Poland

Polish women fell abortion ban

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The Polish government is terrified of women. Its efforts to introduce a total abortion ban have created a massive backlash with hundreds of thousands of people, mainly young women, demonstrating, taking days off and wearing black at school, college or work.

The draft law had proposed a prison term of up to five years for women who had an abortion.

Remembering Poland's hidden Jewish history

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The Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw

The opening of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw represents a milestone in confronting both the country's history and present day anti-Semitism, writes Andy Zebrowski.

Anti-Semitism remains the most common form of racism in Poland. The sweeping under the carpet of Jewish history is one aspect of this. The newly opened Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw is an important opportunity to remember the millions the Nazis murdered.

The museum is a splendid monument, majestic and architecturally interesting. It stands in the old Jewish area of Warsaw facing the monument to the Ghetto Heroes, where clashes between the Nazis and Jewish fighters took place during the Ghetto Uprising in 1943. But the museum deals with more than the Holocaust.

Poland's subversive cinema

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A popular joke in Soviet era Poland went something like this: "One day a pre-school teacher told her class, 'In Poland all kids are happy. They have lots of beautiful toys and live in great apartments...' Suddenly one child starts to cry and screams, 'I want to live in Poland!'"

Humour was one of the few ways of criticising the Stalinist regime. Another, much more powerful way was cinema.

This issue of Socialist Review looks at the political movements that brought down the Berlin Wall and state capitalist regimes across Eastern Europe. Throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s cinema played an important role in Polish society. Its impact was visual, direct and full of underlying messages designed to elude the state censors, subtly exposing life in a one-party state.

Double edged 'democracy'

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The people of Poland demanded democracy in 1989 - but 20 years on the economy is still controlled by a tiny elite.

Anniversaries do not always bring people the joy they expect. Last month was meant to have seen a celebration by Poland's rulers outside the shipyards in the city of Gdansk. It was to commemorate political changes in Poland and Hungary in the summer of 1989, which saw the first free elections for more than 40 years.

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