Defeats that make Polish people angry


So. Your neighbour buys a car. The fastest production car on Earth. “Life begins at 250!” – he says, smirking, trying to get on your wick. He succeeds. You challenge him to a race. Right away! “I’ll beat you barefoot and single-handed!” – you yell – “Ready, steady, go!” – and off you go, indeed, and you run, your teeth gnashed maniacally.


The neighbour needs a few seconds to rethink what you’ve just said, then he accepts the challenge but can’t find the key, so needs to rethink whether the car opens with a key, or with a thumb pad, or a voice recognition system, or is there Scottie to beam him inside, and yes, I guess, it’s that hi-tech, so he spends more time looking for some Star Trek uniform, then, being not too slim, he takes even more time to position himself in it, then in the car, which might start chasing you – oh wouldn’t she swirl to 60 mph in 2.5 secs, but you – you slyfox, you – took wicked turns through the bushes and then abrupt jump down some rocky road, so the neighbour’s got to watch out, slow down not to scratch his baby. Then, the way starts looking civilised, almost German – and the man overtakes you – 5 minutes after you set off. You lost your breath, you lost your boots, you lost your teeth – but not your pride. — You won! — For 5 minutes you were faster than the fastest car on Earth! If that’s not a victory, what is?



In short: your victories are all about how you define your objectives. Is it the final scene that rules the landscape? Well, my guest here suggested some of the Polish victories were: Tannenberg. Moscow. Vienna. Monte Cassino. Saratoga. The Miracle at the Vistula.

And I brag to differ:


= Tanneberg (1410) — If the aim’s to pick a fight with Western Europe, that’s some, duh, victory. But if the aim’s to take the enemy’s capital and impose upon him your terms of the peace treaty – then Poland sustained a major defeat.


= Moscow (1610) — If the aim’s not to launch a bunch of adventurers into the Kremlin but to start a royal line of Polish monarchs steadfast on the tsar’s throne – then Poland was defeated.


= Vienna (1683) — If the aim’s to clear the path towards the forming of Austrian Empire to destroy Poland in return – call that a victory.


= Monte Cassino (1944) — If the aim’s to send the soldiers of Poland [betrayed in 1939 and re-betrayed in 1945] to their Mount Doom in Mordor of Italybe my guest, call it a victory.




And then, Poles don’t appreciate they scored some real victories. Great Polish victories. Greater Polish victories. Greatest Polish victories. They’ll be dazed and confused. “You mean, eh, we actually did win all of that?”

To end something in a victory – is not too Polish. It’s Polish to win a battle and lose a war. To suffer for suffering’s sake. To have false history classes instead of true middle classes. To sell cheap myths why we don’t buy expensive cars. Come, stranger, cry rivers with us.


So, in the other half of this episode I’ll tell you why — instead of crying — you can laugh at the myth of the winged horsepower of Poland. A bonus, some truths about Poland’s top sabre. (I mean, you need to know Wolodyjowski if you want to survive in Poland! Watch out for the shortest guy in the movie:


And stay tuned for more.)


PS The Battle of Warsaw (1920) was a victory – but that’s why it’s called a miracle. (And it must be added that soon after the battle Poland re-betrayed Ukraine. As if the reaction to the first betrayal should not teach us anything.) And Saratoga (1777) was a battle co-starring one Pole’s fancy to procure engineering work in America.





Looking for me?

Tagged , , , , , , ,

32 thoughts on “Defeats that make Polish people angry

  1. guest says:

    oh yes ,you are SO right darthsida ! :D here are some other major defeats !

    second WWII -> 60 years of communism ! so why did the stupid Poles fight ?

    solidarnosc movement -> closed dockyard ,thousends lost their jobs ! so why did the stupid Walesa and 10.000.000 other Poles fight in the 80s ?

    The Poles are maybe the most stupid people in the world !!! Is it that what you wanted to say ?

