What is the effect of disobedience in Poland? | Teen Ink

What is the effect of disobedience in Poland?

September 11, 2023
By Anonymous

“Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion,” observed Oscar Wilde. Disobedience is a trait that promotes not only social progress but can also promote freedom. Poland is a country in Central Europe but it has not always been a country. Poland has been through many wars and many battles, with the people constantly fighting for their independence. They would not be able to do so without disobedience and rebellion.  I believe that Wilde’s claims are valid and the only way that would allow Poland to be free is through fighting and going against what the oppressors told them to do.

Poland was constantly being taken over since it became an independent country and disobedience is the main reason why Poland is currently an independent and constantly flourishing country. The first partition of Poland was in 1772 by Russia, Prussia and Austria. The second was in 1793 by Russia and Prussia, and after suppressing a Polish revolt in 1794, all three of the powers conducted the Third Partition in 1795, which was the last for a while. While the Poles famously resisted every time, their territory gradually started decreasing. They ended the existence of the country, and Poland was completely taken off the map for 123 years. The three powers signed a treaty that partitioned Poland. In each section, the country demanded different things from the Polish people. Russification eradicated all Polish schools and the Russian language was obligatory. Russian officials were everywhere and they prohibited speaking, reading, and writing in Polish. There was a new Russian administration system brought into Poland along with the Russian system of weights and measures, and even the introduction of Russian geographical names. Catholic monasteries were also eradicated because the Russians were suspicious of what was going on inside the churches. They needed to make sure that no one was practicing polish inside them. Overall, there was a major deprivation of city rights. Germanization, which was the Prussian partition, was similar to Russification in many ways. They also mandated that everyone spoke and learned their language, which was German. They closed all Polish schools and they eradicated Catholic monasteries. “Kulturkampf” is what Germans called the fight against the Catholic Church and therefore, against Polishness. This partition was the richest and flourished the most out of the three. Industry and agriculture developed rapidly but the constant fight against the Polish farmers led many of them to immigrate from Poland to the United States. The Austrian partition, was the third partition and was also the weakest. It was the poorest partition lacking in industrialization. After fighting for their freedom Poland came back onto the map in 1918, following the end of World War Ⅰ. The people never let go of their hope that one day Poland would become an independent country once again. The perseverance and dedication of the older generations of Polish society during the period of captivity, helped pass attachment to the national language and culture onto new generations of young Polish children. Secret teaching or “secret sets” which was a term used in Poland for teaching, is the form of illegal classes and lectures. They were organized outside the schools that children were forced to go to during the partitions. These “secret sets” transformed over time into an organized mass action. It also became one of the most effective forms of struggle against the occupant for the preservation of national identity. 

