Is Poland Retreating from Democracy?
On a rainy afternoon in March, Andrzej Nowakâs lanky frame loomed in the cramped, faux-Renaissance entryway of the Tadeusz Manteuffel Institute of History, in Warsawâs Old Town Market Square. For the past twenty-five years, Nowak, a decorated historian of Poland and Russia, has been conducting regular interviews with JarosÅaw KaczyÅski, the leader of Law and Justice, the conservative political party that came to power in Poland in 2015. Since then, liberal leaders and intellectuals in Western Europe have begun to fear that the country, after two decades as the model student of European liberalism, is retreating from democracy. Critics point to the loyalists at the heads of public media, the increasing harassment of opposition politicians and judges, the countryâs refusal to accept its European Union-mandated quota of refugees, and, especially, a series of dramatic reforms to the court system that may consolidat e Law and Justiceâs control. The Party says that these are necessary modernizations of Polandâs creaky institutions, which were mostly established after the country negotiated an end to Communist rule, in 1989. âYou may disagree,â Nowak told me. âBut KaczyÅski perceived that the lack of revolutionary change after 1989 was something for which Poland paid very dearly.â
In 2016, Law and Justice lawmakers introduced a bill known as the âPolish-death-camps amendment,â an update to a 1998 law addressing the denial of war crimes. The amendment included a sentence of up to three years in prison for any false claim that âthe Polish Nation or the Republic of Poland is responsible or co-responsible for Nazi crimes committed by the Third Reich.â The amendment was meant, in part, to put an end to the phrase âPolish death camps,â which many Poles feel blames the country for the barbarism that took place on Polish soil. One popular Polish tale holds that the phrase w as spread by a postwar West German intelligence unit, to exonerate the German recruits who had worked in the camps.
Nowak said that the Western European and American press, when referring to the perpetrators of the Holocaust, never use the word âGerman.â âThere is always one word: âNazi,â â he told me. There is concern that, over time, people might begin to assume that the Nazi death camps in Poland were, in fact, Polish.
The phrase has attained wide currency. President Barack Obama used it, in a 2012 ceremony honoring Jan Karski, a Polish resistance fighter who, in 1943, gave Franklin Roosevelt an eyewitness account of Jews being transported to Belzec. (Karski himself used the phrase, as the title of an article for Collierâs.)
In the two years after the law was proposed, it made its way through the legislative process, despite warnings from parliamentary committees that its wording was poor and it was essentially unenforceable. On January 26 , 2018, the day before International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the bill cleared the Polish parliament, and, in early February, President Andrzej Duda, of Law and Justice, signed it, though he sent it to the constitutional tribunal for review, knowing that parts of it would likely be rejected.
Israelâs Ambassador to Poland, Anna Azari, said that the law could be seen as criminalizing Holocaust survivors, many of whom were betrayed to the Nazis by Poles, simply for speaking about their experience. In the furor that ensued, it became clear that the law had backfired: a Polish friend told me about a meme showing two aliens newly arrived on Earth in late January. âNow even we have heard of Polish death camps!â they exclaim.
Nowak opposed the billâ"he felt that research, not legal regulation, should shape our judgments of historyâ"but he said that it was âan awkward reaction to a real problem.â He cited a speech that James Comey, then the director of the F.B.I., g ave in 2015, at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, in which he spoke of the Holocaustâs perpetrators and their accomplices: Nazis, Poles, and Hungarians. âHe numbered just these three names: unnamed Nazis, and two other nations,â Nowak said.
Unlike most European states that were occupied by the Germans, Poland didnât collaborate with Hitler in any official capacity. After Germany invaded Poland, in September, 1939, the government went into exile, directing the Home Army, the main organization of what was perhaps the largest resistance force in Europe, from London. In contrast to France or Belgium, the Polish state did not administer its occupation, nor did it oversee the extermination camps that the Germans established, largely for Polish Jews. There were no Polish units working under the Waffen S.S., as was the case with Dutch, Norwegian, and Estonian units.
In Warsaw, the Home Army ran information and education networks, provided Jews in hiding outside the ghe tto with identity documents, and declared that accepting employment at a concentration camp would be considered treasonous. It executed Poles who betrayed Jews or tried to blackmail them. In the summer of 1942, the Polish government-in-exile relayed intelligence to the Americans and the British about the Nazisâ mass murder at Treblinka, urging the Allies to do something. They did nothing.
