Books on polish syndicalists / anarchists in 20th century

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Harrison
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Aug 4 2012 17:00
Books on polish syndicalists / anarchists in 20th century

Has anyone got any good recommendations for english language books about the polish syndicalist / anarchist movement in the 20th century (particularly the second world war period)?

I was reading about the 104th company of syndicalists that fought in the Warsaw ghetto uprising and similarly this collection of short biographical accounts of various syndicalists / anarchists, but i'd like to find out more...

wojtek
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Aug 4 2012 17:55

The most I've been able to find in English is this word document, which is frustrating...

http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=polish%20anarchism&source=web&cd=14&ved=0CE8QFjADOAo&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.anarchist-studies-network.org.uk%2Fdocuments%2FConference%2520Papers%2FRafal%2520Chwedoruk.doc&ei=p18dUOeZCIOd0AWrmIDACg&usg=AFQjCNGnGGTfTTFXCpkFYn6A-0gM526Mbg

wojtek
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Oct 9 2012 16:17

http://www.rozbrat.org/historia

akai
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Oct 9 2012 17:25

There are no good English or Polish language books. I am serious - the ones that are there are mostly terrible. ZSP at one point made a small booklet about the war-time ZSP in the Warsaw Uprising. It is by no means a deep history but it is small enough that it might be worth translating one day.

Harrison
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Oct 9 2012 18:12

Thanks for the reply akai, i would be interested in that booklet a great deal.

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Auld-bod
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Oct 9 2012 18:40

Harrison #1 wrote:

I was reading about the 104th company of syndicalists that fought in the Warsaw ghetto uprising…

As you sure this was the ghetto uprising? It was more likely the Home Army’s uprising, when the Russian Red Army was poised to liberate the city (the Red army stopped outside and allowed the Nazis to wipe out most of the Polish Home Army – see Andrzej Wajda’s excellent Canal (1957) based on these events). This was after the Jewish ghetto had been liquidated.

The Home Army had refused the Jews any arms to defend themselves. As the Jews fought for their lives behind the ghetto walls ‘ordinary’ Warsaw life carried on as usual!

I’ve just re-watched Claude Lanzmann’s film documentary Shoah, which documents this racist crime. There is also interesting information on how some veterans of the International Brigades helped organise resistance inside the German concentration camps.

Lurch
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Oct 9 2012 20:30

"As you sure this was the ghetto uprising? It was more likely the Home Army’s uprising?"

Auld-bod is most likely right.

The Home Army had refused the Jews any arms to defend themselves.

Don't know if this 100% true or not. The Polish Home Army hardly had any serious armaments itself. However, again, Auld-Bod is probably correct as national resistance armies were, in general, more concerned with preserving/freeing 'their' nation state and making alliances with their enemies' enemy than promoting class struggle or defending oppressed minorities, Jews included.

"As the Jews fought for their lives behind the ghetto walls ‘ordinary’ Warsaw life carried on as usual!"

'Ordinary' Warsaw life, of course, encompassing the murder, during WW2, of 3 million Poles (strangely, the same number of Jews said to have died in Poland in the same period.) We recall Auschwitz was originally a camp built to torture, imprison and exploit Poles (mainly 'communists' and social democrats, but also some of the Polish ruling class and intellectuals) as well as Russian PoWs.

Point is not to deny widespread and historic anti-semitism in Poland, but to understand its roots and not to fall into some reverse racial stereotype: just as the facts are legion of Polish 'betrayals' of Jews before, during and after WWII, so too are the acts of sacrifice, heroism and incredible suffering by non-Jews who happened to live in Poland's wartime borders in the service of Jews who shared the same territory.

Harrison: hope you find the info for which you are searching.

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fingers malone
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Oct 9 2012 20:45

It's not about anarchists, but I can borrow "The Ghetto Fights" off my shop steward for you if you want.

syndicalist
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Oct 9 2012 20:49

i'm not sure how to take Lurch's comments about the loss of Polish Jews.
Can not tell if they don't believe 3 million were killed or just their way of phrasing
what they are trying to say.

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Auld-bod
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Oct 9 2012 21:33

I do not think it is particularly productive to get into a numbers game.

