Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Polish Polonia

According to this article, in 2005 there were still Poles in Kazakhstan, but they wanted to go home.

“Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, many from this strong Polish minority in Kazakhstan have been asking for the right to come back to Poland. But could the country cope with such an influx? Estimates say that between 47 to 60 thousand people of Polish origin live in this Asian country, located thousands of kilometers away from Poland.”

You would think that those sent to Poland in 1936 and their descendants could readily return to Poland, but not so. They must meet a criteria that is very like the one potential immigrants must meet to come to the U.S.

Here is an interesting word: “Polonia, the name for Poland in Latin and many other languages, refers in modern Polish to the Polish diaspora: people of Polish origin who live outside the country's borders.”

According to Wikipedia, “There are roughly 15 to 20 million people of Polish ancestry living outside Poland, making the Polish diaspora one of the largest in the world.”

The first article says that between 47 to 60 thousand Poles still live in Kazakhstan as of 2005. Does this mean that all the rest of original 500,000 made it back to Poland? Not exactly: ( )

“Following the collectivization of agriculture under Joseph Stalin, both autonomies were abolished and their populations were subsequently deported to Kazakhstan in 1934-1938. Many people starved during the deportation and after, since the deported were moved to sparsely populated area, unprepared for migration, lacking basic facilities and infrastructure. The survivors were under supervision of the OGPU/NKVD, cruelly punished for any sign of discontent.”


I don’t know what rationalization a modern-day Staliniist Russian would provide to justify that treatment of those Poles. He can’t use the exigencies of the war against Germany because this deportation occurred prior to the war. Perhaps it is merely more paranoia’ which is not a justification. A people should not tolerate a paranoid leader. Of course that is easier said in a Liberal Democracy. Here we can just not elect him for a second term or if necessary impeach him (as we were about to do with Richard Nixon). But in an autocracy where the leader doesn’t have to listen to the people, perhaps he can enjoy his paranoia to his heart’s content.

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