Warsaw suffered like no other European capital during the war. Ninety-five per cent of the structures in the Old Town, where the Manteuffel Institute is located, were destroyed by the Germans in the late summer of 1944, during the Warsaw Uprising, a desperate bid for sovereignty by the cityâs residents. Within nine weeks, more than a hundred and fifty thousand Poles were killed.
When the Soviets took Warsaw from the Nazis, in 1945, they set about shooting Home Army soldiers for participating in political actions that were not organized by Communists. âThe Home Army was called Fasc ist,â Nowak said. âEven right after the war, Polish victims were identified as perpetrators.â This was a continuation of a historical tradition, he argued, dating at least to the eighteenth century, when Voltaire, influenced by his admiration of Catherine the Great, wrote that Poland was the home of âchaos,â âbarbarity,â and âfanaticism.â For hundreds of years, Polandâs German and Russian neighbors had depicted Poland as backward and unenlightened, deserving of invasion.
In 2012, Nowak joined Reduta Dobrego Imienia, the Polish League Against Defamation, an organization of private citizens who wrote letters and helped launch lawsuits against media outlets, especially German ones, that perpetuated inaccurate characterizations of Polish history. But now, Nowak said, the group was not necessary; KaczyÅskiâs government was doing the work.
A few days after my meeting with Nowak, I looked up Comeyâs speech. Nowak is a careful speaker, so I was surprised to find that what heâd told me wasnât entirely true. In his address, Comey said that he asked every F.B.I. special agent he hired to visit the Holocaust Museum, in order to understand the human propensity for moral surrender. âIn their minds,â Comey said, âthe murderers and accomplices of Germany, and Poland, and Hungary, and so many, many other places, didnât do something evil. They convinced themselves it was the right thing to do.â
Jan Pietrzak, an affable eighty-one-year-old with thick white hair and a white mustache, grinned at the crowd that had gathered before a large stage in front of the Royal Castle, in Warsaw, an immense papaya-colored manor at the edge of the Old Town. âI have the blessing of the President to be here!â he shouted into a microphone. âAnd thatâs a big change for me.â That morning, President Duda had stood on the same stage to celebrate the anniversary of the May 3rd Constitution of 1791, the second national constitution in the world. In 1792, Poland was invaded by Russia. Each year, on Constitution Day, the Jan Pietrzak Patriotic Association hosts a performance of the polonaise, a traditional dance. âKaczyÅskiâs government is the first one that is really betting on the Polish interests,â Pietrzak told me.
Pietrzak is a standup comedian and performer who became famous in the nineteen-sixties as the founder of the Kabaret pod EgidÄ , a troupe that satirized the Communist regime. In the late seventies, moved by the violent repression of workersâ demonstrations, Pietrzak wrote the song âLet Poland Be Poland,â which became an unofficial anthem of Solidarity, the trade union that started in 1980 in the Lenin Shipyard, in GdaÅsk, seeking better pay , safer conditions, and free expression for workers. Pietrzak was an early supporter of Solidarity, and, as the movement grew, he performed his song at workersâ assemblies. In 1982, after the Polish regime declared martial law, the songâs title was swiped for an American television special, hosted by Charlton Heston, which tells the story of the Solidarity struggle through elegies from Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Kirk Douglas, and Henry Fonda. âThe song youâre hearing,â Heston says, after dedicating a candleâs âlight of freedomâ to the people of Poland, âwas written recently by a young Pole.â (Pietrzak was forty-four at the time.) Solidarity became a broad social movement, led by the electrician Lech WaÅÄsa, that pressured the regime to engage in talks to negotiate a bloodless end to Communist rule.
In front of the Royal Castle, Pietrzak bellowed, âThe most recent act of regaining independence was the 2015 election!â He moved to the back of the stage as it flooded with young couples. Women in long chiffon dresses, their hair in thick braids laced over their heads, swirled and curtsied around their partners, who wore the double-breasted uniform of eighteenth-century cavalrymen. They descended into the crowd, drawing hundreds of spectators into a promenade around the cobblestoned square, as Chopinâs âPolonaise No. 3â played over loudspeakers and Pietrzak admonished those who declined to join in.
