Warsaw notes

I recommend a trip here.  Imagine a European country with (roughly) a four percent growth rate and the streets full of young people.  Dining out here is much better than it was in Milan, and cheaper too (eat in the serious Polish place on the left side of the food hall, Hala Kozyski, and get gelato afterwards).  What seems to be the city’s second best hotel is less than half the price it would be in Western Europe.  For better or worse, e-scooters and bike lanes are everywhere.  The city has a lively concert life, even in August.

There aren’t many traditional tourist sites.  Construction workers will look at you funny if you visit the remnants of the Warsaw Ghetto, and the memorial plaque isn’t exactly prominent.  The city’s much-heralded Jewish Museum is as much a critique of the Jews during medieval times as anything else.  I don’t consider those sites as focal for the Warsaw population as a whole, but the official side of life here has not exactly taken the German tack of ongoing apologies.  It is now against the law to suggest that Poles were complicit in the Holocaust (now only a fine, the threat of imprisonment was removed).

These days the 1953 Stalin building downtown looks quite beautiful.  Cross the river to see more of Warsaw’s residential districts, such as the Praga district, and stop by to see the architecture — both new and old — near the Neon Museum.

“Poland issued more first-time residence permits to non-EU citizens than any other EU nation in 2017, with 86% of them going to Ukrainians, in the latest available European migration statistics. Those Ukrainians accounted for 18.7% of all newcomers to the entire EU.”  (WSJ link here).

Poland is a country where nationalism doesn’t seem to be going away.  In fact, there seems to be a kind of intertemporal substitution into a new nationalism, a secure nationalism, finally safe from the bullying of larger neighbors.  Polish flags are everywhere.  So many Poles, even secular ones, view the Catholic Church as the central institution of Western civilization, and indeed they have a concept of Western civilization as having a central institution (though a minus for gay rights).

The country is not on the verge of becoming a “Western liberal’s dream,” at least not in terms of mood or rhetoric.  Yet actual life here is fairly liberal, and is more prosperous every day.  2019 has been the best year in Polish history, ever, and you feel it palpably.

Do not be surprised if more and more of Western Europe sees Polish nationalism as a model to be copied.

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Also heard great things about Warsaw. Good destination choice.

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"Ethnic cleansing works". Discuss.

On a serious note, I was the BBC's correspondent in Warsaw back pre-EU, and nothing you've written surprises me. If the western half of the EU had the enterprise and dynamism of Poland it'd be flying. As for the nationalism and the friction with issues like resettlement of refugees, Poland has the right to taking history far more seriously than its western neighbours, who act as though they'd quite like history to be consigned to the past.

PS I'm glad you liked the Stalin building. They say you can see all the way to Siberia from the top...

'Poland has the right to taking history far more seriously than its western neighbours, who act as though they'd quite like history to be consigned to the past'

Yet oddly, the Poles are extremely uninterested in talking about the history of Prussia, especially the part that was part of Germany until 1945 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Prussia

Basically, (western) Europe has avoided major conflicts since WWII because of a studious consigning of past borders to the past. One can contrast this to the vibrant historical awareness and dynamic nationalism that flourished in Yugoslavia after the Cold War ended.

Of course, it is not impossible that in the wake of Brexit, one will see a lack of desire to continue to consign the past to the past on the part of certain groups claiming that they represent all of Ireland, and not just the part that is an independent nation.

And to be honest, are you seriously suggesting that the Soviets were successful in ethnically cleansing the territory they took from Poland? (Not talking about Königsberg, obviously.) 'At the end of World War II, the Allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany. There were extensive changes to the territorial extent of Poland, following the decision taken at the Tehran Conference of 1943 at the insistence of the Soviet Union. The Polish territories east of the Curzon Line (known as the Kresy), which the Soviet Union had occupied in 1939 along with the Bialystok region were permanently annexed, resulting in Poland losing over 20% of its pre-war borders. While a large portion of this area was predominately populated by Ukrainians and Belarusians, most of their Polish inhabitants were expelled.'

Western Europe has avoided major conflicts since WWII because the Germans stopped invading France.

The Italians and Austrians are glad to hear that. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Tyrolean_independence_movement

But don't worry, one can count on the FPÖ to push ethno-nationalism, without a hint of any German/French conflict having the tiniest relevance to the discussion.

Yes but the Germans are fundamentally responsible for European problems since the 19th century. Whether in war or peace they are a destabilizing and disruptive force.

Well, the Bavarians or Saxons of 1860 would have blamed the Prussians, but sure, if we consider Prussia to represent Germany (and until the end of WWII, most people did) it is a fair enough point.

Though does the Austrian Empire count as 'German' in the sense that a Bavarian or Saxon of 1860 would have likely understood it?

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It had a lot of peace post 1815 because France stopped invading everyone else.

And a lot of peace post 1715 after sorting out the Spanish Succession.

Plus whatever happens to Gibraltar also has nothing to do with any German/French conflict.

(Who wants to take 1615, 1515, 1415, etc.? Europe has an immensely bloody history after all.)

Yeah, I think we should return Gibraltar to Morocco, don't you?

Subject to the Gibraltarians approving, of course.

'return Gibraltar to Morocco, don't you?'

Rome has a better claim than the Visigoths, whereas the Moroccans were clearly interlopers.

