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It had more to do with cultural identity of Poles. Poland was historically Catholic (interestingly enough, the baptism of the first historical ruler of Poland was taken from a Czech bishop if I’m not mistaken), while their Eastern neighbours were mostly Orthodox and the Western ones (pre-Germans) became Protestant later on.
So it happened that in 1795 Poland was defeated and divided between Russian Empire, Prussia and Austria, and as I’ve mentioned Russians and Prussians weren’t exactly all Catholic. So being Catholic was one of traits that all Poles had, regardless if they were on the Prussian-occupied soil, or anywhere else. In the meantime, Polish national identity, which hadn’t really played any role before, started co crystallize. If you ever read
In 1918 Polish state was reborn, and through bloody wars and uprisings significant territories were taken from Russians, Germans, and Austro-Hungarians. Mind you these were times when red colour, sickes and hammers were very fashionable in Russia. Wars were waged until early 1920s, when the pre-WWII borders were established. These included buffer zones consisting of Western Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania (and some Latvia, I guess?) in case of Soviet attack, which was inevitable at some point in the future. Meanwhile, Nazis. I don’t think I have to comment on that. In general Poland was more or less ready to wage war with Soviet Union, but not with Germany. The outcome was obvious. Now the not-particulary-believing-in-God Nazis were busy exterminating people and the Soviets were busy taking over the Eastern part of the country, killing the people who didn’t really like, like the Polish army officers.
Now before the WWII started, most people were living in the countryside, where the local priest had a lot of influence over local matters, which becomes important now. The war ends, the borders are shifted to the West, the Nazi terror ends, seems like it’s going to be ok… Well, not really, Soviet occupation. After the war many people from the countryside moved to the cities, as they were being rebuilt and industry started working again. They were religious, like their families had been for ages. Now the Soviet puppets are telling them that they are going to be no God in the new socialistic reality. Of course it caused unrest, combine that with shitty economy, repressing, jailing, beating and murdering people and in 1980s you’ve got millions of workers who:
– are angry
– are necessary to keep the dying economy going
– mostly catholic
In the late 80s and early 90s an agreement was reached so that democracy is restored but the communists are mostly free to walk away. 25 years later, today, people are influenced by their religious parents, who were influenced by their religious parents and peers. Even if people don’t really believe in God if asked about their religion they are mostly going to answer Catholic, there are of course the people who were born after 1989, and they are really less religious than their parents(many of whom don’t even attend masses themselves, save for a few occasions a year)
Religiousness wasn’t only the workers trait in 1950s onward, though. If you look at the history books you’d see that there were two groups of people who contributed greatly to the fall of communism in Poland(or at least the two are the most represented, really) – workers and students. The situation was particularly interesting in Kraków, the city with many Universities and big ironworks built in the 50, where there were many clashes over building a church in the part of the city built for the ironworks workers. The Polish pope had also a big impact in Poland at the time, so if you are trying to talk about him, downplaying his role in the recent history of Poland is really discouraged.
Edit: The Polish Pope, John Paul II was the bishop of Kraków since 1964 until he became the pope in 1978. The unrests took place in 1960, when he was an auxiliary bishop.
Germans and Russians are not Catholic and they’ve been very naughty for the last few centuries