Tag: Poland

Member Post

 

Apparently April is Poetry Month (did anyone else know?) and every morning the English Department at our high school publishes a poem at the end of the daily announcements. I felt inspired to contribute something and as I was skimming through works by my favorite poets, I came across this poem by one of the […]

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“Trump Speed” Week in Review

 

American voters face a choice, not an echo, and need to act accordingly in this election season. As the Democratic National Convention rolls out in some form this week, measure Democrat supporters’ claims against President Trump’s accomplishments. Start with just last week. The Trump administration moved with purpose all week, taking both domestic and international actions that matter. Consider this daily summary of the past week’s events [emphasis, bracketed comments, and links added]. Bear in mind, President Trump had his brother Robert on his heart all week, as Robert was in hospital “having a tough time.” Sadly, the week ended with President Trump saying farewell in person to his beloved younger brother, but that did not stop the president announcing a defense agreement with Poland, to the consternation of Russia and their Democrat true friends. Robert Trump died on August 15, 2020:

It is with heavy heart I share that my wonderful brother, Robert, peacefully passed away tonight. He was not just my brother, he was my best friend. He will be greatly missed, but we will meet again. His memory will live on in my heart forever. Robert, I love you. Rest in peace.

Member Post

 

Either Poles are too dumb to understand what’s ridiculous about a pornographic butter-churning contest, or they’re not. I’d bet they’re not, and they know a parody of eroticism when they see it. Too bad The Imaginative Conservative doesn’t. Apparently, there’s at least one writer out there lacking the imagination to recognize a parody when he […]

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Basia and the Squirrel: Scruton’s Tale of Eros Transubstantiated

 

“The apostolic church is a church of the heart. When you steal from it you steal the heart. Hence the theft is easy, and amends are long and hard.” A strange way to sum up a story of erotic love. Nonetheless, it was Scruton’s way, as he described, in the second half of his essay, Stealing from Churches, the thwarted love affair that taught him a “narrative of transubstantiation” transmuting body into soul. In truth, the love affair wasn’t thwarted at all, but one that fulfilled its purpose, a purpose his stubborn young beloved, Basia (pronounced “Basha”), saw more clearly than he did.

Scruton had organized a subversive summer school for the Catholic University in Poland, bringing together Polish and English philosophy students to resist communism. Under the codename “Squirrel” (in Polish “Wiewiorka”, for his red hair) and tailed by at least one jug-eared agent, Scruton had stumbled into more James-Bond mystique than most ginger-haired philosophy dons could hope for. It would be almost cliche, then, for an exotic young thing to throw herself at him. Wry-smiling, stunning Basia was no cliche, though. Or rather, if she were, it would be the cliche in a kind of story too little told these days to count as cliche anymore.

Basia, at 26, the oldest, most academically-advanced of the bright young things attending Scruton’s summer lectures and their unofficial leader, was an uppity young woman with a checkered past. She wasted little time with Scruton: after his second day in Kazimierz, she waylaid him in the woods to announce she noticed no ring on his finger. Such a frank admission of desire seems likely to end in embarrassment all round whether the desire is reciprocated or not, and perhaps it would have if it weren’t accompanied by her equally frank admission that consummating desire was not her aim:

Bearly Heroic Service

 

Yes, you’ve driven me to bear posting, again. This is the story of a heroic bear, Wojtek (VOY-tek), who helped beat the Axis powers in Italy. He joined a unit of Free Poles, served with them through the war, and retired with honor to the Edinburgh Zoo, where he lived out his days. His death in 1963 was reported on radio and in the newspapers. His likeness became part of his unit’s official badge.

Wojtek was born in what is now northern Iran, and was orphaned when another group of orphans adopted him into their den. The other group of orphans, so to speak, were Polish soldiers who were released from Soviet Russian prison camps, the Siberian gulags. These men made their way south across the Caspian Sea and down into Persia/Iran, then effectively controlled by the Soviets and British, who had invaded from the north and south on the pretext of securing the oil fields and supply lines.

The Shah had made the miscalculation of trying to be neutral when there was no German force immediately adjacent, in contrast to Spain and Portugal. The British already had a grudge against this local ruler who dared tear up their exclusive oil deal in the 1930s. Deposing and making the Shah a prisoner in South African exile until his death, the British and Russians put the man who would be the last Shah on the Peacock Throne: Crown Prince Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The deposed ruler’s son was realistic and took the throne, eventually outlasting the British Empire and building an alliance with the United States to counterbalance the Soviet Russian empire’s continuation of the Great Game.

Rebalancing Forces

 

BrownLandSalesTwo news items caught my eye this weekend, both of them in Stars and Stripes. One story was from Korea, and the other from Germany. Together, they told a story of rebalancing our forces in the world.