Pietrzak founded his patriotic association during the term of Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who was a member of the liberal party Civic Platform. Tusk, who was elected in 2007, presided over what was perhaps the most dramatic period of growth in Polish history. Since the nineties, both the economy and salaries have doubled. Peasants, historically Polandâs largest social class, all but disappeared. Among the hulking Stalinist blocks of Warsawâs city center, skyscrapersâ"Axa, Deloitte, MetLifeâ"shot up. Sushi shops and espresso bars proliferated. âIn how many towns in this country did you have latte before 2005?â Dariusz Stola, who runs the Polin Jewish-history museum, quipped. But growth has been uneven. While Warsaw saw the introduction of Uber Eats and Mercedes taxis, rural areas in the east lagged behind. âEvery rich person in the country is rich in the first generation,â Stola said. âAnd that makes a lot of relative deprivation. âWhy did he become rich? I remember his father being as poor as mine.â â After Poland joined the European Union, in 2004, around two million Poles, in a country of thirty-eight million, migrated to other European countries.
âWe never got anything from the E.U. for free,â Pietrzak said. âIt was part of a deal.â A German official had said recently that Germany received more of the E.U. money invested in Poland, in the form of contracts with German businesses, than it paid into the blocâs budget. âAfter democracy started in Pola nd, most of the banks were German, most of the supermarkets were German, most of the industry was taken over by Germans,â Pietrzak said. âAnd the people who were involved in Solidarity, we are really sensitive about the independence of the country. We donât want Poland to go from under Soviet rule to under capitalist rule.â
Tusk, who described his governing philosophy as putting âwarm water in the taps,â was the first Polish Prime Minister since 1989 to be reÃ«lected. But, by 2014, when he resigned to take an E.U. leadership position in Brussels, basic economics werenât enough. âPeople had been made to feel ashamed of their historyâ"to feel dirty, to feel undereducated, limp, lacking teeth or whatever,â Pietrzak said. âEurope, on the other hand, was portrayed as so beautiful.â Among other scandals, Tuskâs Minister of the Interior was recorded at a popular Warsaw restaurant as saying that the Polish state âexists only theoretically,â and calling one of Tuskâs investment projects âdick, ass, and a pile of stones.â
âPolishness, historical Polishness, was wyszydziÄâ"treated as something laughable,â Nowak told me. This dynamic was enacted in a debate, on Polish-Russian relations, held at the University of Cambridge in January, 2017, between Nowak and RadosÅaw Sikorski, the suave Oxford-educated former Foreign Minister under Civic Platform. Sikorski stood at a podium and opened his remarks with a jovial wisecrack at his rival institution, delivered in a posh accent. After Nowak took his turn, choosing to remain seated, Sikorski returned to the podium and warned him that personal attacks, misquotations, and mistranslations would not be considered persuasive at Cambridge. âMaybe thereâs a reason why this university is in the first tenth of the world universities, and Iâm afraid not all Polish are in that league yet,â he said, to uncomfortable laughter in the audience.
In the summer of 2017, t he sociologist Maciej Gdula interviewed Law and Justice supporters from a provincial town not far from Warsaw, many of whom had benefitted greatly from the economic boom. Still, they felt despised by Polish Ã©lites. KaczyÅski, they thought, offered a vision in which âyou no longer have to go to university, get a mortgage and buy a flat, and declare that you have âEuropean values,â in order to be a fully-fledged member of the Polish nation,â as one reviewer of Gdulaâs book, âThe New Authoritarianism,â put it.
They were also wary of refugees, who were perceived as being not only costly to the state but cowardly, for having left their families behind. In 2016, when the E.U. asked Poland to accept sixty-five hundred refugees from the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia, Law and Justice simply refused. In an interview with a Polish newspaper, KaczyÅski said that accepting refugees would âcompletely change our culture and radically lower the level of safety in our country.â That year, however, Poland took in the second-highest number of immigrants in the E.U., mostly from Ukraine.
KaczyÅski rarely speaks to foreign media. He made his first appearance in public life in 1962, at the age of thirteen, when he and his twin brother, Lech, starred as the puckish Jacek and Placek in the childrenâs adventure film âThe Two Who Stole the Moon.â Both studied law and became involved in Solidarity, and JarosÅaw became Lech WaÅÄsaâs chief of staff in 1990, before turning against WaÅÄsa and joining a rival faction that argued that some of the liberal leaders of Solidarity had collaborated with the Communists. âPoland is a typical post-colonial state,â the far-right writer RafaÅ Ziemkiewicz told me. âPeople hate their Ã©lites because they think they donât deserve itâ"rather, they collaborated with the occupiers.â
In 2001, that faction, led by JarosÅaw and Lech, founded Law and Justice. JarosÅaw served as Prime Ministe r from 2006 to 2007, and Lech served as President from 2005 until his death, in a plane crash, in 2010. Lech was the milder of the two, the softer tone in their duet. JarosÅaw has never married, and lived with his mother until her death, in 2013. Now he lives with his cats. He opened a bank account for the first time in 2009, does not have a driverâs license, and prefers to eat alone. A person who knows KaczyÅski told me that, since the death of his brother, he has acted without the check on his decisions that Lech used to provide. Today, though KaczyÅski is merely a member of parliament, he remains the indisputable decision-maker of the nation.
