CS: Poland in the Modern World [B. Porter-Szűcs, 2018]

Timothy Olin's picture

If you want drama and tragedy, then you will certainly get plenty of that in this course. History 331 presents the story of Poland, a country that was restored to the map in 1918 after more than a century of foreign occupation, only to fall to a joint attack by Hitler and Stalin in 1939, endure five years at the very deepest circle of the Nazi hell, and then be “liberated” by a Soviet puppet government that ruled with an iron fist for four more decades. Through all this tribulation there were many attempts at liberation and reform, so this course will offer plenty of heroes. But if all you want is a story of good and evil, emancipation and oppression, then you will probably find History 331 disappointing. The real goal of the class will be to get beyond the familiar stories and come to an understanding of what it was like to actually live in Poland during the 20th century. We will focus on the ambiguities and uncertainties, the happiness that persisted in the face of difficult circumstances and the tragedies that invariably accompanied every victory. In a land that experienced rule by Nazism, Communism, and Capitalism, we will have a chance to see what all three systems really meant, not just as ideologies but as lived experiences. The readings for this class will consist mostly of primary sources that will present you with the actual voices of the people will be studying. This will include memoirs, political documents, audio and video recordings, and more. There will also be a textbook that offers a broad overview of modern Polish history.