Labour and the Countryside: The Politics of Rural Britain 1918-1939 (Oxford Historical Monographs)
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Green was struck by this poignant image, illustrated by a photograph facing p. Green d. Pay, 24th Conference, , Blame was placed with the nature of rural society, in failing to allow a favourable setting for Labour politics, or arguably for politics of any description. Politics was simply not as advanced or as well followed as in the towns.
Voters reputedly misunderstood the whole process of elections, returning with their voting slips as proof that they had voted. Bennett, Problems of Village Life  , Daily Herald, 21 May A great many voters, especially farm labourers, have doubts about this. They are in terror of their landlords or employers. But that secrecy is certain they may rest assured. Even without technical breaches of the law, the pressures on voters could be insidious, with local landowners or their relatives in prominent attendance at the village polling booths.
Socialist Review, September ; 39th Conference, , Frances Evelyn Greville, Countess of Warwick — , famous as an heiress and society beauty, inherited Easton Lodge in Essex from her grandfather as a child, and played the lady bountiful there, with lavish hospitality and local philanthropy. Robert Blatchford converted her to socialism in , after writing a scathing attack on the extravagance of a costume ball she hosted at Warwick Castle. She subsequently supported agricultural trade unionism, befriending Joseph Arch.
She used her powers of preferment to appoint socialist clergymen to Essex livings, notably Conrad Noel at Thaxted. She contested Warwick and Leamington for Labour in Easton Lodge became a venue for Labour gatherings, and she tried, unsuccessfully, to turn it into a Labour college. Those who had helped during an election campaign were liable to play safe by wearing blue rosettes on the day of the poll.
Labour developed an image of the countryside as a society of oppression, where freedom of action was restricted by intimidation and fears of victimization. Comments on how the propaganda was received in the various villages are riddled with the conviction that villagers were not free to act as they might wish: Swanbourne—Attendance fair. Intimidation rampant. Great Horwood—Smallest meeting of campaign. But better than previous meetings in village. Intimidation here. Winslow—Good meeting. Secured names of several people willing to help quietly.
Long Crendon—Fair meeting. People seem afraid. Green had also used this image: Tyranny of the Countryside, Labour Organiser, July December Arthur Greenwood once spoke on a village green for twenty minutes, without spotting any signs of human life—though the organizer of the meeting assured him afterwards that the speech had been well received by people inside their homes, listening with the windows open. Sidney Box claimed to have been shot at, locked up to prevent him from addressing a meeting, and targeted with abusive mail.
He regarded these attacks as a tribute to his work. Virtually all public meeting places were under the control of the local landowner or the church. Local Labour parties and trade unions were often denied the use of schools or village halls, having to resort instead to public houses, despite the feeling that these were inappropriate venues for meetings, both practically and morally. Between them, they controlled village employment, trade, entertainment, and housing, and possessed considerable power to determine the character of village society.
NEC, 7 September Country Standard, September When the vicar and most of the farmers lost their seats on the parish council in Burston in Norfolk in , the local teachers who had encouraged labourers to contest the election were dismissed from their positions at the village school. This notorious episode of rural victimization led to the formation of the Burston Strike School—notable, in passing, as holder of the record for the longest running strike action, lasting a quarter of a century.
There were instances of clergymen telling women to persuade their husbands to give up their union membership. On the Eastmans, see p. Reeves, for The Labourer . The vicar came bottom in the poll, and a labourer replaced him as chairman of the council. Labour Organiser, April July Voters in a Landscape 63 antagonize the church unduly. In many areas, Sunday meetings continued to be frowned upon. This fear above all was cited as inhibiting Labour support in the countryside.
The possibility of victimization meant that there were limits to what could be expected from many members of Labour organizations in rural areas; supporters would receive literature in unmarked envelopes, and might canvass on an individual level, but were unlikely to display posters outside their homes or show open signs of their allegiance.
Labour Organiser, October and January For examples of the genre see Groves, Sharpen the Sickle! Pressures to vote in a certain way might be rooted in the relationships within rural society, and loyalties to the dominant local family. The notion of a common interest uniting sections of the community did not necessarily require a backing through disciplinary sanctions.
For some observers, those sanctions were in any case becoming less common, and the tone of discussions on the subject depended on the broader context in which they were taking place. Selley believed that the days of cloak-and-dagger organization were already past: the farm worker could attend his branch meeting in broad daylight, rather than standing on the edge of an open-air meeting under cover of darkness. The main national papers could be hard enough to come by in some parts of the countryside, and the chances of exposure to the Labour press were slim.
New Leader, 27 April The pressures exerted on women in this respect were seen as particularly insidious. The scope for Labour to retaliate on this front was limited. Pointing, of the NUAW, argued that it was actually run by the employing and landowning classes, who concealed their anti-Labour propaganda in supposedly innocuous activities. See also H. Pointing, 2 June , typescript. There was an understandable reluctance to credit rural voters with any deep or principled attachment to other political parties.
In , Labour was strong enough to prevent the Liberals winning back many of the rural seats they had lost in , but not strong enough to win them itself. The issue may have been slightly confused by the enormous personal popularity which Cripps enjoyed amongst Labour supporters in the countryside, as one of the most favoured and willing speakers on rural topics.
There were important transfers of personnel: J. Wedgwood, George Edwards, Christopher Addison, and Noel Buxton, who became important spokesmen on rural matters for Labour, all defected from the Liberals in the late s and early s. Voters in a Landscape 69 There were other continuities between Liberal and Labour activity in the countryside. A version of this was written for the by-election contest at Brecon and Radnor in God gave the land to the people!
It had not begun life as a Labour song at all. Wise observed in that rural constituencies with Radical traditions, notably in East Anglia and the South West, had become Conservative by default: country people no longer had faith in the Liberals, but regarded Labour as a purely urban force. Far from inheriting Liberal support in the countryside, the party often found itself in competition with it. The value which the county electorate attached to the image of Gladstone provides a comic detail in A.
Voters in a Landscape 71 understand or believe.
Labour and the Countryside: The Politics of Rural Britain 1918-1939 (Oxford Historical Monographs)
Propagandists found that the agricultural worker was jealous of the superior working conditions which town workers enjoyed. A basic problem for Labour was how to identify its potential electorate in rural Britain. Class was a more than usually slippery concept in the countryside. Experienced campaigners advised propagandists to approach the topic with care, since references to class struggle left audiences confused, and more convinced than ever that Labour represented interests quite foreign to their own.
Those who had experience in rural organization were perhaps more conscious than most J. However, across most of the countryside, the trade union presence was as embryonic as the Labour Party organization. It was normally assumed that industrial organization would precede the growth of political support, but this order was often reversed in practice.
