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The Soviet Germans; & The Jews in Poland

By Norman Davies | Published in History Today 1988 
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Norman Davies reviews these two new works.

  • The Soviet Germans: Past and Present
    Ingeborg Fleischhauer and Benjamin Pinkus - Hurst, 1986 – 185pp - £15
  • The Jews in Poland
    Edited by C. Abramsky, M. Jachimczyk and A. Polonsky - Basil Blackwell, 1986 – 264pp - £29.50

Over the last four centuries or so, the roles of Russia and Poland in Eastern Europe have been exchanged. In the mid-sixteenth century, the vast Polish Commonwealth was still absolutely the largest state in Europe, a multinational kaleidoscope of many diverse peoples, including the largest Jewish community in the world. Nowadays, a rump Poland only survives as a second-class satellite of the Soviet Union with an exclusively mono-ethnic, Polish population. Over the same period, the remote Grand Duchy of Moscow, with its exclusively Russian population has expanded by leaps and bounds, conquering and absorbing its neighbours' lands and peoples, until, first as the 'Empire of all the Russias' and now as the USSR it has ended up as the largest state in the world, and the homeland of some seventy nationalities. Old Poland and contemporary Russia are both examples of multinational societies where ethnic variety provides one of the central themes of social and political life.


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