Herbert Hoover: Friend of Poland

Review of Herbert Hoover and Poland, by George J. Lerski. 1977. Hoover Institution Press, California.
Reviewer: Mr. Jan Peczkis
On Polonophile Herbert Hoover. Insights into Capitalists Supporting Communists
This work details some of the deeds Herbert Hoover did for Poland. The reader soon realizes that they included both charitable and political acts, and were part of a long-term Poland-Hoover friendship.
Around 1918-1920, Poles were accused of conducting massive pogroms against Jews. Hoover was the one who prompted Paderewski to contact President Wilson about appointing a commission to travel to Poland and investigate the matter. The commissions found that the attacks on Jews were unorganized acts of individuals, acting in an environment of poverty and war, with about 280 Jewish fatalities [not tens of thousands]. Lerski comments: “The two other commissioners, in their conclusions of October 31, blamed both sides: ‘Some representatives of the Jewish national movement who have been conspicuously active refuse to subordinate the Jewish question to the general need of the Polish state.’ On the other hand, they added, the National Democratic Party [Endecks] had been involved in anti-Semitic propaganda.” (p. 16).
During the interwar era, Hoover played a major role in organizing charitable aid to Poland. This included the combatting of typhus outbreaks in Poland. Hoover was especially touched by the letters of gratitude from Polish children, and some of them reciprocated Hoover’s charity by sending aid to the 1927 victims of Mississippi River floods.
When in Poland, Hoover was honored: “Hoover received numerous accolades from the Polish people. Honorary doctorates were given to him by the University of Krakow (medicine) in 1919, the University of Warsaw (law) in 1921, and University of Lwow (law) in 1922.” (p. 28).
Although an isolationist at the beginning of WWII, Hoover was neither a pacifist nor defeatist. Long before Yalta, Hoover sensed FDR’s sycophant attitude towards the USSR and condemned it. Lerski writes: “Ever since his initial opposition to the recognition of Communist Russia, Hoover had been consistently anti-Soviet and was particularly annoyed with Stalin’s duplicity in the case of Poland, Finland, and the Baltic States. In an article, ‘Russian Misadventure’, originally published in the April 27, 1940 issue of COLLIERS, Hoover directly attacked President Roosevelt’s policy toward the USSR and the cupidity of American businessmen in their indiscriminate sales to the Communist aggressor country (Document 34).” (p. 47). [The latter is interesting because we often hear about the capitalists who supported the Nazis but very rarely about the capitalists who supported the Communists.]
Poland had a true friend in Herbert Hoover. Would there have been more western politicians like him! How would Poland’s history have been different had President Herbert Hoover, and not FDR, been the one dealing with Stalin over Poland’s postwar fate?

By piotrbein


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