a conflict halfway around the world that doesn’t affect us, so let’s just not get too wound up about it.  Que sera, sera.  Or, as the Russians might say, ‘Чему быть, того не миновать.‘  Crumbs.  Good thing Doris Day didn’t have to get her tongue around that.  I don’t think it would scan, anyway.)

We on the Right, who are on the side of remembering history so we don’t have to repeat too many of its less-savory aspects, shouldn’t start selectively forgetting it now, just because doing so scratches our itch for ‘no more war,’ or I’m all right, Jack.  and its collateral implication.  (FTR, I don’t want a war either. And certainly not one of Putin’s choosing. And certainly not one led by the fools who botched Afghanistan and Iraq, and into which we are backing ourselves through weakness and incompetence while we pretend to unparalleled unity with our wobbly Western “allies.”)

We need to keep, top of mind–at all times–while watching our backs, the wisdom, and the caution, of a barrel-shaped Polish grandma:

Rosyjskie diabły

Or, at the very least, we should pay heed to John McCain’s (yes, I know…) trenchant observation in response to George W. Bush’s encomium to his friend Vlad.  Bush said, “I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy.  I was able to get a sense of his soul.”  When asked his own opinion of Putin, McCain replied, “I looked into his eyes and I saw three things: a ‘K,’ a ‘G,’ and a ‘B.'”

It is those three things, and the fact that many seem to have forgotten Putin’s relationship to them that has so much of the West rattled and uncomfortable, as they watch their leaders swanning around, appearing to be attempting to set up frameworks for negotiating in good faith with a man they believe to be an evil, conscienceless, untrustworthy, power-hungry, despot and killer.

I don’t know if war will come, or to whom it will come if it does, or what–if any–our role and those of our Western allies is to be. All I know is that I’d like to think that our position on the matter, and the actions we take relative to it, whatever that position and those actions are,  come from strength.

I don’t think anything we do comes from strength anymore. Not with Biden.  Not with Macron.  Not with BoJo.  Not with Scholz.  Not with anyone else in charge on “our side” that I can think of.  Justin Trudeau?  Please.

I do think I know what grandma would have thought of those waffling, backpedaling, and talking out of both sides of their mouths as they pretend that we can reason–and dance–in something like good faith with the latest incarnation of the Russian Bear:

Nie ma rozum.

These people “have no minds.”

God bless the wisdom of Polish grandmas everywhere, their humanity, their bravery, their journeys, and the peaceful and safe world that they made for those who came after them, a world where the only devils in their lives were the ones that lived inside them forever, and ones which, for the sake of others, they mostly kept to themselves:

And God help us all, that a fool such as Kamala Harris** was sent to Europe to manage our “response” to what we’ve already turned, even if only preemptively, into such a clown show.

**I actually heard her, a few days ago, speaking to the Europeans and speechifying that “it is our unity that is our strength.” Wait.  What? This from a woman, an administration, and a party that has preached for years that “it is our diversity that is our strength.”  Kamala, honey: If unity is what brings strength, then how about you and yours start advocating for it stateside as well?

Published in General
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 35 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    Great stories!

    Complexities abound, when you’re researching family history. I’ve always thought those in the ‘Smith’ or ‘Jones’ families must have it particularly hard, but there are other unique challenges to overcome when your relatives have names like ‘Zbozny’ and ‘Skczrypek’

    And so many of them coming from Europe anglicized their names.  When I was at Air France, I worked on a group with a travel agent whose last name was Coldsnow.  I never met her in person, and for months I thought she was an American Indian. It turned out her German great-grandparents had translated their last name, which had been Kaltschnee. Americans have all kinds of family tree roadblocks. (Was that a mixed metaphor?)

    • #1
  2. She Member
    She
    @She

    She:

    I do think I know what grandma would have thought of those waffling, backpedaling, and talking out of both sides of their mouths as they pretend that we can reason–and dance–in something like good faith with the latest incarnation of the Russian Bear:

    Nie ma rozum.

    These people “have no minds.”

    This is the official dictionary rendering of the phrase.  As delivered by Polish grandma, at least WRT her intent, Mr. She always translated it at “[expletive] fer brains.”

    That works for me too.

    • #2
  3. She Member
    She
    @She

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Great stories!

