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Six Markets to Watch: Poland

From Tragedy to Triumph

Kiss and sell: Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Merkel in Berlin, November 2012. Thomas Peter/ Courtesy Reuters

Anyone who knows Polish history cannot help but marvel at the country’s emergence from the ashes of its traumatic past. Over the last 25 years, Poland, after centuries of war and subjugation, has enjoyed peace, a stable and booming economy, and integration with the rest of Europe.

An independent kingdom for the previous 800 years, in 1795, Poland was wiped off the map of Europe and absorbed into three great neighboring powers -- the Prussian, Russian, and Austro-Hungarian empires -- a state of affairs that lasted until 1918. Reborn following World War I, Poland spent a few short years as a democracy before proving ungovernable, succumbing to dictatorship, and then once again being conquered and divided, this time by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, in 1939. Over the next six years, Poland found itself at the center of what the historian Timothy Snyder has called the “bloodlands” of Europe; an estimated five million

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