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The Catholic 1968: Poland, Social Justice, and the Global Cold War

  • Piotr H. Kosicki

Abstract

In the 1960s, the Catholic Church underwent a revolution in the teaching and practice of its faith, known as aggiornamento. Catholics responded by pioneering new forms of agency in world affairs in the Global Sixties. This was a cross-Iron Curtain story, affecting communist and non-communist countries in Europe, as well as developing countries across the world – a story of transfers and encounters unfolding simultaneously along multiple geographical axes: “East-West,” “North-South,” and “East-South.” The narrative anchor for this story is the year 1968. This article explores the seminal role of east European Catholics in this story, focusing on Polish Catholic intellectuals as they wrote and rewrote global narratives of political economy and sexual politics. A global Catholic conversation on international development stalled as sexual politics reinforced Cold War and post-colonial divisions, with the Second and Third Worlds joining forces against First World critics of a new papal teaching on contraception, Humanae Vitae. Paradoxically, the Soviet Bloc became the prism through which the Catholic Church refracted a new vision of international development for the Third World.

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Footnotes

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My sincere thanks to Theodora Dragostinova, Małgorzata Fidelis, and Harriet Murav for soliciting this publication and offering extensive feedback throughout the revision process, and to the two diligent and dedicated anonymous readers for Slavic Review. For their input on earlier drafts of this text, I thank also James Chappel, Nicholas Levy, Hugh McLeod, Norman Naimark, and Molly Pucci. Finally, my thanks to Paul Dembiński and Bernard Margueritte for their testimony.

Footnotes

References

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1. O’Malley, John W., What Happened at Vatican II (Cambridge, Mass., 2008); Alberigo, Giuseppe, “Preface: 1965–1995: Thirty Years after Vatican II,” in Alberigo, Giuseppe and Komonchak, Joseph A., eds., History of Vatican II, Vol. I (Maryknoll, NY, 1995), xii.

2. DeGroot, Gerard J., The Sixties Unplugged: A Kaleidoscope History of a Disorderly Decade (Cambridge, Mass., 2008).

3. Horn, Gerd-Rainer, The Spirit of ’68: Rebellion in Western Europe and North America, 1956–1976 (New York, 2007), 2. See also, e.g., Marwick, Arthur, The Sixties: Cultural Revolution in Britain, France, Italy, and the United States, c. 1958–1974 (New York, 1998); Kurlansky, Mark, 1968: The Year That Rocked the World (New York, 2004).

4. Gorsuch, Anne E. and Koenker, Diane P., eds., The Socialist Sixties: Crossing Borders in the Second World (Bloomington, 2013).

5. Gildea, Robert, Mark, James, and Warring, Anette, eds., Europe’s 1968: Voices of Revolt (New York, 2013).

6. Sołtan, Karol Edward, “The Divided Spirit of the Sixties,” in Tismaneanu, Vladimir, ed., Promises of 1968: Crisis, Illusion, and Utopia (Budapest, 2011), 131–56.

7. On “entangled history,” see Kaelble, Hartmut, “Between Comparison and Transfers—and What Now? A French-German Debate,” in Haupt, Heinz-Gerhard and Kocka, Jürgen, eds., Comparative and Transnational History: Central European Approaches and New Perspectives (New York, 2009), 3338; on the global Cold War, see Westad, Odd Arne, The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times (Cambridge, Eng., 2005).

8. Mark, James and Apor, Péter, “Socialism Goes Global: Decolonization and the Making of a New Culture of Internationalism in Socialist Hungary, 1956–1989,” Journal of Modern History 87, no. 4 (2015): 855.

9. Engerman, David C., “The Second World’s Third World,” Kritika: Explorations of Russian and Eurasian History 12, no. 1 (Winter 2011): 183211.

10. Sauvy, Alfred, “Trois mondes: Une planète,” L’Observateur no. 118 (August 14, 1952).

11. Jonathan Rigg, for example, argues, “the addition of the word ‘global’ makes it clear that this is not a strict geographical categorization of the world but one based on economic inequalities which happens to have some cartographic coherence. It also emphasizes that both North and South are, together, drawn into global processes rather than existing as separate slices of the world,” Rigg, Jonathan, An Everyday Geography of the Global South (London, 2007), 3.

