All that is important

A common feature of the hitherto presented war phrasebooks is that sixty or seventy years later these volumes were rare guests on the shelves of second-hand book stores – and those published in the Soviet Union were even quickly destroyed. Would you have believed that there is at least one, which has been in use for generations to learn language, right up until today?

The Polish phrasebook by István Varsányi is well known to Hungarian students of Polish. If you leaf through it until the list of sources on the last page, the first book and its year of publication will immediately strike your eye.

Wladysław Szabliński: Wszystko co ważne. Minden ami fontos (“All that is important”). Debrecen, Városi nyomda, 1940

My friend József Mudrák, who works at the University of Debrecen, shared with me accurate and interesting information on the author. Wladysław Szabliński vel Krawczyk was the Polish lector of the Tisza István University in Debrecen from the thirties. He was born in Warsaw on 7 December 1912. On 1 September 1935 he was already teaching at the university, and took an active part in the work of the summer university, too. He had an excellent command of Hungarian, many people only knew him as “Szablinski László”, and he had a Hungarian wife, Ágnes Juhász. The example sentences of his phrasebook make you understand why the Nazi cultural attaché demanded his dismissal in the summer of 1941. Of course, Szabliński was not fired by the university, he was allowed to stay, although in a different position, as a librarian, from February 1942.

RADIO / we listen to the radio / let us look for London / let us listen to what Budapest broadcasts

In February 1944 Professor Adorján Divéky (the former Hungarian lector of the Warsaw University and former director of the Hungarian Institute in Warsaw) proposed his renewed appointment as a lector, because “the Hungarian government for its own part still considers valid the Hungarian-Polish cultural convention”. However, one month later, after the German occupation of Hungary, this could not take place, and Szabliński coul dnot have written example sentences like the ones above without retaliation.

“Attention! The unauthorized possession or operation of any radio station – even VHF – is a crime, which will be judged by the summary court.”

“In terms of the decree of the government, listening to hostile or foreign radio stations is forbidden and severely punished”. Villám, 15 June 1944

Szabliński fulfilled his task as librarian until 17 June 1944.

After the above, you will not be surprised by the currency of the topics that he gave to his students.

WAR / the British government sent an ultimatum to the German government / the German government rejected the ultimatum / England declared war on Germany / the Germans invaded Poland without ultimatum / the technical superiority was on the German side / defense reports / our army is rapidly advancing

our troops repulsed the hostile attack / there is tranquility on the front / the enemy was lured into a trap / the French troops went on counterattack / the soldiers dug trenches and forced the taken positions / the German troops retreated to the previously chosen positions / the hostile troops fled in disorder / we have won the battle! / the enemy’s defeat is unavoidable / the Siegfried Line was broken through / an air attack was ordered against Warsaw / the anti-aircraft artillery shot down two planes / they dropped twenty bombs / the public buildings were bombed / the civilians suffered the most / they bombed the Red Cross hospital / we had ten casualties and forty-three wounded / the losses of the enemy are unknown / the troops encamped / the siege of Warsaw lasted nearly a month / the fort garison surrendered

A glorious alternative history unfolds from the example sentences of the book. Britain and France did not let down their ally in a shameful way, as they did in reality, but, as they previously agreed, they immediately attacked the German aggressor. Thus, Poland came out of the war as a winner.

Britain successfully continues his anti-submarine campaign / the resources of the enemy are exhausted / they signed an armistice / peace talks began / they made peace / the defeated enemy had to sign the peace treaty

The Hungarians also shed blood for their independence / now the fourth division of Poland took place / now the Poles took over the Hungarian watchword: no, no, never! / We won’t let ourselves!

One thing is sure: Wladysław Szabliński was a courageous person. Professor István Varsányi, whose life was also adventurous and would make a good movie, had a good reason to refer to this booklet as his source in the last page of his book. He was a courageous person, too: in May 1957, just a few months after the suppressed revolution of 1956, to explicitly refer to this volume as a source, which included, among others, the following two pages, meant no little risk. Perhaps he only wanted to commemorate Szabliński, but it is also possible, that, like Szabliński, he wanted to recall the disaster of downtrodden Hungary, and to remind readers that Poland could rise up from a much more difficult situation, and rebuild itself. Here is, therefore, an example showing that anything can succeed, nothing is impossible.

And this is all that is important.

Map of interwar Poland (maked in dots and, subsequently, in red, the Ribbentrop-Molotov line of 1939 dividing the country between the Nazis and the Soviets), and the borders of Hungary between the recapture of Subcarpathia (15 March 1939) and the Second Vienna Award (30 August 1940) – that is, in the period, when the little guide leads Sándor Török to the common Hungarian-Polish border.

The Anthem of Poland / “Poland is not yet lost, as long as we live!” / “Long live Poland!”

1 comentario:

MOCKBA dijo...

And on the day you published it, I saw another blog in another language about the fate of a boy who dreamed to play violin listening to Hungarian radio stations in Poland, and his long road to Buenos Aires, Havana, and Moscow...