Student Politics in Communist Poland

Student Politics in Communist Poland : Generations of Consent and Dissent

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Student Politics in Communist Poland tackles the topic of student political activity under a communist regime during the Cold War. It discusses both the communist student organizations as well as oppositional, independent, and apolitical student activism during the forty-five-year period of Poland's existence as a Soviet satellite state. The book focuses on consecutive generations of students who felt compelled to act on behalf of their milieu or for what they saw as the greater national good. The dynamics between moderates and radicals, between conformists and non-conformists are analyzed from the points of view of the protagonists themselves. The book traces ideological evolutions, but also counter-cultural trends and transnational influences in Poland's student community as they emerged, developed, and disappeared over more than four decades. It elaborates on the importance of the Catholic Church and its role in politicizing students. The regime's higher education policies are discussed in relation to its attempts to control the student body, which in effect constituted an ever growing group of young people who were destined to become the regime's future elite in the political, economic, social, and cultural spheres and thus provide it with the necessary legitimacy for its survival. The pivotal crises in the history of Communist Poland, those of 1956, 1968, 1980-1981, are treated with a special emphasis on the students and their respective role in these upheavals. The book shows that student activism played its part in the political trajectory of the country, at times challenging the legitimacy of the regime, and contributed in no small degree to the demise of communism in Poland in 1989. Student Politics in Communist Poland not only presents a chronological narrative of student activism, but it sheds light on lesser known aspects of modern Polish history while telling part of the life stories of prominent figures in Poland's communist establishment as well as its dissident and opposition milieux. Ultimately, it also provides insights into modern-day Poland and its elite, many of whose members laid the groundwork for their later careers as student activists during the communist period.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 328 pages
  • 158 x 230 x 28mm | 659.99g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0739180304
  • 9780739180303
  • 2,131,104

About Tom Junes

Tom Junes is visting fellow and post-doctoral researcher at the Imre Kertesz Kolleg in Jena, Germany.show more

Review quote

Tom Junes in his book ... looks at the important part of Polish history, taking particularly interesting and basically unprecedented perspective...Noteworthy is the richness and diversity of source material that [was] used to prepare the book. Polish-Studies.Interdisciplinary In twelve brisk chapters, Junes provides an overview of Polish student activism between 1945 and 1989... His account draws on documents from more than a dozen Polish archives, as well as interviews with some fifty former activists, many of whom are quoted at length. It is exhaustively researched, impressively thorough, and admirably concise... CritCom: a Forum for Research & Commentary on Europe This well-researched monograph by Tom Junes provides a historical overview of student politics in Poland from 1944 to 1989... Junes' retelling the history of People's Poland through the prism of the student milieu provides important new insights. The use of information taken from many interviews is a particular strength of this book, which deserves a place on the bookshelves of all those interested in postwar Polish history. Slavic Review [T]he book brings new insights on the two important topics. It offers a summary of prequels to the well-known episodes of Polish history between 1945 and 1989, as it involves the same protagonists but in younger, student-age. Its subject-matter accentuates the significance of the student political actions and their influence on the political and also social development in the Communist Poland. Besides, it also contributes to the understanding of the background and some of the motivations of many personalities shaping the last twenty-seven years of Polish political development. H-Net: Humanities and Social Science Reviews Online A useful compendium of the organizational context of Polish student life under communism. Canadian Slavonic Papers Tom Junes has written a thorough and compelling book on students, who have figured as an important and often underestimated collective actor in contemporary Polish history... Although the narrative of the book focuses on political processes, Junes shows sensitivity to the broader social context, nuances, and mechanisms underpinning student politics as well. The latter is perhaps the most valuable dimension of the book. The monograph provides readers with what is probably the most in-depth and accurate portrait of the Stalinist generation, focusing on those who came of age and were socialized in the early 1950s, when terror and indoctrination reached their peak... Junes does not hesitate to offer grand interpretations, which doubtlessly enhance not only the scope but also the value of the book... Student Politics in Communist Poland remains a well-researched, readable, even snappy book... The result is a detailed and in many ways brilliant panorama of Polish history, seen from a well-chosen angle: the lens of the experiences of different generations of students. Hungarian Historical Review With encyclopedic coverage and eminent readability, this will be the comprehensive book on Poland's communist-era student movement for years to come. Even more, its account of the disappearing ideology of the Party and the diverse ideas of the opposition tells us loads about the transformation and erosion of East European communist politics in general. -- David Ost, Hobart and William Smith Colleges Based on research-both archival and oral history-which is nothing short of impressive, Junes retells the history of the Polish People's Republic through the eyes of eight generations of students. Students, Junes shows, were involved in most major upheavals in People's Poland. He thus successfully debunks the myth of a rift between students and workers before the rise of Solidarity in 1980. Just as importantly, Junes' book also shows that students could do more than either openly resisting the regime or submitting to its rule. There was active consent to Communism among students, he demonstrates, but there also were possibilities for Eigensinn-carving out a place for oneself within the structure of the regime, by listening to jazz and boogie in the 1950s, to rock music in the 1960s, or by choosing western made jeans over the local Teksas brand in the 1970s. Junes' book, in sum, is highly recommended for everyone interested in the social and cultural history of state socialism. -- Robert Brier, German Historical Institute in Warsawshow more

Table of contents

Table of Contents Acknowledgments Abbreviations Introduction: Poland, Students and Communism Part I. From Sovietization to Destalinization: 1944-1957 Chapter One. The Lost Generation Chapter Two. The Great Leap Forward Chapter Three. The Generation of 56 Part II. From Acquiescence to Contestation: 1957-1968 Chapter Four. Our Small Stabilization Chapter Five. No Pasaran! Chapter Six. The Generation of 68 Part III. From Repression to Resurgence: 1968-1980 Chapter Seven. The Post-March Hangover Chapter Eight. Socialist Complacency Chapter Nine. We Don't Need No Thought Control Part IV. From Solidarity to Betrayal: 1980-1989 Chapter Ten. The Generation of 81 Chapter Eleven. For Our Freedom and Yours Chapter Twelve. The Generation of 89 Epilogue: The End of the Classical Student Movement Bibliography Indexshow more