chapter  14
Social and cultural change, 1918-39
Pages 22

In 1919 a young English official at the Peace Conference was talking to a great Polish aristocrat when the name of the pianist Paderewski, the first president of the new Polish Republic, was mentioned. ‘A very remarkable man’, said Count Potocki. ‘Do you realize that he was born in one of my own villages? And yet, when I speak to him, I have absolutely the impression of conversing with an equal.’1 The count’s surprise was natural. He, like many of his generation in eastern Europe, still accepted almost unquestioningly the assumptions and values of a hierarchical and agrarian order which the upheavals of the war had violently disturbed; by 1939 they would have been replaced almost everywhere by the assumptions of that market society which had already made such great strides before 1914 in ‘advanced’ countries.2