It was not only the social structures of rural life which seemed to obstruct the development of a Labour vote. The physical setting itself presented major challenges. Williams, of the Railway Clerks, that proportional representation would militate against Labour candidates who wanted to represent the agricultural interest, 18th Conference , November Voters in a Landscape 73 Geography was not only a challenge for agents and propagandists travelling around the constituency, but was also thought to disadvantage Labour at the time of the poll.
Local Labour organizations in the countryside regularly campaigned for more polling stations, calling for one in every village, or at least wherever there was an elementary school. In this instance, red and blue were, respectively, the Liberal and Tory colours. How different was the countryside? The focus was on the supposed constraints on political discussion and activity—constraints arising from the existing organization of rural society. Morrison likened this to the challenges of communicating with voters in middle-class and residential areas.
Voters in a Landscape 75 political element of that country. Attempts to identify a promising, intelligent community, concealed by the tyrannies of village society, never quite overcame the condescension with which much of the Labour movement regarded the rural population. The resolution of these attitudes lay in a very particular interpretation of the rural areas and their place in national politics. That interpretation was historical.
The countryside was continually described as a relic from a past era. A delegate from Tiverton told the party conference in that the agricultural workers in some districts were scarcely removed from the old feudal system. Potter, Socialist Review December , Labour did indeed manage to win Falmouth and Western Isles Chapter I, pp. West Derbyshire had a peculiarly bad reputation as a pocket division, with a tradition of sitting members who were either Cavendishes themselves or at least closely connected to the Dukes of Devonshire.
A spate of publications on villages in the early twentieth century emphasized the premodern nature of life there; rambles in the countryside were presented almost as explorations of a lost England. For the Labour Party there was a further dimension to such interpretations: the countryside was a model of Britain before the advent of Labour. The rural nation called for the same pioneering work which had once been required in the industrial nation; rural political culture was not so much different in kind, as retarded.
In a cartoon from an early issue of The Labourer, a farm labourer and a miner shake hands, the miner saying By-election report, NEC, 22 November The countryside was still being described in such terms at a much later date; cf. Morton, In Search of England It is the Miners to-day.
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Come, lads, make it the Agricultural workers to-morrow! Sometimes, Labour saw the capitulation of the rural seats as a foregone conclusion. Conservative loyalties became a function of the primitive nature of rural political culture and the survival of feudal tyranny and village hierarchies; Liberal Labourer, February But a changed countryside might be fertile ground for its propaganda. The enlightenment and invigoration of the countryside were tasks which Labour had to undertake in order to win support in rural Britain and achieve its ambition to form a majority government.
Interpretations of its political culture generated a series of inherently negative responses to rural Britain, but these existed alongside an important tradition of much more positive images of the countryside on the British Left. In analyses of the political environment, there was seemingly much to condemn in the backwardness and ignorance of the villages and the oppressive and tyrannical structures of rural society. However, as a landscape and a place for recreation, the countryside took on a very different aspect.
In this light, it became an idealized world, a favoured setting for leisure, the pointed contrast to crowded, unpleasant, and ill-planned urban development, and a metaphor for a better quality of life. As Labour men and women hiked and cycled through the countryside, they sometimes drew direct connections between these activities and their political lives. Alongside visions of the countryside as an historical setting and as a distinctive political environment, these responses to the amenity and imagery associated with the rural landscape provide a further context for understanding the meanings which rural Britain held for those on the Left in British politics.
He was always irritated— perhaps understandably—when his walks were disturbed by people who wanted to talk about the very things he was trying to put out of his mind. Robertson Scott, 23 January Conservative Leadership and National Values Cambridge, , MacDonald also linked them to his political philosophy. His rambles in the countryside might be an escape from the trials of the professional politician, but they were not a retreat from politics itself. It would be borrowed from the moors and the villages. The great outdoors and the great ideal intertwined. Indeed his support for the preservationist movement is often cited as an illustration of how ruralism seemed to cut across party boundaries.
In consequence, the pervasive ruralism in British culture in the period tends to be discussed as a largely apolitical phenomenon. Even the choice of May Day as the day of the workers served to underline connections between Labour and the folk tradition—a tradition which 13 14 Times, 8 May Socialist Review, October In his May Day exhortation of , MacDonald entered enthusiastically into its associations. A number of the composers involved in the English musical renaissance, and inspired by the folk song movement, had a reputation for advanced political views. Unlike many other arts and activities, they were not seen as individualistic or competitive.
Land Worker, April , 2. Joseph Reeves, Education for Social Change 2nd edn, , Labour Organiser, January Rural Idylls 85 the s and s, cities were still sometimes denounced in directly Cobbettian terms. On his travel writing in the s and s, see David Matless, Landscape and Englishness , 64—7. Yet, historically, the sequence of these associations had often been reversed. The aesthetic critique of urban industry, and the ruralism which was its complement, were inherent to this ideology, rather than simply offshoots from it.
There were, of course, many grounds for deploring sites of derelict industry, for being morally, as well as aesthetically, objectionable. Many of the ways in which ruralist and anti-urban sentiments were articulated suggest that these visions of the countryside could be politicized, with attempts to link them to ideological positions: in other words, to appropriate them for a socialist perspective.
The rest of this chapter explores two particular areas in which the Left had opportunities to develop its own distinctive brand of ruralism. The second topic concerns the rural idyll itself. After all, part of the construction of the dominant image of rural Britain involved the concealment of less attractive elements in that world, usually relating to the experience of its poorest inhabitants.
Idris Davies —53 left school at fourteen to work in the mines, but began a career as a teacher when his pit closed. His most famous sequence of poems, The Angry Summer, about the general strike, was written during the Second World War, and published in Mingay ed. Robert Blatchford was one of many commentators who emphasized clear connections between good health and the countryside —an equation which provided a pragmatic foundation for ruralist preferences amongst the working class. Exposure to the rural environment was believed to help reform character, as well as promote good physical health.
Ward,44 advertised in The Clarion for companions to join him on a ramble around Kinder Scout. A dedication to hiking was often a sign within the working class of ambitions for self-improvement. However, enthusiasts for rural recreation did not necessarily make political observations about the world through which they hiked. Raphael Samuel remembered frequent country outings with his Communist mother, a dedicated hiker, but noted that they took no interest in rural life, in the people who lived and worked in the countryside, or indeed in any of the man-made elements in the landscape.
This had a wide, nonpolitical appeal, though many socialist ramblers situated their own enjoyment of the countryside within that setting. Leonard Bast in E. Forster, Howards End ; ; G. Tomlinson, Coal-Miner , esp. Cole , Rural Idylls 91 only a limited political context. An important feature of activities like rambling was their low cost. For those wanting to make a tour rather than a day-trip, there were new hostels springing up to provide basic, low-cost accommodation along Continental models.