And who knows, maybe Salvini has the sort of grandiose vision that encompasses all of Rome's previous territories. He certainly would not be the first Italian politician with such dreams, after all.

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I recommend holding a vote, and then holding the same vote over and over until the plebs get the answer right.

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"Yet oddly, the Poles are extremely uninterested in talking about the history of Prussia, especially the part that was part of Germany until 1945"
+1 framing!

Ditto Russia about Konigsberg. Oops, Kaliningrad

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They say you can see all the way to Siberia from the top..

LOL I'd heard the same about the Lubanka Prison in moscow, but in that one it's from the basement...course it's closer.

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"So many Poles, even secular ones, view the Catholic Church as the central institution of Western civilization, and indeed they have a concept of Western civilization as having a central institution."

Not a surprise considering how afraid and worried are the Polish about Russia. The Catholic Church is not Russian therefore is great.

The Russians also have some issues with Poland. They say Poland has a "war with the past" because they are not grateful after being invaded and occupied by the USSR.

Catholic Church was in Poland (or Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth) long before Russia was Russia or had any wars with Poland. I would think that Church has a much longer role in Poland, than just "is not Russian therefore is great".

Yeah, as a Russian, I can attest to the idea that common consensus on Poland is: "we don't quite get it, why don't they like us". The basis for this consensus are 3 points:
1) Nazis were the worst, everything else is relatively better, therefore if we freed Poland from Nazis, even if we then forced certain ideas on Poland, it's still much better
2) Poland (after losing a lot since 16th century) was a part of Russian Empire for quite some time (more than a century). As they are also slavic people, they should feel "at home" and "brotherly love" in Russia.
3) According to us (Russians) everyone is better as part of a bigger whole, so how could Poland not want to be a part of some glorious togetherness is not understood.

Basically, all of Russian views (at least on the level of common people) on Poland is heavily shaped by long-standing Imperial traditions and world-view. I have big suspicions, that Poles have different world-view and for them those 3 points seem completely ridiculous. As always, only time will tell, how those two world-views can or should coexist to build better realtions, as Poland and Russia do share borders and do have a lot in common.

The RC church reconquered much of Poland from Protestantism.

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Indeed, the Catholic Church is foundational to the Polish state.

The origin of Poland (years 900-1000) is a dynasty who conquered lands from tribes or gained them by alliances and marriages. The current extension of the Poland is similar to that kingdom from 1000 years ago.

Te kingdom was born but it was really consolidated when one of those kings decided to convert to Catholicism. The adoption of Catholicism meant the Holy (and mighty) Roman Empire could not invade the young Poland with the excuse of Christianizing them. If Poland had not become Christian, the might just be remembered as an extinct tribe defeated and Christianized by any Holy Roman Emperor.

I'm being a cynic presenting the Christianization of Poland only as a defensive geopolitical maneuver. Of course, the Christianization had a big influence in the culture and identity of the people which also contributes to the high status of the Catholic Church over there.

Other factors for Catholic pride is fighting and defeating the Ottoman Empire and the Pope John Paul 2 that was around the Cold War times.

'I'm being a cynic presenting the Christianization of Poland only as a defensive geopolitical maneuver'

The Teutonic Knights were never about being 'defensive' once they turned their attention away from Jerusalem. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prussian_Crusade

Admittedly, Poland is a flexible concept in terms of territory.

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Extinct? Probably not. The Bohemians and Moravians (we now call them Czechs) survived their inclusion into the old HRE.

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"therefore if we freed Poland from Nazis"

The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact might color that perception.

Yeeeaaah (it does colour it a bit). But then any Russian says: "Oh, yeah, but where were other Allies, when Germany annexed Austria or invaded Poland?". And yeeeaaah... That's the problem, we all forget that back in 30s many countries were very far from being warm and fuzzy. All countries at the very least toyed with Nazism, England had problems with India (and other colonies), Americans had all the racism stuff, half of Russia was busy killing the other half and so on and so forth. Yet, the Germans seemed to trump (pun not intended) all the other countries in the shit that they decided to do. What all other countries did was try to survive in those times. Yet, as major winners of WWII, Russia still believes that Nazism was the worst stuff (even though we did plenty of bad stuff ourselves).

Britain and France declared war on Nazi Germany right after Poland was invaded.

And? Did they fight? I can declare myself an Emperor of the Earth. And?

Uhhhh.... I think it was called World War II? Sure, Germany may not have been defeated (at least as soon as it was) without the war on the eastern front, but it's not like the UK wasn't trying to stop Germany once the war began.

Oh my god... you actually don't know WWII history?

1939 September 3 - France and Great Britain declare war on Germany.

1940 April 9 to June 9 - Germany invades and takes control of Denmark and Norway.

1940 May 10 to June 22 - Germany uses quick strikes called blitzkrieg, meaning lightning war, to take over much of western Europe including the Netherlands, Belgium, and northern France.

1940 July 10 - Germany launches an air attack on Great Britain. These attacks last until the end of October and are known as the Battle of Britain.

Basically, France and Britain did not do shit for half a year (while Germany was conquering Poland, Denmark, parts of Norway, Netherlands, Belgium). Then in a matter of weeks France lost, surrendered, sent a lot of jews to the Nazis. While Britain was STILL sitting and doing fuckall (yeah, yeah, they fought some fights with ships over shipping lanes, sure). And they still did a lot less afterwards as well. For example: USSR lost 14% of the population (26 mil), Poland 17% (6 mil), Britain only 1% (0,45 mil).

