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Sovereign Man: Finance, lifestyle design, Offshore Business and Expat news
July 26, 2010 10:00
by Simon Black
Are you â€œout of touchâ€?
July 26, 2010
By the late summer of 1939, Hitlerâ€™s forces had absorbed Austria and Czechoslovakia into his growing empire, and Germanyâ€™s military was massed at the Polish border clearly preparing for invasion.
In an astonishing display of perhaps the greatest complacency in the history of the modern world, however, Polish people sat lazing about their lakes, beaches, and riverbanks worrying about more pressing mattersâ€“ like how to beat the summer heat.
In September of that year, German troops easily vanquished the Polish army, and Krakow became the colonial seat of the occupying forces. Almost immediately, under the direction of the German SS, anyone who posed a threat was rounded up and imprisoned. This included over 180 Polish university professors and many businessmen.
Krakow, of course, is also very close to two of the main concentration camps used during the German occupation, nearby Oswiecim (Auschwitz) and Plaszow.
The worst part is that, even after the war was over, Poland merely swapped fascism for Stalinism. Overall, the country was shrouded in brutal totalitarian control for half a century; undoubtedly, the Nazi invasion of Poland set off a chain of events that would forever affect the lives of all Poles.
Itâ€™s true that no one had a crystal ball back thenâ€¦ but it would certainly stand to reason that with Hitler knocking at your door, you would probably want to have an escape plan. Even more prudently, perhaps to have already executed it.
Many Poles did just that; they spent the preceding seasons liquidating assets, stocking up on gold, and getting their travel documents in order.Â By the time Hitler came to town, many of the smart ones were already gone.
My guess is that the ones who left were probably ridiculed by their peers as â€œcrazyâ€, or â€œfringeâ€, or â€œout of touchâ€, or my personal favorite, â€œunpatriotic.â€ Itâ€™s as if they had a solemn national duty to stay, get roped up and waste away in a concentration camp for the â€˜greater goodâ€™ of Poland.
For those who escaped before the war, many of them went on to build new lives in places like the United States, Brazil, and Argentina.Â They prioritized freedom and opportunity, and they went to the best places that were safest for themselves and their families.
Iâ€™ve met a businessman here (Iâ€™ll call him â€œJarekâ€) who I think has the best story to sum this up; when Jarekâ€™s father was just a boy in Krakow, the family saw the warning signs and decided to leave town. This was 1938.
Jarekâ€™s grandfather owned a successful bakery at the time, yet he felt that he would rather start over somewhere else than risk the safety of his family by living in a police state. They sold everythingâ€“ the house, livestock, and businessâ€¦ and everyone else thought they were crazy.
Within six months, the family was in Curitiba, Brazil; Jarekâ€™s grandfather soon established a new bakery that eventually became a thriving business. Jarekâ€™s father grew up in Curitiba and integrated into the local culture, yet he maintained his roots since there were many other Poles who followed them there.
30-years later, the face of Brazil started to change. By the mid-1960s, the whole of Latin America was becoming a military dictatorship.Â Once again, the family decided to get out while they could and head towards better opportunity; they sold the business, liquidated their assets, and this time headed towards the United States.
Jarek was just a baby when the family made this move. He grew up in a Polish neighborhood of Chicago, spoke Polish at home, and married a Polish girl from his neighborhood.
He was working as a young real estate professional in the Chicago suburbs when the Berlin Wall fell, at which point he began making more frequent trips to Poland to visit his familyâ€™s homeland.
In his subsequent trips throughout the following years, Jarek began feeling like there was more and more opportunity in Poland; in 2003, fearful of what would happen in Chicago because of the â€œWar on Terror,â€ Jarek moved his family full-circle back to Poland because he felt like it was the safest, most opportunity-rich place for him to be.
He may have been right; his business is booming, and the family really enjoys the life they have built for themselves here. To listen to him talk, though, they would happily leave and go somewhere else if the right circumstances were presented.
â€œMy most important obligation is to my family,â€ he told me. â€œI will go wherever I can provide the best life for them, whether that is Poland, America, Brazil, or anywhere else. Nothing lasts forever, you have to expect that these things will change from time to time. People have to learn to change as well, to not get rooted in ideology.â€
I think Jarek has an interesting point; Iâ€™d really like to hear from you, though, what do you think?