The first story is about the activation of a group of new Army Reserve units in Europe. This was a growth in the total number of units or end strength in the Army Reserve. Instead, this was a relatively typical rebalancing of types of units in different parts of the world.

It may seem odd to you to hear of Army Reserve units based in Germany, but this has long been so. There is a very small full-time staff, then unit members either fly in from the States or fly/rail/drive from their American expat civilian jobs in Europe. I had a War College classmate, a native-born American citizen, who lived with his Finnish wife and kids in Finland, working for a tech company. He drilled in Germany.

VP Pence Speaks on Behalf of Trump in Poland

 

Vice President Pence spoke in Poland, marking the start of World War II with the German invasion of Poland, 1 September 1939. Highlight comments include: “None fought with more valor, or determination, or righteous fury than the Poles…Poland proved itself a homeland of heroes.” and “The fight against the twisted ideologies of Nazism and Communism reflected the eternal struggle between right and wrong, good and evil.”

Vice President Pence’s remarks were punctuated by the notable absence, this time, of the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin.

ACF Critic Series #24: Cold War

 

Back to Pawel Pawlikowski: @FlaggTaylor and I have a companion piece to Ida Cold War, a romantic tragedy, which features a couple escaping from and then returning to the Iron Curtain. Whereas Ida is about divine love, this is merely human love. In both cases, the Polish past and totalitarianism are the most important concerns of the story. A deeply affecting movie about national memory and personal memory with special attention to what art and love can and cannot do. A remarkable performance by Joanna Kulig. The beautiful black-and-white cinematography of Lukasz Zal (which earned him an Oscar nomination), as well as heartbreaking Polish folk songs.The movie won the Palme d’Or in Cannes as well as the director prize — it was nominated for three big Oscars, too.

ACF Critic Series #21: Katyn

 

Our own @FlaggTaylor and I talk about Andrzej Wajda’s Katyn, his 2007 film about the terrible Soviet slaughter of the Polish officer corps–some 22,000 men — as well as its aftermath. The protagonist is the wife of one of the officers and we follow her through both the Soviet and the Nazi parts of occupied — and dismembered — Poland. We get to see various characters struggling with questions of honor and prudence as the country is being destroyed. Only memory is left to give reasons for hope for future freedom. Krzysztof Penderecki’s music is also worthy of mention.

A Family – A Life – A Republic

 

I started the New Year 2019, with goals — you know, the usual. Get in shape, eat better, exercise, and purge all the junk. By junk, I mean discarding old business info, tax returns, and loads of saved memorabilia. There is the dilemma. I have boxes and bags and volumes of family photos. I have the physical snapshots of a life. Mine. It will take time to sort through, and I am wondering how others deal with purging, organizing and passing on a lifetime of assorted collections?

I was looking at the photos I do have on display in my house. There’s my dad as an MP at a check post in occupied Japan. There’s two of my Uncle Al as a soldier before the ruins of a bombed out Germany. My aunt said my relatives went in later — they were young, when the war was wrapping up, as part of the rescue teams. My Uncle Bo was deployed to Italy during the reign of Mussolini – no pictures.

My much older cousin passed 19 months ago. My other cousin (her sister) and I speak regularly by phone now. Her voice has that melodic sound to me that is distinctive of a sweet memory — of a relative from childhood who when you hear it, reminds you of your heritage, your history. I love talking to her. Yet in our conversations, she tells me of things I did not know — disturbing things.

Member Post

 

    I bought a rotisserie chicken at the local grocer. You can get a lot of mileage out of it. First night was chicken enchiladas. On night two, I asked my husband what he wanted, a chicken salad or chicken with sides? “What kind of sides? How about beans”??, he asked. I frowned and […]

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Who Was Renia Spiegel?

 

“Hear, O Israel, Save Us” “Oh God Almighty! Help us! Take care of us, give us your blessing.” 

Last week I was given a copy of the November issue of Smithsonian magazine, featuring a story on a young Jewish girl in Poland named Renia Spiegel. She created a diary right before she unknowingly entered Hell, as the horrors of the Holocaust infiltrated her innocent world. It’s a miracle that this diary survived at all if you read how it came to be found, and how it traveled over 70 years to become a powerfully troubled voice once again in 2018. The Smithsonian translated it in its entirety.

She is being compared to Anne Frank. My friend who subscribes and shared this issue with us said she cried as she read her story. The entire issue is dedicated to remembering. Let Us Never Forget.

Heroic Virtue: The Venerable Cardinal Wyszyński

 

Stefan Wyszyński.jpgCardinal Stephan Wyszyński, often called the “Primate of the Millennium” led the Polish Catholic Church for more than thirty years, and along with it, survived some of its most challenging times.