    So in your opinion it is better not to do anything because the effects may be unpredictable ? Maybe the Poles should stop their “stupid romanticism” and act like North Coreans ? or like Germans under the Nazis ? just “wait and see” ?

  2. darthsida says:

    Lives of Poles (or, with foreigners come — lives of people in Poland) were, are and will be more important than life of Poland. That’s my opinion, love it or leave it. That’s why Wokulski rules, for instance.

    Said that, I don’t claim that if you’re prudent enough you can escape any calamity you want. I simply say: stay focused on what’s important. And it’s important to survice. So yeah, the Soviet system was meant to darken our times anyway, probably. But why make it easier?

    In fact, when you start up a thing as ghastly as Warsaw Uprising 1944, the effects are pretty predictible: you’re gonna die, as will your city. I don’t know how North Koreans act, they don’t mail me. But I did notice China’s turning from their orthodox version of Communism to one that’s more business-friendly, hell, I’d call it Capitalist, if it was not a blasphemy.

    Ask Czechs if it’s better not do anything. Ask Yugoslavs if there could be another way of doing something. I can understand Polish hunger for the Polish state. But what would you need a state that’s got empty as its citizens get butchered?

  3. guest says:

    1. The Warsaw uprising effects were not predictible ,because it was not predictible that the Russians stop on the other side of the Vistula river…

    2. “Lives of Poles were, are and will be more important than life of Poland.”

    what kind of lives ? as a slave like in 1939-45 or 80s ? If you do not have a country you are treated like a slave. And sooner o later every person with at lest 5% pride will not accept such a “live” …Just look how the people in Israel fight and die for their country.

    3. “Ask Czechs if it’s better not do anything”.

    Czech Republic (Switzerland and other “neutral” coutries) is a country without soul. The Czechs are like zombies and Prague is like Disneyland. Nice to visit them on a weekend trip but that’s it…like a princess living a golden cage.

  4. darthsida says:

    “Slave”? That’s a curious notion. You can say you’re in a free state but still a slave to some economic dogmas. (Think Cuba. If too shy to think Poland.) So, there are slaves to systems that lack alternatives, lack perspectives, lack knowledge, or simply lack water and food (though the borders of their countries are not harmed). Freedom is a many-worded thing.

    But if you still want me to generalise, here it be: Remember Matrix? I’m with Cypher and Neo sucks. Czechs are cool, White Zombie rules, and I’ll leave the category of “country’s soul” to Johnny Cash and Dolly Partion.

    If you had to choose: your family or your sheriff – for whom would you die? People were willing to die for Poland, because they saw Poland as their national-scale Mother, not as their national-scale Sheriif. Start thinking Poland is not some uber-member of the family, and be on the right track. The state is there for me, not me for the state. As long as I pay taxes, I’m gonna ask what my country can do for me (so yes, up yours, Mr Kennedy). Louis XIV of France said “I am the State”. He was right there. He was wrong where he thought his subjects are not the State(s) as well.

    And please don’t start with “the people in Israel fight and die for their country” because that’s, actually, laughable.

  5. Pawel says:

    Very interesting post,
    glad to see a post proving that not all Poles are the same, and not all submit to the obligatory national myth
    What you write is in contradiction to the official interpretation of history, which many Poles hold dear, and which many English-speakers are likely to hear about. Reading your post they’ll see there is more then one Polish point of view

    Yet, who of the English speakers know history?;))

  6. some dude says:

    It’s better to die standing than to live on your knees. This point of view is as valid as any other. A man has to have *something* to live or die for, whether it’s your family, your motherland or the idea of one Reich.

  7. darthsida says:

    Well. And it’s better to live standing than to die on your knees. This saying is as catchy as some 18th century Mexican bulldrop repeated by folks who think it takes more courage to die than to live in front of oppression and terror.

