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Poland in the 80's Through the Lens of French/Swiss Photographer Bruno Barbey (imgur.com)
210 points by curtis on Dec 14, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 115 comments

I grew up in Poland back then. Looking back at those photos, what is amazing is the serenity due to lack of advertising on the streets and on people's clothes. The world's visuals didn't scream at you back then (except for the occasional propagandist poster or banner, but these were not everywhere like today's advertising is).

BTW later, when I was a young teenager in Poland's nineties, already under neoliberal capitalism, I dreamt of the commercials on TV being informative and helpful instead of the brainwashing puke they were (and still are). As an Amiga fanboy, I especially dreamt of a commercial campain that would convince people of Amiga's technical strengths :) Ah, the innocent years of youth.

As a fanboy of a different now defunct computer manufacturer from the same time period I also dreamed similarly about convincing people that my team was the right team.

It seems crazy to me now. Not because they weren't really good products for the time but because I was hitching myself to a commercial organisation with its own agenda on everything. Unless you're a share holder cheering on a commercial organisation, as I did, is silly.

If I could go back in time and speak to my younger self I'd point out that at least with FOSS you've as much right to the future of a project as anyone else. RMS really is correct on that.

I grew up in the USSR and I dreamt of Lenin because he was as ever present as advertising and Jesus put together in the US. Huge red billboards were everywhere, with quotes from or about Lenin and the party he created. When commercials appeared, they at least seemed lively and exciting.

What were the dreams about ? I don't know what it is to dream about a political figure

I remember ads you could find in computing/science magazines back in the 80s and early 90s in France, and they were all about technical specs and performance for certain use-cases. Pretty cool stuff. Now it's just colour puke and buzz-words.

>Now it's just colour puke and buzz-words.

Well said. The rot started some years earlier. See BYTE and other contemporary computer mags going downhill or shutting down, after a great run of many years, for example. Those computer mags used to have pages and pages of code listings, and text explaining the code (even though they still had ads for products, you could either ignore them, or read them as I often did, to learn about new tech, and some of the products were even good and interesting). Same thing happened with National Geographic magazine, sadly. My dad had a lifelong subscription to NatGeo gifted to him by a mentor who he lived with in the States, a friend of his father, while doing college there. We used to get the issues in India each month (when not stolen by the postal staff, which happened sometimes). As I grew up, I noticed the mag getting thinner, less pages for articles and photos, and more for ads.

Many of the articles in those earlier computer mags were really good and very educative. (I used to stand in regular new-book shops or roadside second-hand book shops in Chennai and Pune, reading such mags (to decide which ones to buy with my limited budget, by reading parts of many articles in them) until my feet hurt, and then leaving, after buying a few to read fully at home.) Ditto with the British Council Library, from where I used to invariably borrow 4 books (the limit) at a time. They had very good books by British computer book authors, on many topics and parts of the h/w and s/w stack.

I remember reading a very good article about Huffman coding with an explanation, figures and C code or pseudocode, by Jonathan Amsterdam, in a BYTE issue. BYTE used to have specials sometimes, notable ones were the issues on Smalltalk and Lisp (one each), in which articles about those subjects filled almost the entire magazine. The Ciarcia's Circuit Cellar column by Steve Ciarcia was great too, so much that I used to read it even though I did not have a background in electronics or hardware.

In fact, for some issues, BYTE's cover art by Robert Tinney became collector items.


DDJ (Dr. Dobb's Journal (of Computer Calisthenics and Orthodontia was the original name, IIRC) and CUJ (C User's Journal, later became C and C++ UJ), were excellent too. Many really good articles on C and C++, both on the language and algorithms for various purposes.







I miss those days, dammit.

From Ciarcia's How it all began article above:

[ While most people waited until the 8080 or 6502 to discover computing, back in 1974 I had an 8008 homebrew system running immediately after it appeared (see Photo 1). I paid $120 (converts to about $500 today) for that 8008 chip, and to this day, I remember sweating as I powered it up the first time. Would it be puff, pop, or hum? Well, it worked. ]

The parts about the subterfuge and skullduggery going on in the industry then are also interesting.

The part in Ciarcia's "How it all began" article starting with:

"During the same decade all this was going on at my end, BYTE was experiencing significant changes as well."

is also very interesting. Several paragraphs from there describe how he started his own magazine, Circuit Cellar, after BYTE changed direction.