    Complexities abound, when you’re researching family history. I’ve always thought those in the ‘Smith’ or ‘Jones’ families must have it particularly hard, but there are other unique challenges to overcome when your relatives have names like ‘Zbozny’ and ‘Skczrypek’

    And so many of them coming from Europe anglicized their names. When I was at Air France, I worked on a group with a travel agent whose last name was Coldsnow. I never met her in person, and for months I thought she was an American Indian. It turned out her German great-grandparents had translated their last name, which had been Kaltschnee.*

    Thanks.  Yes, lots of people anglicized their names, and many just dropped off the difficult bits, usually the predicates.  In addition, there were problems at the immigration entry points with people transcribing and spelling the names correctly just because some of them sounded so strange to American ears.

    I looked for years, through all the Ancestry records, to find out where and when Mr. She’s paternal grandparents entered the country.  And then–on a search for something else entirely–I fell over the shipping manifest from Galveston TX (which I didn’t even know was a point of entry) with e record on it.  Spelled correctly, too!

    Americans have all kinds of family tree roadblocks. (Was that a mixed metaphor?)

    Whether or not, it’s apt.

    *Maybe for the same reason that the British royal family changed its name from Battenberg to Mountbatten?  Because of anti-German sentiment?

     

    • #3
  4. Doug Kimball Thatcher
    Doug Kimball
    @DougKimball

    There’s an old joke.  A Frenchman, Italian and Russian arrive at St. Peter’s gates at the same time.  St. Peter says, “I see you are all imperfect, so I must ask you one question.  If I gave you one more day on earth, what would you do?”

    The Frenchman spoke first.  “I would go to my mistress, kiss her and wish her well.”

    “Very nice,” said St. Peter as he opened the gate and allowed the man to enter.

    The Italian spoke next.  “I, too, would like to kiss my mistress one more time, but I would also visit my wife and thank her for our life together.”

    “OK,” said St. Peter as he motioned the Italian to enter the gates.  “What about you, my dear Russian?”

    “If I returned to Russia,” said the Russian, “I would burn my neighbor’s barn.”

    • #4
  5. She Member
    She
    @She

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):

    There’s an old joke. A Frenchman, Italian and Russian arrive at St. Peter’s gates at the same time. St. Peter says, “I see you are all imperfect, so I must ask you one question. If I gave you one more day on earth, what would you do?”

    The Frenchman spoke first. “I would go to my mistress, kiss her and wish her well.”

    “Very nice,” said St. Peter as he opened the gate and allowed the man to enter.

    The Italian spoke next. “I, too, would like to kiss my mistress one more time, but I would also visit my wife and thank her for our life together.”

    “OK,” said St. Peter as he motioned the Italian to enter the gates. “What about you, my dear Russian?”

    “If I returned to Russia,” said the Russian, “I would burn my neighbor’s barn.”

    I’m not sure this sort of grudge-nurturing, self-involved vindictiveness is exclusive to the Russian ethos, but yeah….

    • #5
  6. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    She (View Comment):

    I’m not sure this sort of grudge-nurturing, self-involved vindictiveness is exclusive to the Russian ethos, but yeah….

    My Lebanese-American former publisher would like a word.

    • #6
  7. She Member
    She
    @She

    Speaking of mixed metaphors, (see comment #1): Just when  you thought it was safe to go back in the water, the zombies show up to eat the brains of the living (again).  From today’s PowerLine:

    The Hottest Take on Ukraine…Belongs to Alexander Vindman:

    Yesterday, as a guest on the Rachel Maddow show, Vindman tried to blame Russia’s Ukraine incursion on conservative pundits in the U.S.:

    Guest host Ali Velshi asked, “Are you a little bit puzzled at the responses coming from some right-wing American media, and now members of the Republican Party that seem to be implying that maybe this isn’t all that bad. There may not be a clear reason why we should be wary of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

    Vindman said, “I think these folks, these right-wing pundits, the head of the GOP that is supportive of it really frankly have blood on their hands because they’re encouraging and enticing this kind of opportunism from Putin. It’s not just plain rhetoric that you can say something without consequences like too often happens in the United States. This has real consequences. People are going to die because of this.”

    What a repulsive worm, and an object lesson that we should think first, before falling into line with offensive and idiotic ideas–even those promulgated by folks–even LTCOLs– who’ve worn the uniform of the United States military–which imply that people with absolutely no political power in the United States (“right-wing pundits”) are somehow manipulating Vladimir Putin to do their will when it comes to embarrassing the Biden administration.