KaczyÅskiâs defenders say that he hates ethnic nationalism and adheres to a political tradition that is open to anyone who loves Poland. As proof, they point to the fact that Law and Justice negotiated a number of the more extreme clauses out of the final version of the Polish Death Camps bill; these provisions had been inserte d by a far-right party. The government is building a museum dedicated to the Warsaw Ghetto, and renovating a large Jewish cemetery in the center of Warsaw.
But KaczyÅski is also a well-known ally of Tadeusz Rydzyk, a powerful Catholic priest who founded a media empire that includes Radio Maryja, which a 2008 U.S. State Department report called âone of Europeâs most blatantly anti-Semitic media venues.â Law and Justice has given Rydzyk partial control of a planned museum that will focus on the past thousand years of Polish history, including the role played by Poland and Poles in the Second World War. Nowak argues that KaczyÅskiâs relationship with Rydzyk is strategic. âHe doesnât want to have any opposition on the right,â Nowak said. According to Polish press accounts, institutions affiliated with Rydzyk have received around twenty million dollars in government subsidies. In April, Polish media reported on a meeting between KaczyÅski and Rydzyk during which Ka czyÅski promised to continue âfavorableâ treatment in exchange for a commitment not to support the creation of a new political party. Adam Michnik, the dissident intellectual who edits Polandâs most influential liberal newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza, told me that he worried about a âcreeping coup dâÃ©tat that is transforming Poland into a Putinist-type state.â
After 1945, Stalin controlled Polandâs historical narrative as tightly as he did its economics. Polish war heroes were labelled traitors or Fascists. Because Poland was behind the Iron Curtain, the suffering of ordinary Poles, whom Hitler considered a Slavic sub-race and intended to enslave or annihilate, was underestimated in the West. In Poland, anti-Semitism and Communist paranoia impeded, for nearly fifty years, a full reckoning of what had happened to Eastern European Jews.
In 2000, while living in Princeton, New Jersey, the Polish historian Jan Gross published âNeighbors,â which follow s the events of July 10, 1941, in the town of Jedwabne, in eastern Poland. In 1939, after Hitler and Stalin divided Poland, Jedwabne was taken by the Soviet Army, which seized property and sent Poles to the Gulag. Two years later, when the Germans took eastern Poland from the Soviets, they encouraged villagers to believe that the evils of Communism were a Jewish conspiracy that demanded retribution. Still, there can be no explanation for that July day, when, according to Gross, roughly half of the non-Jewish male inhabitants of Jedwabne, led by the mayor, summoned all the Jews, with whom they had lived for generations, to the townâs central square. There the men clubbed and stoned Jews to death, beheaded others, and drowned some in a pond. The survivors were ushered into a barn, which the men doused with kerosene and set on fire. By Grossâs estimate, some fifteen hundred people were burned alive. (Official Polish estimates are lower.)