I was born in this city which is about 60Km from the Polish border.
http://media.photobucket.com/image/Lviv ... rama-1.jpg
It changed 4 countries in the 20th century and people there had to change state languages several times as well. In addition to that, my family could not find work and had to emigrate to Russia when I was only 10 months old. So, no patriotism for us, thank you.
I went to Russia this summer and asked if I could qualify for dual nationality. They told me that I was foreign born ( Ukraine) and had to apply like anyone else. Again, no patriotism for me. In America, again, they put me in the ' foreign-born' category even though I have no other citizenship except the US.
In Ukraine I was told that I do not qualify for citizenship because I'd left before the independence.
As far as all these people above are concerned, they can all get f**ked! Patriotism, ma a$$! Excuse me while I go to a go go bar in the Philippines and lounge about with all these young ladies here. I am respected here and in Saudi and welcome, as well.
Most people are slow to accept change especially as they get older. Patriots are especially like that. (Formerly US) multinationals are not like that at all. They see the whole world as their home and feed of its resources. If there is trouble in one place, they have other resources and other countries to prosper in. These are US companies ( originally). Which goes to show that the smartest Americans are globally minded while the working bees are not. These believe that they are OK and are happy to work for small salaries with vacations that are as fleeting as a couple of weekends.
Here in the Philippines people are more globally minded than in the US. Their government even 'helps' them get lucrative positions overseas and support their families and economies. Filipinos know about limited resources of their homeland and are not blinded by patriotism. Their family is number one.
As time change we have to quickly adapt and look for new opportunities. No time for flag waving; time for passport waving at the airport. That is where your flag gets you some cash.
When I did not have my contract extended in Oman, I left with 98K in my bank account. Had I lost my job in the 'richest country in the world' I would probably have to file for banruptcy. When my friend lost his job in Saudi Arabia, he also boasted of 3 figures in the bank and headed for the Red Sea so that, as the world imploded under the weight of debts and the whole financial crisis he could spend his time diving and gallivanting with female Russian tourists there. Nice!
I was in California in 1998 desperately looking for work and only able to find teaching jobs that paid $5.50 an hour. Colleges were filled with lesbians and other groups that would not let me in. After 18 months of absolute hell I found a job in Saudi and was off like Bambi. Immediately I went back to normal- 6 month vacations on Philippines islands, safaris in Africa, wine-tasting tours and skiing in NZ, whale watching in OZ. This is how an American citizen should live.
The American dream nowadays means- US citizenship+ other countries where it is a valuable tool. Not being a piece of sh1t back home struggling to pay bills.
Last edited by ladislav on Mon Jul 26, 2010 8:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
A brain is a terrible thing to wash!
"The American dream nowadays means- US citizenship+ other countries where it is a valuable tool. Not being a piece of sh1t back home struggling to pay bills."
Ladislav, you are a great inspiration to me. We are in the process of selling our furniture and stuff and the house goes on the market in October. That'll be one year being unemployed for me, and I'm sick of sitting here, being made to feel like an f'n failure, when I did nothing wrong. After living overseas for 6 years, I was fully aware of the American penchant for "blind patriotism", as I call it, and it rang hollow for me back then. I came back here to give it one more try and "play by the rules" and be a "good American". I lasted 15 years. Stick a fork in me; I'm done. Now that my little boy is arriving in 8 weeks, my family comes FIRST!!, as you said. We are moving in with the in-laws (great people) in Italy, and starting fresh. My IT career is probably shot at this point, so I'm going to have to reinvent myself. I'm think of teaching English during the day and working at an Irish pub or something some evenings. I won't have a mortgage, and I'll be taking all our savings in cash with me over there. Gonna make a clean start of it all, and it's actually pretty exciting, now that I've gotten over the anger, despair, denial, etc, of the whole shi++y situation here. It's going 3rd-world here, and fast. I'm tired of beating my head against the wall and getting nowhere. Time to look out for number 1 at this point. One of the first things I'm going to do, is start taking courses in Mandarin Chinese, when I get to Italy, since that's a big draw for me, and that's where the money and jobs are. I'll be applying for Italian citizenship right away too, which would give me access to the whole EU, once that goes through (2-3 years, I'm told). I get a work permit immediately, due to my marriage to an Italian.
Should be interesting.....
Great-looking town, Lviv, by the way!
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