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All About Poland: (FSF Cultural Exploration)

Poland Overview

Poland is a central-European nation sharing borders with the Baltic Sea, Russia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Germany. Its culture has been heavily impacted by the German invasion in 1939 and the establishment of a Soviet government shortly after, leading them to be skeptical of politics and authority. Despite these hardships, the people are largely united through their shared convictions in family values, nobility, and egalitarianism. These values have enshrined a strong, collective Polish identity.

A Brief History

The Polish state was created in the year 966 when Duke Mieszko I, who ruled several Western Slavic tribes, decided to consolidate his power by accepting Christianity and marrying Doubravka, a princess of Bohemia. His line ruled over Poland until the end of the 14th century when Polish queen Jadwiga married the Grand Duke of Lithuania, forming a long-lasting alliance between the two countries which eventually merged into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Over the next two centuries, the country underwent a golden age and developed into a multicultural democratic monarchy. In the 17th century, Poland fought in a multitude of wars to defend its territory and was left severely weakened. In 1764, Stanisław August Poniatowski was elected king. With backing from Russia, he was able to build up to rebuild the country’s strength, but he failed to prevent Poland’s partitioning by neighboring countries which led it to cease to exist for over a century.

The state was reformed in the wake of World War 1 as two million Polish soldiers fought for the Entente Alliance and both Germany and Russia were facing revolutions. The Second Polish Republic underwent a cultural revolution of cinema and music and rebuilt the devastated country. In 1939, the invasion by Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia erased Poland from the map in under a month. Despite this, Polish forces played major roles in key battles of World War 2 and even decrypted the Nazi cipher. Despite being reestablished after the war, Poland quickly fell under a Soviet-influenced Communist regime and was thus rendered a puppet state of Moscow. In the 1980s, difficult living conditions made worse by increased consumer prices led to a wave of strikes that paralyzed the country’s economy and eventually led to a peaceful revolution. Under the Third Polish Republic’s democratic regime and a free-market economy, the nation has become a strong political entity in the region.

Polish Culture and Tradition

Kin-groups are often quite strong, playing a major role in economic and political affairs, especially among the wealthy. Polish people typically live in close-knit families with grandparents often living in the home. Children often have a large degree of independence. Marriage was traditionally arranged by the family. While arranged marriages have decreased, people still view marriage as both a duty and a necessary step to achieving happiness. This makes early marriages typical, with bachelors in their late twenties often being publicly mocked.

Polish people are typically good at problem-solving and good at adapting to unexpected situations. This tolerance for flexibility can lead to spontaneity but is typically practically minded. In addition to this, Stoicism is a well-recognized quality of Polish character. People tend to deal with serious issues without complaint, with many tackling problems as they occur rather than working to prevent them. Under communism, this practical attitude towards problem-solving was often necessary to get things done, but it is less prevalent in business and personal matters.


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