It's weird how modern times made technology fluff... You can see how 40s US or CAN Army videos were so pragmatic yet detailed.

Haven't seen those, but can imagine, having seen roughly similar stuff from earlier.

I'm also shocked at the spirit on people's face. The ~lack of most modern things was replaced by other ways to enjoy places and times.

Well, I guess all this says is that when people aren't forced, that's what they want.

I'd rather have billboards than oppression, but maybe that's just me.

You think people want advertising? I’d say companies want advertisting, and people cannot do anything to stop it. There are some exceptions though, like cities banning outdoor advertising in historic city centres, the reason being that they’re intrusive and ugly, thus making the location less attractive for tourists. It’s a shame that a mere ugliness is not enough, it has to be linked with a financial loss - but it’s a step in the right direction IMO.

Why cant one dislike both?

Hey, you missed the huge Polonez Ad on the wall there. The socialist Poland Mercedes!

Technically, it is Fiat 125. Just with different body.

Yes, that single ad.

The most important one! I always wished to knew someone who had one so I could drive in it.

My family had it! It was not half-bad, except for poor reliability and high fuel consumpton. From what I’ve heard, it also drove terribly (top gear made entire episode about it, just to make fun of how badly the car handles).

We were still on waiting lists when we left for Germany...and came back a few years later in an old and ugly brown Toyota Tercel which was so much better ;)

Sorry, this has little to do with what Poland looked like in the 80s.

Being born and having lived there for the first few years of my life, these pictures looks as exotic and strange to me as pictures from Yemen or Kazakhstan.

I'm not saying they're not real, but these pictures are clearly selected to be as far from what an average Western person considers to be "normal".

I guess it's like going to the US, only focusing on the Amish and extrapolating their way of life to the whole country.

In that photo with the wicker-basket love seats on the beach — which I'm guessing is Sopot — we still have those. Also ul Mariacka looks no different.

I'm guessing you're from somewhere prosperous? I mean even today, yes Sopot and Warsaw are just masses of Porsches and pretty women, but that isn't the case in some less well-off areas.

> In that photo with the wicker-basket love seats on the beach — which I'm guessing is Sopot — we still have those.

Amish also still exist. The issue is, this portrays a country that was by then very diverse, through a very specific perspective, that, through a rather suspicious coincidence, happens to match western stereotypes about the country, instead of challenging it.

Doesn't change the fact those are good photos, but while there might be true in their literal content, as a whole they provide a false narrative.

Not sure what are you trying to prove. Those photos show what's quaint. Big cities and places where things look more western seem less unique or interesting.

The choice of photos serves a function, build a certain narrative, and they're not just "huh, look at the bunch of pretty pictures I made". Disavowing that is, to put it bluntly, dishonest to the conversation.

What narrative do you think the photos are trying to build? To make Poland in the 80's appear more quaint? Your paranoia seems. . . unwarranted.

I'm not sure you understand what a narrative is. Furthermore, you should learn punctuation before trying to use an ellipsis for dramatic effect, especially if you're trying to insult their intellectual abilities.

I love how poland embraces their history. Those beach baskets in Sopot are just typical of here and my wife’s grandparents have pictures in the same basket chairs that are out there today (kinda).

Many farm pictures can be seen with a 1 hour drive from Sopot today. There are some really remote places where people have horses, yet they have near gigabit LTE service. Borzestowo for example.

Coming from America where we have no single ancestor except “freedom” it’s hard to imagine why people would want to hang out there like that. However, it’s just part of the culture. We are lucky to be part of it.

Wow. It's uncanny that you mentioned Borzestowo of all places. It's tiny, and I used to own a house there. My mother was buying the house from my uncle — in my name — when I was a child. My uncle still owns the house. It's one of the three wooden A-frame holiday homes right by the lake.

I spent many summers there as a kid.

Is there a reason why the seats are facing away from the water?

Wind from the Baltic sea can be pretty cold, and the sunshine comes from the South.

Hmm, masses of concrete and falling apart houses are still in most cities, even today. Even some bigger towns.

Thank you.

I've been in Poland only in 2000's but while watching these photos I could not believe that this is what Poland looked in 80s. Looks like some kind of village in middle of nowhere in 60's. The pictures were clearly selected to portray it as somewhat poor and non-western. The question is tho: Why?

It's exotic and therefore interesting.

