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Polish Americans In Chicago During World War Ii Historigraphy

1779 words - 8 pages

Many Polish immigrants during the 1800's and early 1900's left Poland because "occupied, disremembered, and economically backward, Poland held little hope for the future except economic stagnation in an overcrowded population center." Poles fled their motherland in search of a better lease on life and "America offered the poorer Polish classes the possibility of a more accelerated pace of advancement than in the old country." Though Polish immigrants came to America to better themselves, they left their way of life overseas. Many Poles were overcome by homesickness, "endured nativist opposition, and acclimate themselves to a society composed of diverse ethnic and religious groups." To deal with the culture shock, "in Chicago, particularly, the Polish churches have fostered the development of 'citizens clubs.'" These citizen clubs were primarily in cities in America. Polish Americans created organizations for a number of reasons such as: helping them get jobs, retaining their heritage as Polish people, and assisting them to successfully integrate into American society. Polish immigrants formed these clubs with the help of parishes in America, to help deal with social and labor issues they were facing. These groups helped "the communal response, they established small inward-looking communities that fostered stability and strength..." Citizen clubs in Chicago during World War II were important because they helped understand the strife Poles were facing.
Polish Americans in Chicago during World War II battled constant issues from immigration to labor. Social historians since the 1960s have been trying to understand the social and labor strife Poles faced and why organizations were key in Polish American society. Social and labor strife amongst Polish immigrants during World War II has created many books, articles, and essay about how Poles created organizations to deal with these issues. Over time, each historian who has handled the topic has added their own unique interpretation to how Polish Americans in Chicago during World War II joined or created groups to deal with social and labor issues. Overall, though, with one key exception, historians have tended to claim groups were a means to repair the damage psyche, rather than, be used for political agendas.
A founding approach to groups being used as a means to repair the damage Polish psyche is Joseph Wytrwal. In Wytrwal's monograph, America's Polish Heritage: a Social History of Poles in America, in 1961, his analysis of the social history of Polish Americans offers the perception that these communities were created to help mend the fractured Polish psyche, because "without the influence that had formerly governed his life, he found it enormously difficult to adjust to his new surroundings." The community network helped Poles through the integration process in America, for it allowed them to take part in the "melting pot." In compiling his work, Wytrwal used the Polish National Alliance...

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