Where to start?

Nobody expected the French to collapse as swiftly as they did, especially after their obduracy in 1914. This changed the nature of what Britain could do, and the sensible strategic option was to try to control the seas while building up their (pre-prepared) armaments and military capacities. This would allow them to prevent invasion and force the Germans into unwanted strategic decisions regarding a longer war.

The idea that Britain could in any way save Poland from the Nazis (and Soviets...) is for the birds, and the ill-fated involvement in France and then Norway made it clear that the sensible strategic option outlined above was the answer.

Meanwhile, the USSR also did not expect French collapse so soon. That's why it was so happy to collude with the Nazis over invading and occupying eastern Europe, while happily supplying them with food and vital raw materials. The calculation was that it could do this while simultaneously rebuilding military capacity following the purges and the Winter War against Finland, and letting the others fight themselves into oblivion. This proved a miscalculation.

Meanwhile, the USSR continued to show the contempt for human life, both at home and in the occupied countries, that would also characterise its later fight against the Nazis. That's one key reason why the Eastern Front was so bloody awful, and why its casualty figures were so high. Two reasons why Britain's were comparatively far lower were that it tried to respect the lives of its military, and that it realised that the Soviet approach to war, and the nature of the German involvement in the Eastern Front, meant that the War would be in large part won there.

Of course Britain contributed to this too. Examples are its taking part in the massive logistical efforts to supply the Red Army via the Arctic convoys, and by stripping the Eastern Front of both the Luftwaffe and 88 anti-aircraft guns thanks to its strategic use of bombers over Germany. Conveniently forgetting that Stalin acted as a murderous ally of Hitler until June 1941 was also part of it.

What you wrote is entirely correct, yes, English actions were logical. And yes, they were detrimental to winning WWII as well. But that does not change that the phrases of the previous commentors showed a different understanding of the WWII.

Tom T said that Molotov-Ribbentrop act should colour the idea of USSR freeing Poland from Nazis. I countered with the idea that despite the act, only USSR did and the only one who could, free Poland from Nazis. While Britain did not help them, even though they did guarantee to support Poland (spoiler, they did not, and it matters not, if that was logical or not).

aMichael has said that "Germany may not have been defeated (at least as soon as it was) without the war on the eastern front". That idea seems so out of wack, that I am not even sure, if he was trolling or just 100% ignorant.

So,
1) USSR still were the ones who did free Eastern Europe from Nazis. How much better life became afterwards is an arguable point, but I am certain that most people would say, that it was at least marginally better.
2) I would think that USSR alone could not have won WWII, all of the Allies actions were needed to fight Axis. However, USSR and it's people did make an incredible amount of heavy lifting and sacrificing in this war.
3) There were plenty of atrocities done in USSR as well. That is well known in Russia (for example, my family has been on both ends of the stick), however that does not change the fact that in historical perspective, it was a better (marginally) alternative to some other countries (Germany, China) at that particular point of time.

all of the Allies actions were needed to fight Axis.

Yeah, like firebombing the living fucking shit out of Germany

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Also, I cannot even parse the phrase
"Germany may not have been defeated (at least as soon as it was) without the war on the eastern front"
At least as soon? It could have been defeated without Eastern front according to you? Germans lost 80% of their military on Eastern front. And those were the better equiped forces (since it was the begining, when they didn't have to scrape for anyone, who could hold the gun).

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Yeah but before that they gave away Czechoslovakia to the Nazis by signing the Munich Treaty. So the Brits and the French were signing stuff with Hitler much earlier than the Soviets. Incidentally with that, they also gave away that country's vast army and armaments industry. A big portion of the tanks that the German army used in the invasion of France came from the old Czechoslovak army.

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Britain and France declared war on Nazi Germany right after Poland was invaded

Should have waited a couple weeks to see how that worked out. Stalin did.

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@Konstantinov Roman

As long as you are not Thiago Ribeiro in disguise, can I ask how the Russians view Romania, also given the Moldova issue? Because I know that we were not very happy some time ago, this being our centennial anniversary, when the Russian Embassy in Romania began talking about 75 years since being freed from the fascist yoke by the Soviet Army. The wave of revulsion on social media and in print media (normally not very aligned) was palpable. Incidentally, today is the anniversary of the coup that removed Marshal Antonescu from power, by the King and aided also by the Communists who would later take over.

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> because they are not grateful after being invaded and occupied by the USSR.

I started occasionally reading Russian "news" 10-15 years ago and noticed that the tone was very aggressive, imperial, and entitled.

There's an implicit assumption that the states around Russia should be grateful to Russia for conquering them, don't have any right to be independent, definitely have no right to self-defense, are almost like Russian property, and were wrongfully "stolen" by NATO.

Yeah, you are absolutely correct. It is quite Imperial. Most of us (Russians) do consider that one whole is stronger than many divided and therefore, it is natural for humans to desire to become one big whole.... called Russia. I, recently, as a interesting counter-point tell everyone to say what they would feel, if Russia subjugated/united itself to China. Most people do not seem so positive about that idea. Weird, huh.

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No. The best year in Polish history was 1683.

Are you in love with the Habsburg dynasty, jaśnie panie? Sirr?