It also makes people better off feel better about themselves. "You finish that plate right now, kids in Africa/India/wherever would give anything to have your food!"

There's no conspiracy. Poland has really changed that rapidly during the '90s.

We are in the east of Poland and most of the farming scenes are still quite common. A lot of the clothing has hardly changed too for some older folks. It can be a real shock compared to the city.

Meh, I'm from eastern Poland (lived in a small village near Lublin in 80s and 90s, spent every vacations in even smaller village near Włodawa in what I can only call Poland C).

I've rarely seen horses, and when I did they were a novelty, tractors were much more common.

Yeah, I admit, it's hard to figure these things anecdotally. Our next door neighbor near Kazimierz plows with a horse and I do see that occasionally elsewhere. Things like hand tools, wooden wagons with rubber tires, organic fertilizer, scarecrows, free range animals and small family farms are also things I see frequently. Tractor ownership seems definitely less than 100%. From what I understand, there are some areas of the Lublin Voivodeship that are especially poor and this poverty might be highly localized.

I'm contrasting this with the USA where farming practices make use of a lot of highly specialized machines and huge scale. Actually many of the farmers I know in the USA are quite well off due to a combination of subsidies and very large operations.

WHile I understand you, you miss the “Through the lens” , Is his personal view, not the real life. That is exactly what photography should be , art.

People often complain that a photographer has objectified a particular subject whilst forgetting that cameras objectify everything that they capture regardless of the intention of the photographer.

What makes photography interesting is that a photo tells you everything and nothing about a subject.

Nothing shown in any photograph is real because you're looking at an impression of reality at a single moment in time.

It's not objectifying, it's stereotypising with the most werid stuff you can find.

Yeah you could find people riding on horse-drawn carts in Poland in 80s. 1 for every 100 cars or more. Now count cars and horses on these photos :)

I'm a kid of the '80s from fellow Socialist country Romania and this photo: https://i.imgur.com/LFWANdK.jpg could have as well been shot in my country back then.

Also, the image of the old Polish peasant lady crying just outside Auschwitz is really, really powerful: https://i.imgur.com/uqTGzLO.jpg . Her headscarf (we call it "basma" here in Romania) is almost identical to what my both grandmas used to wear.

I recall that the women of Warsaw were all clothed in style at the time, despite all the problem with the economy. How did they all manage?

Typically DIY and/or family in the West (or possibly Western charities).

Also trade trips to some other socialist countries that would happen to be better off at the moment. Depending on when exactly, it could be Czech Republic, Hungary, Yugoslavia etc.

Well, considering that the rural areas of Poland looked like that and seeing horse carts delivering coal in Katowice was nothing unusual back then I'm not entirely sure if it is so wrong considering how much of Poland is/was rural. Even though I must admit I miss this "modern socialist" architecture that was there in the bigger cities for sure.

Just a note - while photos are true, they should not be taken as the representative or a generalization of how average life looked like. Photos from an Indian reservation or city ghettos will show how the life in the US looks like for certain people, but not as all people in the US live. Obviously, a photographer will concentrate on more exotic topics from his perspective.

BTW, is that a feature of an old film, but all those photos look very very grim to me :) Even the ones where people joke and laugh.

A Belgian photographer once showed that he can create any picture he wants, using the same environment. Well worth the 3 minutes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmbsXussxUc.

It has English subtitles ;)

Contrast on the photos is cranked up and there are a lot of shadows (I think that's all natural for film, but dunno if also adjusted manually). Plus the photographer picked shots that look still, even frozen―more so when the objects have volume thanks to the contrast. Makes for an eerie and menacing mood.

Feels like a lot of that stark difference in that first pair was due to particularly present weather in the modern one vs a cloudy/grey day in the old one.

Also there are trees now.

it's mostly just light though in the first, raise gamma/brightness and make colors warmer and it will look pretty much same minus plants

Fantastic. The first before/after is incredible.

It seems to me that the photos are selected towards the more exotic to a Western photographer or viewer. You could also have shots of urban life barely distinguishable from that of 80s' NY―but that wouldn't be as interesting to viewers, would it?

It's hard and possibly erroneous to judge from this temporal distance, but the more I look through cultural artifacts (and what memories I have), the more I feel that the spirit of the time was similar in many aspects across the US, Europe and the USSR (and maybe SE Asia too). Probably because the economy became progressively more global, and because there was a steady trickle of Western culture into even the USSR proper, since the 60s.

