And thus I clothe my naked villainy
With odd old ends stol’n out of holy writ;
And seem a saint, when most I play the devil.
William Shakespeare, from Richard III
The hysterical behavior of Poland on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz has been an archetype of clumsy redirection, enthusiastically backed by western academics – Look! they cry; Putin is trying to blame Poland for starting World War II!! When everyone knows it was the Soviets with their notorious Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, under whose terms the filthy co-conspirators planned to carve up Poland for themselves.
It would not be an exaggeration to suggest here that if the Polish attempt to rewrite history meets with broad acceptance, the practice will become a model for countries who wish to sanitize their own history so that they appear to have been victim rather than aggressor; hapless sacrifice to a peaceful nature rather than eager collaborator.
History – well, we assume it is the real history, although you can’t be too sure these days – reflects that over 230 Soviet soldiers, including the commander of the 472nd regiment, died in combat in the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Seems a drop in the bucket compared with the Soviet Union’s losses overall in the war of extinction with Nazi Germany, but the number reflects combat losses in that operation alone; men who died when they might reasonably have been expected to live, in order that thousands of prisoners might be liberated. Poland’s recent response has been to destroy Soviet war memorials in the country, backed by an order of the nationalist Polish parliament, the Sejm. And suddenly, enough became enough as far as Russia was concerned.
It is against this backdrop of determined lunacy that I feature the first-ever guest post by Dennis Pennington, British-born resident of Russia for over 20 years, and better known to most of us here as Moscow Exile. Without further ado; Dennis, take it away!
A Four Hundred Year Grudge
On September 1, 2019, the Polish leadership did not invite Vladimir Putin to attend commemorative events to mark the outbreak of World War II in Europe, whereas practically all other world leaders had been invited. In that same year, the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz Nazi extermination camp, the same thing happened: the Russian president was snubbed, no matter that it was the Red Army that had liberated the inmates of that death camp in 1944. Furthermore, the Polish authorities have ostentatiously refused to celebrate the anniversary of the liberation of Poland from Nazism. The Polish Foreign Ministry has already issued a sharp statement on the outcome of the Second World War in Europe. In its official account on Twitter, that ministry has expressed its views as regards this liberation of Poland from the Nazis:
“We respect the blood sacrifice of soldiers in the fight against Nazism, but in 1945, the Stalin regime brought terror, brutality and economic exploitation to Poland”.
The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs added that:
“The Red Army liberated Warsaw from Nazi occupation, but that did not mean freedom for Poland!”
During the Warsaw-Poznan offensive, on January 17, 1945, Warsaw was liberated from the Nazis by Soviet troops. This year is, therefore, the 75th anniversary of this event. However, although Poland had ceased to exist more than 6 years before this date, following a swift Nazi-Germany Blitzkrieg victory against the Polish armed forces in September 1939, present day Polish politicians prefer to call the Soviet liberators of Poland “Soviet occupiers” who “oppressed” Poland until the Soviet Union in its turn ceased to exist in 1991 and Poland had become a NATO member state. Continue reading “A Four-Hundred-Year-Old Grudge Meets a Line in the Sand”