1000 Years of Polish History

Norman Davis explains how Poland's geography has been the villain of her history.

Trapped in the middle of the North European Plain, with no natural frontier to parry the onslaughts of more powerful neighbours, Poland has fought an unequal battle for survival against Germany and Russia. Poland has been variously described as 'the disputed bride', condemned forever to lie between the rival embraces of two rapacious suitors; or, more cruelly, as 'the gap between two stools'. An unfortunate geopolitical location is invoked to explain the Partitions of the eighteenth century, the abortive Risings of the nineteenth, and the catastrophe of the Second Republic in the twentieth. As one Polish officer was heard to exclaim in London in 1940, when told that the Allied Governments did not intend to fight both Hitler and Stalin simultaneously, 'Then we shall fight Geography! '

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email digital@historytoday.com if you have any problems.