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Sounds quite idilic and yes the economic growth is solid, but how about political killings, homofobic, racist, fascist rallies with quite an attendence ... Nationalism has its drawbacks as we saw in the 30thies.

"Nationalism has its drawbacks as we saw in the 30thies." Oh, I don't know. Stalin was not a nationalist, at least not a Georgian nationalist; he was more of a Bolshevik Imperialist. Hitler was an Imperialist rather than a nationalist (certainly he wasn't an Austrian nationalist) and so were the military nutcases who ruled Japan.

Franco claimed to be a nationalist. He had his eyes on Gibraltar, to be sure, but the fact that the Gibraltarians very much didn't want to be ruled by Spain means that that should be viewed as an Imperialist rather than a nationalist claim. But on balance I think I'd say he was a nationalist rather than an Imperialist. For all its faults, which were many, at least Franco's regime ensured that Spain was never occupied by the Nazis or the communists.

By the 30s Britain had promised independence (then called "Dominion status") to India and (have I got this right?) the USA had promised independence to the Philippines. So one Imperial power was retreating from the game and one in-denial Imperial power likewise.

I suppose both the Chinese contenders for control of the Republic of China could reasonably be called nationalist.

"political killings, homofobic, racist, fascist rallies with quite an attendence" What are you talking about??? Fascist killed 6 million Poles... ! Liberals call everyone a "fascist" if they do not agree with them

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You're missing the fact that the "We're number one!" of nationalism tends to lead right to "Therefore we should rule everyone else" Every major outbreak of nationalism has led to an outbreak of imperialism, unless defeated and constrained by external forces.

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Political killings?

In contemporary Poland?

But yes, the Poles don't worship homo-sexuals or colored people. Good for them.

There were total two (or three; it depends how to count that). First, A PiS (law and justice) politician was killed by a psycho. It was years ago. Then, a guy associated formerly with PO, but who then left them to pursue a political career was killed by a second psycho.

In addition, there was at least one accident of a political dispute, in which voter of the opposition killed PiS voter.

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This web site is always good for juxtaposition - 'Dining out here is much better than it was in Milan' and 'get gelato afterwards.' One can truly wonder if Milano does not actually offer gelato just as good as what could be found in the Hala Kozyski.

'It is now against the law to suggest that Poles were complicit in the Holocaust'

One assumes this incident is still legal to talk about, seeing as it occurred after WWII was officially over - 'The Kielce Pogrom was an outbreak of violence toward the Jewish community centre's gathering of refugees in the city of Kielce, Poland on 4 July 1946 by Polish soldiers, police officers, and civilians during which 42 Jews were killed and more than 40 were wounded. Polish courts later sentenced nine of the attackers to death in connection with the crimes.' Not to be confused with the Kielce pogrom 1918, with a tenth of the fatalities. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kielce_pogrom

'Poland is a country where nationalism doesn’t seem to be going away.'

But an independent judiciary might be - 'The European Union is often accused of being powerless to deal with renegade member states that flout its declared principles. But the bloc’s recent success in resisting judicial reforms in eastern European countries, meant to increase ruling parties’ control over the courts, tells a different story.

The judicial reforms are key to the establishment of illiberal regimes in eastern European countries. In recent years they have challenged the EU’s key values, tiring of their wealthier neighbors’ lectures on how to run their affairs. The EU was slow to get serious about these efforts, and indeed had limited tools to stop them. But it has gotten its act together recently, forcing Romania and Hungary to drop onerous plans.

................

So far, only Poland’s proud PiS government — which beat the opposition in the European Parliament election — hasn’t yielded much under EU pressure. But as the EU budget debate draws near, the last thing PiS will want to do is lose billions in funding: It could cost it the support of Polish farmers and a major chunk of projected economic growth.' https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-06-05/eu-successfully-stands-up-for-courts-in-hungary-poland-romania

"One can truly wonder if Milano does not actually offer gelato just as good as what could be found in the Hala Kozyski." Gelato is an oddity: one of the best ice creams I've ever had was a redcurrant one, in Prague. Prague!

Another of the best was a cherry ice cream in Edinburgh. Made by an Italian family, it must be admitted.

'Made by an Italian family, it must be admitted.'

That is pretty much the case in Germany - all of the ice cream places I know of are Italian owned. And to the best of my knowledge, they all make their own fresh ice cream - though some of the flavorings used do seem to be commercially distributed (particularly a blue colored one, intended for little kids).

Though it must be said that Spaghettieis was invented in Germany, while it must also be said that its quality can vary widely - 'Spaghettieis is a German ice cream dish made to look like a plate of spaghetti. In the dish, vanilla ice cream is extruded through a modified Spätzle press or potato ricer, giving it the appearance of spaghetti. It is then placed over whipped cream and topped with strawberry sauce (to simulate tomato sauce) and either coconut flakes, grated almonds, or white chocolate shavings to represent the parmesan cheese.' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spaghettieis

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Are you a fan if polish food in general? It doesn't seem to get much love in the US. I grew up eating pierogies and so have always had Poland high on my list of must visit countries if only to taste the real thing in the country where it was born. I wonder how much better they are over there?