League of Youth Bulletin, May Palmer, 7 June For the socialist youth organization the Woodcraft Folk, nights in the open air were an article of faith, a vital part of the commitment outlined in the declaration made by all members. Leslie Paul, The Folk Trail. Harben, The Rural Problem , 97—8. Judging from the small notices in its journal, and from the themes of the cartoons and articles, the Club also functioned in no small part as a marriage bureau. Many a local president and secretary seem to have ended up cycling off together on a tandem.
The political content of the club was always more problematic. Organized cycling acquired an increasingly politicized culture during the s, with the growth in motor transport and a burgeoning militancy amongst motorists, some of whom were calling for cycles to be banned from roads as a dangerous menace. This politicization did not necessarily connect the interests of cyclists to any wider agenda. For the 68 H. For a history of the club, see Denis Pye, Fellowship is Life.
One imaginative contributor to the Clarion Cyclist envisaged the future as a world in which ugly cities would be demolished, and cars banished to high-speed tracks, returning the old highways for use by pedestrians and cyclists. October , and January August and September But the question of rights was often interpreted as lying quite outside the usual sphere of politics.
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For the Clarion Cyclists, the militancy of motorists was a new expression of class war; for others, it was simply an issue of relative priorities and interests, with no obvious connection to political or economic experience. There was certainly a fundamental objection on the Left to restrictions of rights of way, as part of the system of private property in land which Labour was pledged to abolish.
Wedgwood, Hugh Dalton, and Philip Noel-Baker, put their names to the series of Access to Mountains Bills which came before Parliament in the s, but the agitation had been raised by Scottish Liberals at the beginning of the century, and enjoyed much cross-party support. In the interwar years, an ideology of trespassing extended beyond walkers on the political Left.
Hill, Freedom to Roam, 59, 62— As more people visited areas of natural beauty, their presence threatened to destroy the very thing they had come to experience. McKean Cant, 30 January Attitudes towards access were often underlain by elitism, but this was an elitism based on character and experience, rather than on class. Middleton, 17 March Woodcraft was a whole educational system, which encouraged children to live in cooperation and in harmony with their environment, as active creators of a culture, rather than passive recipients of an unnatural way of life.
Within this amalgam, there was a distinctly anti-industrial and anti-capitalist ideology. Leslie Paul was so concerned about physical decline in the race that he feared there would soon be nothing left worth saving for the future cooperative commonwealth under socialism. The tribal concept was itself an education.
A History New Haven and London, Labour Organiser, March For the Labour newspaper, the Daily Herald, the countryside was a picturesque entity to decorate back pages. In the s, a series of photographs portrayed ancient crafts such as basket making, carried out by aged yokels. The countryside came 99 Labour Organiser, September Daily Herald, 24 and 26 July, 15 August Rural Idylls 3. But similar images of the countryside were also found in more straightforwardly political literature.
When Labour published its pamphlet A Prosperous Countryside, setting out its agricultural policy in , it incorporated border illustrations taken from the Pall Mall Magazine. The result was a beautiful and much praised publication, which appeared not to question the idyll summoned up by the conventional panorama of a gentle, rolling countryside, with villages nestling in folds between the hills, cattle grazing, and a solitary ploughman working with a plough team.
The National Union of Agricultural Workers generally endorsed, rather than questioned, a romantic vision of rural life. The pastoral woodcuts which decorated the NUAW journal, the Land Worker, were very different in character from the cover designs of contemporary union journals abroad, especially from Germany and Austria in the s, where the imagery of the industry was maintained, but interpreted in a far stronger, more consciously modern style.
Part of this difference could be explained by national fashions in design, but there may also have been a difference in self-perception. The union in England and Wales seemed to become increasingly conscious of its special character as an organization of the countryside. In its early years, the union used the general motifs of trade unionism for its badges and banners, notably the clasped hands and images of unity common across the Labour movement.
This was in marked contrast to the way in which agricultural unions elsewhere in Europe felt able to make use of imagery from other industries. Leighton — had left-wing sympathies, and lived for many years with the progressive journalist, Noel Brailsford. Much of her work in Britain, and later in the United States, presented images of workers on the land. Rural Idylls country, imposed on a rural audience: the editor of Land Worker, H.
However, the obvious conclusion may be that an idyll with such strong appeal to urban psychology also had powerful attractions for the rural community itself. A general acceptance of idyllic views of the countryside and village life posed potential problems for Labour. Labourer, March January Thus when F. The poetry emanating from the agricultural trade unions offered ironic versions of pastoral.
Edwin Gooch told the House of Commons in I live in the country. I am one of those men who can see beauty in a country lane in December. I love works of art, but to me there is nothing so beautiful as the natural art of the countryside. They see the mud and the poor roads and houses. Whilst the Labour movement might take issue with some aspects of the rural idyll, the inherent cultural value of the countryside was rarely questioned, either aesthetically or morally.
If there were rural-sceptics on the Forward, 21 March Joseph Duncan to G. Green, History of the English Agricultural Labourer — , HCDeb, , col. Rural Idylls Left, who doubted the potential of the rural environment and folk culture to improve the quality of life of the individual or of society as a whole, their alternative vision has been overwhelmed by the voices of the enthusiasts. Some saw ruralism as socialist in its implications; for others, it was a vital, if essentially non-political complement to socialism. The challenge which faced the Labour movement between the wars was to build support in a rural environment which so many of its members valued and often idealized, but which seemed to belong in practical and political terms to its opponents.
As a result of this, a Party like the Labour Party, whatever may have been its town origins, will not be shut out from the countryside. Walker, Speed the Plough, This page intentionally left blank 4 Campaigning in the Countryside [T]he scenery was so beautiful it really seemed a shame to shout at it. Dora Seed, campaigning in the Skipton constituency, PIONEERS Since the late nineteenth century, various groups on the political Left had sent propagandists into the countryside to shout their message at an often indifferent audience. Labour Leader, 22 May and 12 June Reg Groves, Sharpen the Sickle!
The need to neutralize the danger of strike breaking was an important impetus behind early campaigns to rouse the rural worker to political consciousness. It took place on two levels. An ongoing, informal effort by groups and individuals at a local level drew on, and often made conscious reference to, earlier traditions and was marked by similar combinations of enthusiasm and amateurism. However, one of the features of the s and s was the attempt to set this activity in a national framework, and encourage more systematic programmes of propaganda.
On the cow as billboard, see Dennis Pye, Fellowship is Life. Participation in elections provided a valuable education for local organizations. Despite all this assistance, the Labour candidate still came third in the poll and lost his deposit. There had already been a few experiments at such propaganda. In October , the national party carried out a short rural campaign of about twenty meetings in Sudbury and Woodbridge, assisted by MPs and local speakers, with two cars loaned for the enterprise.