    While I myself–as implied in the OP–think some of these “takes” may be wrongheaded, the idea that they’re a counter to  the moronic “Russia Russia Russia” narrative of the past six years is bonkers.

    In the concluding words of the PowerLine post (from John Hinderaker):

    Vindman’s suggestion that Vladimir Putin takes his foreign policy cues from conservative pundits in the U.S., when our President is a Democrat and the entire Executive Branch is staffed by Democrats, is risible. The only takeaway here is that there is no depth to which MSNBC will not sink.

    Yep.  The only shame is that so many of the Hallelujah Chorus are willing to listen to what Vindman says just because he shows off his uniform and has a nifty hat cover.

    • #7
  8. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    I’m not sure this sort of grudge-nurturing, self-involved vindictiveness is exclusive to the Russian ethos, but yeah….

    My Lebanese-American former publisher would like a word.

    Speaking of Lebanese Americans, we met a lot of them when we moved to Michigan to be near my  then-publisher. He and most of the ones we met all have first names as their last names, because the names on their passports were in the form they used in the old country; i.e. Trump Donald. So that was how they were named. It’s why we had Senator Abraham.

    • #8
  9. Mad Gerald Coolidge
    Mad Gerald
    @Jose

    She: I don’t think anything we do comes from strength anymore.

    Exactly right. 

    Great post!

     

    • #9
  10. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Poles (among others) think Russians are devils. Irish think Brits are devils. (Explains a lot about Brexit and Northern Ireland. ) Scratch a Frenchman after a bottle of wine and he’ll tell you Germans and Brits are devils. Scratch a German (no beer needed) and he’ll tell you the French are devils. Don’t need to Scratch a Greek to talk your ear off about Turks.

    In other words, it’s not exactly productive.

    Other things are needed. Strength and resolution are. There is a distinct lack and there’s only one place it can come from and it’s this side of the Atlantic. And it will not be provided by this administration.

    Have sufficient strength and you can have those Russian devils along with the British,  French and German devils standing with you against a common threat farther east.

    • #10
  11. She Member
    She
    @She

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    I’m not sure this sort of grudge-nurturing, self-involved vindictiveness is exclusive to the Russian ethos, but yeah….

    My Lebanese-American former publisher would like a word.

    Speaking of Lebanese Americans, we met a lot of them when we moved to Michigan to be near my then-publisher. He and most of the ones we met all have first names as their last names, because the names on their passports were in the form they used in the old country; i.e. Trump Donald. So that was how they were named. It’s why we had Senator Abraham.

    This seems to be the case with many nationalities and ethnicities, not least among our East Asian friends.

    Back in the day, when I watched a bit of the Olympics, I enjoyed the figure skating.  And South Korean skaters such as Yuna Kim.  (Gold medal winner, ladies singles, 2010).

    Whenever she’s mentioned these days, I see that the way her culture represents her name is “Kim Yuna.”

    Likewise, in 2003, when my sister and I spent a couple of weeks in Washington DC (not a small effort on either of our parts) following the figure skating world championships.  The pairs gold-medalists that year were the Chinese Xue Shen and Hongbo Zaou.  A memorable performance (not least for her toothy smile) to Nessun Dorma.  I’ve loved this pair since their first appearance on the world stage, one during which they were almost laughed off it:

    As with the South Korean Kim, I see that their names were backwards.  Their culture calls them “Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo.”

    I have no idea why muddling such things up was ever important, or why anyone would do it.  I know only that–apparently–it’s ubiquitous.

     

    • #11
  12. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    She (View Comment):

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    I’m not sure this sort of grudge-nurturing, self-involved vindictiveness is exclusive to the Russian ethos, but yeah….

    My Lebanese-American former publisher would like a word.

    Speaking of Lebanese Americans, we met a lot of them when we moved to Michigan to be near my then-publisher. He and most of the ones we met all have first names as their last names, because the names on their passports were in the form they used in the old country; i.e. Trump Donald. So that was how they were named. It’s why we had Senator Abraham.

    This seems to be the case with many nationalities and ethnicities, not least among our East Asian friends.

    Back in the day, when I watched a bit of the Olympics, I enjoyed the figure skating. And South Korean skaters such as Yuna Kim. (Gold medal winner, ladies singles, 2010).

    Whenever she’s mentioned these days, I see that the way her culture represents her name is “Kim Yuna.”

    ………………………………………………….