In Poland, the response to âNeighbor sâ was a torrent of shame, guilt, anger, contrition, and denial. Essays and debates filled the newspapers. The President publicly asked for forgiveness. A memorial in Jedwabne, claiming that the Gestapo had committed the crime, was removed. But some residents of Jedwabne and their defenders maintained that the murders had been carried outâ"or, at least, organizedâ"by the Germans. There were calls for Gross, who had received an Order of Merit for previous work, to be stripped of his honor. Eighteen years later, mention of Jan Gross frequently evokes in Poles a sense of gratitude to him for revealing the truth of their history, coupled with vexation at the manner in which his work fosters the perception of Poland as inherently anti-Semitic. âFor me, 2001 was the high moment of democratic Poland,â Dariusz Stola, of the Polin Jewish museum, told me. âIt was so searching, so sincere, so fraught for so many people who read âNeighborsâ to talk about something really painful.â
Other scholars followed Grossâs path, using recently opened archives to chronicle similar events that occurred in other towns. âYou know, Poland just went through twenty-five years of the best in its history,â Gross told me when I met him in Warsaw. âAnd, actually, thanks to the work of these historians there was just this sense of genuine response from audiences, that this is finally a society that can confront its own misdeeds.â
Yet, according to surveys, the percentage of people who think that Poles suffered as much as Jews during the war rose from thirty-nine in 1992 to sixty-two in 2012. When high-school students were asked recently in a nationwide poll what happened at Jedwabne, forty-six per cent said that the Germans murdered Poles who were hiding Jews. âAfter the fall of Communism, there was a tendency to conform to the Western interpretation,â Omer Bartov, a professor of modern European and Jewish history at Brown, told me. Now that Po land is coming into its own, there is a sense that âwe donât need these norms forced on us by the West.â
It is hard to say whether Law and Justice has led or merely followed the trend. In Poland, the ruling party appoints the heads of public media channels; a senior Law and Justice member acknowledged that public-television stations have been turned into official propaganda outlets, which continue to endorse the notion that the Germans were responsible for the massacre in Jedwabne. In 2016, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a long list of âwrong memory codes,â expressions that âfalsify the role of Poland during World War II.â
âMemory laws are always about what you should remember and what you should forget,â Bartov told me. Piotr GliÅski, the Minister of Culture, argued that taking a position in historical debates is a government prerogative. âLook at other countries!â he said. âArenât the governments involved in pushing their version of h istoryâ"or, not version, just the truth! So there are accusations that we want to rewrite history. No. We didnât have a part in writing history before. So we want to be a participant.â
On an exceptionally cold afternoon in March, a writer and biographer named Klementyna Suchanow gathered with a group of friends in the parking lot of the Institute of National Remembrance, the agency responsible for managing Polandâs archives and for investigating crimes that took place in the country between 1939 and 1989. In 2016, after the government announced a plan for a near-total ban on abortion, Suchanow took part in a womenâs demonstration that was credited with thwarting the legislation. Since then, she has often found herself in the streets, protesting the raucous gatherings of flag-waving, torch-bearing nationalists.
Suchanow and her friends walked up WoÅoska Street, a broad avenue lined with glassy office parks, and down a residential lane to the former MokotÃ³w Prison building, its grimy concrete faÃ§ade still crowned with a spiral of barbed wire. For the past few years, the prison has been the site of an annual march in honor of the Cursed Soldiers, underground fighters who continued in armed combat against the Communists from 1944 to 1956. Law and Justice, whose party program includes a chapter on âidentity and historical policy,â has devoted a campaign, which it calls âregaining of memory,â in part to reviving the memory of the Cursed Soldiers. Not surprisingly, that memory has not formed a historical consensus. Some factions were aligned with underground organizations that were not recognized by the government-in-exile, and they were often right-wing anti-Semites who favored a Poland free of Jews. If Poland had become independent after 1945, the government would probably have put many of them on trial, some for murdering civilians, among them ethnic Belarussians and Jews returning after the war. Instead, many Cursed Soldiers ended up at the MokotÃ³w Prison, where the Communists tortured and executed them. Today, Law and Justice is turning the prison into a museum. âThey are projecting their own genealogy, a kind of foundation myth of who they are,â Jan Gross said. In 2011, the parliament passed a bill establishing March 1st as an official holiday in honor of the Cursed Soldiers. âWe have a new national day, which is celebrated by Fascist movements,â Suchanow told me.
Typically, the police keep opposing protests separated, but Suchanow, a slight, elegant woman with a pixie cut, was allowed to approach the head of the march. It was getting dark, but she could see that the participants were nearly all young men, dressed in a way that suggested that they were from middle-class families. Suchanow noticed that a friend, RafaÅ Suszek, a physics professor at the University of Warsaw, had gone missing. She phoned her lawyer and headed to the nearest police station, where she found Suszek, who had been beaten by the police. Suchanow was supposed to attend an awards gala that evening, and she called her publisher to say that she probably wouldnât make it. A few hours later, the publisher called back to tell her that her biography of the novelist Witold Gombrowicz had won the award for Polandâs most important literary work of 2017. He went down to the MokotÃ³w police station with the winnerâs basket of Goplana chocolate, which Suchanow and her lawyer ate as they waited for Suszek to be released.
âHate speech is more and more accepted by this government,â Suchanow told me. A few weeks after the Cursed Soldiers demonstration, neo-Nazis marched through Warsaw, some wearing the S.S. insignia, which is illegal in Poland; the police protected them against far-left counterprotesters.
