Monday, November 23, 2009
For a country that has undergone so much adversity over the years, its people should take great pride in all that has been accomplished in such a short period of time. The current success of this nation never ceases to amaze me.
This overview begins in 1795 when The Polish nation was almost eradicated from the face of the map. In this year Poland was partitioned between Russia, Prussia (now part of modern Germany) and Austria. As the years moved forward, the Polish nation became a dream among a group of nationalists in their host countries. This all changed after World War I in 1918, when Poland was reconstituted by the allies at then US President Woodrow Wilson's initiative under his "14 points" plan. Unfortunately, this autonomy was short lived when in 1939, both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union invaded Poland, each taking huge swaths of the country under their rule.more
During the Second World War Poland suffered terribly with the highest percentage loss of citizens of all the countries involved in the war. Over 6 million died, half of them Polish Jewish civilians systematically slaughtered under the Nazi's "Final Solution". During this war, it should be noted that Poland made the fourth largest troop contribution to the allies after Britain, the US and the Soviet Union. At the end of the war in 1945, Poland lost 20% of its area to Germany & Russia and fell under the umbrella of the Soviet Union behind the Red Curtain.
Poland stayed under the influence of the Soviet Union until 1989. A labour union effort, centered in the shipyards of Gdansk, called Solidarity, became a political force in the 1980s and slowly eroded the influence of the communist party. In 1989, Solidarity, led by Lech Wałęsa, won parliamentary elections and the presidency in 1990. This success is widely thought to have precipitated the fall of the Soviet Union.
From this point on, Poland followed a path that has resulted in its success on many levels today. During the nineties, Poland vigorously adapted numerous improvements in human rights and free speech. A market economy was efficiently implemented and the country's economy boomed. Poland joined NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) in 1999 and the European Union in 2004 (Poles celebrate EU membership in image below).
Today Poland is a thriving democracy. In 2009, the Polish economy created the most GDP growth in the European Union. During the current global recession, the Polish economy so far has not entered recession nor even contracted.
This nation is a shining example of how freedom, democracy, culture and hard work can overcome incredible odds. The success and speed in successfully adapting free market principals from a centrally run communist economy is mind numbing. The resolve to hold on to their nation, and achieve statehood in such a peaceful manner should inspire many who have given up hope. Poland represents a solid role model for other nations facing tough situations, war and poverty. This is one story that I will not question or critique as every time I think of it, it gives me great hope that it is within the realm of possibility that the world's many "troubled" nations are able to "come around".