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Poland is a parliamentary republic in Central Europe. Historically, it has been prevented from becoming a regional power because it shared borders with far stronger nations Prussia (later Germany) and Russia (later Soviet Union). At various points in its history, Poland has been partitioned entirely off the map, most notably in 1795, when it was divided up by Austria, Prussia, and Russia. Poland was reconstituted as a puppet kingdom by Germany and Austria-Hungary during World War I. The victorious Entente powers established the country's independence as the Second Polish Republic in 1918. It became a casus belli for World War II when it was occupied and partitioned once again by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939. It emerged several years later as the socialist People's Republic of Poland within the Eastern Bloc, under strong Soviet influence.
During the Revolutions of 1989, communist rule was overthrown and the Third Polish Republic was established.
The map of Poland has changed drastically over the centuries, mainly due to the various partitions, causing Poland to slide gradually from Eastern Europe to Central Europe, although where the two regions divide precisely is open to interpretation. The most dramatic example of this is the comparison of the pre- and post-WWII maps of the nation, of which it is often said with some truth that "Stalin pushed Poland westward." Thus, the capital city Warsaw, formerly near the western border of the country, is now closer to the eastern border. The current Polish borders (in effect since 1945) include a sizable Baltic Sea coast, whereas some previous Polands were landlocked.
Poland in "The Breaking of Nations"
Poland in Crosstime Traffic
Poland in Curious Notions
Poland in The Gladiator
Poland in Gunpowder Empire
Poland in The Hot War
Under the rule of Boleslaw Bierut, the Polish People's Republic followed the Soviet Union into World War III. On 15 February 1951, two days prior to the outbreak of the ground war in Europe, the American destroyed the Polish city of Zywiec with an atomic bomb. The Americans bombed Warsaw with ordinary explosives on 24 February.
Despite these attacks, the Poles remained crucial Soviet allies as they drove through West Germany. However, as the war started to turn against the USSR from mid-1951 on, Poland became more restive. Finally, Polish anti-communists launched a rebellion in May 1952, pushing the government of Boleslaw Bierut out of Warsaw. Concurrently, the Soviet Union successfully destroyed the U.S. capital of Washington, DC. While most of Congress and large parts of the Executive Branch were killed, President Harry Truman survived. The following month, the U.S. determined Joseph Stalin was in Omsk, and deployed the recently tested hydrogen bomb against Omsk, successfully killing Stalin at last.
The rebellion in Poland raged while Stalin's immediate successor, Lavrenty Beria, tried to continue World War III. However, Beria was so widely hated in the USSR, that he was overthrown and replaced by Vyacheslav Molotov, who soon signed an armistice with the NATO powers in July, 1952. Throughout the remainder of 1952, the USSR worked to bring its vassal states to heel, including Poland. By October, Polish resistance was centered in Warsaw, and crumbling quickly. In mid-October, the communist government of Poland promised an amnesty if Warsaw surrendered on 31 October 1952. However, the Red Army rolled in on 26 October, and Bierut's government was restored.
Poland in In the Presence of Mine Enemies
Poland was part of the Greater German Reich in 2010. During the Second World War, the Reich exterminated the ethnic Jewish and Slavic populations. Following the war, Poland was "formally" annexed into Greater Germany and colonized by German settlers.
Poland in "In This Season"
During the the first Chanukah after Poland was partitioned between Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939, three Jewish families (the Friedman, Geller and Korczak Families) of Puck were rescued from the Nazis through the aid of a golem. Before rescuing them, however, the golem showed the adult members of the families a vision of the terrible genocide that would occur in Poland.
Poland in Joe Steele
Six months after Germany annexed the Sudetenland, Adolf Hitler seized the Czech part of Czechoslovakia calling it the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and set up a puppet state of Slovakia which, along with East Prussia, surrounded Poland. He then began screaming about the Polish Corridor and how the Poles were mistreating the German minorities. France and Britain, alarmed by the previous land grabs, stated they would go to war if he invaded Poland. However, Hitler secretly negotiated a non-aggression pact with Leon Trotsky's Soviet Union which led to the Germans invading Poland a week later, beginning the Second World War.
The Poles fought bravely but their forces were trained and armed for a repeat of World War I. They were quickly overwhelmed by the Germans using new weapons such as panzers and doctrines they couldn't match. While both Britain and France declared war, they did little but skirmish on the western frontier. As Poland neared defeat, the Soviet Red Army attacked from the east, nominally to restore order but in fact to split the country with Germany.
Poland in The Man With the Iron Heart
Poland was "liberated" from Nazi Germany by the Soviet Red Army at the end of World War II. The Soviet Union quickly began finding sympathetic communists to administer the country. Polish officials also took additional steps of expelling and relocating the ethnic Germans that lived within Poland's newly created borders.