    Oh yes, my cousin had a Chinese friend whose name was Fong. She said she’d given up long ago explaining that it was her last name.

    • #12
  13. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Poles (among others) think Russians are devils. Irish think Brits are devils. (Explains a lot about Brexit and Northern Ireland. ) Scratch a Frenchman after a bottle of wine and he’ll tell you Germans and Brits are devils. Scratch a German (no beer needed) and he’ll tell you the French are devils. Don’t need to Scratch a Greek to talk your ear off about Turks.

    In other words, it’s not exactly productive.

    Other things are needed. Strength and resolution are. There is a distinct lack and there’s only one place it can come from and it’s this side of the Atlantic. And it will not be provided by this administration.

    Have sufficient strength and you can have those Russian devils along with the British, French and German devils standing with you against a common threat farther east.

    All true.    But each of those “devil” tales have a genesis in fact.   It is possible to get beyond them.   And we should .   But … Ignore them at your peril.  There are hard lessons in those stories, paid for in blood and tears.

    • #13
  14. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    She:

     (Book recommendation: Peter Hopkirk’s The Great Game: On Secret Service in High Asia. It’s almost 700 pages, and breathtaking in its scope and cinematic prose. Somewhere about page 70 on my first-time through, I raised my head to breathe, and said to a friend, “this book has given me more insight into why Russia is such a basket-case of a country than anything else I’ve ever read, seen, or heard.” There’s an audiobook available, and my second-time through, I went in that direction on a trip halfway around the world and back. It was just as good listening to it as it was reading it.)

    Recommendation accepted. 

    • #14
  15. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Well, the Russian troops had reason to dislike the Hungarians in WW II, didn’t they?

    You know, with the Hungarians participating in the Axis invasion that killed something like 20 million Russians.

    All sorts of people can be very brutal in war, including us.

    The underlying Russian motivation seems to be a historically well-founded fear of invasion.

    • #15
  16. She Member
    She
    @She

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Well, the Russian troops had reason to dislike the Hungarians in WW II, didn’t they?

    You know, with the Hungarians participating in the Axis invasion that killed something like 20 million Russians.

    All sorts of people can be very brutal in war, including us.

    The underlying Russian motivation seems to be a historically well-founded fear of invasion.

    There is “war” Jerry.  And then there is the situation I described in this post. (I assume it’s the one you’re referring to, since it’s the one in which I mentioned a Hungarian.)

    That you would conflate the two, and then use the one to justify the other is revelatory.

    Thanks for the history lesson, BTW.  I’ll pass it along to my friend in case she’s unaware.

    • #16
  17. Taras Coolidge
    Taras
    @Taras

    She (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Well, the Russian troops had reason to dislike the Hungarians in WW II, didn’t they?

    You know, with the Hungarians participating in the Axis invasion that killed something like 20 million Russians.

    All sorts of people can be very brutal in war, including us.

    The underlying Russian motivation seems to be a historically well-founded fear of invasion.

    There is “war” Jerry. And then there is the situation I described in this post. (I assume it’s the one you’re referring to, since it’s the one in which I mentioned a Hungarian.)

    That you would conflate the two, and then use the one to justify the other is revelatory.

    Thanks for the history lesson, BTW. I’ll pass it along to my friend in case she’s unaware.

    Not that “20 million Russians” crap again.  It’s amazing how often people simply forget — or memory hole — how World War II actually started:  when Germany and Russia in alliance attacked Poland from both sides.  (England and France and Poland had desperately tried to make an alliance with Russia themselves, but Russia chose Hitler.)

    Of course, Hitler had his fingers crossed behind his back; and Stalin hero-worshiped Hitler so much that he refused to believe all the reports from Soviet intelligence that the Germans were about to turn on their “fraternal socialist allies”.

    After that, the Soviet war aim was to protect one man, and the Soviets spent lives like water, because human lives mean nothing to Communists.  After all, if you’re working to create an eternal utopia, why then any utilitarian calculus will tell you that a few million, or a few tens of millions, or a few hundred million lives are unimportant.  (Besides, no relatives of high party officials were sent anywhere near the front line!)

    World War I, also, the Russians got involved in voluntarily, for reasons of national pride and to preserve their influence in the Balkans.  Because of the incompetence of the Russian high command, the eastern front eventually came to look like a German invasion, but the Russians had instigated the fighting.

    If we go all the way back to 1812, we find Napoleon invading Russia. But the result was why nobody tried it again for so long.

