Adam Michnik in Der Spiegel: ‘We Are Bastards of Communism’


The online international edition of Der Spiegel has just published probably the most interesting interviews on post-communist Eastern Europe I have read in years. This is no surprise when the interviewee is Adam Michnik,  former Polish dissident, editor-in-chief of Gazeta Wyborcza, the most read Polish daily newspaper, and one of the most lucid minds in the former communist world.

Here are excerpts from this interview that, I suggest, should be read in its entirety.

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SPIEGEL: Mr. Michnik, for more than six weeks now, thousands of people have taken to the streets in Bulgaria to demonstrate against their country’s rotten political system. More than 20 years after Eastern Europe’s democratic awakening, political conflicts are still characterized by turf wars and hatred. Why?

Michnik: We lack a political culture, a culture of compromise. We in Poland, as well as the Hungarians, have never learned this sort of thing. Although there is a strong desire for freedom in the countries of Eastern Europe, there is no democratic tradition, so that the risk of anarchy and chaos continues to exist. Demagoguery and populism are rampant. We are the illegitimate children, the bastards of communism. It shaped our mentality. Continue reading “Adam Michnik in Der Spiegel: ‘We Are Bastards of Communism’”

How Is Christmas Celebrated in Poland

Christmas in Poland

Straw or hay, a reminder of Christ’s birth in a stable, is placed under a white linen tablecloth, which symbolizes Mary’s veil, which became the Babe’s swaddling cloth. The mother of the family places a lighted candle in the window to welcome the Christ Child. The eldest woman of the house places the blessed Communion-like wafers –- oplatki (oh-PWAHT-kee) -– on the finest plate she owns. Today, in a concession to tradition, many people place straw and evergreen sprigs on a serving platter covered with a fine white napkin on which the oplatki rest.

An extra place is set for any weary stranger who happens to pass by, in the same way Joseph wandered from home to home looking for a place for Mary to give birth.. Continue reading “How Is Christmas Celebrated in Poland”