12. Brown, Callum G., Religion and the Demographic Revolution: Women and Secularization in Canada, Ireland, UK, and USA since the 1960s (Woodbridge, UK, 2012), 29.

13. The classic formulation of the “entangled history” approach is Conrad, Sebastian, Randeria, Shalini, and Sutterlüty, Beate, Jenseits des Eurozentrismus: Postkoloniale Perspektiven in den Geschichts- und Kulturwissenschaften (Frankfurt, 2002).

14. Jedlicki, Jerzy, A Suburb of Europe: Nineteenth-Century Polish Approaches to Western Civilization (Budapest, 1999), 173292; Kosicki, Piotr H., Personalizm po polsku: Francuskie korzenie polskiej inteligencji katolickiej, trans. Giebułtowski, Jerzy (Warsaw, 2016), 3435.

15. On Iron Curtain crossings, see David-Fox, Michael, “The Iron Curtain as Semi-Permeable Membrane: The Origins and Demise of the Stalinist Superiority Complex,” in Babiracki, Patryk and Zimmer, Kenyon, eds., Cold War Crossings: International Travel and Exchange across the Soviet Bloc, 1940s–1960s (College Station, TX, 2014), 1439; Mikkonen, Simo and Koivunen, Pia, eds., Beyond the Divide: Entangled Histories of Cold War Europe (New York, 2015).

16. On Polish Catholics’ long history of entanglement with the social question, see Kosicki, Piotr H., Catholics on the Barricades: Poland, France, and “Revolution,” 1891–1956 (New Haven, CT, 2018).

17. Pope Pius XII originally coined the term. See Luxmoore, Jonathan and Babiuch, Jolanta, The Vatican and the Red Flag: The Struggle for the Soul of Eastern Europe (London, 1999), 103; Kosicki, Piotr H., “Introduction,” in Kosicki, Piotr H., ed., Vatican II behind the Iron Curtain (Washington, DC, 2016), 45.

18. Brzeziński, Zbigniew K., The Soviet Bloc: Unity and Conflict, 2nd ed. (Cambridge, Mass., 1967 [1960]); for an important corrective, see Fidelis, Małgorzata, Women, Communism, and Industrialization in Postwar Poland (New York, 2010), 15.

19. Kenney, Padraic, Rebuilding Poland: Workers and Communists, 1945–1950 (Ithaca, NY, 1997), 336.

20. See the essays in Kosicki (ed), Vatican II behind the Iron Curtain.

21. See Kosicki, Piotr H., “Caritas across the Iron Curtain? Polish-German Reconciliation and the Bishops’ Letter of 1965,” East European Politics and Societies 23, no. 2 (May 2009): 213–43.

22. Fleming, Michael, Communism, Nationalism, and Ethnicity in Poland, 1944–50 (London, 2010); Kosicki, Catholics on the Barricades, 152–88, 257–302; Kunicki, Mikołaj Stanisław, Between the Brown and the Red: Nationalism, Catholicism, and Communism in Twentieth-Century Poland—The Politics of Bolesław Piasecki (Athens, OH, 2012), 77110.

23. On Gomułka’s return to power, see Machcewicz, Paweł, Rebellious Satellite: Poland, 1956, trans. Latynski, Maya (Washington, DC, 2009). On the genesis of Znak, see Friszke, Andrzej, Oaza na Kopernika: Klub Inteligencji Katolickiej, 1956–1989 (Warsaw, 1997); Christina Manetti, “Sign of the Times: The Znak Circle and Catholic Intellectual Engagement in Communist Poland, 1945–1976” (PhD diss., University of Washington, 1998), 140–262.

24. Dembiński, Ludwik, “The General Secretary ‘Who Came in From the Cold’,” in Trisconi, Michela, ed., Mémoires engagées / Memorias comprometidas / Memories of committed persons (Fribourg, Switz., 1997), 89–98, esp. at 94.

25. Mazowiecki, Tadeusz, “Mission et liberté des laïcs en pays socialiste,” in Hourdin, Georges, Mission et liberté des laïcs dans le monde (Paris, 1964), 33.