    To die for an idea is interesting, from the memetic point of view. But for what would one need (the idea of) a state? What are aims, purposes, reason of any state – not just Poland? If it should be, well, about being some Mother who tells her children to die, then screw her, pardon me Oedipus complex.

  8. darthsida says:

    => re: Saratoga

    Guest, have you seen the Wiki entry of “Battle of Saratoga” recently?
    Are we making history here?
    Whatever. Kosciuszko, added a day ago, late on 26 February, he needs some re-editing. He’s mated with Horatio Gates now.

  9. some dude says:

    Are we discussing states or ideas? States are something normal, something imperfect. The idea of Poland, independent and free, is an idea, here defined as ‘something to achieve’. You don’t live or die for say, presidential republic with unclear constitution, but for the place you hold dear. When Pan Wiesiek thinks of Poland he sees his home city, some landmarks, Battle of Grunwald, etc. It’s pretty much personal and abstract.

  10. darthsida says:

    Thanks for that comment, some dude. This post is originally about Polish defeats, and here extends to: What are reasons to fight (possibly, die)?

    In wars, you can play smart or play stupid. Any war which we lose (though we win some battles on our way) will be called stupid. How else? To lose your life in a stupid war is stupid, of course, no matter how smarts your tactics should be.

    Make another division yet: offensive / defensive [otherwise unjust / just] wars. Let’s put aside things like Saratoga (an individual Kościuszko’s idea, no Polishness in / to it). Now, Moscow was unjust and wise (turned stupid). Vienna was unjust and stupid. Monte Cassino: it was just (and wise) to fight Germany, it was unjust (and stupid) to do it there.

    “States or ideas”? There’s no ‘or’. States are ideas by definition. You can’t touch your state. You can touch your sheriff – and only if he likes that. In a defensive war, we (conscripts) fight for the state as the state tells us to. It’s nothing wrong, I guess, as long as you think that by fighting for the state (large national scale), you fight for your family, neighbours (the only right scale). But then comes my question, what to choose, theoretically:
    A) fight for your state but lose your family (including yourself)
    B) not lose your family (or lose fewer of it) but lose your state
    I say to always choose B.

    Remembering that “state” should mean country-scale bureaucracy, general tax distributor, overall office, but never Grand Holy Polehood, Motherhood, Fatherhood, Christianhood or such.

  11. guest says:

    “In wars, you can play smart or play stupid.” is not true because you can not predict the future and “play smart” when you start a war.

    The only so called “smart” persons are some historicans who judge now many years later who was stupid and who was smart…

    And this is pure arrogant crap if you say for example:

    “Sobieski was stupid because some years later Austria divided Poland”

    “Walesa was stupid because many workers lost their jobs or even lives”

    and on the other side

    “The nazis were great and smart because Germany got the marshall plan after 45”

    “Stalin was great an smart because Russia got land, artworks ,machines and so on…”

  12. guest says:

    A) fight for your state but lose your family (including yourself)
    B) not lose your family (or lose fewer of it) but lose your state
    I say to always choose B.

    …and what about ?

    C) fight for your state or you will lose your family sooner o later.

    Because THAT was the reality in Poland.

    Auschwitz was made for Poles my dear. The jews came later to this place.
    And KATYN is everything but not B)….

  13. darthsida says:

    Guest, thanks, I get your point.

    1. But: as you can’t say a war will go on stupid, you equally can’t say it will go on smart. So why start a war if you’re not sure if it will be wisely done. You make your decisions as you watch the war scenario put to life — and you adapt to changes. A wrong businessplan may be stupid, but not changing a wrong businessplan when you know it can’t work is stupid. Plus, there are things stupid before you start them, Warsaw 44.

    2. Nazis were not great, Sobieski was not great, Stalin was not great — as they went for offensive (unjust) fights. We can discuss it though it’d go too far from the original subject of the post. In short, I can generalize that I see any offensive war stupid: starting a war, you make it likely that offensive army suffers losses, defensive army suffers losses, and all that in the name of changing borders of the idea called “it’s my state from here to there”. (Or it’s about the meme of money usually.)

