Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Carol Lilly

Committee Members

Douglas Biggs, Torsten Homberger


Communism;Nationalism;Polish Studies;World War II


The history of conflict in the relationship between Russia and Poland can be traced back to the very first partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth that occurred in 1772. Over the course of three partitions carried out by the empires of Russian, Prussia, and Austria, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth ceased to exist by 1795. Despite the loss of their nation on the world map, Poles in each of the partitions managed to retain some level of national consciousness. In the Polish-Russian partition, this national consciousness contributed to a sense of opposition between the Russian empire and the Polish nation. Ultimately, the oppositional mentality of Polish-Russian relations contributed to a nationalist-communist hybrid in the post-Second World War era. While Stalin sought to impose the idea "national in form, socialist in content" the result was the reverse. Communism was being imposed from the top by party leadership in Moscow while nationalism was being imposed from the bottom by Polish nationals and national political parties, the outcome was Polish Stalinism. Communism in Poland became "socialist in form, national in content." This hybridization profoundly affected a number of Polish institutions and traditions, most notable is the effect of the national- communist model on traditional anti-Semitism. Seen as an advantageous tool by both communists and nationalists, anti-Semitism in Poland grew increasingly prominent and was eventually incorporated into official government policy. Ultimately, the flaws in the unstable merger of Soviet-style communism and Polish nationalism would come to a head. By 1989, Polish nationals had successfully overthrown communism. At long last, the battle between nation and empire found a conclusive end.



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