> towards the more exotic to a Western photographer or viewer

I'd go with "distinctly Polish" in many cases. The folklore clothing, wood art, ceramic heater/oven, trabant, polonez, priests, village houses, etc. are not just exotic. For me they're very much pictures that identify the set as 100% Poland. There are some exotic things in PL that would be less relatable.

I think the photographer did an awesome job with the selection.

It might've indeed been photographer's intent, though I have to wonder if it's true in the case of the photos of urban environment―which look quite jarring juxtaposed to traditional elements.

It's notable how the USSR never really dumped traditional folk culture: folk tales were featured extensively in children's books, and folklore-based art was prominent. (This might've had something to do with how the government had to raise everyone's support and morale during wartime, afaik even dropping the intense opposition to religion.)

And, from what I know, mainland and especially Central European countries tend to hold tighter to their traditional culture compared to both the US and Russia (the latter having wandered around in search of its identity all through the past three centuries).

> For me they're very much pictures that identify the set as 100% Poland.

I'm not Polish, but those scenes could very well qualify as being from my country (Romania). There's more similarities between countries in Eastern Europe than we'd like to admit :)

how is trabant distinctly polish? more like DDR or whole eastern block, but not sure what's polish specific about Trabant

I meant when taken together. Each on their own would likely be more common.

You're clueless and think you can judge this matter, while you ignore the fact that millions ran from Poland, East Germany, USSR,etc, risking torture and death, and ran only in one direction. And to you "the spirit of the time" was the same on both sides of the Iron Curtain.

Having grown up near Amish country in the US, these pictures make Poland look like home. Fashion is different from the people I grew up around, but it certainly doesn't look like the "communist nightmare" that I was always warned that it was--it looks like it could've been right near me.

The photo with the ship being pulled uphill. That still exists to date:



The following site has short captions for many of the photos:


It's better than nothing, but please note that a lot of these are unfortunately inaccurate.

Eg. even sizeable cities such as Wrocław are referred to as "towns"... Poznań is supposedly located in the Silesia region... Sopot is referred to alternately by its Polish and German name (Zopott), and the German name is given as the primary one for Frombork (misspelled "Fronbork"), while the Motława river is named "Mottlau" exclusively for some reason, etc.

Arrrgh, a photo from Kraków showing the Main Square with the Mariacki church is labeled "The Wawel Castle". It's like showing a photo of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris and labeling it "The Eiffel Tower". It's hard to me to even imagine how the labeling process went here... must have been done at least in a big hurry and with blissful ignorance of the subject.

is there difference in polish language between town and city? i would think they distinguish only between towns and villages, cities basically don't exist and town it's their language equivalent

There aren't two different words, you'd just casually say big city, small city, or "miasteczko", a diminutive from city / miasto.

But English still does distinguish between the two, so when you read about a "town" in Poland, what you imagine probably isn't the 4th largest city in the country, home to over 600 thousand people.

I grew up in Hrubieszow (one of the eastern-most towns in Poland) in the late 90s and early naughties before emigrating. The photos are very much in line with the scenes I have observed growing up. It's such a contrast to compare my current environment to the one portrayed in the photos (and still lived by some of my extended family members).

If these parts stay unchanged, we will soon see places like (in Poland and elsewhere) as an oasis from the super-advanced reality most of the population lives within.

Going off other comments here and stories from my parents, the commercials and ads back then were thought to present a more modern, futuristic, "better" life that people worked hard to obtain. Soon, the commercials will present a simpler, older life that we dream of escaping to just for a moment. Interesting thought.

...a lens biased towards countryside, and that would require captions to better understand the meaning of photos, IMHO.

there's no bias, the photos represent the general state of the whole country

No they don't. Source: growing up in said country during that era. There weren't that many horses then, even in the countryside.

And they did have tractors. Plowing with a horse was a curiosity even in the eighties.

Nope, when I was young and visited my family in Rzeszowskie district many farmers did plough using horses. Countryside that I remember looked like this. Ofcourse there were tractors, but A LOT of people were using horses - even in the beginning of 90's it depended on how poor a region was.

Harvesters and tractors were often rented for specific tasks.

This plays nicely to the Western stereotype, though. (Not the pictures in and of themselves, but pretending the outliers to be the typical).

