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Poland’s a really young country compared to Ireland. It’s hard to say when it even started. We could start in 1989 when the present ‘democratic’ Poland was born. I use quotation marks because, well, when Communism fell and Capitalism 2.0 became flavor of the day the Commies simply set up political parties and stayed on in parliament. In Czech, they fired everyone and said you can’t work in anything connected with government for 20 years. They also profited hugely by selling off state assets to themselves, so many former communists are now fully-committed capitalists. Little for them has changed really, they’re still skimming the fat off the land and living it up.
Or we could start at 1918, when Poland was reunified following World War I. Poland had been carved up between Germany, Austro-Hungary, and Russia in 1795. It’s not easy to make sense of, but at the time there was very little resistance to it. There were a few fights but it had seemed to the natives that the idea of Poland had kind of run its course. Poland had, at one stage, stretched as far away as Turkey. It had been the aggressor and victim of countless, bloody wars and cutting it up between the superpowers of the 18th century didn’t seem all that bad…..unless you had to go with Russia of course. I live in Katowice, in the province of Silesia, which was in the German part. Following WWI, referenda were held here and the people voted to remain part of Germany. The League of Nations didn’t like that so the British and the Italians armed the Polish rebels and three rebellions came about before finally Silesia became Polish. People say World War II started when the Germans bombed Gdansk. It’s not true. The Germans staged a fake attack on a German radio tower in Gliwice, blamed Polish forces for it and thus, they had their excuse to invade troublesome Poland. Where was Churchill at the time and why didn’t he let the world know the Germans staged the event? Well, he wanted a war. And he had no problem using Poland as an excuse for going to war and later selling her out, along with Roosevelt, to Stalin at the Yalta Conference.
Katowice is a strange one too. For the most part, at that time, people were more German than Polish. Many locals joined the German army, many more though were captured and forced to fight with the Germans. All Jews were annihilated. Katowice had the biggest synagogue in Poland in 1939, on its former site now there’s a market selling cheap underwear and bananas. The fact that the post-war Polish Communists didn’t rebuild it speaks volumes. Jews were not welcome in Poland after World War II. The ones that did survive the Nazi Holocaust returned to homes that were now owned by Poles, so they either fled to Israel or North America. In Katowice, the strongest resistance to the invading Nazis were boy scouts, in some areas of Silesia they were welcomed with open arms. It’s a dirty secret nobody wants to talk about. The Poles also helped Germany invade Czechoslovakia in 1938. They knew the Germans was going for a landgrab in the ‘Sudetenland’. Poland saw a chance to gain some free land. Most Poles have chosen to forget about this. The Czechs and Slovaks have most certainly not.
Really though, Poland started in the 10th century when the Piast King, Mieszko I unified the Slavic tribes of what is modern day Poland into a kingdom under his rule. He also quickly adopted the hipster religion of the time; Christianity and it was the start of a beautiful friendship that continues with Polish dignitaries and celebrities to this very day. One cool thing about the Polish monarchy was that the King was elected, so thanks to that Poland had the world’s first female king, Jadwiga. How’s that for equal rights!
So that’s the history of Poland and I’m sure I’ll be headhunted on Twitter for my mistakes, but there’s more to a country than its history, right? Well, Theresa May and her baying uglies don’t seem to think so but those nincompoops are still living in the 1800s. Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves. Not our fault we enslaved half the world during our heyday.
Southern Poland is beautiful. High mountains, low valleys, obviously, hanging lakes and enough wildlife threats to make you want to have a trusty Dirty Harry Smith & Wesson Model 29 always present by your side. I don’t have a gun here, but you can buy them on Thor from the Czech Republic. I’m too cowardly to buy one because since it would cross a border it’s technically smuggling. And I’m far too pretty for jail. Seriously though, my father-in-law lives in a remote part of south-east Poland and it’s quite common to hear howling wolves at night and bear sightings are so common that they are barely mentioned.
Northern Poland has the sea and some beautiful seaside towns. Look up a place called Hel, a wee place on that wee peninsula that sticks out of the top of Poland. Middle Poland is pretty boring though, it’s as flat as a witch’s tit and twice as boring. It’s got Warsaw but that’s about it. Warsaw’s a weird one too. Totally levelled but the bastard Nazis the Poles, instead of building a new modern city from scratch, choose to try and recreate parts of it from paintings. It’s a mess of a city. Some of it is mighty, some of it you wouldn’t send an enemy into. It does have some great sites though, but that’s what tourist brochures are for.
Technology, Culture & Science
When it comes to the above, Poland, much like Ireland, punches way above its weight. OK, Ireland has a history as old as Ancient Egypt. Newgrange is 5000 years old, as are the major Egyptian pyramids. The island had an advanced society and culture by then, and it goes back way further than that. So y’know, we’ve got at least a 4000-year head start on Poland but we’ve both contributed hugely to the sciences and arts over the centuries. It’s something both countries should be very proud of and not forget about. I’m not going to list Irish contributions, but without Poland we’d have had no Marie Curie, Frederick Chopin, Miko?aj Kopernik (that’s Copernicus written properly), Zdzis?aw Beksi?ski, Adam Marczy?ski two insanely genius-like artists if you don’t know them. Mr. Nivea, Oskar Troplowitz, was from just down the road from me and, of course, Julius Fromm, the inventor of the modern-day condom. And can you imagine how over populated this stupid planet would be without him? Literally, thank fuck for him.
It’s all too easy to dismiss Poland, as it is with Ireland. Ask the average European something about Ireland and they’ll say we’re famous for the IRA and Guinness, while Poland is famous because that’s where WWII started. We’re both pretty insignificant in the grand auld scheme of geo-politics but both countries are awash with history and culture to be proud of and they’re way more fun to talk about than what boring men in boring suits talk about at boring meetings.
This week on The Comedy Cast I speak to American comedian, former mafia enforcer and WWE wrestler Liam Breunle on Monday 15th and on Thursday 18th I speak to a rising talent on the Irish comedy scene, Damien Kiely. On my YouTube channel, I’ve got video versions of the podcasts and Trailer Trash and The Weekly Viral are out every Wednesday and Friday too.