There are now lots of Polish grocery shops in Britain, and plenty of Polish products in the supermarket aisles. We are slowly exploring them. My wife has fond memories of the Polish food of childhood neighbours. One of our staple winter dishes is Bigos. Mind you, another is Haggis, so we may claim to be truly cosmopolitan.

Cosmopolitan? For that you'd have fusion cuisine them together, on a spare white plate.

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Best Bigos I ever had was in Wroclaw back in 1984.

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As a Warsaw native, I'm here to tell you that the observations are spot on! The social mood is exactly as you described it, to my disappointment, as I would like nationalism to go away.
If I understand correctly your impression of the Jewish museum, there's one point of clarification: this institution is very much seen as being on the opposition/non-nationalist side of the debate. Generally I want to emphasize that things like the Holocaust complicity law don't go down without fierce criticism from many of us.
PS. Sorry for not giving any travel tips earlier but I though you'd figure it out.

If nationalism goes away Poland itself will go away--this time for good.

You're a contemptible cuck.

And you seem to be a homophobic racist and proud of it, "Thorfinsson."

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Has anyone, ever, written travel notes that don't "recommend a trip here"?

perhaps related to:

https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2018/12/travel-writing-bad.html

Because the travel destinations are not random. I assume travel destinations are filtered in order to maximize enjoyment.

There are also sunk costs (I spent 5K, I cannot be unhappy about it, whatever the outcome) and confirmation bias (I expected green and saw lots of green, thus I was right, therefore I'm happy).

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I once picked up a travel guide to Morocco that started with the words "Do not go to Morocco."

Fair comments.

I also think there’s basic one-upmanship. (I’m not accusing Tyler of this.)

If a place sucks, and you’ve been there, then you made a bad decision to go there. How will that impact others’ perceptions of you and your critical faculties if you say so?

Better still, the place actually does suck, and others report as such. One can then claim superior traveller capabilities - a big virtue in many circles. The others don’t ‘get it’, while you, man-of-the-world, do...

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If you search Cairo on this blog TC was not very complimentary (lots of concrete and air pollution if I recall). Recently he seems to more often take the damning with faint praise approach so his critiques aren't always so obvious.

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Watch the 2 minute summary video on the White House YouTube Channel of US President Donald Trump's inspiring, beautiful, amazing speech to Poland: https://youtu.be/A1If7MBOdEE

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Very interesting insights. Out of curiosity, which parts of the medieval exhibition in the Polin museum did you find negative? Personally, I was amazed by the amount and depth of information on jewish life in past Poland.

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Re: Flags

This doesn't tell me much. If you are in political power, and flags are your symbol, you put flags everywhere with public money, hoping to capture the flag, just as you had to wear an American flag lapel pin as a symbol of patriotism.

Is this a case of political symbolism of one party capturing the flag from other patriots?

We recently had a 4th of July parade with tanks.

Would be interested in knowing whether the flag in Poland has been captured as a political symbol by a party and whether there is a public expenditure for posting flags, or whether Tyler was there during a national holiday.

Visit Krackow and, if you get to go into the countryside on a trip, you will like that as well.

When I used to travel in the developing world, the rule of thumb was: the more flags you see, the more insecure the government is. Doesn't hold true in the developed world, though. (So which is Poland?)

Can't think of any developed country that has flags all over the place, other than on a holiday.

And, I can't imagine that developed countries are unpatriotic.

I wouldn't correlate love of a regime with the number of flags either.

The United States has flags all over the place.

O yeah, sure. Everyone can see with their own eyes if your statement is true.

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Warsaw is becoming the "London" of Eastern Europe, you have Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan doing half of the quant work out of the city these days, Standard Chartered and Nomura establishing themselves as well with bunch of others on the radar. On top of that Google campus is growing like weeds on other bank of the river, start up community is absolutely booming and given enterpreneurialism and creativity of Poles perhaps thats what they should concentrate on. Eastern Europeans are the best programmers period, if Warsaw can become more of a hub and keep them then we have a major European player. This "nationalism" is working quite well for them, try walking around a central railroad station past 6pm in any major western european city...

In a funny way I hate to admit this, but its true Warsaw is on that path

I travel to Warszawa once a month on a business trip. They are about 3 years away from having a bonafide CBD which will draw in more MNCs, banks etc... Two projects, the old brewery and some factory being built out into mixed use areas will be quite stunning. To say a lot has changed, even in the last 5 years, would be a big understatement,really looking fwd to what they can do in the future.

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Prague, Budapest and even Vienna feel like tourist destinations compared to Warsaw, the latter has this distinct big city vibe to it, super wide streets, city noise, its a completely different feeling, its defnitely more of a business destination, although there is cool stuff to see as well but not nearly as much as in the formers. If I am not mistaken Poland was the first country in that part of Europe to graduate of of emerging market status in ftse rankings, someone confirm? Asian sovereign wealth funds are coming in is what I heard, multiple projects mostly on commercial re side, plenty of good things are happening.... Finally, the girls and food.. need I say more ? :)

"even Vienna"? Vienna is overrun by tourists. Or do you mean Prague and Budapest also feel more like living museums than 21st century cities?

Prague is actually very dynamic as well, outside the tourist areas. Arguably Prague has the best blend of exciting economic activity and beautiful tourist attractions in Central Europe. In Poland both Wroclaw and Gdansk have a lot of the same dynamism as Warsaw but are much prettier cities.