The person chosen was F. William Holmes, one of the two national organizers appointed in , worked on a farm as a boy, and his father had been involved in the agricultural trade unions of the late nineteenth century. Another of the national party organizers, Herbert Drinkwater, who was appointed parttime in , and became full-time the following year,23 made no secret of his own rural enthusiasms.
The task was perceived as increasingly urgent. In the year following the general election, emphasis was given to focusing propaganda on the rural and county divisions, and 18 Ibid. Hopkins d. The Labourer, July In early , the ILP began planning a campaign to popularize its agricultural programme. Pollard, veteran of the Ludlow by-election, and R. There had been an earlier attempt 24 25th Conference, , Walkden, because the organization felt the competition of underpaid farm workers very keenly. Proceedings of the 50th Annual TUC , Demonstrations were held in local market towns, typically featuring an afternoon procession with bands and banners, followed by a speaker meeting.
In some areas, district conferences were also arranged for representatives of the local trade unions. Even though political speakers from outside agriculture were used to draw in large audiences for meetings, campaigners were warned not to confuse the audience by attempting to mix the subjects. Clynes, 23 April A total of rural constituencies were visited in the campaign, with additional conferences in county boroughs and cities with agricultural hinterlands.
In each locality, a central conference was arranged to expound and discuss the policy, followed by a demonstration, with speeches by Labour MPs. The loudspeaker vans which 45 46 NEC, Org. NEC, report on the agricultural campaign, 25 July The services of visiting speakers were offered to constituencies without charge, but only where a division could meet local expenses and organize the conference and demonstration.
These arrangements were based on the idea of giving help to those who could help themselves. The campaign was a conscious imitation of its predecessor in terms of organization, funded by a special appeal. Amongst other 50 51 52 53 54 55 57 NEC, Org. NEC, report on agricultural campaign, 27 July Forty-three of the constituencies which had been targeted in the — 8 campaign were not included in any rural campaign after Others were undoubtedly rural, but were hopeless causes for Labour: divisions where Conservative dominance appeared unshakeable, as in the Shropshire constituencies of Ludlow and Oswestry, and where Labour struggled even to save its deposit at elections, as in Rye, Buckrose, and North Cornwall.
Barbara Ayrton-Gould,62 a member of the NEC and Labour candidate in the Cheshire constituency of Northwich, suggested that they should identify rural divisions where electoral success was within reach, and which might repay some concentrated effort. The Daily Herald also promised publicity in the paper, though this only amounted to a mention in the editorial column and half a dozen reports.
After standing unsuccessfully in a number of seats, she was elected to parliament for Hendon North in These events functioned as a focus around which other activities took place to encourage and educate local organizations. The conferences were aimed mainly at the existing faithful, as an opportunity to discuss agricultural policy and approaches to organizing the rural areas. Outside this framework, as in earlier campaigns, the central committee tended to devolve much of the primary 64 NEC, Agricultural Campaign Committee, 21 November The national committee also sought to work closely with trade unions in the countryside, though, as we have seen, the TUC chose to go ahead with its own unilateral campaign in , and trade unions remained suspicious about the advantages to be gained from predominantly political campaigns.
On average, around 25 meetings were held in each constituency, though this number could rise as high as In and , the Daily Herald relieved the party of some of its expenses by providing free stocks of campaign literature. Western Isles was won for Labour at the general election. Campaigning in the Countryside 4.
He succeeded to the title in The campaigns in and ran until funds were exhausted; from , campaigns were tailored in advance according to the funds available. Despite the emphasis on the importance of capturing rural seats to ensure a Labour majority government, the rural campaigns were always an add-on to general party activity. NEC, general campaign propaganda memo, n. It is clear that the national party relied on there being a basic degree of organization in at least part of a constituency, so that it could delegate most of the work to local activists.
Subsequent canvassing was particularly important given the tendency for enrolment to take place after a campaign had ended. It is interesting to note that when the Agricultural Campaign Committee had an abnormally swollen budget in , it preferred to use this for extending the campaign to include more constituencies, rather than lavishing greater attention on a few. Presumably these doubts were not allayed: Gainsborough was not included in the campaign. Selected divisional parties were invited to participate, subject to their agreeing to contribute towards expenses and organize meetings.
Bedford, Belper, and Stafford were amongst the divisions approached for the drive, but decided that it would not be worth their while to participate. The divisional committee began with a survey of their constituency, selecting areas to target where there were good prospects for establishing party organization, or where the concentrated effort of a campaign seemed the only opportunity to make contact with the local population. In the week preceding the campaign, the divisional committee toured 84 Bedford had been included in the campaign, and Belper and Stafford both took part in campaigns in the late s.
Campaigning in the Countryside the area with loudspeaker equipment, advertising the forthcoming meetings.
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West Derbyshire appointed a subcommittee of three to coordinate what turned out to be an abortive campaign in September the speaker van was called away from the constituency during the Munich crisis, but the constituency had better luck the following year, when the van visited them in June. This highlights another side to rural campaigning, which went on independently of the centrally directed efforts.
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In the same way that established sections of the Labour movement were encouraged at a national level to take responsibility for developing organization in rural Britain, so individual industrial centres sometimes undertook to encourage the rural areas on their own doorstep. Other boundaries were settled by war and subsequent treaties. A total of six border wars were fought in —, including the Polish—Czechoslovak border conflicts over Cieszyn Silesia in January As distressing as these border conflicts were, the Polish—Soviet War of — was the most important series of military actions of the era.
On the northern front, the Soviet army reached the outskirts of Warsaw in early August. A Soviet triumph and the quick end of Poland seemed inevitable. However, the Poles scored a stunning victory at the Battle of Warsaw Afterwards, more Polish military successes followed, and the Soviets had to pull back. They left swathes of territory populated largely by Belarusians or Ukrainians to Polish rule.
The new eastern boundary was finalized by the Peace of Riga in March The defeat of the Russian armies forced Vladimir Lenin and the Soviet leadership to postpone their strategic objective of linking up with the German and other European revolutionary leftist collaborators to spread communist revolution.
Lenin also hoped for generating support for the Red Army in Poland, which failed to materialize. At the time of rising national movements, the plan thus ceased being a feature of Poland's politics. The National Democrats did not want to assume the lands they considered politically undesirable, as such territorial enlargement would result in a reduced proportion of citizens who were ethnically Polish. The Peace of Riga settled the eastern border by preserving for Poland a substantial portion of the old Commonwealth's eastern territories at the cost of partitioning the lands of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania Lithuania and Belarus and Ukraine.
The successful outcome of the Polish—Soviet War gave Poland a false sense of its prowess as a self-sufficient military power and encouraged the government to try to resolve international problems through imposed unilateral solutions. Among the chief difficulties faced by the government of the new Polish republic was the lack of an integrated infrastructure among the formerly separate partitions, a deficiency that disrupted industry, transportation, trade, and other areas.