26. Hellman, John, Emmanuel Mounier and the New Catholic Left, 1930–1950 (Toronto, 1981); Kosicki, Catholics on the Barricades, 152–88, 257–302.

27. Jerzy Turowicz, “Światowy kongres prasy katolickiej,” Tygodnik Powszechny, September 8, 1957.

28. Mounier, Emmanuel, Révolution personnaliste et communautaire (Paris, 1935); Lestavel, Jean, “La Vie Nouvelle”: Histoire d’un mouvement inclassable (Paris, 1994).

29. Mounier, Emmanuel, “L’ordre règne-t-il à Varsovie?Esprit, no. 6 (June 1946): 9701003; Kosicki, Catholics on the Barricades, 135–44.

30. Archives de la Province Dominicaine de France, Paris (hereafter APDF), André Cruiziat Papers, Box 104 (Pour découvrir les Nouvelles Solidarités Mondiales: Nos Voyages d’Études [1963]); APDF, André Cruiziat Papers, Box 104 (Constantin [Konstanty] Łubieński to André Cruiziat, November 8, 1963).

31. Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, March 26, 1967, at http://w2.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_26031967_populorum.html (last accessed June 28, 2018).

32. Paul VI, “Catholicam Christi Ecclesiam,” Acta Apostolicae Sedis no. 59 (1967): 27.

33. Cooper, Frederick, “Modernizing Bureaucrats, Backward Africans, and the Development Concept,” in Cooper, Frederick and Packard, Randall, eds., International Development and the Social Sciences: Essays on the History and Politics of Knowledge (Berkeley, 1997), 64.

34. Chamedes, Giuliana, “The Catholic Origins of Economic Development after World War II,” French Politics, Culture & Society 33, no. 2 (June 2015): 59.

35. Misner, Paul, Social Catholicism in Europe: From the Onset of Industrialization to the First World War (New York, 1991), 3.

36. Chappel, James, Catholic Modern: The Challenge of Totalitarianism and the Remaking of the Church (Cambridge, Mass., 2018), esp. 59–107, 227–60.

37. Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, March 26, 1967.

38. Escobar, Arturo, Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World (Princeton, 1995), 10; see also Sachs, Wolfgang, ed., The Development Dictionary: A Guide to Knowledge as Power (London, 1992).

39. Rahner, Karl, Theological Investigations, vol. V, trans. Kruger, Karl-H. (London, 1966), 115; Piotr H. Kosicki, “Vatican II and Poland,” in Kosicki, ed., Vatican II behind the Iron Curtain, 173–74.

40. Woźniakowski, Jacek, Laik w Rzymie i w Bombaju (Kraków, 1965), 229.

41. Felak, James Ramon, “Pope John Paul II, the Saints, and Communist Poland,” Catholic Historical Review 100, no. 3 (Summer 2014): 555–74.

42. “Schéma du Colloque Franco-Polonais Juillet 1968: Société—Participation—Développement” (March 1968), Archives Nationales du Monde du Travail (ANMT, Roubaix), 60AS179.

43. On Delfosse, see, e.g., Jadoulle, Jean-Louis, Chrétiens modernes? L’engagement des intellectuels catholiques “progressistes” belges de 1945 à 1958 (Louvain-la-Neuve, 2003).

44. See, e.g., Borovoy, Vitaly, “The Meaning of Catholicity,” The Ecumenical Review 16, no. 1 (1963): 2632; ANMT, 60AS179 (Micheline Benarous to Lucien Driot), December 2, 1965.

45. ANMT, 60AS179 (Schéma du Colloque Franco-Polonais Juillet 1968), 2.

46. As Vie Nouvelle’s international service director Lucien Driot explained in a letter to his Znak counterpart, the French encounter with Polish colleagues “would not be devoted solely to intellectual debate, but would indeed be complemented and illustrated by the study of Poland’s specific case and its principal dimensions of activity,” ANMT, 60AS179 (Lucien Driot to Wacław Auleytner), January 25, 1968.

