Sport, Polish folklore, and communism in mining areas: Two tools in the service of an ideology (1945-1959)

By Noémie Beltramo

After the Second World War, the Polish communist regime spread its propaganda inside and outside its borders. The Polish consulates and embassy played a bridging role by instilling communist ideas in migrants and their descendants, these groups having started to settle down in France since the interwar period. Within the Polish community’s associative network, hundreds of communist societies—studied from the Departmental Archives of the Nord, Pas-de-Calais, and Saône-et-Loire—were formed in the mining areas of these departments. They mobilized, in particular, the notions of sport and folklore to develop and maintain a “red Polishness,” “Polishness” being defined as the affection of Polish migrants and their descendants for Poland and its culture. By means of these two activities and by organizing holiday camps, the young represented a priority target. The prohibition of Polish communist groupings in January 1950 failed to eliminate this propaganda, although it did weaken it. Under the auspices of the Polish authorities in France, attempts to (re)build sports clubs and young communist societies proliferated, but these either never bore fruit or only operated temporarily.


  • sport
  • Polish folklore
  • communism
  • “Polishness”
  • Polish associations
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