The Crisis of Democracy in Interwar Poland – A lecture by Prof. Antony Polonsky
The Crisis of Democracy in Interwar Poland: The Obstacles to the Establishment of a Democratic and Pluralistic Polish State - A lecture by Prof. Antony Polonsky
The lecture is part of the Studying Poland Today talk series presented jointly by the Kosciuszko Foundation and the Project on Poland Past and Present. Its purpose is to raise the level of expert knowledge about Poland in foreign countries and, in particular, to strengthen Polish Studies in the universities of the English-speaking world.
The First World War was widely seen as a victory for democracy over autocracy. Yet almost none of the new states which emerged in East-Central Europe after 1918 were able successfully to operate a democratic constitution. In his lecture, Professor Polonsky discusses why the constitution of March 1921 failed to establish a stable political system in Poland and what replaced it. He also examines the obstacles to the establishment of a democratic and pluralistic Polish state and the lessons we can draw from the failure of the 1921 constitution. These have a new relevance given the widespread contemporary challenge to liberal and constitutional principles.
Antony Polonsky is emeritus Professor of Holocaust Studies at Brandeis University and Chief Historian of the Global Educational Outreach Program of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Warsaw. Until 1991, he was a Professor of International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is chair of the editorial board of Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, author of Politics in Independent Poland (1972), The Little Dictators (1975), The Great Powers and the Polish Question (1976), co-author of A History of Modern Poland (1980) and The Beginnings of Communist Rule in Poland (1981) and co-editor of Contemporary Jewish writing in Poland: an anthology (2001) and The neighbors respond: the controversy over the Jedwabne Massacre in Poland (2004). His most recent work is The Jews in Poland and Russia volume 1, 1350 to 1881; volume 2, 1881 to 1914; volume 3, 1914 to 2008 (Oxford, 2010. 2012), published in 2013 in an abridged version The Jews in Poland and Russia. A Short History. He holds honorary doctorates from the University of Warsaw (2010) and the Jagiellonian University (2014). In 2011 he was awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of Polonia Restituta and the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of Independent Lithuania.