I remember watching a BBC documentary that stated the Poles suffered a higher proportion of their population killed than any other country in WW2 (numerically more Russians died approximately twenty million). What I believe is undeniable is that the population of Polish Jews were virtually wiped out.

Racist attitudes were not confined to the fascists. Lanzmann’s film is based on interviews with survivors: victims and perpetrators. One brave Pole interviewed was the Polish government’s fact-finding representative smuggled into occupied territory. The Jewish resistance on at least two occasions managed to get him into the ghetto to see with his own eyes what was happening. His reports to London were ignored.

I was left feeling I’d got an insight to the Jewish/Zionist craving for someone to care and have somewhere to go – because basically very few (particularly those in authority) gave a fig.

Harrison
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Oct 9 2012 21:56
Auld-bod wrote:
It was more likely the Home Army’s uprising, when the Russian Red Army was poised to liberate the city (the Red army stopped outside and allowed the Nazis to wipe out most of the Polish Home Army – see Andrzej Wajda’s excellent Canal (1957) based on these events). This was after the Jewish ghetto had been liquidated.

i think you are right, just my poor skim reading of internet sources showing through there.

incidentally from here:
http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/wwq0p9

there is some stuff about syndicalists and anarchists that were involved with the Committee for Aid to Jews (which the ZSP - syndicalist resistance organisation formed during WW2 - had delegates on), and even someone involved in producing a Yiddish anarchist paper from within the Warsaw ghetto.

thanks everyone

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Ed
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Oct 9 2012 22:26

Two articles about the Polish anarcho-syndicalist ZZZ.. not read them myself yet but remember them getting added and had them bookmarked for ages now.. maybe some of the Polish lot can tell you better than me if they're any good or not.

syndicalist
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Oct 9 2012 23:05

Self deleted. Off subject of Polish Syndicalists.

akai
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Oct 11 2012 14:48

ZSP was active in the Warsaw Uprising, not to be confused with the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The latter occurred in the Ghetto, obviously. Please do not call it the Home Army Uprising as it was wider than that. As for Jews, there was a large number of Jewish anarchists so of course there was contact with those who were in the Ghetto. And there was an escaped group from the ghetto that joined the 104. Also a small group of Greeks.

About the two articles you linked to, although both give a number of interesting facts, neither is a good history. The first one is particularly bad, as it spends a lot of time discussing socialist parties but in fact doesn't give any details about the movement prior to the 1920s. It does mention that it was very important in the anarchist movement in Tsarist Russia - and that is a fact. But says nothing much about it.

A bit of a problematic issue about describing the "Polish" movement in the 20th century is that Poland didn't exist in the most important revolutionary period. But there were organizations consisting of Poles or ones with people of different "nationalities".

If we talk about anarcho-syndicalism then, we also could see the development of two trends really: one Polish syndicalist trend (centered in Krakow and Warsaw) and another Silesian trend. In the area of Silesia, the main organization was FAUD, however there was a large ethnic mix and there were Poles, Czechs, Silesians, etc. It was a specific of the time and place, so of course you had people who were Polish or Czech living in a German area, so speaking German, etc., like Souchy or Pilarski. (The same was true during the Russian empire, that many Polish anarchists in fact were also educated in Russian, were integrated into Russian speaking groups, etc.).

David in Atlanta
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Oct 15 2012 02:23
fingers malone wrote:
It's not about anarchists, but I can borrow "The Ghetto Fights" off my shop steward for you if you want.

It's an excellent book written by the last surviving military leader of the Ghetto uprising, who pointedly explains that the Home Army in fact did provide arms but had few to share.

gwry
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Oct 15 2012 13:27

It does seem odd that there is so little information out there on Polish syndicalists and anarchists. I came across an article in Norwegian, first published in "Alarm", and translated it in 1984, sending it to the DAM who subsequently published it. It seemed like there would be a mass of material in Polish/Russian archives which would have been used to produce any number of histories, biographies etc. The same incidently goes for Bulgaria, which had a movement of some size. Either the sources have been destoyed, or academics in these countries have little interest in the subject.