Anna MachcewiczDec 15, 2021
Civility in Uncivil Times
Kazimierz Moczarski's Quiet Battle for Truth, from the Polish Underground to Stalinist Prison
Peter Lang 2020
In Civility in Uncivil Times: Kazimierz Moczarski’s Quiet Battle for Truth, from the Polish Underground to Stalinist Prison
(Peter Lang, 2020), Anna Machcewicz offers a powerful case study in the ethics and logistics of bearing witness in response to the two forces that brutalized Eastern Europe in the mid-twentieth century: Nazism and Stalinism. Civility in Uncivil Times is a biography of Kazimierz Moczarski (1907-1975), a Polish lawyer, journalist, and political prisoner. A major figure in the Polish Underground State in the final months of World War II, Moczarski is nonetheless best known for sharing a postwar Stalinist prison cell with SS general Jürgen Stroop, liquidator of the Warsaw Ghetto. After serving one of the longest prison terms in the history of communist Poland - eleven years - Moczarski reconstructed his conversations in forensic detail in a book published after his death under the title Conversations with an Executioner. Machcewicz’s book makes a major contribution to the scholarship on Stalinist political imprisonment, while also illuminating the possibilities for serious civic engagement in post-Stalinist societies.
Piotr H. Kosicki is Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is the author of Catholics on the Barricades (Yale, 2018) and editor, among others, of Political Exile in the Global Twentieth Century (with Wolfram Kaiser).