Accommodation and resistance : a Polish county during the Second World War and its aftermath (1939-1947) / Marek Jan Chodakiewicz.
Between 1939 and 1947 the county of Janow Lubelski, an agricultural area in central Poland, experienced successive occupations by Nazi Germany (1939–44) and the Soviet Union (1944–47). During each occupation the population, including the Polish majority and the Jewish, Ukrainian, and German minorities, both accommodated and resisted the foreign invaders. However, collaboration among the inhabitants was rather exceptional. Such as there was resulted from terror, which was the principal tool for both occupiers, albeit the Communists used it on a lesser scale than the Nazis. This first-ever comprehensive case study of a small administrative unit examines the popular and elite responses to the policies of the occupiers against a complex ethnic, economic, social, political, and cultural background. The present inquiry tests various scholarly theories derived from earlier, general works on the Nazi and Soviet occupations. In particular, it investigates the consequences of the occupation policies devised at the center and implemented in the county. It bases itself mainly on newly accessible documents of the local level and complementary documents on the central level. The documents were generated by a multitude of institutions, including the Nazi and Communist civilian administration, police, and military. While attempting to control totally the captive population, both occupiers used coercion, total control, social engineering, and local talent to rule the county of Janòw. The Nazis based their system on racial discrimination; the Communists on class discrimination. However, the Soviet occupation policy was pragmatic, where the Nazi ultimately was not. To oppose the invaders, the Polish independentist camp, which encompassed all ethnic Polish political forces, except the Communists, created the Polish Underground State (PUS). The PUS carried out its struggle in a manner that they calculated would endanger the civilian population least. Against this background, the popular and elite attitudes toward the occupiers were shaped by the Nazi and Communist occupation policies, terror in particular. Because these policies varied with each ethnic and social (elite and otherwise) group, the responses of the Poles, Jews, Ukrainians, and Germans to the occupiers differed. Inadvertently, the occupation policies accelerated the growth of national consciousness in each ethnic group; that, in turn, neutralized the class conflict within each but made cooperation among them difficult, if not impossible. A natural reflex among the majority of the population was to accommodate the invaders. However, because the scope of the officially permissible behavior gradually narrowed and most were forced to resist. But successful resistance required successful accommodation. Both were mutually complementary. Accommodation often prevented or at least blunted the edge of the official terror by partly assuaging the demands of the authorities, while resistance made existence under the occupations more bearable and facilitated the survival of the majority. Thus, accommodation and resistance fused into a self-contained phenomenon of mass defiance that differed dramatically from the rare instances of collaboration—a crucial distinction which must be added to the current historiographical debates of both the area and the period.
Janów Lubelski (Poland)
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