    So you have it wrong. Russia does not have a “historically well-founded fear of invasion”.  Rather, today and for the last 700 years, Russia’s neighbors have a “historically well-founded fear of [Russian] invasion”.

    • #17
  18. Marjorie Reynolds Coolidge
    Marjorie Reynolds
    @MarjorieReynolds

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Poles (among others) think Russians are devils. Irish think Brits are devils. (Explains a lot about Brexit and Northern Ireland. ) Scratch a Frenchman after a bottle of wine and he’ll tell you Germans and Brits are devils. Scratch a German (no beer needed) and he’ll tell you the French are devils. Don’t need to Scratch a Greek to talk your ear off about Turks.

    In other words, it’s not exactly productive.

    Other things are needed. Strength and resolution are. There is a distinct lack and there’s only one place it can come from and it’s this side of the Atlantic. And it will not be provided by this administration.

    Have sufficient strength and you can have those Russian devils along with the British, French and German devils standing with you against a common threat farther east.

    I have to interrupt you there, only a minority of Irish hate the English. I certainly don’t know any. We might think that they’re very different from us in a lot of ways and there might be a lot of things we don’t like about them but I’ve never heard anyone speaking about them the way my Polish friend speaks about the Russians.

    Having said that, I’m willing to concede that  a new strain of Anti-English sentiment is being allowed to form post Brexit. But you can guess the types who might be stirring that up.

    • #18
  19. JoelB Member
    JoelB
    @JoelB

    Thank God for America where these old hatreds could be (to a great extent) left behind us.

    • #19
  20. Taras Coolidge
    Taras
    @Taras

    Marjorie Reynolds (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Poles (among others) think Russians are devils. Irish think Brits are devils. (Explains a lot about Brexit and Northern Ireland. ) Scratch a Frenchman after a bottle of wine and he’ll tell you Germans and Brits are devils. Scratch a German (no beer needed) and he’ll tell you the French are devils. Don’t need to Scratch a Greek to talk your ear off about Turks.

    In other words, it’s not exactly productive.

    Other things are needed. Strength and resolution are. There is a distinct lack and there’s only one place it can come from and it’s this side of the Atlantic. And it will not be provided by this administration.

    Have sufficient strength and you can have those Russian devils along with the British, French and German devils standing with you against a common threat farther east.

    I have to interrupt you there, only a minority of Irish hate the English. I certainly don’t know any. We might think that they’re very different from us in a lot of ways and there might be a lot of things we don’t like about them but I’ve never heard anyone speaking about them the way my Polish friend speaks about the Russians.

    Having said that, I’m willing to concede that a new strain of Anti-English sentiment is being allowed to form post Brexit. But you can guess the types who might be stirring that up.

    @hangon is not quite comparing apples and oranges; but rather apples, and apples the size of Jupiter.

    It’s like saying, “Germans killed Jews; but Jews killed Germans, too.  It’s all the same!”  What’s left out is that the former happened about 10,000 times more often than the latter.  Similarly, there are orders of magnitude between Russian devilry and British devilry.

    No Frenchman will tell you that the Brits are devils (unless maybe if he is 200 years old):  the Brits spent most of the 20th century coming to France’s rescue.

    No German will tell you that the French are devils (again, unless maybe if he is 200 years old).

    • #20
  21. She Member
    She
    @She

    JoelB (View Comment):

    Thank God for America where these old hatreds could be (to a great extent) left behind us.

    And where (to a great extent) it’s been possible to get beyond them when there were found here. Unfortunately, there seems to be a fairly large and vocal contingent anxious to stir up new hatreds as needed and advantageous (for them), and to prevent us from moving on and beyond.  

    • #21
  22. She Member
    She
    @She

    Marjorie Reynolds (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Poles (among others) think Russians are devils. Irish think Brits are devils. (Explains a lot about Brexit and Northern Ireland. ) Scratch a Frenchman after a bottle of wine and he’ll tell you Germans and Brits are devils. Scratch a German (no beer needed) and he’ll tell you the French are devils. Don’t need to Scratch a Greek to talk your ear off about Turks.

    In other words, it’s not exactly productive.

    Other things are needed. Strength and resolution are. There is a distinct lack and there’s only one place it can come from and it’s this side of the Atlantic. And it will not be provided by this administration.

    Have sufficient strength and you can have those Russian devils along with the British, French and German devils standing with you against a common threat farther east.