Poland in "The More it Changes"
Poland in "Les Mortes d'Arthur"
Poland was a state in Eastern Europe.
Poland in "News From the Front"
Poland in "Ready for the Fatherland"
Poland in "Shtetl Days"
In the mid-21st Century, the Commissariat for the Strengthening of the German Populace established the tourist village of Wawolnice, and hired German actors to play the parts of the Jews and Poles that had resided there over a century prior. In so doing, the Reich inadvertently "resurrected" the Jews and Poles that they'd sought to exterminate.
Poland in Southern Victory
In 1916, Germany established a client Kingdom of Poland on historically Polish territory that Germany had conquered from Russia in the Great War. There was little doubt that Poland did what Germany told it to do.
Poland saw pogroms against the Jews in the 1930s. In 1941, Poland became a partial casus belli for the Second Great War, when the Russian Empire began pressing Germany for concessions in its former territory. When war actually came, Russia invaded Poland's neighbor (and fellow puppet), the Ukraine. Entente propaganda claimed that the citizens of Poland rebelled against the Germans. However, by 1943, it was clear that Germany was going to hold the Ukraine, and Poland was never directly threatened.
Poland in The Two Georges
Poland in The War That Came Early
Fearing Soviet designs against its territorial integrity, the Second Polish Republic, under the loosely defined rule of Marshal Edward Smigly-Rydz, entered the Second World War as a German co-belligerent, being the only consistent ally Germany had for the duration of the war, ultimately to Poland's detriment.
Initially, when war broke out in October 1938, Poland played a peripheral role, indirectly aiding Germany's efforts against the USSR and Czechoslovakia, another traditional enemy of the country. As German forces were driving through Czechoslovakia, Polish forces crossed the border and annexed the Czechoslovakian mining town of Teschen, which they maintained had always been theirs by right, but which the Czechs had taken themselves at an earlier date. (For their part, the Czechs maintained that the land had always been Czech but had been stolen by the Poles.)
Though not openly allied with Germany, Poland saw the importance of maintaining good relations with the Germans. Among other things, this led them to accept war refugees from Czechoslovakia, but to consider them "displaced persons" and keep them detained indefinitely. In the winter of 1938, fearing that holding the DPs would anger the Germans, Poland sent them to France, where a Czech government-in-exile had formed, by way of neutral Romania.
Many Poles also shared the Nazis' anti-Semitism and believed asinine theories about Jews being responsible for the destruction of world culture. However, Poland had no official antisemitic policies, and its Jewish citizens were formally equal citizens, though often encountering prejudice and some forms of discrimination.
By December 1938, however, the Soviet Union had made its desire for war with Poland clear by blaming Poland's "semi-fascist" Marshal Rydz-Smigly for hobbling the USSR's efforts to fight Germany. The Soviet Union also accused Poland of persecuting the Byelorussians within its borders, and seeking to avenge the Polish-Soviet War, declared war in the last days of the year. In response, Poland formally allied herself with Germany on 31 December, and allowed German troops to enter Polish territory.
Overall, the Polish Army was quite behind the other belligerents in terms of weapons, tactics, and technological advancement. Although the Polish Army had tanks, they had a comparatively small number. Their cavalry still rode on horseback. What the Poles lacked in resources, they attempted to make up for in bravery. Stories (likely apocryphal) spread throughout 1939 of cavalry charges against Soviet tanks. Both the Germans and the Soviets grudgingly admitted that the Poles were indeed courageous and able soldiers.
Throughout the summer of 1939, the Polish-German alliance kept the Red Army out of Warsaw. However, a purge of military leaders overseen by Joseph Stalin in the last months of 1939 brought new blood to the Red Army, and December saw a successful breakthrough, with the push bringing the Red Army to the outskirts of Warsaw.
New hope came for the German-Polish alliance in mid-1940 when Germany was able to broker the Hess Agreement with its enemies, Britain and France. The so-called "big switch" saw Britain and France end their war with Germany and initiate a war with the Soviet Union. This new coalition in short order drove the Red Army back out of Polish territory, and began a drive towards Smolensk. While the drive never reached Smolensk, as first Britain then France withdrew from the USSR and returned to war with Germany in 1941, the drive was deep enough that Warsaw was never threatened with invasion for the remainder of the war.
The Polish alliance was important enough for the Nazis to compromise on their antisemitic principles. German soldiers in Polish territory were strictly ordered not to molest Polish Jews (though they did horrible things to Jews in the conquered Soviet territory). These circumstances allowed German combat pilot Hans-Ulrich Rudel to conduct a brief love affair with a half-Jewish woman in Bialystok, which would have been illegal in Germany itself.
With the changing fortunes of war over and the increasing German retreat throughout 1942 through 1943, it became possible for Soviet bombers to reach and bomb Polish territory. To help them repel such such air raids, Germany provided the Poles with Messerschmidts instead of the obsolete planes which the Polish Air Force had until then.
