Remembering Nowa Huta a Model Polish Town

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henryk
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Remembering Nowa Huta a Model Polish Town

Post by henryk » 19 Mar 2021 21:09

Copy of Phd Thesis
https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/cgi/viewcontent.c ... ontext=etd
PHD Abstract
Model Socialist Town, Two Decades Later: Contesting the Past in Nowa Huta, Poland
Kinga Pozniak, The University of Western OntarioFollow
Degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Program
Anthropology
Supervisor
Dr. Randa Farah
Abstract
This work examines people’s experiences of the postsocialist transformation in Poland through the lens of memory. Since socialism’s collapse over two decades ago, Poland has undergone dramatic political, economic and social changes. However, the past continues to enter into current politics, economic debates and social issues. This work examines the changes that have taken place by looking at how socialism is remembered two decades after its collapse in the Polish former “model socialist town” of Nowa Huta. It explores how ideas about the past are produced, reproduced and contested in different contexts: in Nowa Huta’s cityscape, in museums, commemorations, and the town’s steelworks (once the cornerstone of all social life in town), as well as in the personal accounts and recollections of Nowa Huta residents of different generations. Through this, it links together memory, place and generation in postsocialist East-Central Europe.
This work shows that the process of remembering at times of major political, economic and social changes always entails contestation. It argues that the postsocialist period in Poland has been characterized by a complex and paradoxical relationship to the socialist past. On the one hand, there are attempts to delineate the socialist past as distinct and radically different from the present, and to set it aside in favour of present concerns. For example, a generational divide is perceived between people who have experienced life in socialist Poland and those who have not. On the other hand, the past is deployed to validate the political and economic reforms that ensued. Hegemonic accounts thus characterize the socialist period as a time of repression, resistance and inefficiency, although these representations do not go uncontested.
Nowa Huta is a site that embodies these contradictions in memory and representation. In Nowa Huta, there are presently two major trends in representing the past: one seeing to downplay the town’s association with socialism by highlighting its legacy of resistance against the socialist system, the other enumerating its socialist-era accomplishments such as architecture, an industrial tradition, and a legacy of work.
Recommended Citation
Pozniak, Kinga, "Model Socialist Town, Two Decades Later: Contesting the Past in Nowa Huta, Poland" (2011). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 263.
https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/etd/263
Kinga Pozniak - University of Pittsburgh Press (upittpress.org)
Kinga Pozniak is an anthropologist and visiting scholar at the University of Western Ontario.
Nowa Huta
Generations of Change in a Model Socialist Town
By Kinga Pozniak
In 1949 construction of the planned town of Nowa Huta began on the outskirts of Kraków, Poland. Its centerpiece, the Lenin Steelworks, promised a secure future for workers and their families. By the 1980s, however, the rise of the Solidarity movement and the ensuing shock therapy program of the early 1990s rapidly transitioned the country from socialism to a market-based economy, and Nowa Huta fell on hard times.
Kinga Pozniak shows how the remarkable political, economic, and social upheavals since the end of the Second World War have profoundly shaped the historical memory of these events in the minds of the people who lived through them. Through extensive interviews, she finds three distinct, generationally based framings of the past. Those who built the town recall the might of local industry and plentiful jobs. The following generation experienced the uprisings of the 1980s and remembers the repression and dysfunction of the socialist system and their resistance to it. Today’s generation has no direct experience with either socialism or Solidarity, yet as residents of Nowa Huta they suffer the stigma of lower-class stereotyping and marginalization from other Poles.
Pozniak examines the factors that lead to the rewriting of history and the formation of memory, and the use of history to sustain current political and economic agendas. She finds that despite attempts to create a single, hegemonic vision of the past and a path for the future, these discourses are always contested—a dynamic that, for the residents of Nowa Huta, allows them to adapt as their personal experience tells them.
Kinga Pozniak is quite right that the equating of Communism and Socialism is common in Eastern Europe. But common usage does not make it right.

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Re: Remembering Nowa Huta a Model Polish Town

Post by Futurist » 20 Mar 2021 23:34

So, Nowa Huta is essentially a working-class suburb of Krakow nowadays?

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wm
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Re: Remembering Nowa Huta a Model Polish Town

Post by wm » 21 Mar 2021 00:09

Nowa Huta was an effort to eliminate the traditional Polish culture of Kraków by importing peasant barbarians.
It was badly designed, full of crude and primitive people of peasant origin, who boozed, stole everything possible, and raised pigs in their bathtubs.

From villages and little towns, they come in carts
to build a foundry and dream out a city,
dig out of the earth a new Eldorado.
With an army of pioneers, a gathered crowd,
they jam in barns, barracks, and hostels,
walk heavily and whistle loudly in the muddy streets:
the great migration, the twisted ambition,
with a string on their necks-the Czestochowa cross,
three floors of swear-words, a feather pillow,
a gallon of vodka, and the lust for girls.
Distrustful soul, torn out of the village soil,
half-awakened and already half-mad,
in words silent, but singing, singing songs,
the huge mob, pushed suddenly
out of medieval darkness: un-human Poland,
howling with boredom on December nights….
In garbage baskets and on hanging ropes,
boys fly like cats on night walls,
girls’ hostels, the secular nunneries,
burst with rutting–And then the “Duchesses”
ditch the foetus–the Vistula flows here….
The great migration building industry,
unknown to Poland, but known to history,
fed with big empty words, and living
wildly from day to day despite the preachers,
in coal gas and in slow, continuous suffering,
the working class is shaped out of it.
There is a lot of refuse. So far, there are Frits.
A Poem for Adults
by Adam Ważyk

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wm
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Re: Remembering Nowa Huta a Model Polish Town

Post by wm » 21 Mar 2021 02:03

henryk wrote:
19 Mar 2021 21:09
Kinga Pozniak is quite right that the equating of Communism and Socialism is common in Eastern Europe. But common usage does not make it right.
Socialism was a gateway drug to communism. The Polish socialists collaborated with the communists and normalized their rule in the first crucial post-war years.
In the end, they merged with them. Their socialist leader, "hero of Auschwitz", Józef Cyrankiewicz became the human face of the communist regime - the Polish Baghdad Bob.