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I do never understand this western liberal thinks, why always everybody has to be liberal? Why Ukrainian like Warsaw and not Berlin is because here is white and safe, no need for liberal. Some people do not want liberal , why hard to understand this?

That's how liberalism works. It requires complete and total subjugation by all involved parties, willingly or not.

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Tyler is only doing his traditional chutzpah of the advantages of being an american vassal state.

Do not try to see any moral standard in Tyler's posts.

Wow. Generalize much?

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No particular point to make here other than the blindingly obvious one that how people interpret or recall their own history is mysterious beyond words to me. Thus, from Snyder's Bloodlands: "More Poles were killed in the Warsaw Uprising than Japanese at Nagasaki and Hiroshima combined." (Before the commentariat leaps on me, I am not making any point about nuclear arms, just observing two different approaches to remembering the past, even when the crude metric of deaths is similar.)

The Warsaw Uprising was an incredibly reckless and heroic gesture that completely backfired, and ended up being a huge boon to the Soviets.

And what would you have done, Mr Akulryev?

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Tyler, if you reckon Warsaw food is better than Milan's then you must have gone to all the wrong places in the latter. Recommend you do a bleg next time you swing by Italy, though to be honest it's hard to go wrong in much of the country.

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Poland had relatively few migrants compared to other European countries, despite being quite prosperous. Perhaps an upside of speaking a language almost no one the country outside speaks

They actually took in a huge number of Ukrainians in the past few years, as referenced in other comments.

The border between Poland and Ukraine was never well established and Poland ruled Ukraine for some centuries.
I had a Polish (= from Warsaw) roommate once. He told me Poles think of Ukrainians much like Americans think of hillbillies: poor ethnic relatives, and the subject of ethnic jokes.

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A society with a sense of healthy self-preservation tolerates homosexuality but does not promote it the way we do, with a "Pride Month" and Pride parades in major cities, to which some people even bring their children.

Reminds me of the way religious "tolerance" was viewed in the early New England colonies: "I think your views are incorrect, but I am confident that when people can see your option and my option in the full light of day, they will choose mine. If I just suppress you people will think my views must be flawed, if I had to remove rival views by force." Toleration is not the same as approval.

It does now!

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We don't "promote" homosexuality. Do you really think people up and turn gay because they see a rainbow flag, or watch "Drag Races"?

First of all, he said promotion -- not the same as conversion. We certainly have gone full-on promotion, encouragement, and celebration. This is obvious.

Secondly, yes and no.

No, the promotion of homosexuality doesn't create a appreciably more obligate homosexuals.

However,

1 ) There seems to be relatively good evidence female bisexuality has increased, plausibly due to promotion of homosex.

2) The society makes it much harder for committed homosexual Christian to live a life of faithful chastity. So, yes, the promotion of homosexuality permits more people to come out. And when they do come out, to sin.

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Warsaw is just a cool city, its weird architectually, remnants of being leveled to the ground by Germans no doubt, but in a way its a balanced mix of soviet type of buildings and brand new skyscrapers.

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Dining out here is much better than it was in Milan, and cheaper too (eat in the serious Polish place on the left side of the food hall, Hala Kozyski, and get gelato afterwards).

Don't take this seriously. It's just classic Cowen food pretension - "this gas station serves best burrito in Texas" sort of thing he's fond of.

+1

Also Cowen doesn't drink alcohol, making him completely unqualified to judge meal quality in Poland or Italy, both cuisines require an alcohol pairing as a general rule.

" completely unqualified to judge meal quality in Poland or Italy, both cuisines require an alcohol pairing as a general rule"

Actually meals in Poland are often consumed without any beverages (alcoholic or not).

People are more likely to have a beverage with a meal when eating out (beer more than wine) but it's hardly universal.

But how can a person eat Italian food without wine?

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In Ukraine itself a lot of people especially the elites speak or understand Polish without any problems. For historical reasons Poland and Polish language were traditionally a "window to the west" for Ukrainians. This applies especially to western Ukraine. If you'd go to the city of Lviv which is the largest city of western Ukraine (and it's very beautiful by the way), used to be majority Polish before WWII and is only some 80km far from Polish border you won't have any problem to talk Polish there. Although the majority can't speak Polish, basically everyone there will understand you. In Poland it's more difficult and there applies what I've written in the beginning. The languages (as all slavic languages) are partially mutually intelligible, so you could use Ukrainian for some basic communication. But it would be hard to find someone in Poland who really speaks Ukrainian except for people like scholars who are interested in Ukraine. But on the other hand there is quite a lot of Ukrainians who work or study in Poland

Well, yeah. Western Ukraine used to be Eastern Poland until it was invaded and annexed by the Soviets in 1939, pursuant to the Nazi-Soviet pact. Not surprising both that Western Ukraine is the most pro-Western part of the Ukraine, or that it has a lot of close cultural ties to Poland.

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"so you could use Ukrainian for some basic communication"

Most Ukrainians in Poland seem to pick up just what survival Polish they need - in construction or manufacturing that might be very little and I've seen some having communication troubles.
Ukrainians will have had lots of exposure to Ukrainian and Russian which helps them understand Polish but Poles are not generally good at understanding other slavic languages (mostly through lack of exposure) while

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As long as Poles don't open doors to so called "refugees" sitting around and pissing on corners in center squares, the future seems to be relatively bright over there.

actually I dont think Poles would allow that, they are a fighting nation, plenty of youtube examples where they kick the s... out of migrants in western europe when they cross their path.

