Poles may reflect with wonder and with no small pride on the extraordinary events which have enabled their country to survive, and even flourish, in the face of such great adversity. Given their three-hundred year struggle for survival, it would be most inappropriate if they should be judged exclusively by the standards of world success. For Poland is not only just another European country battered by war and beset with problems of post-war-adjustment. To everyone who knows its history, it is something much more indeed. Poland is a repository of ideas, culture and values which can outlast any number of military and political catastrophes.

Hence, the dilemas of Poland’s past constantly prompt anxieties about Poland’s future. For much of modern history Poles asked themselves how their country could be restored to its former independent condition, and, more importantly, what kind of country the independent Poland should be. The first question was answered by the outcome of two terrible World Wars, and more recently by the collapse of Communism in 1989-91. The second question , as ever, remains..

Norman Davis





Norman Davis a British-Polish historian noted for his publications on the history of Europe, Poland and the United Kingdom. He is widely regarded as one of the preeminent historians of Central and Eastern European history. He is the UNESCO Professor at the Jagiellonian University, Professor Emeritus at the University College London, a Visiting Professor at the College of Europe and an Honorary Fellow at St. Antony’s College, Oxford.