The Seeds of Triumph

Church and State in Gomulka's Poland
$30.95 / €26.95 / £22.95
"Best book published in English” award from the Israeli Political Science Association (2004)
Publication date: 
337 pages

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.

List of Tables
List of Abbreviations

1. The First Period of Gomułka’s Rule
1.1 Policy Area Environments
1.1.1 The Roman Catholic Church The Historical Power of the Church Post-War Church Reorganization Value Base and Positions on Current Issues The Communist Regime Elections and Parties Demands from the Government and Modes of Struggle Attitude towards the Vatican
1.1.2 The Population Demographic Characteristics Religious Participation Devoutness According to Social Group
1.1.3 Pax and the Patriotic Priests
1.1.4 The Vatican Pius XII The Vatican Response to the Annulment of the Concordat The New Boundaries
1.1.5 The Soviet Union Analytical Framework The Soviet Union and Poland: 1945—1948 The Soviet Union and the Church
1.2 Policy
1.2.1 Legal Background
1.2.2 Ideological Background
1.2.3 General Policy Characteristics Environmental Factors--Perception and Impact on Policy Objectives, Modes of Struggle, and Demands
1.2.4 Specific Policies General Policy in Relation to the 1947 Elections The Annulment of the Concordat and Policy towards the Vatican Pax as an Instrument of the Government The Policy of Rewards and Concessions The Policy of Restrictions
1.2.5 Summary of Government Policy
1.2.6 Personal Policy Basic Positions and Values Characteristics of Personal Policy Restrictions The Church as a Component in Gomulka’s Conception of the Polish Path to Socialism

2. The Stalinist Era
2.1 Policy Environments
2.1.1 The Roman Catholic Church The Balance of Power during the Period Organizational Consolidation Value System and Positions on Current Issues Response to Government Attack and Restriction Church Concessions and the Desire to Maintain the National Formula Attitude towards the Vatican
2.1.2 The Population
2.1.3 Pax and the Patriotic Priests
2.1.4 The Vatican
2.1.5 The Soviet Union
2.2 Policy
2.2.1 Legal Background
2.2.2 General Policy Characteristics
2.2.3 Specific Policy The 1952 Elections Policy towards the Vatican Pax as a Government Tool The Policy of Restrictions Benefits and Concessions in Policy
2.2.4 Summary of Government Policy

3. The Second Period of Gomułka’s Rule
3.1 Policy Area Environments
3.1.1 The Roman Catholic Church The Balance of Power during the Period Church Organization Changes in the Catholic Political Map Cooperation and Concessions Militancy and Methods of Struggle
3.1.2 The Population General Religious Consciousness and Links to the Church According to Social Status
3.1.3 Pax and the Christian-Social Society Pax The Christian-Social Society
3.1.4 The Vatican
3.1.5 The Soviet Union
3.2 Policy
3.2.1 Preliminary Comment
3.2.2 Legal Background The Role of the Stalinist Period A Comparison between the First and the Second Period of Gomułka’s Rule Conclusions
3.2.3 Ideology versus Pragmatism
3.2.4 General Policy Attributes The Perception of Environmental Conditions and Their Impact on Policy The Psychological Environment Goals and Demands The Means of Struggle
3.2.5 Specific Policy The January 1957 Elections Policy towards the Vatican Pax as an Instrument of the Government The Policy of Benefits and Concessions The Policy of Restrictions
3.2.6 A Summary of Government Policy
3.2.7 Personal Policy General Value Infrastructure Attributes of Personal Policy The Reflection of Policy Features in Gomułka’s Speeches Changes in Position The Relationship between Gomułka and Cardinal Wyszyński Factional Opponents and Personal Advisers

4. Conclusion
4.1 Policy Area Environments
4.1.1 The Roman Catholic Church
4.1.2 The Population
4.1.3 The Soviet Union
4.2 Other Environments
4.3 Policy
4.3.1 Ideological and Legal Background
4.3.2 The Policy of Rewards and Concessions
4.3.3 The Policy of Restrictions
4.3.4 Personal Policy
4.4 The Balance of Power between Environments and
Policy Makers

5. Epilogue: The Post-Gomułka Era
5.1 The Communist Era (the 1970s and 1980s)
5.1.1 General Points
5.1.2 Selected Problems--Milestones along the Way The Change of Government (December 1970) and the Beginning of the Gierek Era Turning Point: Deteriorating Relations The KOR (The Workers’ Defense Committee) Facing the Solidarity Crisis Facing Martial Law The Polish Pope: Homecoming Visits and Contribution towards the Fall of Communism From Gorbachev to the 1989 Revolution
5.2 The 1990s
5.2.1 Difficulties Faced by the Church in Post-Communist Poland in General
5.2.2 The Clerical ‘Offensive’ Following 1989
5.2.3 Growing Politicization: The Elections of 1990 and 1991
5.2.4 The 1993 Elections and the Change in the Episcopate’s Position after Defeat
5.2.5 The Concordat and the Holy See
5.3 The New Constitution
5.4 The Polish Church’s Position toward Europe and the Integration of Poland within It
5.5 Conclusion


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