THEY: Stalin's Polish Puppets by Teresa Toranska

THEY: Stalin's Polish Puppets

KIRKUS REVIEW

A series of five long interviews with Polish leaders from the early period just after WW II. This is a book that has already gone the rounds of the samizdat press in Eastern Europe, although it was originally comissioned by an ""official"" Polish publishing house. Why it ended up underground is easily perceived by the tone of the interviews, which is remarkably hostile. Toranska, a pro-Solidarity journalist, never hides her biases against these five ex-leaders--Julia Mine, Edward Ochab, Roman Werfel, Stefan Staszewski, and Jakub Berman. Toranska, despite this, is able to chip away and get through to some substance, and she gets these figures to open up for the first time about the sheer corruption, cowardice, and servility to Stalin's men that marked this period in Polish history (although the interviewees couch their descriptions as political reality). What emerges here is a chronicle of lost opportunities to defend Poland's integrity at every turn, simply out of faintheartedness and political greed. Whole territories were handed over to Moscow without so much as a leader's whimper. Included here is a four-page conversation related by Staszewski that he had with Khrush. chev; it is blood curdling in its openness about Stalin's intent in the early 1950's to undertake a Jewish pogrom. At one point, Ochab comments on the plight of the Polish politicians of the day: ""You don't philosophize; you just grit your teeth and you hold your tongue. Politics is choosing the lesser evil, holding your tongue and sometimes playing with marked cards."" Toranska replies: ""Choosing the lesser evil, not the greater advantage: that sentence sums up the whole tragedy of the Polish situation."" A treasure chest for students of Eastern Europe.

Pub Date: March 25th, 1987
Publisher: Harper & Row