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2019 Polonia Institute Historical Essay Contest



2019 Essay Contestants Speak


The Second World War is widely considered one of the most important events of the last century, but the invasions of Poland (…) are all too often oversimplified.

Poland is central to any power intending to control Europe.

In Poland Hitler sanctioned the war of annihilation.

He said: “I will crash Poland without warning in such a way that no trace of Poland can be found afterwards.”

The Nazi’s goal was germanization, cultural genocide, and eradication of Polish identity.

Both (German and Russian) powers wanted to eliminate Poland’s infrastructure, people and spirit.

Hitler conducted massive propaganda effort against Polish cultural identity. He attacked Poland’s character and its international image.

The loss of Polish cultural identity created a feeling of isolation, and being an individual rather than united country reduced resistance.

Poles were prisoners in nearly all German concentration camps. German and Soviet hatred for Pole was greater than (that) towards each other. Polish casualties shall have a greater purpose.

Terror in Poland was worse than anywhere else.

Suffering is so intimately personal that it must be explained through the personal equation, if at all.

Few people know how the Polish people suffered.

WWII left Poland “the most devastated country in Europe.”

Although not portrayed in popular media as the extermination of the Jews during the Holocaust, the Nazis also committed mass genocide against the Poles. Forgetting about Polish victims undermines the evil nature of the Third Reich.

Comparatively, no nation suffered as much as Poland.

Stalin caused the war but was the one deciding the fate of the countries decimated by WWII. That led to suicides of (many) Polish veterans.

In Teheran, the powers decided that USSR (would) be expanded at Poland’s expense.

No European government helped Poland and Polish people rebuild their country after the devastation they faced over the war.

Abandoned by the Allies, Poland played a lonely and sacrificial role in tragic WWII. (At the end) instead of justice Poland got a new occupation.

Poland suffered more from WWII than it is acknowledged. People can demonize entire cultures when the right words are used.

The horrific events that followed the invasion (of Poland) have left a profound mark on the Polish people but have gone far too long covered up or forgotten by much of the world.




Thank you for your contributions to our collective understanding of the history of Poland during World War II. We greatly appreciate your participation in this competition. We also want to bring your attention to some common mistakes made by most of the contestants.

First and foremost, please do not call Germans who invaded Poland in September 1939 as Nazis. The invading German soldiers represented the state of Germany, i.e. the Third Reich, not the Nazi party. Calling Germans invading and occupying Poland as Nazis is a distortion of history that obscures proper understanding of this conflict and diminishes German guilt.

Second, do not use Wikipedia as your source. Also, do not rely on USHM sources when writing about Polish suffering in WWII. Do not confuse Jewish suffering with Polish suffering. For proper information on Polish suffering in WWII refer to the Polish Institute of National Remembrance.

While the analysis of anti-Polish propaganda that led to the outbreak of WWII was well presented in many essays, regrettably no one was able to relate this powerful lesson of history to the anti-Polish propaganda conducted in the West today. Please reflect upon this analogy and its meaning.


M. B. Szonert
Chair 2019 Historical Essay Scholarship Committee
Polonia Institute, Inc.

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