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Would black tourists from America feel (or be made to feel) comfortable there, as compared to white American tourists?

Who cares

No problems on that end, problems start when someone starts causing problems, at that point in time when you are colored you get zero slack. Poland is simply a conservative country, some people just do not seem to realize that, as long as you are cool, it might be the best country out there to chill with local people. I have been here for 5+ yrs and absolutely loving it!

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The Polish are nationalists, not racist. Some Polish would probably find it hard not to stare at colored people, as it's a rare sight there, but at the tourist hotspots nobody would care.

Everybody's "nationalist, not racist" until the diversity starts weighing in permanently at 10 - 20%. Then special regulatory measures have to be introduced to make sure everybody's "nationalist, not racist."

Well that's why the Poles decided not to embrace diversity and liberalism.

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As long as you don't speak Polish, you probably won't notice any overt racism. In cosmopolitan Polish cities like Warsaw, you may even get the opposite reaction in hipster neighborhoods, with people very interested in having a "black friend". I worked for years in a Polish company that exported to the Middle East and Africa and never got a sense that Poles are more racist than other Europeans.

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"2019 has been the best year in Polish history, ever, and you feel it palpably." And how many Jews did you talk to in-country? A point of clarification: did you actually mean "white nationalism" not "nationalism"? Or are you just ignoring the elephant in the room?

what elephant is that? Polish KGB was almost all jews sent by Stalin, thats also the class that got rich post transformation, they own all the media, tvn, polsat, etc etc... Just because new govt came in and started focusing on the other 95% of the society you are implying some kind of "racism" now? Get a life

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Well, some people aren't ignoring that elephant, they proudly proclaim why everyone needs to pay attention to it. And depending on the person, maybe find some sort of solution before things get even worse.

Let us just say that Prof. Cowen was tiptoeing politely when writing 'as much a critique of the Jews during medieval times as anything else.'

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White nationalism is a foreign concept in Europe. European nationalists mostly define themselves as a tribe against a backdrop of other neighboring tribes, which happen to be white.

Mostly. There are small minorities who do believe in a sort of pan-European nationalism, a preference system for migration from 'White countries' and so on. They tend to be allied politically to European federalism and integration.

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I worked on projects in Poland during the 80s and 90s. A few observations:

+ Under communism, the state owned any enterprise with a capitalization over about USD 10 million. Everything smaller than that was private enterprise that effectively operated in anarcho-capitalism. And it worked.

+ When the communist state withered away, that informal social infrastructure of private enterprise was the foundation of a robust Polish economy. Russia and much of the rest of Eastern Europe didn't have that infrastructure.

I predicted then that it would take two generations for Russia and the more thoroughly socialist Eastern European countries to catch up to Poland: They simply didn't have the intangible infrastructure; it would take a generation to build it and and another generation to build on it.

+ Post-communist Poland inherited not only the social infrastructure of private enterprise, it inherited the ethos of private enterprise. For the last 25 years, the place has been crawling with go-getters, entrepreneurs, developers, ... all out to build something.

+ 1980 Warsaw may have been the ugliest city in the western world. The drive in from the airport was one depressing Stalinist concrete-bunker apartment building after another. Downtown was even more depressing.

The joke ran: Warsaw got the worst of both worlds: Destroyed by Hitler and rebuilt by Stalin.

+ As soon as communism collapsed, Poles started ripping down the Stalinist buildings and reconstructing old buildings -- often with the very materials from the old buildings that were destroyed in the war.

There's still a lot of depressing buildings in Warsaw, but it's an incredibly vibrant place.

+ Warsaw and Prague were the two bright spots in the unremitting dreariness of 80s and 90s Eastern European food. Beer and wine were awful.

Food in Warsaw was just incredible, compared to that. Not only the variety (especially game, fowl and vegetables-other-than-cabbage) but the preparation. Things weren't cooked to an unrecognizable death.

Regarding tearing down buildings, it is my understanding that the Stalin Gothic building downtown is slated to be torn down, indeed I was under the impression it already had been. Saw it just over two years ago, when it had a movie theater in it. Seemed not much else going on in the building.

Budapest easily less dreary than Warsaw under communism, with an even more liberal market socialist economy. Of course, they have gone further than Poland in the new authoritarian nationalist direction.

Found it quite hard to find the old Warsaw ghetto. Yes, anti-Semitism is back openly. it used to be wise cracked that Poland showed one could have anti-Semitism even without having any Jews (or mighty few).

I am surprised neither Tyler nor anybody else has mentioned the Old Town, which, of course, is reconstructed post-WW II, but looking pretty authentic. A lot of the important sites in the city are there, especially for tourists, and a lot of the restaurants are indeed quite good and not expensive.

However, on this matter of Milan vs Warsaw, well, maybe on a quality per price contest Warsaw might compete, but not on absolute levels, certainly not at the top level, as someone who has been to basically the best restaurants in both cities. Not even close.

