Globalne tezy, lokalne przemilczenia

Grzegorz Krzywiec


Global theses with local omissions

Timothy Snyder’s book is an ambitious monograph which attempts at placing Shoah in a more appropriate context of the murderous fight between the Nazi Germany and the Soviet Russia from the perspective of civilian victims. However, the book offers no new evidence or new arguments. On the one hand, most of the interpretations come from established scholars. On the other hand, Bloodlands presents a sort of synthesis of the latest discussions of the Holocaust historians and Eastern European experience of the Soviet rule. Nonetheless, as Snyder himself has stated, the novelty of the book lies rather in a parallel insight into systems and events. Such “parallelism” must, and surely will, trigger a wealth of reflections.

The review article focuses on one particular aspect of the book. One of the most suggestive assumptions of Snyder’s method is that the book overcomes national narratives by examining the cruelest period in the 20th century from the above-mentioned universal point of view. However, for Snyder, a leading scholar of Eastern European, and first and foremost, Polish history, these “national” motifs play a significant, and often even crucial role in his book.

Yet, as it is claimed in the review, the author frequently cannot free himself from them. On the contrary, his narrative delivers systematic permeations of Polish martyrological stereotypes and biases, which in the end results in a reproduction of many handbook schemes and even metaphorical figures from the so-called Polish “historical politics”. This also leads to many false and misleading juxtapositions with the most striking one being the comparison between the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and Warsaw Uprising.

Interestingly enough, evading many national particularities, Snyder relapses in deeply rooted national, and to be specific, Polish tales. He proves to be more “national” than many other “national” scholars critical in their research of this period.


Timothy Snyder; "Bloodlands"

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Copyright (c) 2012 Grzegorz Krzywiec

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