Pics 1-4 are by Perkin Warbeck
GDANSK, but no DANZIG.
Linguistic issues have been to the bloody fore in the Land of Ire of late, much to the bafflement of the waffliing monoglot media in the Free Southern Stateen, the only remaining English-only member state of the EU. (And downright proud of it too, may one say ).
In Poland, they would treat this reaction as the ultimate Irish joke. And nowhere would the guffawing be delivered with more chutzpah than in the Baltic port of Gdansk. A notable city whose not so nondescript natives include the philosophic Schopenhauer, Lech Walesa, Gunter Grass (the Tin Drum is set there), and The Donald himself. The one called Tusk, not the one whose party (?) logo features an elephant.
An hour by bus to the east of the city is located the Concentration Camp of Stutthof. This camp has the dubious distinction of being the first such camp to be established outside Germany and the last to be liberated. In between 1939 and 1945 some 65,000 entered but did not exit, having ceased to exist.
Pic 1: Behind the entrance can be seen Der Kommandant’s des residence. With its back turned, not inappropriately, to his work environment, a Centre of Extermination Excellence, incorporating the Best Practice of Bergen-Belsen. This wasn’t the only thing the collective German back was turned on: Polish was not considered sufficiently snasta (polished) and so the barbaric Sztutowo was civilised to Stutthof. Much easier to kurry one’s kan of koka kolanisation to zat, mein Freund.
The Pest from the Past is still at play. Little wonder then that Poland as recently as last year introduced a law making it illegal to refer to ‘Polish Concentration Camps’. Even Barak Obama was prone to using such careless terminology and was obliged to apologise to the Polish President when the latter took exception.
(Cineál POisín i ndiaidh na bPrúiseach agus na Rúiseach, an cineál ruda sin.)
Pic 2: The Gate of Death / Geata an Bháis. For some reason, perhaps incomprehensible to the linguistic one-tune Yunes, on both sides of the Black Sow’s Dyke, the exclusive use of Stutthof is pointedly noticeable on each information board.
Pic 3: An hour by train to the south east of Gdansk is located the castle of Malbork. This has the lustre of being THE largest castle in the world, where land area is concerned. On the trip down, the ironing board-flat landscape, stretching to infinity on each side can only be intrerpeted through the medium of tedium with its virtual absence of farmhouses and other items of rustic furniture, including trees, . Yet it was prevented from provoking a yawn, as in the snowdusted fields, a classic drama was being played out. And of which the train-traveller only caught a fleeting preview: here a predatory fox on the stalk and there, a field or two further away, a petrification of four tan fawns.
During WW2 ole Onkel Adolf squatted in Malbork Castle and, as may be seen from the Pic, left the fortress in rather a worse condtion than when he found it. Leaving Matt the Thrasher qua tenant in the half-pfennig place. Who’d be a Landlord?
Pic 4: A poster in the Gdansk Central Railway Station of Jan Paderewski, President / Composer-Concert Pianist, with a strong Donegal connection, reminded one to hop on a train to the neigbhouring city of Gydnia. Which is located half an hour northwest along the Baltic, to check out a pub called Donegal, that, oddly, doesn’t retail Beer Conaill – yet. Turns out the owner is a Scot of Donegal dúchas. The former Polish President’s connection , incidenally, with that outlier county consists of his Grand Piano. Which had the stables of a lakeside country house there converted to a Music Room to accommodate said unique musical instrument. Peadar Eski, anyone?
In the US of A some decades ago the equivalent to the Irish joke in England and the Kerryman Joke in Ireland was the Polish joke. Indeed there was even a Canonical collection of Polish Jokes published. It ran into hundreds, one of which was:
-A Polish firing squad ? It stands in a circle.
So for sure, the firing squad in the Stonebreakers Yard in Kilmainham in 1916 was not a Polish one. Rather did that f.s. of khaki-clad chaps stand in a straight line parallel to the blindfolded, hog-tied blighters with their backs to the wall. Both lines had already inhabited a parallel universe.
One mentions this because Nationalism is currently receiving a baddish press from the fake news mainstream media, understandly so, perhaps, as they controlled by Financial Fakirs. As baddish even as, say, Nazism itself. In tandem with this the I-word has become obsolete. Imperialism (for it is it!) has been dropped from public discourse as much as the glass milk bottle itself, though with far more stealth. (Me too sez: Not unlike Misogyny and Misandry (?) ! )
Why then this conflation of Nationalism and Imperialism ? When in fact, they are polar, indeed, Polish opposites. Just as the chaps with the Lee Enfields in Kilmainham were the I’s agus na buachaillí with the rosary beads were the N’s so also were the goose-steppers with the swastikas in Stutthof the I’s and the shaven-headed skeletal figures in the striped p.j’s in Sztutowo, the Ns.
If that all proves too complicated for the monominded media, then let them try this for size: a pedestrian becomes a motorist once he sits in a car, inserts the key in the ignition and vrooms off. At this moment he ceases to be a pedestrian. So also with post-Nationalists who trespass on others’ property, with aggrandisment in mind: they instantly morph into Imperialists. It is not exactly Davy Crockett Science, which is all about recondite tenderfeet and covered wagons, that sorta thingy.
To conclude where one commenced: with Poland and points linguistic. The Canonical Book of Polish Jokes has now ceased publication. This happened last year when, in the knee-slapping pages of The Unionist Times, the chief resident sit-down comedian, whose catch prase is:
-FOT has you in FITS of laughter !
tolled the ULTIMATE joke of the Polish variety.
During the course of a four tablet dose entitled ‘The State of Us’ (Modest Moses was content with a dose of two tablets) that sullen bellringer of cultural gloom, Fintan O Toole (mar is é ata ann !) cracked wise with his trademark straight-laced, straight-faced, bedpan style, as follows:
–When it comes to our private speech – the stark fact is that an Irish person today is twice as likely to speak Polish as Irish.
It’s the way he knells ’em.
So, does this bizarre compulsion on the part of the Poles to express themselves in Polish render them in possession of the X-factor – Xenophobia – and all that entails, as the Liffeyside lingo jingoists would hold: ethnocentricity, blinkered mindset, racialism, exclusivism, parochial navel-gazing nationalism, fear of foreigners, chauvinism, and, of course, the sine qua non, the t-word itself : tribalism?
That is the quesion; this is the answer.
The stark fact is that the largest theatre in Gdansk is Theatrzk Szekspir / The Shakespeare Theatre, a vast, black, windowless cube of contemporary design, contagious to the Old Town where one can and did purchase a glossy paperback, entitled Romeo i Julia.
Julia: Romeo ! Czemuz ty jested Romeo ¬
Pokochaj Polska ! Up the Poles ! Let copulation thrive !
Cue: Sonny Brogan’s Mazurka.
PS Idir an dá linn, Dubh and Bán, tá polasaí an Rialtais in Áth Cliath i leith na Leipreacháinise do-aitheanta ó pholasaí an DUP. Dóibh siúd, ar a laghad, a bhfuil deacracht acu idirdhealú a dhéanamh idir mála láimhe de chraiceann crogaill agus mála láimhe de chraiceann ailigéadair. Gan dul i dtuilleamaí Google. Seans gurb é an cinneadh deireannach a dhéanfaidh Nua-Rannóg Goebbels na nGormléinte cois Life agus iad i mbun lámh ghlasra a shíneadh i dtreo na láimhe oráiste trasna Díog na Dubhchránach Muice ná Stutthof a déanamh den Sztutowo. Agus Rialtas Dhuibhlinne a dheabhéasú go………..Royaltas DUPlin.
Perkin Warbeck / An Pearcánach.