The war in Europe finally ended in 1944, when the Committee for the Salvation of the German Nation assassinated Hitler in April and immediately sued for peace. While Germany did attempt to repay Poland's loyalty through the peace process, Marshal Rydz-Smigly had no choice but to give into Stalin's original demand and give up the city of Wilno and its environs.
On the other hand, while Germany had to give up other occupied countries, the 1938 dismemberment of Czechoslovakia remained in force, and Germany remained in possession of Bohemia and Moravia. By default, Poland kept Teschen.
Faced with the bitter news that his country would remain occupied, Vaclav Jezek planned to go to Poland, slip over the border into Czech territory with his enormous sniper rifle, and make trouble for the German occupiers.
Poland in Worldwar
Poland was re-established as a nation at the end of World War I from territory stripped from Germany and Russia, both of which bitterly resented its existence. In 1939, Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin agreed to invade Poland and divide its territory between their two countries, thus beginning World War II. In June of 1941 German forces drove Soviet forces from their half of Poland as part of their invasion of Russia and overran all of Poland.
Over the next year, German rule in Poland was draconian and oppressive, especially toward the Jews, who were forced to live in ghettos such as those in the cities of Warsaw and Lodz. By May 1942, the Germans had already begun to send Jews to concentration camps, where they were murdered en masse.
When the Race invaded Earth, they quickly drove the Germans from Poland and began administering it themselves. Both Poles and Jews were divided in their loyalties: One option was to support the Race in its war against the rest of the humanity; the other was to support their old enemies, the Germans and the Russians.
During negotiations of the Peace of Cairo in 1944, the Race pressed both Vyacheslav Molotov and Joachim von Ribbentrop to allow it to colonize Poland. Molotov agreed, not least of all because neither trusted the other and both were fearful that Poland run by any human government could provide a flashpoint for another Russo-German war. Ribbentrop, under strict orders from Hitler himself, belligerently refused anything less than Poland's return to Germany. However, after a German plot to reignite hostilities by detonating an explosive-metal bomb in Lodz was thwarted, Ribbentrop sheepishly accepted the proposal. Poland and East Prussia became, along with Spain and Portugal, one of the Race's few European colonies.
Both the Poles and the Jews became comfortable under the Race's rule, though ethnic tensions between the two persisted and the Poles in particular resented the Race for denying them their own nation. Both factions maintained their own independent militia forces, and the leaders of both militias agreed to support the Race against either the Germans or the Soviets should another round of fighting break out.
In 1965, Germany invaded Poland, touching off the Race-German War of 1965. True to their word, both the Jewish and Polish militias offered their services to the Conquest Fleet. They provided the majority of the Race's infantry forces on the Polish front. Although it was on the winning side, Poland's larger cities were devastated by German atomic bombs.
Poland in "Zigeuner"
During World War II, the Nazis set up camps in Poland designed to execute Zigeuner people en masse. In October 1944, SS Haupsturmführer Joseph Stieglitz oversaw the roundup and deportation of a village of Zigeuner from western Hungary to Poland.
- And the Last Trump Shall Sound, pg. 34.
- In High Places, pg. 218, HC.
- Curious Notions, pg. 19, HC.
- The Gladiator, pg. 103, HC.
- Gunpowder Empire, pg. 51, HC.
- Armistice, loc. 6984-994, ebook.
- Bombs Away, pg. 66, ebook.
- Ibid. pgs. 103-104.
- Ibid. pgs. 121.
- Fallout, loc. 7116-7176, ebook.
- Ibid. 6620-6692.
- Armistice, pgs. 69-78, ebook.
- Ibid. loc. 1788, ebook.
- Ibid., loc. 2037.
- Ibid., pg. 428, ebook.
- Ibid., pgs. 374-375.
- Joe Steele, pgs. 205-206, HC.
- Ibid, pgs. 211-214.
- Ibid, pgs. 214-215.
- Ibid., pg. 269.
- Atlantis and Other Places, p. 102.
- See, e.g., Counting Up, Counting Down, pg. 93, TPB.
- Breakthroughs, pg. 170, mmp.
- The Center Cannot Hold, pg. 171, mmp.
- The Victorious Opposition, pg. 22, 137, mmp.
- Ibid., pg. 498.
- Return Engagement, pg. 52, tpb.
- Return Engagement, pg. 86, tpb.
- The Grapple, pg. 566, tpb.
- Return Engagement, pg. 579.
- The Two Georges, map.
- Last Orders, pg. 300, HC.
- Ibid, pg. 344.
- This isn't explicit, but it is a logical inference based on what we know about the peace agreement.
- See the Colonization map.
- Asimov's Science Fiction, September/October, 2017, Vol. 41 Nos. 9 & 10, pg. 95.