The first Polish legislative election for the re-established Sejm national parliament took place in January A temporary Small Constitution was passed by the body the following month. The minorities had very little voice in the government. The permanent March Constitution of Poland was adopted in March The proclamation of the March Constitution was followed by a short and turbulent period of constitutional order and parliamentary democracy that lasted until The legislature remained fragmented, without stable majorities, and governments changed frequently. The open-minded Gabriel Narutowicz was elected president constitutionally without a popular vote by the National Assembly in However, members of the nationalist right-wing faction did not regard his elevation as legitimate.
They viewed Narutowicz rather as a traitor whose election was pushed through by the votes of alien minorities. Narutowicz and his supporters were subjected to an intense harassment campaign, and the president was assassinated on 16 December , after serving only five days in office. Corruption was held to be commonplace in the political culture of the early Polish Republic. However, the investigations conducted by the new regime after the May Coup failed to uncover any major affair or corruption scheme within the state apparatus of its predecessors.
Land reform measures were passed in and under pressure from an impoverished peasantry. The German—Polish customs war , initiated by Germany in , was one of the most damaging external factors that put a strain on Poland's economy. Certain other achievements of the democratic period having to do with the management of governmental and civic institutions necessary to the functioning of the reunited state and nation were too easily overlooked.
Hundreds died in fratricidal fighting. Following the coup, the new regime initially respected many parliamentary formalities, but gradually tightened its control and abandoned pretenses. The Centrolew , a coalition of center-left parties, was formed in , and in called for the "abolition of dictatorship". In , the Sejm was dissolved and a number of opposition deputies were imprisoned at the Brest Fortress. Five thousand political opponents were arrested ahead of the Polish legislative election of ,  which was rigged to award a majority of seats to the pro-regime Nonpartisan Bloc for Cooperation with the Government BBWR.
From , persistent opponents of the regime, many of the leftist persuasion, were imprisoned and subjected to staged legal processes with harsh sentences, such as the Brest trials , or else detained in the Bereza Kartuska prison and similar camps for political prisoners. About three thousand were detained without trial at different times at the Bereza internment camp between and In for example, activists were taken there, including Polish communists.
Other civil disturbances were caused by striking industrial workers e. All became targets of ruthless police-military pacification. His regime was dictatorial, but at that time only Czechoslovakia remained democratic in all of the regions neighboring Poland. Independence stimulated the development of Polish culture in the Interbellum and intellectual achievement was high.
Mainstream Polish society was not affected by the repressions of the Sanation authorities overall;  many Poles enjoyed relative stability, and the economy improved markedly between and , only to become caught up in the global Great Depression. The Great Depression brought low prices for farmers and unemployment for workers. Social tensions increased, including rising antisemitism. A major economic transformation and multi-year state plan to achieve national industrial development, as embodied in the Central Industrial Region initiative launched in , was led by Minister Eugeniusz Kwiatkowski.
Motivated primarily by the need for a native arms industry , the initiative was in progress at the time of the outbreak of World War II. Kwiatkowski was also the main architect of the earlier Gdynia seaport project. The prevalent in political circles nationalism was fueled by the large size of Poland's minority populations and their separate agendas. In time, the ethnic conflicts intensified, and the Polish state grew less tolerant of the interests of its national minorities. In interwar Poland, compulsory free general education substantially reduced illiteracy rates, but discrimination was practiced in a way that resulted in a dramatic decrease in the number of Ukrainian language schools and official restrictions on Jewish attendance at selected schools in the late s.
The population grew steadily, reaching 35 million in However, the overall economic situation in the interwar period was one of stagnation. There was little money for investment inside Poland, and few foreigners were interested in investing there. Conditions in the predominant agricultural sector kept deteriorating between and , which resulted in rural unrest and a progressive radicalization of the Polish peasant movement that became increasingly inclined toward militant anti-state activities. It was firmly repressed by the authorities. According to Norman Davies , the failures of the Sanation regime combined with the objective economic realities caused a radicalization of the Polish masses by the end of the s, but he warns against drawing parallels with the incomparably more repressive regimes of Nazi Germany or the Stalinist Soviet Union.
They had neither the vision nor the resources to cope with the perilous situation facing Poland in the late s. Beck had numerous foreign policy schemes and harbored illusions of Poland's status as a great power. He alienated most of Poland's neighbors, but is not blamed by historians for the ultimate failure of relations with Germany. The principal events of his tenure were concentrated in its last two years.
At home, increasingly alienated minorities threatened unrest and violence and were suppressed. Extreme nationalist circles such as the National Radical Camp grew more outspoken. It gained little influence inside Poland, but its spirit soon reappeared during World War II , within the Polish government-in-exile. Approached by Ribbentrop again in March , the Polish government expressed willingness to address issues causing German concern, but effectively rejected Germany's stated demands and thus refused to allow Poland to be turned by Adolf Hitler into a German puppet state.
To protect itself from an increasingly aggressive Nazi Germany , already responsible for the annexations of Austria in the Anschluss of , Czechoslovakia in and a part of Lithuania after the German ultimatum to Lithuania , Poland entered into a military alliance with Britain and France the Anglo-Polish military alliance and the Franco-Polish alliance , as updated in Attempts were therefore made by them to induce Soviet-Polish cooperation, which they viewed as the only militarily viable arrangement.
Diplomatic manoeuvers continued in the spring and summer of , but in their final attempts, the Franco-British talks with the Soviets in Moscow on forming an anti-Nazi defensive military alliance failed.
Warsaw's refusal to allow the Red Army to operate on Polish territory doomed the Western efforts. On 23 August, an outcome contrary to the exertions of the Allies became a reality: in Moscow, Germany and the Soviet Union hurriedly signed the Molotov—Ribbentrop Pact , which secretly provided for the dismemberment of Poland into Nazi- and Soviet-controlled zones. Poland had signed an Anglo-Polish military alliance as recently as 25 August, and had long been in alliance with France. The two Western powers soon declared war on Germany, but they remained largely inactive the period early in the conflict became known as the Phoney War and extended no aid to the attacked country.
The technically and numerically superior Wehrmacht formations rapidly advanced eastwards and engaged massively in the murder of Polish civilians over the entire occupied territory. The Soviet Union quickly occupied most of the areas of eastern Poland that contained large populations of Ukrainians and Belarusians. Poland's top government officials and military high command fled the war zone and arrived at the Romanian Bridgehead in mid-September. After the Soviet entry they sought refuge in Romania. Among the military operations in which Poles held out the longest until late September or early October were the Siege of Warsaw , the Battle of Hel and the resistance of the Independent Operational Group Polesie.
