In their spring issue (April, 2014), Polish American Studies, which is issued by the Polish American Historical Association, published an article by a doctoral candidate at the Jagellonian University, Paweł Markiewicz, which is entitled
Previously Unknown Soviet Documents and Polish Americans During World War II
A most striking title and since Reverend Orlemanski has been a subtopic of my research (worked in archives in Washington, DC; Boston, MA and Rome, IT) and its quasi-abstract reads most attractively (vide below), I raced to read the material
This article presents two previously unknown Soviet archival documents. The first deals with the visit of Fr. Stanislaw Orlemanski, a pro-Soviet Polish-American Catholic priest to Moscow and his meeting with Stalin. This article presents two previously unknown Soviet archival documents. The first deals with the visit of Fr. Stanislaw Orlemanski, a pro-Soviet Polish-American Catholic priest to Moscow and his meeting with Stalin.
If only the author had fulfilled his sales pitch, if only this had been unknown material, there would not be a need to write this note.
There have been previous comments in this blog, on material which has appeared under the imprimatur of a university, and which is available on the internet and contains errors or misstatements of fact. In each case the institution has been approached and asked to amend/ correct/ remove the material from their webpage. In an age where materials appear throughout the world, it is imperative that scholars be peer reviewed. It is for that reason that this author is grateful for the criticism, advice, comments and suggestions - primarily of Professor Anna Cienciala as well as Professor Wojciech Materski, and to numerous others, some scholars, some not – many of whom have simply asked a question be it about a document or about a conclusion… even in writing a blog, one needs to be conscientiously precise.
In this case, the material appeared in print in a small press run, however, the damage is that it has also appeared on a website called academia.edu (join 12,000,000) and thus enters into ‘facto-mythology’ as real history. Seemingly well written, with a number of footnotes, of course referring to work by various members of PAHA, it omits discussion of a major work, published in 2003, which completely counters the title. In this case, as opposed to the Vanderbilt University case, I publish the author’s name since he is a doctoral candidate and thus expected to be “held to a higher standard”.
The premise of a scholarly publication is that it presents research and allows for an open discussion between researchers and scholars. I therefore approached the editor of Polish American Studies, Dr. James Pula and submitted a letter to the editor in which misstatements were noted and corrections including appropriate references were included. Dr. Pula responded that the “article” would not be published. This refusal means that an entire generation of readers who find this material on the web will be misled.
In light of that it is necessary, as it has been earlier, to publish a commentary on this article which is flawed and not properly documented – specifically in one of its main assertions. The study of the Stalinist period is complex enough, and when documentation appears, it must be meticulous, not sloppy. Declarations of fact must be precise and footnoted, not simply put in print.
The letter follows – and if there is documentation for the main assertion – the author is asked - please present it!