Polish Intelligentsia in Nazi Concentration Camps and American Exile a Study of Values in Crisis Situations
|Author: ||Iwanska, Alicja|
Based on interviews carried out in Chicago in 1955 with Polish intellectuals who survived wartime internment in Nazi concentration camps and later emigrated for political reasons to the US. Contributes to the study of life in the camps, emigration and assimilation studies, and theoretical studies of values. It begins with a brilliant exegesis of the social origins and occupations of the pre-war Polish intelligentsia, and of their aspirations and way of life analyzed under the headings of personalism, patriotism, spiritual leadership, liberal education, social refinement, and lifestyle. It emerges that pre-war intellectual values proved stronger in the camps (where her informants managed to maintain their roles as spiritual leaders) than in the seemingly lesser ordeal of exile. In Chicago, where they found only factory or low-level clerical jobs, had no access to higher intellectual and cultural milieux, and were distrusted or ignored by the Poles of an earlier emigration, the old values were often irrelevant.