Poland has inherited one of those geographic legacies of double-edged value. Wonderful farmland, central location, good waterfront = all benefits for the economy! But these translate militarily into nice, flat, easy-to-roll-up territory, immediately accessible by many foes from every direction!
The book POLAND by James Michener is a great read. My favorite chapters cover the Euro Christianoid armies (from France, Germany & Poland) marching to Vienna with Jan Sobieski at the helm (circa 1270??), arriving just in time to break the siege by the Turks, marking the high-water mark of their invasion into Europe. The book has at least three chapters about Poland being overrun or in dire shape by invasions; the chapter titles, if memory serves, are simply: “From the East,” “From the West,” “From the South.”
Another amazingly resilient tribe of people, the Poles (or Pollacks, depending on individual preference). After the living death of WWII and then 45 years of industrial zombiedom under the USSR, they inherited one of the most pervasive ecological wastelands on Earth, not to mention a bare-subsistence economy. Yet their efforts, led by Solidarnosc, were key to the crumbling of the Soviet Union, and now they have the strongest economy of the new members of the European Community.
I guess there’s something special in that kielbasa!