    I have to interrupt you there, only a minority of Irish hate the English. I certainly don’t know any. We might think that they’re very different from us in a lot of ways and there might be a lot of things we don’t like about them but I’ve never heard anyone speaking about them the way my Polish friend speaks about the Russians.

    Having said that, I’m willing to concede that a new strain of Anti-English sentiment is being allowed to form post Brexit. But you can guess the types who might be stirring that up.

    My family’s always been of a singing sort.  Singalongs to “Ten green bottles,” and “On Ilkley Moor Baht ‘at,” at great volume while driving in the car, and so on.  It’s a trait that was completely foreign to Mr. She, who was born on the third floor above a South Side (Pittsburgh bar) and who always said that the 2AM drunks’ choruses from two floors down of “How Much is that Doggie in the Window,” and “You Are My Sunshine” scarred him for life.  (We went back to visit the place in the early 2000s sometime, by which time the area had been gentrified, the property values had gone through the roof, and the establishment on the first floor was expensive and quite upscale.  No (obvious) drunks in sight.  The apartment was still there, though.)

    I’m reminded, in some of the comments here, of a late 1950s song from The Kingston Trio, one we’d play on the old blue wind-up gramophone in Nigeria, and  which I’d dance to when I was about five.

    It was a different time, one which presumed a fairly well-informed audience, and whose songs often involved clever lyrics (Tom Lehrer was another favorite of ours).

    But, depressingly, as this little song reveals, some things never change.

    • #22
  23. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    She (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Well, the Russian troops had reason to dislike the Hungarians in WW II, didn’t they?

    You know, with the Hungarians participating in the Axis invasion that killed something like 20 million Russians.

    All sorts of people can be very brutal in war, including us.

    The underlying Russian motivation seems to be a historically well-founded fear of invasion.

    There is “war” Jerry. And then there is the situation I described in this post. (I assume it’s the one you’re referring to, since it’s the one in which I mentioned a Hungarian.)

    That you would conflate the two, and then use the one to justify the other is revelatory.

    Thanks for the history lesson, BTW. I’ll pass it along to my friend in case she’s unaware.

    Maybe I misunderstood your post.  I thought that you were criticizing Russian treatment of Hungarians “in the late stages of, and years after, World War II.”  You weren’t specific as to the time of the incident you discussed, other than to tie it to the war and the immediate post-war period, at least as I interpreted what you wrote.

    The Russians had plenty of reason to hate the Hungarians at that time.  “Hungarian devils,” they might have called them.

    You’re the one who is demonizing all Russians, at least as I interpret your post.  “Russian devils,” you write.  Which looks, to me, like attempting to stir up exactly the sort of national hatred that was the basis for the mistreatment of Hungarians that you deplore in the OP.

    The thing that is revelatory, I think, is your inability to see any nuance, your inability to see the other side of the situation.  You view the people you like as entirely good and innocent, and the people you don’t like as — your word — “devils.” 

    As to your friend, yeah, pass along the history lesson.  Tell her that I feel about as much sympathy for the Hungarians as I feel for what the Japanese endured at our hands, after they launched a vicious and unprovoked war.  Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

    All of these horrors were terrible.  If anything, though, I see less reason to sympathize with the Axis side, as they launched the war.

    • #23
  24. John Park Member
    John Park
    @jpark

    My maternal grandfather came to the United States from rural southern Poland (probably Austria-Hungary controlled) in 1900. He went back for a visit in 1965, when the Soviet Union (Khrushchev) was in control, and said nothing had changed on his return to the US.

    • #24
  25. She Member
    She
    @She

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):There is “war” Jerry. And then there is the situation I described in this post. (I assume it’s the one you’re referring to, since it’s the one in which I mentioned a Hungarian.)

    That you would conflate the two, and then use the one to justify the other is revelatory. 

    Thanks for the history lesson, BTW. I’ll pass it along to my friend in case she’s unaware.

    Maybe I misunderstood your post.

    Ya think?

    I thought that you were criticizing Russian treatment of Hungarians “in the late stages of, and years after, World War II.” You weren’t specific as to the time of the incident you discussed, other than to tie it to the war and the immediate post-war period, at least as I interpreted what you wrote.

