Rebuilding Poland

Rebuilding Poland

Workers and Communists, 1945–1950
  • Winner of the 1998 AAASS/Orbis Book Prize (American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies)
The first book to examine the communist takeover in Poland from the bottom up, and the first to use archives opened in 1989, Rebuilding Poland provides a radically new interpretation of the communist experience. Padraic Kenney argues that the postwar takeover was also a social revolution, in which workers expressed their hopes for dramatic social change and influenced the evolution—and eventual downfall—of the communist regime.

Kenney compares Lödz, Poland's largest manufacturing center, and Wroclaw, a city rebuilt as Polish upon the ruins of wartime destruction. His account of dramatic strikes in the textile mills of Lödz shows how workers resisted the communist party's encroachment on factory terrain and its infringements of worker dignity. The contrasting absence of labor conflict among migrants in the frontier city of Wroclaw holds important clues to the nature of stalinism in Poland: communist power was strongest where workers lacked organizational ties or cultural roots. In the collective reaction of workers in Lödz and the individualism of those in Wroclaw, Kenney locates the beginnings of the end of the communist regime. Losing the battle for worker identity, the communists placed their hopes in labor competition, which ultimately left the regime hostage to a resistant work force and an overextended economy incapable of reform.

Also of interest

Europe United
Power Politics and the Making of the European Community
Sebastian Rosato


History : History / Europe
Political Science : Political Science / Europe
Interdisciplinary Studies : Slavic and Eurasian Studies

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