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Poland, a nation who has learned how to suffer since at least the eighteenth century, knows today that her troubles have just begun. When the body of Marshal Pilsudski has been laid in Wawel Castle beside his nation's heroes, Poles will be forced to put aside their black crepe and face the gloomiest of realities. Before them is the acid test of dictatorship: the question of what to do when a state which has been raised upon the personality of one man finds that he is gone. If history means anything, the autocracy has one of two fates; a howling chaos may engulf the country, in which men of definite ambitions and questionable talents fight for the chair of government, or else, when a so-called successes has been named to carry on the work, the dictatorship disintegrates with the body of its founder.
This futile finish to a dictatorship has always been one of the most effective arguments against this form of government. No matter how much of a superman the autocrat is, he and his followers must face the truth that death takes no holiday. Modern style dictatorship is distinctly a post-war phenomenon, and as a result, Father Time has not had the opportunity to show his long-suspected preference for democratic rule. Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler, are all young men and very much in the saddle. Not only has their power just started, but they own their very positions in large measure to their magnetic appeal to the youth of their countries.
Poland's dilemma is quite definitely the world's anxiety. Democratic France, Britain, and even the diplomatically snobbish United States, may have to worry about the poisonous fumes cast from the body of a dying autocracy. With the international arrangements of Central and Eastern Europe having all the reassuring stability of a charlotte ruse, the end of a definite policy for Poland can do more than rock the boat. And, whatever the world might have thought about Pilsudski's policies, at least they were definite. He built his house quite discreetly upon the foundation of amity with Germany, his next-door neighbor on both sides. Hard for members of democracies to realize is the truth that when dictatorships end, programs usually follow suit. It is to be hoped that in the looming grapple for the reins of the Polish government the winner will be a man whose polices will further the move toward, a placid and permanent solution of the tangles of Eastern Europe.
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