Oh, on the matter of Poles and Catholicism, it is not just distinguishing from the Orthodox Russians to the east, but the Lutheran Germans to the west. When Poland was partitioned in the 1790s, it was Russia that got the biggest part and Prussia the second biggest part, with Catholic Austria getting the smallest part in the south, although those parts generally came out better, with this part of why Krakow is such a nice place to visit now. in any case, with most of the nation ruled by either Russian Orthodox or Prussian Lutherans for well over a century, this reinforced the link between Catholicism and Polish national identity. Heck, this is part of the reason why in the end Stalin did not enforce agricultural collectivization in Poland, which was imposed in all the other Soviet-ruled nations of Eastern Europe (Yugoslavia also did not collectivize ag, but then Tito asserted his independence of USSR in 1948 and then adopted the market socialist workers' management system).

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Budapest was definitely less dreary than Warsaw under communism. So was just about every city outside of East Germany. But the food in Warsaw was better in every respect (other than foie gras, of course).

Not if you like gulyas and paprikash more than stuffed cabbage (which I do).

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"though a minus for gay rights"

Read the article and can't help wondering if this was Straussian, since it's the homintern that comes off as the thugs there, not the Catholic bishops, for whom I don't usually have much sympathy.

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Lots of remote IT outsourcing to Poland - great for those who can bring in near-Western wages based on a solid math education (did the USSR do this?) but have low cost of living.

IT sector compensation when taking into account lower cost of living is on par with Western Europe, throw in a better lifestyle and Warsaw, Krakow, Wroclaw and Gdansk are becoming good destinations to explore for that type of work.

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Went to Poland as part of a trip to central Europe in 2017. Far and away the highlight of my trip, for many of the reasons TC states, especially food. In terms of the big cities I only went to Krakow but that was incredible. Now if Poland can create nationalism-without-authoritarianism, they'll be contributing something major to humanity.

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Have they rebuilt many grand old buildings flattened in 1939-1945? I see pictures from various places in Eastern Europe where they are doing reconstruction of their architectural heritage, and it makes me happy.

The Communists rebuilt a lot of the old town around the castle right after the war. Otherwise, no, they've taken the opposite tack in the past 20 years and thrown up a lot of Western glass office buildings. Warsaw looks more American than most European cities because it is a hodgepodge of styles.

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Also what Warsaw really lost was not the "grand" buildings. Churches, theatres and palaces were rebuilt fairly quickly. What Warsaw really lost were lots of pleasant tree-lined boulevards with beautiful 19th century 4-5 story apartment buildings. The Communists widened streets and threw up buildings on a completely different inhuman scale. Rebuilding the Nevsky Cathedral or the Sasky Palace might be nice, but would hardly restore Warsaw to what it was.

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Poland has a vibrant metal scene. Unfortunately the bands all seem to have Nazi sympathies. And the musicians don't seem to be the only ones with these beliefs.
https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/11/europe-far-right-populist-nazi-poland/524559/
https://www.scmp.com/news/world/europe/article/2130091/poland-pressured-act-forcefully-against-neo-nazis-hailing-adolf

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Tyler is sucking up to his right wing commenters and the results are embarrassing.

"Dining out here is much better than it was in Milan, and cheaper too"

That may be the most egregiously stupid statement ever written on this blog. It is simply not true. Warsaw is also not that great a city for authentic Polish food. Smaller provincial towns in Poland are often better. Torun for example.

"Construction workers will look at you funny if you visit the remnants of the Warsaw Ghetto"

What in the literal fuck are you talking about? The remnants are a line on the ground and some walls. How would "construction workers" even know you are "visiting"?

Poland is a country where nationalism doesn’t seem to be going away. It was going away, and young people were becoming very pro EU. PIS has managed to reverse that trend somewhat, but Europe's perceived inability to stand up to Putin, Trump's victory and Brexit have been effective in leading younger Poles to doubt the ability of Western liberals to protect Poland.
So many Poles, even secular ones, view the Catholic Church as the central institution of Western civilization
Yes, but the important trend is how much younger people and educated people now despise the people running the Church. Poland reminds me a lot of Ireland and Spain, very Catholic until, suddenly, it wasn't.

"Poland is a country where nationalism doesn’t seem to be going away. It was going away, and young people were becoming very pro EU. PIS has managed to reverse that trend somewhat"

Actually, PIS did not do anything, Poles see what a mess Western Europe is becoming and want no part of it, thats all.

"Poles see what a mess Western Europe is becoming and want no part of it"

True. So many people lay Polish reluctance to join Merkel's migration policy to xenophobia or ignorance when the reality is very different. Try to find a Polish person who hasn't spent time working in a western european country (or who doesn't have a relative or close friend who has).
Doing lower paid work they've seen first hand at street level what western european migration looks like (unlike politicians in said countries) and they don't want that for their own country.

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Poland would be wise to do a Polexit in few years and follow fully in steps of Asian tigers, under EU bureaucracy and laws copy until you make your own economy is not possible. At the moment they are growing at 4-5% imagine what they could do without shackles from Brussels.

Another 10 or 20 years and west and north of Poland you will have Eurabia and the rest will stay Europe. That division might happen sooner if EU goes in a way of two speed concepts and shifts the East to periphery.

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To be fair to the Poled, their country was Europe's most religiously tolerant and least (officially) anti-Semitic nation from the Middle Ages down to the 19th century.

No joke, all the jews ended up in Poland because they took them in when they were being expelled from everywhere else.

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Hurry up and visit Romania already (again), I'm green with envy at all the (good) press Poland is receiving.

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