47. ANMT, 60AS179 (Schéma du Colloque Franco-Polonais Juillet 1968), 2.

48. ANMT, 60AS179 (Schéma du Colloque Franco-Polonais Juillet 1968), 1, 3.

49. ANMT, 60AS179 (Voyage Pologne 13–31 juillet 1968: Liste des rencontres officielles), September 2, 1968.

50. Bernard Margueritte, “Les écrivains de Varsovie revendiquent le droit de participer à l’élaboration de la politique culturelle,” Le Monde, March 2, 1968.

51. Koropeckyj, Roman, Adam Mickiewicz: The Life of a Romantic (Ithaca, NY, 2008), esp. ix.

52. On the Polish student protests—Jerzy Eisler, March 1968 in Poland,” in Fink, Carole, Gassert, Philipp, and Junker, Detlef, eds., 1968: The World Transformed (Cambridge, Eng., 1998), 237–52. On the anti-Semitic purges—Dariusz Stola, Anti-Zionism as a Multipurpose Policy Instrument: The Anti-Zionist Campaign in Poland, 1967–1968,” in Herf, Jeffrey, ed., Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism in Historical Perspective: Convergence and Divergence (London, 2007), 159–85. On “socialism with a human face,” see Mlynař, Zdeněk and Gorbachev, Mikhail, Conversations with Gorbachev: On Perestroika, the Prague Spring, and the Crossroads of Socialism, trans. Shriver, George (New York, 2002).

53. On March 11, Zawieyski declared in the name of the five Znak MPs, “On March 8 and 9, protesting youth were beaten with incredible brutality, often in a manner endangering their lives. There were many reports of cruelty, including toward women. … The solution is not to suppress the demonstrations, but rather to avoid losing the ability to communicate with society,” Zawieyski, Jerzy, “Interpelacja Koła Posłów ‘Znak’ do premiera z 11 marca 1968 r. w związku z wystąpieniami studenckimi i brutalną interwencją milicji i ORMO,” in Friszke, Andrzej, Koło posłów ‘Znak’ w Sejmie PRL 1957–1976 (Warsaw, 2002), 488–89.

54. ANMT, 60AS179 (Marcel Borrel to Lucien Driot), April 20, 1968.

55. ANMT, 60AS141 (Rapport—Pologne 1968, April 1969).

56. ANMT, 60AS141 (Rapport—Pologne 1968), 51.

57. On the mutual misunderstandings of the ’68ers from Warsaw and Paris, see Berman, Paul, A Tale of Two Utopias: The Political Journey of the Generation of 1968 (New York, 1996); Michnik, Adam, Kouchner, Bernard, and Kurska, Jolanta, Rozmowy w Awinionie (Warsaw, 2014).

58. Sołtan, “The Divided Spirit of the Sixties,” 143–44.

59. Wilde, Melissa J., “How Culture Mattered at Vatican II: Collegiality Trumps Authority in the Council’s Social Movement Organizations,” American Sociological Review 69, no. 4 (August 2004): 577.

60. Chenaux, Philippe, Une Europe Vaticane? Entre le Plan Marshall et les Traités de Rome (Brussels, 1990), 6774; de Franch, Ramon Sugranyes, Die internationalen katholischen Organisationen (Aschaffenburg, 1972).

61. There are extensive files documenting east European academic participation in annual Pax Romana congresses—Warsaw even hosted one in 1927. See Archiwum Uniwersyteckie Katolickiego Uniwersytetu Lubelskiego Jana Pawła II (the Archives of the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin), Pax Romana File.

62. “O międzynarodowej współpracy katolików: rozmowa z Thomem Kerstiensem—sekretarzem generalnym Pax Romana MIIC,” Tygodnik Powszechny, October 12, 1958.

63. See also Kerstiens, Thom, The New Elite in Asia and Africa: A Comparative Study of Indonesia and Ghana (New York, 1966), 202–10, 233–36.

64. Polish activists belonging to the exiled Christian Labor Party (Stronnictwo Pracy) received funds from the Free Europe Committee to facilitate contacts between young Polish Catholic activists and west European counterparts, with an eye toward “training new cadres”: Archives of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America (New York), Karol Popiel Papers, Box 9.10 (Stanisław Gebhardt, “Sprawozdanie o sytuacji na emigracji przedstawione na Radzie SP na Wychodźstwie,” November 18–19, 1956); Kosicki, Piotr H., “Christian Democracy’s Global Cold War,” in Kosicki, Piotr H. and Łukasiewicz, Sławomir, eds., Christian Democracy across the Iron Curtain: Europe Redefined (London, 2018), 221–55.

65. Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford, CA, RFE/RL Inc. Corporate Records, Box 252.14 (Eugene L. Metz to George C. Minden, December 3, 1965).

66. Mazowiecki, “Mission et liberté des laïcs en pays socialiste,” 43.

67. See Dembiński, Ludwik, “Une expérience de formation et de recherche en relations internationales en Afrique,” Genève-Afrique/Geneva-Africa 18, no. 1 (1980); Dembiński, Ludwik, “Territory and the Development of International Law,” Annuaire Suisse de Droit International no. 21 (1975).

68. Dembiński, “The General Secretary ‘Who Came In from the Cold’,” 91–92; the Polish security apparatus’s account is at Archiwum Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej, Warsaw (hereafter AIPN), BU 01208/2603/J (Doniesienie agenturalne z dn. 9.XI.59 r. [Codename “Stefan”]).

69. Dembiński, “The General Secretary ‘Who Came In from the Cold’,” 91.

70. On these emerging elites, see Gifford, Paul, Christianity, Development, and Modernity in Africa (New York, 2016); Haynes, Jeffrey, Religion, Politics, and International Relations: Selected Essays (London, 2011), 5776.

71. Ludwik Dembiński, “Wielka szansa Kościoła,” Tygodnik Powszechny, August 20, 1958.

72. Fijałkowska, Barbara, Partia wobec religii i Kościoła w PRL, vol. I (Olsztyn, 1999), 95107.

73. AIPN BU 01208/2603/J (Tomasz Wawrzyniewicz, Notatka dot. dr Ludwika Dembińskiego i propozycji objęcia przez niego stanowiska sekretarza generalnego “Pax Romana,” October 6, 1966, 3). The final recommendation to the Politburo, written jointly by Wawrzyniewicz’s chief and the head of the Office of Confessional Affairs, is at AIPN BU 01208/2603/J (Stanisław Morawski and Aleksander Skarżyński, Notatka w sprawie propozycji objęcia przez Ludwika Dembińskiego stanowiska sekretarza generalnego “Pax Romana,” November 1966).

74. Morawski and Skarżyński wrote, “The assumption by L. Dembiński of the position of secretary-general of Pax Romana nonetheless retains the qualities of an experiment, as thus far few national-level Catholic activists have joined the ranks of the leaders of international Catholic organizations. It cannot be ruled out that this experiment might have negative consequences, specifically with respect to strengthening the position of the Znak milieu, both among Catholic organizations abroad and—what follows—with respect to tendencies toward aggressive social and political activism at home.” See Morawski and Skarżyński, “Notatka,” 3.

75. Dembiński, “The General Secretary ‘Who Came In from the Cold’,” 96.

76. See Carder, Michael, “A Family Quarrel? ‘Developmentalism’ or Family Planning,” Concerned Demography 4, no. 2 (Winter 1974): 312.

77. Brown, Religion and the Demographic Revolution, 127–71; Dupont, Wannes, “Catholics and Sexual Change in Flanders,” in Hekma, Gert and Giami, Alain, eds., Sexual Revolutions (New York, 2014), 8198.

78. Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, July 25, 1968, at http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_25071968_humanae-vitae_en.html (last accessed July 3, 2018).

79. Paul VI, Humanae Vitae.

80. Smith, Janet E., “Humanae Vitae”: A Generation Later (Washington, DC, 1991); McLeod, Hugh, The Religious Crisis of the 1960s (Oxford, 2007), 192–93.

81. Paul VI, Humanae Vitae.

82. Ibid.

83. Four Faces of Poverty: Economic, Social, Intellectual, Moral: Major Addresses, Preparatory Documents, Conclusions of Commissions, and Final Statements Presented to and Worked on by the 20th Plenary Assembly of the International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs (Pax Romana), held at St. Joseph’s College, Philadelphia, 21–26 August 1968 (Fribourg, Switz., 1969), mp2.

