On Saturday, 12 April, the Kościuszko Chair of Polish Studies at IWP hosted its Fourth Annual Spring Symposium, one of the Chair’s two semi-annual conferences devoted to the historical, cultural, geopolitical, economic, and other aspects of Poland and the Intermarium.
The first speaker, Mr. Michael Szpindor-Watson, a doctoral candidate in economics at George Mason University, spoke on the impact of climate change on the persecutions and expulsions of Jews in Europe from 1300-1795. He pointed out that while climate shocks exacerbated tensions between Christians and Jews and often led to the persecution or even expulsions of the latter, the same positive correlation was not true of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which was known as the “Jewish Paradise” (Paradisus Iudaeorum).
Dr. Elizabeth Radziszewski — Visiting Assistant Professor of International Relations at Lehigh University — delivered a presentation on “Competition, Accountability, and the Private Military Industry.” Although the topic of private military contractors has been a controversial one, Dr. Radziszewski pointed out that competition among several firms had a positive impact on the accountability and effectiveness of the private contractor firms.
Dr. Wojciech Jerzy Muszyński of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) in Warsaw, Poland, deconstructed the attempts of post-modernist scholars and pundits to pin the blame for the vast and bloody crimes perpetrated by Marxists-Leninists on “nationalism.” As an expert of the Polish nationalist (anti-Nazi and anti-Soviet) underground during the Second World War, Dr. Muszyński spoke about Bolesław Piasecki, who started out as a radical nationalist in interwar Poland, continued as the leader of a small Piłsudskiite underground resistance outfit during the war, and ended up collaborating with the communists after the Soviet occupation. In communist-occupied Poland, Piasecki was best known as the leader of a small pro-regime “progressive Catholic” organization/publishing house, PAX. Dr. Muszyński explained all the seemingly sharp twists and turns in Piasecki’s political path — pointing out that the head of PAX had always been an “iron pragmatic” utilizing whatever ideology suited his ultimate goal, power — debunking the revisionist myth of communism as “socialist in form, but nationalist in content.”
Father Jarosław Wiśniewski — a Polish-born Catholic missionary — shared his experiences from the two decades he spent propagating the faith in the post-Soviet zone, including places such as: Rostov on the Don, Uzbekistan, Sakhalin Island, and Kamchatka Peninsula. The Reverend highlighted the human rights abuses in post-Soviet Russia, including violations of religious freedom. The Russian Orthodox Church, which — as Farther Wiśniewski pointed out, is led by “KGB officers dressed in priestly robes” — has been waging a fierce battle against Catholicism, targeting especially (but not only) priests of Polish descent. Some, as he pointed out, were even murdered by “unknown culprits” or died in suspicious “accidents.” This is an insight into the mindset and modus operandi of the post-Soviet Russian ruling establishment.