Since the three partitions it suffered in the eighteenth century, Poland has been eccentric to the main currents of European history, sometimes lagging behind them, sometimes anticipating them. In March 1968, Polish students and intellectuals anticipated their European and American counterparts by challenging the regime in power. This essay traces the intellectual genealogy of the March 1968 movement, focusing on the importance of nihilism and on the coming to grips with evil in human history. A summary account of the events of 1968 in Poland is provided.

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