The Nationalist Right under Communism: Bolesław Piasecki and the Polish Communists, 1944-1979

JVF Conference Papers

Based on a doctoral research project, this article introduces to the readers Bolesław Piasecki (1915-1979), a prominent Polish nationalist politician.

A fascist in the 1930s and a pro-communist Catholic activist in postwar Poland, Piasecki was the leading advocate of the reconciliation of nationalism with communism. By narrowing the scale of historical observation to an individual case, the article discusses the role of nationalism in twentieth-century Polish political culture, analyzes the entanglement of communism and fascism, and presents an example of the ideological affinity between communism and nationalism.

It explores Piasecki’s postwar career against the background of the nationalization of the Polish communist party culminating in the 1967-1968 anti-Semitic campaign. It argues that under certain conditions, not only did the communists utilize nationalism, but – as Piasecki’s case proves – they also prolonged the existence of the nationalist right. In broader terms, Piasecki’s story points to the fact that the adoption of nationalism by Eastern European communist leaders accelerated the ideological de-legitimization and erosion of the system in the region.

Download pdf