On Saturday, November 8, 2014, IWP hosted the Seventh Annual Kościuszko Chair of Polish Studies Conference. The event addressed the general theme of “Issues in the History and Current Affairs of Poland and Central and Eastern Europe,” and was dedicated to the memory of the late Brigadier General Walter/Władysław Jajko, USAF (1937 – 2014). Following a moment of silence for Gen. Jajko, the introductory remarks were delivered by Dr. Marek Jan Chodakiewicz, the holder of the Kościuszko Chair and Professor of History at IWP.
The conference commenced with a lecture entitled “The Female Dialectical Pawn: ‘Women’s Lib’ Soviet-style,” by Ms. Emily Butler, doctoral student at Catholic University of America. Ms. Butler pointed out that many feminist-oriented liberal scholars in the West continue to perpetuate communist propaganda by claiming that the Soviets liberated and empowered women. She debunked these assertions by demonstrating that not only did women serve merely as useful pawns in the Bolsheviks’ revolutionary agenda, but that the Soviet communist system inflicted great suffering on the women they claimed to be “liberating.”
Dr. Tomasz Sommer discussed “The Polish Operation of the NKVD: New Findings.” He is the editor-in-chief of the conservative-libertarian weekly, Najwyższy Czas!, and the author of Rozstrzelać Polaków [Shoot the Poles], the first monograph on the “Polish Operation” of the NKVD and has just published another book on the subject. He argued that this genocidal ethnic cleansing of the Poles by the Soviets should not be viewed as simply another NKVD “national operation.” In the case of the “Polish Operation,” the Soviet secret police targeted not only those who identified as Poles, but also Soviet citizens of Polish descent who claimed a different identity. Even Polish communists and Jews born in Poland found themselves in the crosshairs of Stalin and his henchmen, who perceived Poles in ethno-racist and deterministic terms: as inherently anti-Soviet and incapable of loyalty to Moscow.
Delivering a presentation on “Remembering Jan Karski,” Ms. Carol L. Harrison shared photos she took of Dr. Karski and recalled her memories of the legendary Polish underground courier who warned the U.S. government about the German-implemented Holocaust in his native Poland. Ms. Harrison is the owner of Carol Harrison/Fine Art Photography + Design and recently published an album of her photographs of Dr. Karski, which she took at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, of which she is a graduate.
Mr. Paweł Styrna, historian and Kościuszko Chair research assistant, lectured on “Choosing the Lesser Evil: Polish Geopolitical Dilemmas during the First World War.” His paper focused on the competing Polish “foreign policies” during a time when Poland did not exist as a state, but was partitioned between three powerful empires: Russia, Austria, and Germany. During the First World War, Polish patriots striving to restore their country’s independence were split into the anti-German camp, favoring an alliance with Russia and the Entente, and the anti-Russian camp, supporting the Central Powers against Russia. These geopolitical dilemmas have a long history in Poland and remain relevant.
“The Counterintelligence Service of the Polish Underground National Armed Forces (NSZ) during the Second World War” was the subject of a presentation by Mr. Sebastian Bojemski, a scholar of the Polish anti-Nazi, anti-Soviet underground and the director of PRacownia, a Warsaw-based public relations firm. Mr. Bojemski pointed out the professionalism of the underground National Armed Forces’ intelligence and counterintelligence cells and dispelled many of the black myths about the NSZ, which was much-maligned by the communists.
The conference concluded with an analysis of a current topic by Mr. Vilen Khlgatyan, an alumnus of IWP and Vice-Chairman of Political Developments Research Center (PDRC), a think tank based in Yerevan, Armenia. Speaking about “Ukraine: One Year Later,” he argued that Ukraine finds itself in a much worse situation economically than before the Maidan rising and that the EU is the biggest culprit responsible for the current crisis.
The papers presented during the conference will be published in the upcoming first issue of Nihil Novi, a scholarly peer-reviewed annual journal which the Kościuszko Chair intends to launch in December.