I remember the outrage over Microsoft Encarta which used photos similar to the Barbey's ones to illustrate the "Poland" entry in 2003 :)

See http://of19.internetdsl.pl/bzdury/encarta/

Two can play that game, http://www.landoverbaptist.net/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/... - life of an American citizen, 2016.

And two did play it indeed :) Communist propaganda would actually pull a similar trick on the West, focusing the coverage on the stuff that was, well; weird or creepy at best.

For example the "This is America" documentaries (by Romano Vanderbes) were broadcasted on the communist TV in 70s/80s in prime time. An average viewer would assume it to be an accurate representation of the prevalent lifestyle.

i grew up in Poland too, east, and south-east looked like like this, or worse. where did you grow up? not everybody had a tractor, still had plenty of horses around, doesn't mean everybody used them, that'd be ridiculous

Warsaw, with parts of family near Ciechanów and near Piła.

No, not everybody had a tractor - that would be ineffective, given how many small family-owned farms there were. But they did use tractors and combine harvesters. TBH I don't know whether they were shared between neighbors or just unofficially borrowed(#) for a bottle of vodka from the state farms (PGR).

(#)There's this Polish verb "załatwić" which I cannot properly translate to English. It means obtaining products or services using ones connections, cunning and possibly transfer of a usual token of appreciation as in "załatwić za flachę" (obtain something in exchange for a bottle of vodka).

I think the most direct English translation for this word is "finesse". I had only ever known this word as a noun before recently hearing it used as a verb in US prison slang from a documentary.

EDIT: Then again, maybe not. When I hear people in Poland use that word, I'd maybe translate it as "organise" or "arrange", but only in the sense of arranging the acquirement of something.

Kind of "to sort out", but the more specific meaning is lost. The history has filled our vocabulary with quite a lot of such terms that don't lend themselves well to translation. Eg. "chałtura".

you grew up in the country's capital, and had family in the north-west, no wonder you have no idea how life really was

Both - as they're commonly referred to - "Poland A" and "Poland B" comprise of significant portions of the population. I can't see why life in one should be considered "real", while in the other, not. There are two sides to this picture.

Because capitals are show off places in oppressive countries. The reality is outside. I grew up in a small city in USSR and sometimes speak to people that grew up in Moscow or Leningrad. The difference is huge... They often owned cars, had frequent access to bananas and oranges, and the stores were generally adequately stocked. Not for us and the rest of the country..

That's true, but my parent commenter referred to the entire North West (which is, generally speaking, more well off in Poland) not being "real". Not just Warsaw. Ciechanów or Piła, both rather small towns, could hardly be considered show off places.

Overall the gap was more along the lines of big cities vs. province as you say; rather than geographical. In a centrally planned economy large urban centers were overprivileged in the pecking order.

...which means that the pictures have a bias, and they don't represent the state of the whole country at the time.

(not that there is anything wrong with it)

I was plowing with horse when I was 5 years old in 1995 in south-east Poland. This is when we switched to self-made tractor and anyway farm was gone in 2000s when my grandpa stopped to care. Things changed a lot but south-east outside cities is still relatively poor.

What are you talking about and why are you lying?

I’ve only been to Warsaw once, a couple of years ago, but has a strong mental image of ~80s Polish urban landscape formed from Kieslowski’s movies, esp. the Dekalog (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dekalog) Only the last photo in the set, of kids playing on an abandoned car in a grim apartment complex matched that image.

BTW, if you’ve never watched this series you absolutely should, esp, Dekalog 1 should be required watching for technical people, as an antidote to the hubris we sometimes feel in describing nature. Now that I have a son at that age, it strikes even closer!

Another photographer. Poland (and some former socialist courtiers) in the 70's - 80's http://chrisniedenthal.com/en

Highly recommend those. Photos linked in OP are cool and true, but very... selected. They show what was already sort of archaic even for Poles. Niedenthal is way more representative and famous - he was Lech Walesa's presidential photographer later on if I remember correctly.

Yeah Niedenthal's pictures are not as one sided as these...

Maybe post them on Hacker News?

Nice photos. They represent personal view of the photographer, as every photo does in the end. One thing can be captured in many ways, showing different points of view or emotions. Enjoy one point of view from one specific place, one photo at a time.

political background at the time of the photos https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Poland_(1945%E2%80%...

