History of Communism in Europe

Volume 3, 2012

Communism, Nationalism, and State Building in Post-War Europe

Sławomir Łodziński
Pages 59-80

Towards the Polish Nation-State. National Minorities in Poland Between 1945 and 1989

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the effects of communist policies upon ethnic relations within a multinational state. I use the case of Poland in order to identify the general shifts and dynamics in nationalities polices in this country between 1945 and 1989. The study’s main focus is the processes by which Polish society was ethnically homogenized. I subsequently discuss the successive ways of building the Polish nation-state, from one phase of the communist regime to another, and the national mythologisation of historical memory, especially in relation to World War II. The paper also draws attention to a phenomenon, often ignored by scholarly literature, which took place in postwar communist societies within minority ethnic groups. I am referring to the preservation of minorities’ identities in the form of “a hidden ethnicity” in the context of group exclusion from the public sphere and of the disenfranchisement of specific ethnic historical memories within the wider societal narratives.