This was not the end of the Polish rebellion. On September first 1939, Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany which triggered the start of World War 2. My great grandmother, Gertruda Bartkowiak, was at the age of 19 when World War 2 started. Her family knew that the Germans would attack soon, so her father sold all his farm animals, and all his belongings and bought gold which he dispersed among his 10 kids. They made a plan that eventually when World War ⅠⅠ would come to an end, and whoever made it out alive, would all meet at their old childhood home. When the Germans came into their house one day, all the kids were kidnapped and brought to different places in Germany to work. They all worked hard but Gertruda said that she was lucky enough to land in the hands of one of the nicer families that did not torture her. Gertruda was working with other Polish children who were also kidnapped from their families. They were forbidden to talk among each other in Polish, although in secret they still did. Since Gertruda was the oldest child there, she was forced to go to a German school for a couple of hours a day, and later come back to the farm and work then teach the other kids what she learned at school. She taught the kids German in front of the Germans, but when she had the chance and when she was alone with the Polish children, she persisted that they also learned Polish so that they wouldn’t forget it. She worked and worked all day never knowing if the war would ever come to an end and if she would ever come home to her family and reunite with them. In 1945, shortly after the war ended, Gertruda was able to come home. When she was coming home after the war, the wagon she was in kept rocking and jumping. Gertruda assumed that they were going over rocks but when she looked over, she saw all of the bodies that the Germans killed. Her happy ending was that within approximately a month, her entire family returned back to their childhood home, but this was the case with most families. She was lucky enough to find her whole family after the war. Thanks to not only my great grandmother, but so many other Polish people and their will to carry their culture and language through these difficult times, Poland was able to build itself back up from nothing but ruins. Although my great grandmother was scared of disobeying, she knew that it was the only way to make a change. Progress is only made by disobeying and she knew that, so she did everything in her power to resist. I, Veronika Ludwiszewski, was born in the United States of America, but my parents were born and raised in Poland. They attach great importance to the culture, language and history of Poland. For that reason, I attend Polish Saturday School in the parish of St. Cyril and Methodius in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Both Polish and English are spoken in our home and my parents discuss the politics and history of both countries. Therefore, I am no stranger to the history of Poland, starting with Mieszko Ⅰ, through the Polish-Lithuanian Union, the Swedish Deluge, partitions, the First and Second World Wars and the times of communism. I attach great importance to the personal experiences of people who survived the Second World War. This war contributed to the antagonism between Poles, and between Poles and Jews. War also contributes to the division of citizens among nations. War reveals the worst and the best qualities in humans. On one hand, anti-Semitism and hatred is being dealt with, but on the other hand, great heroism and life threatening actions can be displayed by people. The events of the Second World War should be passed down from generation to generation. This is a story that not only changed the borders of the country, but above all changed the relations between nations. When the older generation shares their own experiences, it not only adds details to history, but it also teaches the younger generation what is important in life. That is why it is important to raise children by teaching tolerance, respect and love for other people. We should constantly be reminded of how much pain one person is able to cause to so many other people. Adolf Hitler influenced so many people to do such awful things and used his power to orchestrate the deaths of so many innocent human beings. Those people that were easily brainwashed by him were afraid of what would happen if they disobeyed, so they agreed with everything he said instead of fighting for whats right. Through peoples’ sympathy, a lesson could be learned so that history won’t repeat itself. It is evident that war includes long term physical and psychological harm to children and adults. Their experience follows them for the rest of their life. With all of these people revolting and resisting their oppressors, a change was finally able to be made and peace could be established in Poland yet again. Although transgressing the new laws was life threatening, Poles were not afraid to lose their life for their country. They did everything in their power to create a change within their society.  

Polish people went through so much in their past, which is why they constantly are helping Ukraine with war present day. Poland knows what war is and what it can come to, so they are not shy to help the Ukrainians rebel against the Russian invaders. With Poland as an example, Ukraine should not stop rebelling and fighting for its independence. Poland is helping Ukraine right now in many ways. Poles took so many Ukrainians into their own homes. Visitukraine.today says that in 2022, Poland took in almost 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees and the number is constantly rising. Since February 24, 2022 more than 9.5 million refugees from Ukraine have crossed the Polish border. The population in the largest south-eastern city in Poland, Rzeszów, has doubled in population since the migration. Poles also drove to Ukraine to help as many suffering people and animals that they found on the streets, and brought them back to Poland. Shelter is not the only thing offered by Poland, the country has also lent many tanks to Ukraine. Forbes.com says, “Poland has gifted to Ukraine, or pledged to gift, no fewer than 330 tanks.” The only way to overcome the war is to stay hopeful and constantly disobey. Constant rebellion is necessary to show Russia that Ukraine cannot be taken without a bloody fight. Poland knows Ukrainians situation because of their own history, but unfortunately Poland was not being helped during those times. As Ukraines’ closest neighbor, and the neighbor that knows the most about what it feels like, Poles' empathy leads them to reach out and help to their best abilities. 

Refusing to comply is a good trait to have in specific moments like war. Disobedience can demonstrate a person's ability to stand up for what they feel is right and wrong. In the past, Poland demonstrated that fighting for what you believe to be right, changes the course of history. This is also demonstrated at the moment with Ukraine rebelling against Russia.

The author's comments:

My entire family immigrated to New York, from Poland. My first language was Polish and I go to Polish school every Friday to continue learning about my culture and language. 

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