That photo of Lenin with the "Solidarity" newspaper and a sign on the jacket - nice humor and is pretty telling that Poland definitely was rejecting the socialism as a foreign object :)

edit: thank you, corrected the link

This is wrong. "Solidarnosc" was more socialist than the ruling party! This common misconception. If you read their manifesto, you can see they wanted even more socialism. That movement was only about taking over. In 1988 communists started capitalist reforms similar to China, but fall of the Soviet Union gave politicians coming from the Solidarnosc a chance. First thing they did was reversing the free market reforms and moving Poland to be a socialist utopia it is today and wasting huge potential.

Actually, it's more complicated than that. "Solidarność" was a big organization, with different factions. The some of the members, like Andrzej Gwiazda, Anna Walentynowicz, Kornel Morawiecki, were more right-leaning, patriotic, fighting for independence. And then there were people like Adam Michnik, Jacek Kuroń, Bronisław Geremek, who actually were communists by heart, in fact more dedicated to communist ideals than the ruling PZPR party.

The truth is that they were infiltrated by the Germans and the US - they were not fighting for independence but to find new rulers.

As the "Right wing" you mean national socialists - who want socialism only for a given group of people.

True right (as in Libertarians) was ridiculed by the likes of Michnik.

>This is wrong. "Solidarnosc" was more socialist than the ruling party!

yes, i know, and you're right in the sense that it is a bit more complicated than i originally said. The fall of real socialism in 198x in USSR was also associated with the part of society having that naive/romantic longing of "back to good socialism as it was originally envisioned by the great wise fuzzy warm grandpa Lenin" (never mind that Lenin was presiding over and directing the class- and political based genocide on the national scale as a natural part of his socialism) as opposed to supposedly incorrectly implemented real socialism of the time. So the Lenin explicitly embracing "Solidarity" artifacts on that photo is exactly the symbol of the same "back to and more of the good original socialism" and a rejection of that "wrong" real socialism.

The catch of course is there is only one socialism, and it is not the "good one" as that just doesn't exist...

Well put my friend

"Good socialism, just like Marx and Lenin intended" is currently being implemented by European Union :)

No picture of any newly built factory... (soon to be torn down or sold) or the concrete buildings that still make the cities ugly.

More like "poor rural Poland" but I guess it's not so catchy as claiming this is regular Poland in 80s where you could buy Coca Cola and watch American/French movies/TV shows. It's pretty sad to see someone pushing their agenda with such clickbait titles.

The boy's backpacks in the photo with them by the fisherman at the lake: they look like $500 backpacks. It's funny how some things have changed in price perspective.

Eh, they were made from artificial leather with questionable feel, and, though the seams could be strong, the work was likely rather imprecise, so it's not quite the same thing.

‘Mass production’ goods from the 80s are now sold very cheaply second-hand, e.g. you can get these backpacks starting with $5, plenty for $15: https://www.avito.ru/rossiya?q=%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%B5%D1%8...

I highly highly recommend seeing the film Cold War, which is set in 1950’s-60’s Europe. The cinematography is near-perfect and the set design really takes you back to communist-era Poland and Paris.


Aside from the discussion on to what extent are these pictures actually representative of the overall conditions of the era, it's worth noting that the 1980s in Poland were particularly gloomy even by communist standards.

The system was clearly in the final phase of decline, and the crisis had struck hard.

The living standard had deteriorated considerably in comparison to the much more cheerful 1970s (when foreign credits helped to boost the consumption).

This shows in numerous statistics such as eg. alcohol or nicotine consumption, which peaked in the 1980s.

It still looks like that today


While I am certainly not a communist, there's little of communisty things in the pictures. It's rather an underdeveloped world and over 30 years ago.

Well: before communism Poland was more or less on par with Spain in terms of wealth and general advancement. (Not to mention eg. Korea).

The economic growth in communist Europe was on average 4 times slower than in the Western part of the continent.

Which is a result of being occupied by communists for decades.

are you being serious? you see pictures of a country that's been under communist rule since the 40s and you see no connection? it's just an underdeveloped country to you?

There really aren't many identifiable communist things in the photos. The areas can be underdeveloped for any reason and look similar.

This collection on the other hand is very much communism heavy: https://historycollection.co/24-pictures-looking-life-commun...

There was never communism established in Poland. Ever.

Or anywhere else, right? Perhaps you could just use the term like most people, including those in power in Poland at the time, do.

The good ol' "no true Scotsman".

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