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Why the Poles Collaborated so Little: And Why That Is No Reason for Nationalist Hubris

John Connelly
Slavic Review
Vol. 64, No. 4 (Winter, 2005), pp. 771-781
DOI: 10.2307/3649912
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3649912
Page Count: 11
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Why the Poles Collaborated so Little: And Why That Is No Reason for Nationalist Hubris
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Abstract

Three historians comment on the articles. John Connelly considers the moral and historiographical meanings of "collaboration" and "collaborationism" and suggests that even those cases that Friedrich documents do not make Poland into a collaborationist country. In fact, the Nazis were disappointed that Poles refused to collaborate. Connelly emphasizes the complicated choices and intentions among the Polish population and calls for bringing together both the heroic (and true) tale of Polish resistance with the disturbing (and true) tale of Polish accommodation to the slaughter of the Jews. Tanja Penter adds to the discussion the results of her own research in the records of military tribunals for trials of Soviet citizens accused of collaborating with the Germans. These data confirm the Soviet regime's extremely broad understanding of collaboration and provide insight into the collective biography of collaborators. They also suggest which crimes the regime believed most harmful to its integrity. While it is difficult to determine motives and even intentions from these trials, these data, like Jones's, indicate the immense loyalty problem that the Soviet government faced in its occupied territories. Martin Dean calls attention to the difficulties of weeding out collaborators in the postwar Soviet Union and agrees with Jones on the limits of representing the "reality" of collaboration. He notes the reluctance, raised by both Friedrich and Jones, of postwar communist governments and nationalists to deal publicly with the phenomenon. Contrasted to the desire in postwar Europe to deal quickly with war criminals, collaborators, and traitors so that people could move on with their lives, Dean emphasizes the necessity and possibility for historians to write a full history of wartime collaboration, one that recognizes multiple human motives and the responses of hundreds of thousands of individuals who had to take far-reaching decisions under swiftly changing circumstances.

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