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The Seeds of Triumph
Church and State in Gomulka's Poland

Hanna Diskin, Department of Political Science, Carleton University, Ottawa and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

"Best book published in English” award from the Israeli Political
Science Association (2004)

"According to Thomas Carlyle, history is the story of great people. Long a standard of historical thought, this view came into disfavor in the 1960s. With the arrival of recent new books on Winston Churchill and Theodore Roosevelt, among others, the great person in history has made a comeback. Hanna Diskin and her work, Seeds of Triumph fall into this category... The two protagonists of the story are Wladyslaw Gomulka, general secretary of the Polish United Workers Party, and Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski, primate of the Roman Catholic Church in Poland. Diskin portrays them as complex people who were each loyal to their beliefs but were, above all, loyal and patriotic Poles... The Seeds of Triumph is a welcome addition to our knowledge of Polish history, which is now going through a process of reevaluation." - Slavic Review

"In the comparative analysis of church-state relations in these three periods, Diskin employs an original, system-approach framework ... the book contributes to the literature on church-state relations in communist Poland and will make a useful classroom textbook for students of Polish modern history and of political science in general." - Slavonica

"Diskin presents a balanced view and usually succeeds in resisting the temptation to moralize. It would be easy to complain about the "evil" communists with totalitarian ambitions or the "good" Church that is fighting for human rights and democracy. One could even engage in polemics against the "illiberal" and intolerant Church, which condemns atheists and homosexuals, fights against women's rights to abortion, and opposes the separation of state and Church. Even as these issues emerge from the book, they are described in a distanced and balanced manner." - Slavic and East European Journal

"... a significant contribution on a complex topic... a well-informed presentation of a complicated subject." - Choice

"Die Verfasserin, die - wie sie in der Einleitung betont - durch ihre polnisch-jüdische Herkunft zu dieser Studie motiviert ist, versucht, möglichst objektiv einen fur sie zentralen Aspekt der Geschichte ihrer Heimet zu analysieren: die Entwicklung der römisch-katolischen Kirche und ihres verhältnisses zum kommunistischen Staat." - Zeitschrift fur Osteuropa-Forschung


The Roman Catholic Church has played a unique role in the history of Poland in the twentieth century: the people and the Church drew closer and closer together during Nazi rule, the Stalinist period and the somewhat milder, though strongly anti-religious and repressive Gomulka regime (1956-1970). The power struggle between the Church and the communist government did in fact play a role in shaping world politics, the Polish Church having been the force behind the opposition movement in Poland. Against this background, a Polish pope appeared and made a major contribution to the collapse of communism.

The Seeds of Triumph, the most comprehensive recent book on the opposition of Church and State in post-war Poland, compares the characteristics and consequences of this relationship during three different periods: the first and second periods of Gomulka's rule, and the Stalinist era between the two Gomulka periods. It examines the balance of power, studying to what degree the Church and other factors in the political environment influenced governmental policy-making. The author disproves the common stereotype, held at the time, that domestic conditions played only a marginal role. In examining the regime's policies, she covers the legal background, the general policy characteristics, the specific policies implemented during the period, and the role of the individual actors, most notably the pivotal role of the two main protagonists, Cardinal Wyszynski and Wladislaw Gomulka.

In her landmark study, Diskin makes a significant contribution to the study of authoritarian systems and greatly enhances our understanding of the centrality of the Church in recent Polish history.

2001
317 pages
ISBN 978-963-9241-16-9 cloth $54.95 / €46.95 / 40.00

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