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Reconciliation in Bloodlands

Assessing Actions and Outcomes in Contemporary Central-Eastern Europe

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Edited By Jacek Kurczewski

Central-Eastern Europe, in the mid-20 th century, was a scene of Holocaust, mass killings, war, deportations and forced resettlements under the competing totalitarian invasions and afterwards. It was also the area where churches, politicians and citizens were engaged in reconciliation between antagonized religions and nations. This book presents several attempts to heal relations between Poles, Jews, Germans, Czechs, Ukrainians, Russians and Latvians as well as between Catholics, Protestants and Mariavites. Re-conciliatory practices of John Paul II and other Catholic leaders as well as Protestant churches are analysed in the first part of the book. Most of the remaining studies are focused on particular localities in Upper Silesia, Cieszyn Silesia, former Polish Livland and on the Polish-Ukrainian borderland. These detailed contributions combine sociological methods with anthropological insight and historical context. The authors are sociologists, psychologists and theologians and this leads to a fully interdisciplinary approach in the assessment of the recent state of inter-group relations in the region as well as in the proposed theory of peacebuilding and reconciliation.
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Polish Protestants in Trans-Olza Cieszyn Silesia Towards the Polish-German and Czech-German Reconciliation

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The Evangelical Church, traditionally uniting the parishioners of Polish, German and Czech nationality, is one of the most characteristic symbols of Cieszyn Silesia. Agreeable coexistence, positive relationships that were built for decades between neighbours of various nationalities are now gone in the chaos of humans going astray and being subjected to Hitler’s occupation. The basis for coexistence was further destroyed by the nationalist and socialist policy that was built in a brutal manner. The horrible crimes of the Nazi occupants against the Jewish, Polish and Czech people during the period of World War II served as the justification for further injustice between the years 1945-1947 – this time committed on Germans. They formed the background for advancing a new thesis of collective guilt, which justified the expulsion of Germans from Poland and Czechoslovakia, including Cieszyn Silesia. The matters among the Protestants from Czechoslovakian Cieszyn Silesia were even more complicated than among those from other parts of the country. Here, not only were Germans perceived as being guilty of the crimes, but Poles as well. Despite the enormous wartime sacrifice of Poles from Cieszyn Silesia, the Czechs perceived them as enemies of the Czechoslovakian statehood and attempted to expel them from the country, to the other side of the Olza River.

Today, when Poland, the Czech Republic, and Germany belong to the European Union, the mutual understanding between Polish-German, German-Czech and Polish-Czech gains new meaning and dimension. “Conciliation”, a word that is close to the hearts of Christians representing all...

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