84. Dembiński, “The General Secretary ‘Who Came In from the Cold’,” 94.

85. See Kosicki, Catholics on the Barricades, 152–88. On the Catholic vanguard’s efforts to “decolonize itself,” see, e.g., Chamedes, “The Catholic Origins of International Development after World War II,” 59.

86. Pawel, Miriam, The Union of Their Dreams: Power, Hope, and Struggle in Cesar Chavez’s Farm Worker Movement (New York, 2009), 182–96.

87. See Chávez’s insistence that the Catholic Church support its Mexican-American constituents inter alia with “servanthood,” rather than “paternalism,” in a celebrated speech delivered a mere six months before his Pax Romana keynote. César E. Chávez, “The Mexican-American and the Church,” March 8, 1968, at http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/cesarchavezspeechmexicanamerican&church.htm (last accessed July 3, 2018).

88. Quoted in Philip Daniel, “Pax Romana in the U.S.A.,” The Tablet, September 14, 1968, 19. On this period in Chávez’s career, see Bardacke, Frank, Trampling Out the Vintage: Cesar Chavez and the Two Souls of the United Farm Workers (New York, 2011), 308–40.

89. Dembiński, “The General Secretary ‘Who Came In from the Cold’,” 95.

90. Kun, Miklós, Prague Spring, Prague Fall: Blank Spots of 1968, trans. Csatorday, Hajnalka (Budapest, 1999).

91. See Massa, Mark S., The American Catholic Revolution: How the Sixties Changed the Church Forever (New York, 2010), 6368.

92. AIPN BU 001136/467/J (Notatka ze spotkania z “Danielem” w dniu 28.IX.br., September 30, 1968, 1).

93. AIPN BU 01208/2603/J (Stenogram wywiadu udzielonego przez Ludwika Dembińskiego, działacza “Znak,” redaktorowi P.R. Góranowskiemu w dn. 20.XII.1966r. o godz. 20.20 w ramach cyklicznej audycji dot. problemów współczesności, 6).

94. See Stehle, Hansjakob, Eastern Politics of the Vatican 1917–1979, trans. Smith, Sandra (Athens, OH, 1980), 314–74; Cerny-Werner, Roland, Vatikanische Ostpolitik und die DDR (Göttingen, 2011).

95. McLeod, The Religious Crisis of the 1960s, 13.

96. Brown, Religion and the Demographic Revolution, 171.

97. McLeod, The Religious Crisis of the 1960s, 13.

98. Sigmund, Paul E., Liberation Theology at the Crossroads: Democracy or Revolution? (New York, 1992), 1439; Tischner, Józef, The Spirit of Solidarity, trans. Zaleski, Marek B. and Fiore, Benjamin (San Francisco, 1984); Kosicki, Catholics on the Barricades, 303–14.

99. Linden, Ian, Global Catholicism: Diversity and Change since Vatican II (New York, 2009); Kosicki, “Vatican II and Poland,” 174–79.

100. AIPN BU 001136/467/J (Notatka ze spotkania z “Danielem” w dniu 28.IX.br., September 30, 1968, 2).

101. Horn, Gerd-Rainer, The Spirit of Vatican II: Western European Progressive Catholicism in the Long Sixties (Oxford, 2015), 253–62.

102. See, e.g., Smith, Christian, The Emergence of Liberation Theology: Radical Religion and Social Movement Theory (Chicago, 1991), 222–33; Sigmund, Liberation Theology at the Crossroads, 154–75.

103. John Paul II, Laborem Exercens, September 14, 1981, at w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_14091981_laborem-exercens.html (last accessed July 3, 2018).

My sincere thanks to Theodora Dragostinova, Małgorzata Fidelis, and Harriet Murav for soliciting this publication and offering extensive feedback throughout the revision process, and to the two diligent and dedicated anonymous readers for Slavic Review. For their input on earlier drafts of this text, I thank also James Chappel, Nicholas Levy, Hugh McLeod, Norman Naimark, and Molly Pucci. Finally, my thanks to Paul Dembiński and Bernard Margueritte for their testimony.

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