Warsaw fell on 27 September after a heavy German bombardment that killed tens of thousands civilians and soldiers. Gerhard Weinberg has argued that the most significant Polish contribution to World War II was sharing its code-breaking results. The Polish Army of nearly one million men significantly delayed the start of the Battle of France , planned by the Germans for When the Nazi offensive in the West did happen, the delay caused it to be less effective, a possibly crucial factor in the victory of the Battle of Britain.
After Germany invaded the Soviet Union as part of its Operation Barbarossa in June , the whole of pre-war Poland was overrun and occupied by German troops. German-occupied Poland was divided from into two regions: Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany directly into the German Reich and areas ruled under a so-called General Government of occupation. Stalin agreed, and the army was evacuated there. The organizations forming the Polish Underground State that functioned in Poland throughout the war were loyal to and formally under the Polish government-in-exile, acting through its Government Delegation for Poland.
It was opposed by the gradually forming extreme nationalistic National Armed Forces. Beginning in late , hundreds of thousands of Poles from the Soviet-occupied areas were deported and taken east. Of the upper-ranking military personnel and others deemed uncooperative or potentially harmful by the Soviets, about 22, were secretly executed by them at the Katyn massacre.
The Soviets claimed that the Poles committed a hostile act by requesting that the Red Cross investigate these reports. From , the implementation of the Nazi Final Solution began, and the Holocaust in Poland proceeded with force. The elimination of Jewish ghettos in German-occupied Poland took place in many cities. As the Jewish people were being removed to be exterminated, uprisings were waged against impossible odds by the Jewish Combat Organization and other desperate Jewish insurgents.
In protracted fighting in and , the Soviets and their Polish allies defeated and expelled the German army from Poland at a cost of over , Soviet soldiers lost. The greatest single undertaking of the Polish resistance movement in World War II and a major political event was the Warsaw Uprising that began on 1 August The uprising, in which most of the city's population participated, was instigated by the underground Home Army and approved by the Polish government-in-exile in an attempt to establish a non-communist Polish administration ahead of the arrival of the Red Army.
The uprising was originally planned as a short-lived armed demonstration in expectation that the Soviet forces approaching Warsaw would assist in any battle to take the city. The Germans used the opportunity to carry out a brutal suppression of the forces of the pro-Western Polish underground. The bitterly fought uprising lasted for two months and resulted in the death or expulsion from the city of hundreds of thousands of civilians.
After the defeated Poles surrendered on 2 October, the Germans carried out a planned destruction of Warsaw on Hitler's orders that obliterated the remaining infrastructure of the city. From the time of the Tehran Conference in late , there was broad agreement among the three Great Powers the United States , the United Kingdom , and the Soviet Union that the locations of the borders between Germany and Poland and between Poland and the Soviet Union would be fundamentally changed after the conclusion of World War II.
The communist-led State National Council , a quasi-parliamentary body, was in existence in Warsaw from the beginning of By the time of the Yalta Conference in February , the communists had already established a Provisional Government of the Republic of Poland. The Soviet position at the conference was strong because of their decisive contribution to the war effort and as a result of their occupation of immense amounts of land in central and eastern Europe.
The Great Powers gave assurances that the communist provisional government would be converted into an entity that would include democratic forces from within the country and active abroad, but the London-based government-in-exile was not mentioned. A Provisional Government of National Unity and subsequent democratic elections were the agreed stated goals. A lack of accurate data makes it difficult to document numerically the extent of the human losses suffered by Polish citizens during World War II. Additionally, many assertions made in the past must be considered suspect due to flawed methodology and a desire to promote certain political agendas.
The last available enumeration of ethnic Poles and the large ethnic minorities is the Polish census of Exact population figures for are therefore not known. Nazi Germany intended to exterminate the Jews completely, in actions that have come to be described collectively as the Holocaust. Such Nazi operations matured into a plan known as the Generalplan Ost that amounted to displacement, enslavement and partial extermination of the Slavic people and was expected to be completed within 15 years.
In an attempt to incapacitate Polish society, the Nazis and the Soviets executed tens of thousands of members of the intelligentsia and community leadership during events such as the German AB-Aktion in Poland , Operation Tannenberg and the Katyn massacre. Waves of displacement and emigration that took place both during and after the war removed from Poland a majority of the Jews who survived. Further significant Jewish emigration followed events such as the Polish October political thaw of and the Polish political crisis.
In —, some , Polish citizens were deported by the Soviet regime. The war left one million children orphaned and , persons disabled. The policies of Nazi Germany have been judged after the war by the International Military Tribunal at the Nuremberg trials and Polish genocide trials to be aimed at extermination of Jews, Poles and Roma, and to have "all the characteristics of genocide in the biological meaning of this term".
By the terms of the Potsdam Agreement signed by the three victorious Great Powers, the Soviet Union retained most of the territories captured as a result of the Molotov—Ribbentrop Pact of , including western Ukraine and western Belarus, and gained others. With Germany's defeat Poland was thus shifted west in relation to its prewar location, to the area between the Oder—Neisse and Curzon lines, which resulted in a country more compact and with much broader access to the sea. The flight and expulsion of Germans from what was eastern Germany prior to the war began before and during the Soviet conquest of those regions from the Nazis, and the process continued in the years immediately after the war.
Of those Germans who remained within the new borders of Poland, many later chose to emigrate to post-war Germany. On the other hand, 1. The vast majority were resettled in the former German territories. Many exiled Poles could not return to the country for which they had fought because they belonged to political groups incompatible with the new communist regimes, or because they originated from areas of pre-war eastern Poland that were incorporated into the Soviet Union see Polish population transfers — Some were deterred from returning simply on the strength of warnings that anyone who had served in military units in the West would be endangered.
Many Poles were pursued, arrested, tortured and imprisoned by the Soviet authorities for belonging to the Home Army or other formations see Anti-communist resistance in Poland — ,  or were persecuted because they had fought on the Western front. Territories on both sides of the new Polish-Ukrainian border were also " ethnically cleansed ". Snyder , about 70, Poles and about 20, Ukrainians were killed in the ethnic violence that occurred in the s, both during and after the war. According to an estimate by historian Jan Grabowski , about 50, of the , Polish Jews who escaped the Nazis during the liquidation of ghettos survived without leaving Poland the remainder perished.
Because of changing borders and the mass movements of people of various nationalities, the emerging communist Poland ended up with a mainly homogeneous, ethnically Polish population In response to the February Yalta Conference directives,  a Polish Provisional Government of National Unity was formed in June under Soviet auspices; it was soon recognized by the United States and many other countries.
The Polish people's referendum of June was arranged by the communist Polish Workers' Party to legitimize its dominance in Polish politics and claim widespread support for the party's policies. The Polish government-in-exile , lacking international recognition, remained in continuous existence until The name change from the Polish Republic was not officially adopted, however, until the proclamation of the Constitution of the Polish People's Republic in In he was overruled, removed and imprisoned by Stalinist authorities.