He was born in Zuzela, a tiny village bordering on the Bug River (a funny name, but a waterway with immense significance as a dividing line, in the cultural, religious, political, and military senses) on August 3, 1901. Like much of Poland, the area was ping-ponged around from Russia to whatever version of Poland was in effect at the time, and as a result of the instability, even families like Wyszyński’s which could claim some minor upper-class or noble status, were penurious and lived hard lives. His mother died when he was nine, and he spent the next decade or so in school and then seminary, and was ordained on August 3, 1924, his twenty-third birthday.

He continued his studies and earned a reputation among his fellows as a dedicated and thoughtful priest. So dedicated and thoughtful that he had to leave his living in Włocławek when the Second World War broke out, as he’d come to the attention of the Nazis, who viewed him as a likely candidate for leader of a resistance movement, and as someone who had rather more influence than they liked with the local population.

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This month of Thanksgiving was marked by the quiet passing from this world into the next, of someone who risked her life to save members of the Jewish Resistance during a time when pure evil threatened everyone in its path. With determination and courage to fight back, this small group of nuns stepped out to […]

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Quote of the Day: A Sweet Tooth for Song and Music

 

“I have a sweet tooth for song and music. This is my Polish sin.”

OK, so this entire post is something of a Polish joke. I can see your lip starting to curl, and your eyes rolling back in your head. “Wait!” I hear you shout. “I am offended on behalf of Poles everywhere! How can you, a high-toned, (green) card-carrying British lady, make a Polish joke without implied overtones of bigotry, cultural superiority, and aggression? Tut-tut. Isn’t this the height of colonialist and imperialist privilege? How dare you?”

I’d probably do it anyway because, you know: free speech and the right to offend. But, in any event, I do dare, and also, here are some more reasons why:

First Lady Melania Trump has championed cyber-bullying as a cause, but Hoover visiting fellow Markos Kounalakis thinks she should broaden her horizons – to include a little diplomacy in her native Central Europe. It’s a portion of the world that’s drifted into angry nationalism, economic uncertainty and civil unrest, with one country (Poland) displaying troubling anti-Semitic tendencies. Kounalakis talks about all of that, plus he discusses Vladimir Putin’s Russia playing a meddling role around the world.

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Poland seems to be one of the few countries in the world that does not care about what the rest of the world does or thinks about her, especially what the European Union thinks. Poland’s lower legislative house overwhelmingly (254 to 156 with 23 abstention) passed a ban on Sunday shopping to preserve the Lord’s […]

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I found this story extraordinary, given today’s squeamishness of political correctness. The world has gotten so distressing that Poland is dialing up the heavenly hosts for help. The Poles are scattered to every part of their country’s borders to pray for protection for their country, and the whole world. Christians, mainly Catholics, took to the […]

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Who Was Kuklinski?

 

During the 1970’s and 1980’s, a quiet, unassuming officer in the Polish Army was quickly rising in the ranks. Russia succeeded in beating back the Nazis during World War II, declaring victory in Poland and Eastern Europe. The Polish people, relieved to be rid of Hitler’s monstrous machine, tried to adjust to life under Communism. Yet the Polish people never really relinquished their freedom. Ryszard Kuklinski mirrored the Polish heart. Three things meant everything to him and all Poles, above anything else in life – a deep, unwavering devotion to family, the Church and Poland.

Small in stature, with sandy colored, wavy hair and gentle blue eyes, his laid back, easy going manner and boyish humor hid a sharp intelligence with a keen eye for meticulous detail, as well as a tough constitution and tireless work ethic. These skills did not go unnoticed among the Soviets. However, he learned hard lessons quickly. For example, making an off color joke about communism among the wrong crowd immediately drew suspicion about his loyalty and he was stripped of his high rank. He had to be re-indoctrinated and start over, and it took years to regain his former rank. Another lesson was found in Vietnam, where he was part of an “observation team”. Kuklinski heard about the Americans – nothing good. Yet he saw something different – respect. He noticed the devotion between officer, all military personnel and leader, that none of the fallen, alive or dead, would ever be left behind. They risked all for each other. Love and kindness combined with strength, even during war – he never forgot.

Kuklinski found himself privy to extremely high level information that he was constantly asked to review, rewrite and direct. He commanded troops, composed war games, was trusted to help create the new war machine – the one that he soon realized would decimate his beloved Poland.

Victor Davis Hanson examines the major foreign policy challenges facing the Trump Administration, including how to properly calibrate the US relationship with Russia, how to defang a nuclear North Korea, and how to combat terrorism as ISIS shifts to a new era.