  14. darthsida says:

    Guest, the other comment:
    Before we discuss C’s, D’s or X’s, answer my question please: A or B?

  15. guest says:

    The Sobieski fight was not offensive. 90% of Polish fights were not offensive.

  16. guest says:

    of course B. But that was not Polish reality. Polish reality was C.

    The reality is that if you lose your state ,sooner o later you lose your dignity and then your life…for example in the Bieszczady mountains like the tchechen girls or in northern Iraq like the kurds….or like the drunk indians in US reservates…

    Own state is not only ybout “taxes” .It is about human rights….language ,education ,culture… = REAL LIFE and not just “existence”.

  17. darthsida says:

    90%? And how did you manage to calculate this?

    Sobieski, born near Lvov. and fighting against Kmelnystky was not offensive? And in what land is Chocim? And fights in Ruthenia count as fights in Poland? And Vienna counts as a pre-emptive strike or what? Well. I suspect when you think of the then “Poland”, you count in Ukrainians, Ruthenians, Lithuanians, Silesians, whoever you seem fit, but you don’t ask them if they want to be counted as Poles. And more, you’re talking about szlachta – the nobles, who were what, 10% of the population?

    And as far as smartness goes: even Wiki has it, quote: “As a diplomat, Sobieski envisioned an alliance of Poland with France and the Ottomans against the Austrian empire and Brandenburg.” So, he had his vision. And then he went to fight Turks and help Austria? Now if that’s not plain stupid, how would you call it? Alternative you have is: Vienna was smart. But then marrying a French lady was stupid.

  18. darthsida says:

    Guest, thank you for the “of course” in your “of course B”. For some people the answer is not so obvious. I’d like to quote your “of course” anytime we see A or B alternative.

    And: “state is not about taxes” – but when?
    Today? Of course it is all about taxes.
    Then? Well, I suppose we could draw some shaky time-line when military wars were replaced by economic wars. But even if you want to talk about history: you know what Boston Tea Party was about, do you.

  19. Tom Humes says:

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Tom Humes

  20. […] writes about Polish victories and defeats, dispels the myth of Poland's poverty – here and here – and the myth of excessive drinking in […]

  21. […] history of odd inventions, even not Polish ones (hear ye wings of hussars?). Romantic about their defeats — with swords — or scythes — or charity boxes in hand — united they stand, […]

  22. […] national hero. Insurrected against Russia in Poland, leading nobles and peasants alike, sorely defeated, Sworn allegiance to the Russian tzar, emigrated to USA, then to Paris, died in Switzerland. Did […]

  23. […] a great victory because there is at least one Pole who sees it as a defeat but you’d have to ask him for the […]

  24. […] Defeats that make Polish people angry The Battle of Warsaw (1920) was a victory – but that’s why it’s called a miracle. […]

  25. […] 0:55-02:55.) It does not matter you’re defeated, it matters how you sustain your defeats, Poles will often think. “Blow wind, come, wrack! At least we’ll die with harness on our […]

  26. passingby says:

    Your arguments allow to portrait everything as a lost battle/war.
    Alexander the Great? Just a loser. Macedonia is now a small country in Europe, smaller than the country Philip II left for Alexander.
    Napoleon Bonaparte? Well, France was conquered by Hitler, so Napoleon was also a loser.
    Roman emperors? Where’s Roman Empire now?

    Greater Poland Uprising of 1806 – if the aim’s to regain independence in the long run, Poland was defeated. If the aim’s to send Polish soldiers to their deaths for the country that eventually will betray Poland, be my guest, call it a victory.

    Greater Poland Uprising (1918–1919) and Third Silesian Uprising – if the aim’s to enrage Germans and give Hitler more reasons to invade Poland, great victory.

    And so on.