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henryk
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Re: Remembering Nowa Huta a Model Polish Town

Post by henryk » 21 Mar 2021 19:29

From the thesis:
Nowa Huta Poland socialism1.jpg
https://www.thoughtco.com/difference-be ... ore%20rows
My annotations
The Differences Between Communism and Socialism1.jpg
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henryk
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Re: Remembering Nowa Huta a Model Polish Town

Post by henryk » 27 Apr 2021 22:11

Another View
https://urbanvisionsedu.wordpress.com/2 ... owa%20Huta.
Katherine Lebow’s Unfinished Utopia: Nowa Huta, Stalinism, and Polish Society, 1949-1956 (Cornell University Press, 2013)

Katherine Lebow’s Unfinished Utopia: Nowa Huta, Stalinism, and Polish Society, 1949-1956 (Cornell University Press, 2013) provides a fascinating account of Poland’s “first socialist city,” Nowa Huta. Located just a few miles from the historic city of Krakow, Nowa Huta was intended to serve as a model for a new kind of socialist modernity through city building and the creation of “new men.” Although historians have often cited Nowa Huta as a prime example of Communist domination Lebow argues that, “Far from being a gray and regimented landscape, Nowa Huta in the 1950s was colorful and anarchic, a place where the formerly disenfranchised hastened to assert their leading role in building socialism—but rarely in ways that authorities had anticipated.” (4) Furthermore, Lebow argues that Nowa Huta does not represent a site in which Polish society rejected the idea of being turned into “new men.” In fact, it was the very encounter with Stalinist ideology in the late 1940s and early 1950s, including attempts to create a new, better, and more egalitarian civilization, that set the stage for Solidarity’s protest in the 1980s. By using the particular case study of Nowa Huta, Lebow offers wonderful insights into the everyday lives of citizens under Stalinism.

Lebow begins her work by exploring the unstable interplay of visions, plans, and realities that existed in the beginning stages of Nowa Huta. Although Nowa Huta was intended as a model city of Stalinist city planning, the socialist city could not wait for its architects to finish its designs, ensuring that much of what was constructed in Nowa Huta was unplanned and unintended. As a result those that came to live and work in the city were able to carve out their own spaces and sites of resistance. According to Lebow, “becoming Nowohucian was a process of self-invention—-a willed act, for many of its pioneers, of becoming modern urban citizens of their self-built small fatherland.” (9) Stalinism’s relentless labor competitions, prevalent in Nowa Huta, carried with them unanticipated consequences in which the visions of collective effort and shared rewards reinforced popular understandings of a moral community of labor within the city and its surrounding enclaves.

Lebow also highlights the ways in which assumptions about Nowa Huta’s ability to become a site for the cultural enlightenment of the masses crashed upon the rocks of inadequate funding that confounded many socialist cities behind the Iron Curtain. Without funding for state-sponsored cultural activities Nowohucians created their own spaces of entertainment by embracing jazz, jitterbugging, and drinking rather than high cultural pursuits. Particularly interesting is Lebow’s examination of bikiniarstwo, a youthful subculture formed from a pastiche of supposedly American dress styles and behavior, and Nowohucian fashion, described as “hipster,” as a space of resistance to Communist authorities. In fact, Lebow’s examination of Nowa Huta’s landscape finds that it was where Stalinism most disrupted conventional geographies of everyday life that Nowahucians were able to carve out spaces of relative freedom. As Lebow explains, the generation that made Nowa Huta one of the most militant centers of the Solidarity movement in the 1980s consisted of the sons and daughters of the city’s original builders. In this way Lebow argues that “A selective memory of Stalinism . . . provided Nowohucians with a usable set of tools for struggle and dissent, while Nowa Huta’s distinctive industrial and urban geography proved particularly conducive to organization and protest.” (11)

Wonderfully written and persuasively argued Katherine Lebow’s Unfinished Utopia provides a much needed addition to the historiography of socialist city building. Drawing upon memoirs, oral history interviews, unofficial transcripts of Stalinism, and archival records, Lebow presents a fascinating portrait of the lives of Polish peasants in the process of becoming industrial workers. Much like Stephen Kotkin’s Magnetic Mountain Lebow’s work provides concrete examples of Henri Lefebvre’s concepts of domination and appropriation within the production of space. Although Nowa Huta was imagined as a site of industry, cultural education, and socialist transformation by its planners, it was the everyday workers and residents that ultimately carved out their own social spaces of acceptance and resistance. In this way Lebow’s work helps to explain the paradox of why, years after the fall of communism, many residents of former communist-bloc cities reminisce about their relative freedom under Stalinism. In the end Nowohucians embraced their role of creating Poland’s first socialist city. However, much to the shock and disappointment of Communist Party officials, the city they built became a site of conflict and negotiation between the promises and realities of post-war socialism.

Reviewed by
Chris Byrum
PhD Student in History
Binghamton University
Posted December 2014

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