The socialists, who were losing their organization, were subjected to political pressure, ideological cleansing and purges in order to become suitable for unification on the terms of the PPR. During the most oppressive phase of the Stalinist period — , terror was justified in Poland as necessary to eliminate reactionary subversion.
Many thousands of perceived opponents of the regime were arbitrarily tried and large numbers were executed. In , large agricultural holdings and former German property in Poland started to be redistributed through land reform , and industry started to be nationalized. It was followed by the Six-Year Plan of — for heavy industry. The government's highest economic priority was the development of heavy industry useful to the military.
State-run or controlled institutions common in all the socialist countries of eastern Europe were imposed on Poland, including collective farms and worker cooperatives. The latter were dismantled in the late s as not socialist enough, although they were later re-established; even small-scale private enterprises were eradicated. Great strides were made, however, in the areas of employment which became nearly full , universal public education which nearly eradicated adult illiteracy , health care and recreational amenities. The communist industrialization program led to increased urbanization and educational and career opportunities for the intended beneficiaries of the social transformation, along the lines of the peasants-workers-working intelligentsia paradigm.
The most significant improvement was accomplished in the lives of Polish peasants, many of whom were able to leave their impoverished and overcrowded village communities for better conditions in urban centers. Those who stayed behind took advantage of the implementation of the land reform decree of the Polish Committee of National Liberation , which terminated the antiquated but widespread parafeudal socioeconomic relations in Poland. The Stalinist attempts at establishing collective farms generally failed.
A majority of Poland's residents of cities and towns still live in apartment blocks built during the communist era, in part to accommodate migrants from rural areas. Amidst the continuing social and national upheaval, a further shakeup took place in the party leadership as part of what is known as the Polish October of The dependence on the Soviet Union was somewhat mollified, and the state's relationships with the Church and Catholic lay activists were put on a new footing.
The legislative election of was followed by several years of political stability that was accompanied by economic stagnation and curtailment of reforms and reformists. One of the last initiatives of the brief reform era was a nuclear weapons—free zone in Central Europe proposed in by Adam Rapacki , Poland's foreign minister.
The creative process was often compromised by state censorship , but significant works were created in fields such as literature, theater, cinema and music, among others. Journalism of veiled understanding and varieties of native and Western popular culture were well represented. The Paris -based Kultura magazine developed a conceptual framework for dealing with the issues of borders and the neighbors of a future free Poland, but for ordinary Poles Radio Free Europe was of foremost importance.
One of the confirmations of the end of an era of greater tolerance was the expulsion from the communist party of several prominent " Marxist revisionists " in the s. The post liberalizing trend, in decline for a number of years, was reversed in March , when student demonstrations were suppressed during the Polish political crisis.
Motivated in part by the Prague Spring movement, the Polish opposition leaders, intellectuals, academics and students used a historical-patriotic Dziady theater spectacle series in Warsaw and its termination forced by the authorities as a springboard for protests, which soon spread to other centers of higher education and turned nationwide.
The authorities responded with a major crackdown on opposition activity, including the firing of faculty and the dismissal of students at universities and other institutions of learning. At the center of the controversy was also the small number of Catholic deputies in the Sejm the Znak Association members who attempted to defend the students.
Using the context of the military victory of Israel in the Six-Day War of , some in the Polish communist leadership waged an antisemitic campaign against the remnants of the Jewish community in Poland. The targets of this campaign were accused of disloyalty and active sympathy with Israeli aggression. Branded " Zionists ", they were scapegoated and blamed for the unrest in March , which eventually led to the emigration of much of Poland's remaining Jewish population about 15, Polish citizens left the country.
Price increases for essential consumer goods triggered the Polish protests of The activity was centered in the industrial shipyard areas of the three coastal cities. The new regime was seen as more modern, friendly and pragmatic, and at first it enjoyed a degree of popular and foreign support. To revitalize the economy, from the Gierek regime introduced wide-ranging reforms that involved large-scale foreign borrowing. These actions initially caused improved conditions for consumers, but in a few years the strategy backfired and the economy deteriorated.
Another attempt to raise food prices resulted in the June protests. Catholics and others rejoiced at the elevation of a Pole to the papacy and greeted his June visit to Poland with an outpouring of emotion. Fueled by large infusions of Western credit, Poland's economic growth rate was one of the world's highest during the first half of the s, but much of the borrowed capital was misspent, and the centrally planned economy was unable to use the new resources effectively. The oil crisis caused recession and high interest rates in the West, to which the Polish government had to respond with sharp domestic consumer price increases.
The growing debt burden became insupportable in the late s, and negative economic growth set in by Workers responded with escalating work stoppages that culminated in the general strikes in Lublin. The Inter-Enterprise Strike Committee coordinated the strike action across hundreds of workplaces and formulated the 21 demands as the basis for negotiations with the authorities.
Similar agreements were concluded in Szczecin the Szczecin Agreement and in Silesia. The key provision of these agreements was the guarantee of the workers' right to form independent trade unions and the right to strike. Following the successful resolution of the largest labor confrontation in communist Poland's history, nationwide union organizing movements swept the country. Edward Gierek was blamed by the Soviets for not following their "fraternal" advice, not shoring up the communist party and the official trade unions and allowing "anti-socialist" forces to emerge.
While party—controlled courts took up the contentious issues of Solidarity's legal registration as a trade union finalized by November 10 , planning had already begun for the imposition of martial law. A parallel farmers' union was organized and strongly opposed by the regime, but Rural Solidarity was eventually registered 12 May Following the Warsaw Pact summit in Moscow, the Soviet Union proceeded with a massive military build-up along Poland's border in December , but during the summit Kania forcefully argued with Leonid Brezhnev and other allied communists leaders against the feasibility of an external military intervention, and no action was taken.
The Solidarity social revolt had thus far been free of any major use of force, but in March in Bydgoszcz three activists were beaten up by the secret police. In a nationwide "warning strike" the 9. Both Solidarity and the communist party were badly split and the Soviets were losing patience. Kania was re-elected at the Party Congress in July, but the collapse of the economy continued and so did the general disorder. An appeal was issued to the workers of the other East European countries, urging them to follow in the footsteps of Solidarity. The Plenum's vote was to 4, and he kept his government posts.
Jaruzelski asked parliament to ban strikes and allow him to exercise extraordinary powers, but when neither request was granted, he decided to proceed with his plans anyway. On 12—13 December , the regime declared martial law in Poland , under which the army and ZOMO riot police were used to crush Solidarity. The Soviet leaders insisted that Jaruzelski pacify the opposition with the forces at his disposal, without direct Soviet involvement. Virtually all Solidarity leaders and many affiliated intellectuals were arrested or detained. Nine workers were killed in the Pacification of Wujek.