    Good Lord.  That you have–apparently–fixated on a few lines in my post which recounted a good friend’s personal experience of the Russian occupation of Hungary (I’m sure  you know enough history to figure out the timeframe on your own) and the disgusting gang rapes and other indignities inflicted upon a helpless teenage girl and her pre-teen sister–not on the battlefield, but in the privacy and comfort of their own homes–is, as I said before, revelatory.  I know that it is, sometimes hard to see the forest for the trees, but please try.

    The Russians had plenty of reason to hate the Hungarians at that time. “Hungarian devils,” they might have called them.

    And based on your comments, I can only conclude that you think raping little girls is an understandable and appropriate response.  Crimenutely.

    You’re the one who is demonizing all Russians, at least as I interpret your post. “Russian devils,” you write. Which looks, to me, like attempting to stir up exactly the sort of national hatred that was the basis for the mistreatment of Hungarians that you deplore in the OP.

    Oh please.  I told two completely truthful stories, a family history, peppered with some humor and a number of facts, to make a point–which is that escaping those sorts of deep-seated ethnic hatreds and moving into a world where the only devils we have to fight are those within ourselves is a really good thing to do. 

    The thing that is revelatory, I think, is your inability to see any nuance,

    😂

    your inability to see the other side of the situation. You view the people you like as entirely good and innocent, and the people you don’t like as — your word — “devils.”

    No, Jerry.  That was Polish Grandma’s word.  

    As to your friend, yeah, pass along the history lesson. Tell her that I feel about as much sympathy for the Hungarians as I feel for what the Japanese endured at our hands, after they launched a vicious and unprovoked war. Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

    I rest my case.

    • #25
  26. Rōnin Coolidge
    Rōnin
    @Ronin

    She:

     

    I love this woman.  If she were alive I would put her on the U.S. Women’s Weight Lifting Team, were I’m sure she would win the gold and set new records in both women’s and men’s weight lifting.  Then, I’m sure she would have someone hold her bouquet of roses and gold metal, and reach over and throttle the “girly man” sent in to compete against her.  

    • #26
  27. She Member
    She
    @She

    Rōnin (View Comment):

    She:

     

    I love this woman. If she were alive I would put her on the U.S. Women’s Weight Lifting Team, were I’m sure she would win the gold and set new records in both women’s and men’s weight lifting. Then, I’m sure she would have someone hold her bouquet of roses and gold metal, and reach over and throttle the “girly man” sent in to compete against her.

    LOL.  Comment of the week/month/decade.

    • #27
  28. Rōnin Coolidge
    Rōnin
    @Ronin

    She (View Comment):

    Rōnin (View Comment):

    She:

     

    I love this woman. If she were alive I would put her on the U.S. Women’s Weight Lifting Team, were I’m sure she would win the gold and set new records in both women’s and men’s weight lifting. Then, I’m sure she would have someone hold her bouquet of roses and gold metal, and reach over and throttle the “girly man” sent in to compete against her.

    LOL. Comment of the week/month/decade.

    The caption for this picture should read: “I will not put up with your s#*t.”

     

    • #28
  29. She Member
    She
    @She

    Rōnin (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    Rōnin (View Comment):

    She:

     

    I love this woman. If she were alive I would put her on the U.S. Women’s Weight Lifting Team, were I’m sure she would win the gold and set new records in both women’s and men’s weight lifting. Then, I’m sure she would have someone hold her bouquet of roses and gold metal, and reach over and throttle the “girly man” sent in to compete against her.

    LOL. Comment of the week/month/decade.

    The caption for this picture should read: “I will not put up with your s#*t.”

    Yeah, she didn’t, either.  One of Mr. She’s favorite stories had to do with a street fight which broke out among a gang of five-year old boys, of which he was one, and in which–being the scrawniest and a sickly child–he was getting much the worse end of the deal.

    As with most such child-rearing endeavors of the day in similar neighborhoods, every mother and grandmother on the block was granted supernumerary powers when it came to intervening and managing such childhood spats.  Very rarely did another mother or grandmother object to punishments meted out by others of their generation, and usually their own children, if they ‘snitched’ when they got home, got another clout on the ear for being a tattletale.

    Grandma was the ‘hall monitor’ on this particular day.  She strode into the street waving her rolling pin, shouting imprecations in Polish and fractured English, and proceeded to lay about the little monsters with great effect.   When they’d dispersed, she took little Frankie home and showed him how to throw a punch.

    • #29
  30. EB Thatcher
    EB
    @EB

    How do you pronounce Rosyjskie diabły?

    • #30
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.