The Political Prisoner in the Twentieth Century: Honor and Resistance Across Seven Polish Regimes


ACLS Fellowship Program


Department of History

Named Award

ACLS/NEH International and Area Studies Fellow named award


In this first part of a larger project examining twentieth-century political prisoners in three countries (Poland, Ireland, and South Africa), I study the experience of those imprisoned by seven regimes in Poland: the Czarist repression after 1905; German occupation in World War One; the Sanacja regime of the 1930s; Soviet occupation, 1939-41; Nazi occupation; the Stalinist era; and martial law in the 1980s. I explore accommodation and resistance in the prison cell, the problem of prisoner identity, and the public roles states intended prisoners to play. I focus on the clash between state concepts of objective guilt and prisoner ideas of innocence, mediated through concepts of honor and (ideological) faith. I hope to show basic continuities across time and across the political spectrum, leading to an understanding of the place of the political prisoner in modern state-society relations.