When I think of Poland, I think of tragedy. A country which has been intermittently independent, but more often under the thumb of one empire or another, Swedes, Germans and Russians to name just a few. Tragic because they sit smack in the middle of the east-west european invasion route and thus were ravaged in the Great War, again in the aftermath of the October Revolution (a little known war between USSR and Poland from 1919 – 1921), and soon after the dismemberment by both Nazi Germany AND The Soviet Union in 1939, the two Warsaw Uprisings (1943 and 1944) which left the city in ruins, and of course the soul-destroying years of the communist regimes. Poland lost the largest percentage of its citizens of any combatant nation during WWII.
And yet it survives. I somehow get the feeling that if this country could ever catch a break, they might wield considerable influence within europe – but then again the nature of tragedies is such that what can be imagined never comes to pass.