President Bronislaw Komorowski and Professor Norman Davies. Photo: PAP/Pawel Supernak
“I wasn't expecting this, I thought the passport would arrive some time by post,” the professor quipped at the Belvedere Palace in Warsaw.
The 75-year-old historian thanked the president for his “outstanding courage” in “accepting a black sheep into the fold from the other side of the mountains.”
The professor, whose two-volume history of Poland God's Playground is considered a classic, also paid tribute to his Polish-born wife Maria.
“I wanted to be equal with my wife,” he said.
“She has two passports, Polish and British, and I want to have the same thing.”
On a more earnest note, Davies reflected that he often encounters people in Poland who “mindlessly accept black-and-white categories: them and us, Poles and foreigners, patriot-traitor, the son of the nation and the guest from abroad.
“This way of thinking is a blow to democracy – it is more than just false.
“It gives rise to contempt and fear, it damages cooperation, and opens the doors to manipulation by demagogues and populists.”
President Komorowski described Davies as “an exceptional Pole” in his speech on Friday at the Belvedere.
“I'm glad that I can give you Polish citizenship, [Poland is] a country that struggled to overcome a system that separated us from the Western world, and which has consistently tried to reestablish those severed, strained ties over the last 25 years.”
Norman Davies was born in Lancashire and educated at Oxford University, where he is now a Fellow of St. Antony's College. Besides God's Playground, noted works include Europe: A History (1996), Rising '44: The Battle for Warsaw (2006) and Europe at War 1939–1945: No Simple Victory (2004).
He is currently working on a book and an internet site about Anders' Army and the destinies of Poles deported to the Soviet Union during the Second World War.
Click here for an interview with Norman Davies about Polish-British relations. (nh)