    “It’s Polish to win a battle and lose a war.”
    Your definitions of “war” are strange then.
    Battle of Tanneberg was decisive to the outcome of the war, won by Poland and Lithuania. But if You consider it a loss, since the Ordensstaat wasn’t wiped out of the map or the terms negotiated weren’t good enough, then almost every war is lost. Teutonic Order’s power was broken forever, Poland has gained territory and large amount of money… sure, the victory wasn’t forged into better terms of peace treaty, but it was clear who won this war.

    Vienna – “The battle marked the turning point in the 300-year struggle between the forces of the Central European kingdoms and the Ottoman Empire.”. But the war was lost because of something that happened a century later…

    Monte Cassino – the battle was won, the war also eventually… but it was somehow lost because Poland was betrayed…

    Moscow – OK, this is a good example of won battle, but war ended maybe not by loss, but a Pyrrhic victory.

    So what should Poles do to be win the war, not the battle? Take over the whole world and polonize everyone?

  27. darthsida says:


    you are right — we can’t prophesize what is going to be. (And so judge “Is is reasonable to save Vienna, the capital of Poland’s future partitioner?”)
    But given 20:20 hindsight, we can say what *was* reasonable in the past.
    So I have no problem with Sobieski calling his Vienna battle a victory. I have problem with calling it a victory *today*.

    Another point to make is: do people fight for their own profit and sake — or in the name of something called ‘country / nation / race / religion’. I am not sure if Poznań / Silesian insurgents were fighting for their houses or for some misjudged concept of “homeland / motherland / Poland” (and yes, it can be labelled ‘misdjudged’ in our time, not necessarily theirs).

  28. […] USA, guest wha’ and war Tags: cars, Polish soldiers, Polish thinking, Ukraine Defeats that make Polish people angry. How to beat ‘em before they know what hit […]

  29. Anonymous says:

    you are a very angry boy
    may i prupose that you were molested when you where a child?

  30. Dawid says:

    Some interpretations sound quite peculiar for me. The Battle of Warsaw was called a Miracle by political opponents of the commander-in-chief Jozef Pilsudski because they did not want him to be glorified. Tannenberg undermined the power of the Teutonic Knights who had “cause trouble” in the region for far too long. As for Vienna, what you do is simple reading history bacwards. Etc., etc. I suggest rethinking some aspects of your interpretations sine ira et studio.

  31. Adam says:

    Hi everyone, im Adam, im 20 and im British.My grandfather was Polish making me 1/4 Polish, and all I know is that I am as proud of that 1/4 of me as the rest. Poland has had her victories and defeats. I think her true victory is that even if you have a trace of Polish blood in you, you feel proud to come from such a people. Its true Poland has been delt some horrible turns by many nations throught the last century but as long as there is 1 person left with Polish blood in them, that is Polands victory. I know this is a very romantic idea but isnt God such an idea? I would rather believe in something or someone i can see such as Poland than a God.

    I am Proud decendent of a Pole

    thank you for you time

  32. Anonymous says:

    are you people retarded?
    the damn reason Poland lost so many fucking wars was because they were betrayed so many times! im not even polish and I know this! Look at ww2, poland was invaded by the nazis, they fought and held them off for 2 months at Westerplatte, and when the 15 day treaty period for help from England and France started, they NEVER showd up. They said that they didnt wanna get their hands dirty. And then, after the war was over, (poland being an ally victorious nation) they were sold to the Russians, even though the post war treaty entitled them to “Freedom from Further Occupation by any Country.” and then came the 50+ years of communism.

    You people are such losers. Show your damn face, maybe, too. Making a WHOLE SITE dedicated to hating polaks? are you stupid? are you? ARE YOU?
    Do something productive. If you hate them so much, tell them to their face, not through an internet site.
    Whoever made this site probably got their ass whoooped by a polak in 2nd grade and still cant get over it. Still holding a grudge, eh?
    You stupid, cowardly son- of – a bitches.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: