Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Polish Borderland ~ Where East Meets West

There is a borderland in Poland unlike most borders. Yes, there are similarities. There are daily commuters, there are those who feel cross cultural as they live in more than one local space. What is different is that Poland's eastern border (from the upper northeast corner of Poland down strongly demarcated by the Bug River) remains the Curzon Line where ~ East meets West.
A bit of history ~ Curzon Line,  demarcation line between Poland and Soviet Russia that was proposed during the Russo-Polish War of 1919–20 as a possible armistice line and became (with a few alterations) the Soviet-Polish border after WWII. After World War I, the Allied Supreme Council, which was determining the frontiers of the recently reestablished Polish state, created a temporary boundary marking the minimum eastern frontier of Poland and authorized a Polish administration to be formed on the lands west of it (Dec. 8, 1919). That line extended southward from Grodno, passed through Brest-Litovsk, and then followed the Bug River to its junction with the former frontier between the Austrian Empire and Russia. Whether eastern Galicia with Lvov, should be Polish or Ukrainian was not decided.
When a subsequent Polish drive eastward into the Ukraine collapsed, the Polish prime minister, W.Grabski, appealed to the Allies for assistance (July 1920). On July 10, 1920, the Allies proposed an armistice plan to Grabski, designating the line of Dec. 8, 1919, with a southwestward continuation to the Carpathian Mountains, keeping Przemyƛl for Poland but ceding eastern Galicia; the following day the British foreign secretary, Lord Curzon, whose name was subsequently attached to the entire line, made a similar suggestion to the Soviet government. Neither the Poles nor the Soviets, however, accepted the Allied plan. The final peace treaty (concluded in March 1921), reflecting the ultimate Polish victory in the Russo-Polish War, provided Poland with almost 52,000 square miles (135,000 square kilometres) of land east of the Curzon Line. Although the Curzon Line, which had never been proposed as a permanent boundary, lost significance after the Russo-Polish War, the Soviet Union later revived it, claiming all the territory east of the line and occupying that area (in accordance with the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact of 1939) at the outbreak of World War II. Later, after Germany had invaded the Soviet Union, the Red Army pushed back the German troops and occupied all of the former state of Poland by the end of 1944; the United States and The United Kingdom then agreed to Soviet demands (Yalta Conference; Feb. 6, 1945) and recognized the Curzon Line as the Soviet-Polish border. On Aug. 16, 1945, a Soviet-Polish treaty officially designated a line almost equivalent to the Curzon Line as their mutual border; in 1951 some minor frontier adjustments were made.
Main Source - http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/648813/World-War-II

I can tell you that this border remains, with the difference being that Poland is an European Union Member State; which in my opinion, makes the idea of "East meets West meets East" even stronger.  The Ukraine is not in the EU nor does it appear that it will be in the near future given the unrest there and Russian investment including the incorporation through election of Crimea.  I am sure there are those who would disagree with this wording but I am reluctant to call it anything else than that. What do I mean by East/West meeting on the especially along the Bug whereby the river is the visible line? It means that this is a place where differing world views meet. One is more prone to individualism and relativism and the other to more collectivism and absolutism. Again, many will disagree. I could say like this... where doing meets being in a place. The West is about doing and the East is about being. Not that there isn't any idea of being in a place in the West; there is but, it is more fluid more like a free flowing river hopeful and eager to change. This sounds good to Western ears, hope and change. For others, it sounds unrealistic, not practical and not reasonable given their long time cultural heritage. The West has a problem accepting that people who live outside the West see life different when it comes to change especially. Hence, we see people supporting authority that we Westerners see as tyrants/obstacles to change.

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