One evening last December, Suchanow attended a protest after the parliament had passed its most controversial measure to date, which expands the number of seats on the Supreme Court, lowers the retirement age for current judges, and gives the government control over their replacements. The reforms are expected to allow Law and Justice to reshape up to two-thirds of the court. âWe were so angry that we could do nothing about it,â Suchanow said. A group of protesters arrived at the Presidential Palace just as a line of black Audis carrying Law and Justice M.P.s pulled up to celebrate the billâs signing. Suchanow and Suszek began throwing eggs at the legislatorsâ cars. As the police surrounded them, a photographer took a picture of Suchanow doubled over, an officer grabbing her by the collar of her jacket, and another one of her lying on the pavement, her cheek turned to one side, black police boots straddling her face.
I met Suchanow at a police station, where she was scheduled to give a statement. She pulled out a folder containing a thick stack of white envelopes, summonses that arrived in a constant stream in the mail. She couldnât remember which infraction she was addressing todayâ"maybe the one for jumping over a barrier at a demonstration, or for protesting earlier changes to the judiciary.
She had gone on trial the previous week for blocking the Independence Day parade, during which marchers chanted, âPure Poland, White Poland,â and told reporters that they wanted to âremove Jewry from power.â The police had held Suchanow for three hours, supposedly for an I.D. check, a detention that a judge ruled to be illegal. âOver all, the judges are trying to be independent,â Suchanow said. âThe change is happening on top, coming from the Ministry, from the government. The people on the bottom are still O.K., not crushed by the system. So thatâs good. But we donât know for how long.â
In late June, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, of Law and Justice, and the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, issued a joint statement that their dispute had been resolved. Morawiecki said that the offenses described in the Polish Death Camps amendment had been modified from criminal to civil. âThose who say that Poland may be responsible for the crimes of World War Two deserve jail terms,â Morawiecki had said earlier. âBut we operate in an international context and we take that into account.â (A former Polish diplomat said that the U.S. had used âbrutal political blackmailâ to get the Poles to do what the Israelis wanted.)
The Law and Justice governmentâs treatment of the past, the Yale historian Timothy Snyder told me, was indicative of the way it encouraged Poles to think about themselves. âThat we were the greatest victims and nobody will understand us,â Snyder said, âso it doesnât make sense to talk to others about i t.â This is the kind of thinking that makes it difficult for Poland to operate within the European Union. A few days after the changes to the Holocaust bill were made, the European Commission began infringement proceedings against Poland over its judicial reforms. On July 3rd, the reforms went into effect. As the head justice arrived for work, in defiance of the governmentâs directive that she retire, Warsovians massed in front of the court building, singing the national anthem, âPoland Is Not Yet Lost.â
Meanwhile, the Polish narrative has been appropriated by conservatives across Europe, who applaud a country that has asserted its independence from Brussels and has refused to accept Muslim refugees. In March, after the Italian elections, which were won by outsider parties, Ãric Zemmour, one of the most widely read columnists in France, wrote that the media had lectured the public about a divide in Europe between âEast and West, between societies that donât have a long democratic tradition, and oursâ"old, admirable democracies, multicultural societies distanced from their Christian roots and marked by an impeccable rule of law.â Voters in Britain, Austria, Germany, and now Italy were proving this theory wrong. âElections in Western Europe show that the people are in agreement with the leaders of the East,â Zemmour wrote.
Some Poles are happy to be cast in the role of saviors of European civilization. Gdula, the sociologist, found that representations of Poland as the âbulwarkâ protecting Europe from the âfloodâ of refugees gave many Law and Justice supporters a sense of pride and purpose.
A revolution seemed to be under way, although Warsovians disagreed on whether it was a conservative one or a nationalist one: whether the contempt I encountered among those who opposed Law and Justice was actually a rejection of a government whose values and comportment offended their liberal European sensibilities; or whether the ir fears were justified, and what was happening represented a tightening of the grip over institutions and civil society that threatened to make Poland an authoritarian state.
In May, KaczyÅski was hospitalized, ostensibly for a knee injury, though he ended up staying for a month. He was released, then readmitted a few weeks later, and the health minister acknowledged that this time it was under âlife-threateningâ circumstances. Most Poles I spoke with agreed that Law and Justice was a coalition that only KaczyÅski was capable of holding together. It was reported that it had been KaczyÅski who instructed M.P.s to vote for the latest change to the Holocaust amendment, for fear that they wouldnât follow a directive from the Prime Minister. One might wonder how KaczyÅskiâs legacy will play out, but KaczyÅski, it seemed, was looking behind him. âKaczyÅski waited so long, he withstood the pressure,â Andrzej Nowak told me. âHe was proven to be right.â â¦So urce: Google News Poland | Netizen 24 Poland