The United States and other Western countries responded by imposing economic sanctions against Poland and the Soviet Union. Unrest in the country was subdued, but continued. The open or semi-open opposition communications, as recently practiced, were replaced by underground publishing known in the eastern bloc as Samizdat , and Solidarity was reduced to a few thousand underground activists. Having achieved some semblance of stability, the Polish regime relaxed and then rescinded martial law over several stages. Although martial law formally ended in July and a partial amnesty was enacted, several hundred political prisoners remained in jail.
Further developments in Poland occurred concurrently with and were influenced by the reformist leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev in the Soviet Union processes known as Glasnost and Perestroika. However, the country lacked basic stability, as the regime's efforts to organize society from the top down had failed, while the opposition's attempts at creating an "alternate society" were also unsuccessful.
Facilitated by the indispensable mediation of the Catholic Church, exploratory contacts were established. Student protests resumed in February Continuing economic decline led to strikes across the country in April, May and August. The Soviet Union, increasingly destabilized, was unwilling to apply military or other pressure to prop up allied regimes in trouble.
The Polish Round Table Agreement of April called for local self-government, policies of job guarantees , legalization of independent trade unions and many wide-ranging reforms. The failure of the communists at the polls almost all of the contested seats were won by the opposition resulted in a political crisis. The new April Novelization to the constitution called for re-establishment of the Polish presidency and on 19 July the National Assembly elected the communist leader , General Wojciech Jaruzelski , to that office.
Despite this U. He opposed a Venezuelan proposal for setting up a special bureau for collaboration, insisting that collaborative schemes would come between the member government and the LN. He conceded that if a group of South American states agreed to this, then he would not object.
The Brazilian bacteriologist, Carlos Chagas, offered to co-ordinate collaborative initiatives. Rajchman turned out to be a dynamic visionary in international health, and set out to emancipate the LNHO from having a restrictive agenda. He rapidly established links with the pariah states of Germany and the Soviet Union in the early s Weindling, The LNHO was subject to the League of Nations Health Council, which was composed of international delegates, mainly but not exclusively leading public health administrators from member-states. Rajchman developed an innovative series of expert programs.
Rather than taking a restricted view that the LNHO should be only a clearinghouse between member countries for sanitary information and statistics, he and his colleagues in the LNHO Secretariat developed optimal guidelines and standards. Rajchman argued that the LNHO should have administrative autonomy, and undertake fundamentally innovative tasks in re-conceptualizing public health and developing quantitative and qualitative measures of health. The LNHO was a focus for an internationally minded group of health experts, who looked beyond the confines of national politics to develop innovative public health policies.
The LNHO attempted to be internationalist and innovative in seeking to involve the public health elites of as many countries as possible. On 7 November the League of Nations sent a letter to South American ministers responsible for sanitary matters. This brought to their attention the exchange scheme for public health experts, financed by the Rockefeller-funded International Health Board. The Committee was chaired by the Danish serologist Thorwald Madsen and included a number of directors of national institutes of hygiene.
The Health Committee appointed representatives from countries which were not LN members, for example, the occupational medicine expert Alice Hamilton from Harvard. The problem was that distance precluded regular attendance of American delegates: Chagas attended the fifth session in October Table 1 shows how these experts engaged in LNHO commissions and conferences, and that Latin Americans served continuously on the supervisory Health Committee from until In the mids, Cuba, Paraguay and Venezuela proposed various linkages.
The Venezuelan proposal concerned a liaison committee between national and international health services. In , the LN Health Council advocated studies of the causes of infant mortality. This collaborated with the LN and other inter-American organizations in a series of conferences. Table 2 shows that Brazil was the most active participant, followed by Argentina and Mexico. In all, eleven Latin American countries participated on a formal basis, although we shall see that other countries like Cuba also supported LNHO initiatives. The LN Health Committee continued to discuss an interchange of public health personnel.
Despite the isolationism of the United States, the RF remained a warm supporter of international agencies and medical research. The RF supported the developing of a pool of international experts in public health. The RF's substantial funds boosted expert autonomy and innovative new thinking in public health, although Rajchman faced accusations that he was disregarding political accountability.
The LNHO opened possibilities for multilateral initiatives, while sustaining the more traditional bilateral linkages within the emerging "epistemic community. Gustavo Pittaluga, a specialist in tropical medicine and parasitology, attended most LN Health Committee meetings until the cataclysmic year of His career ended in exile in Cuba.
This allowed the LNHO to undertake a dynamic program on the social causes of disease. The Milbank Memorial Fund a U. Sydenstricker came to Geneva in to develop international health statistics, which Latin American countries vigorously supported. In the Paraguayan delegate requested a visit from an expert statistician to South America, to ensure statistical comparability.
Rajchman expanded LNHO activities to deal with health in the fullest sense of the word. He developed innovative programs on the social determinants of disease, examining the role of nutrition, occupation and housing. Here the LNHO teamed up with the International Labor Office, which had established interests in occupational hygiene and social insurance.
The LNHO documented public health administration around the world in its International Health Yearbook from to , providing monographs on the health administration of various countries. This contained entries on: Argentina , Mexico , Panama , Salvador , and Uruguay The reorganization of the Bolivian health service received comment in These entries were a showcase for national health administrations, as well as an opportunity to learn about each other's activities Borowy, It represented a way of internationalizing public health at an elite level.
Rajchman's assistant, Louis Destouches, took charge of a whirlwind tour by eight Latin American health officers, commencing from Havana in March These were: Drs. The tour was a high-status exercise, arousing considerable expectations of future collaboration. For the involved countries, this was a mark of honor. The Cuban program gives an idea of both the political frame for such a venture, as well as how many features of the public health infrastructure were on display. After being received by Lopez del Valle, the Director of the Sanitary Office, and by Jorge Le Roy y Casa, the chief medical statistician in Havana, they visited various administrative departments.
The next day was spent at the hospital Las Animas, where they heard lectures on epidemiology, and at the national laboratory for sera and vaccines. The intense program was continued over several months. After three weeks in the area around New Orleans, they proceeded northwards. The tour was ambitious, taking in innumerable public health and industrial medicine sites, as the Ford factory in Detroit, as well as a reception by President Calvin Coolidge. The European program was equally intensive, involving a range of laboratories and primary healthcare clinics.
When they reached Italy in August , they were received by Mussolini, and a final bout of intensive visits ensued, covering the draining of the Pontian marshes, and ending with a trip to an agricultural colony. The participants felt weary of model clinics, sewer systems, slaughterhouses and crematoria Gibault, , p. Destouches noted, "Voyage trop rapide et point assez technique" Gibault, p.