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Collected Essays on War, Holocaust and the Crisis of Communism


Jan Tomasz Gross

The author undertakes an intellectual journey into the hidden past of the Polish history after 1939. He deals with Holocaust, collaboration, totalitarian rule, crisis of communism in Eastern Europe as well as Polish-Jewish relations during the war. The author is a founding father of a new approach in Holocaust research in Poland in which he has taken it from out of its intellectual ghetto as a strictly Jewish subject and repositioned it at the center of Poland’s wartime history. Among other topics, the collection of essays deals with Jewish community in the Soviet annexed territories on the eve of the Holocaust, opportunistic killings and plunder of Jews by their neighbors and Poland’s development from a civil society to a political nation.
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7. Crisis of Communism in Eastern Europe


7.  Crisis of Communism in Eastern Europe

“It is absurd to expect an end to absurdity. Otherwise absurdity would be consequential and finite and would no longer be absurdity. Absurdity has no end; it will just break off at one of its absurd links when no one expects it. And it won’t break off because the absurdity has come to an end but because the meaningful has a beginning, and that beginning excludes and annuls the absurd” (Boris Pasternak, Unpublished Letters, NYT Magazine, January 1, 1978).

Until twenty years ago there was hardly a more permanent fixture of international politics than the bi-polar architecture of the world divided into “East” and “West.” The Communist bloc was in the east, and in the west were we, with the United States of America at the core of the western alliance. Even with the “cold war” concept no longer framing the relationship – whether due to “peaceful coexistence,” or “détente,” or “mutual disarmament” – bifurcated character of geopolitics, military alliances, arms race, or economic associations remained the dominant principle of organized politics. Also the “third world,” presumably unaffiliated with any of the blocs, as the very name indicating its standing apart informs, paid heed to the hegemonic character of bi-polarity. And then, between 1989 and 1991/92, one pole of the relationship faded away.

As I reflect here on the peaceful demise, in the first place, of the Soviet Union, a look at the map might be helpful to...

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