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December 4, 2022
Poland's History

Henryk Sienkiewicz on Polish nationalism

In 1912, Henryk Sienkiewicz, Polish novelist and journalist, Nobel Prize laureate, wrote about Polish nationalism:

Only contemptible and wicked individuals, or total fools could equate Polish nationalism with openly and aggressively anti-Polish German nationalism or reactionary, far right Russian nationalism. Polish nationalism has never been nourished by the blood and tears of others, has not lashed children at school, has not erected monuments to tyrants. It was born out of pain, out of the worst historic tragedy. Polish nationalism spilled its blood on national and foreign battlefields, always in support of liberty. It blossomed and grew stronger under oppression in a struggle for freedom. It wrote on its banners the noblest ideals of love, tolerance, liberty for the people, education, and betterment. In the name of those ideals, along with the whole nation and through the sacrifice of its warriors, it endured suffering that no warriors for other ideals since the beginning of Christianity have endured.

Those who perceive Polish nationalism in another way, have a shallow and wrong perception of it; those who serve it in any other way are confused. Polish nationalism will always be a combination of the noblest thoughts and feelings of the nation, and that’s why under its banner can stand any truly, not superficially, Polish organization and any individual in whom “the soul is still alive” as the words of an old patriotic song say it.

Henryk Sienkiewicz, Essays, Volume XXXV

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