Bolesław Piasecki as the victim of post-modernist historical revisionism

SONY DSCAfter giving a lecture at the Kosciuszko Chair’s Fourth Annual Spring Symposium, Dr. Wojciech Jerzy Muszyński of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) in Warsaw, Poland, shared with the KC his paper entitled “Bolesław Piasecki as the victim of post-modernist historical revisionism.”

In the paper, he discusses Mikołaj S. Kunicki’s book entitled Between the Brown and the Red: Nationalism, Catholicism, and Communism In 20th-Century Poland – The Politics of Bolesław Piasecki (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2012).

An abstract of the paper is below, and the full paper can be found here: Muszynski, Boleslaw Piasecki as the victom of post-modernist historical revisionism

Abstract

In the following review, Dr. Wojciech J. Muszyński offers a critical analysis of Mikołaj Kunicki’s book on Bolesław Piasecki. As an iron pragmatic who began his political career as a nationalist radical, and ended it as a communist collaborator, Piasecki fascinates his ideological enemies to this day. Furthermore, they mirror image and reduce him to the role of the antithesis of what they themselves are: liberal or leftist ideologues, usually of an internationalist bent. It is a striking phenomenon that Bolesław Piasecki – a politician of secondary importance who never exerted a decisive influence on Polish history – became the subject of two ostensibly comprehensive biographies in English. This is all the more amazing, since Poland and the great personages in her history – with perhaps the exceptions of Pope John Paul II in the 1990s, and Lech Wałęsa – are generally not of much interest to Western historians. Piasecki, however, became the subject of an English-language biography well before his death in the form of Lucjan Blit’s The Eastern Pretender (1965). More recently, in 2012, he became the antagonist of a second work in English: Mikołaj Stanisław Kunicki’s Between the Brown and the Red: Nationalism, Catholicism, and Communism in 20th-Century Poland: The Politics of Bolesław Piasecki. Blit’s publication, however, was a political pamphlet, which the author never denied; just as he did not deny his open, fierce antipathy toward Piasecki. Kunicki’s biography, on the other hand, is presented as a work of objective scholarship. In essence, the latter represents efforts by post-modernist, neo-Stalinist academics to depict Polish nationalists as communist collaborators, which serves to whitewash Marxism by pinning much of the blame for the crimes of communism on “nationalism.”

* * *

Bolesław Piasecki, an iron pragmatic who began his political career as a radical nationalist, continues to fascinate his ideological foes to this day. It is quite astonishing that this admittedly second-rate politician who did not play any significant role in Polish history, has already been the subject of two quite substantial biographical publications in English. This is all the more astounding given that famous personages in the history of Poland have not attracted much interest on the part of Western historians, except perhaps for Pope John Paul II during the 1990s and Lech Wałęsa. Upon investigating the shelves of American and British book stores, it is difficult to find any books on important Poles. Piasecki, however, became the subject of an English-language biography many years before his death, i.e. Lucjan Blit’s The Eastern Pretender: The Story of Bolesław Piasecki, which was published in 1965. In 2012, another work appeared: Mikołaj Stanisław Kunicki’s Between the Brown and the Red: Nationalism, Catholicism, and Communism In 20th-Century Poland – The Politics of Bolesław Piasecki. But whereas Blit’s publication was a political pamphlet—which the author did not really disguise, nor did he deny his sharp antipathy towards Piasecki—Kunicki’s biography is presented as an objective work of scholarship.

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One thought on “Bolesław Piasecki as the victim of post-modernist historical revisionism

  1. Pingback: Kościuszko Chair holds Fourth Annual Spring Symposium | The Kosciuszko Chair of Polish Studies

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