A Four-Hundred-Year-Old Grudge Meets a Line in the Sand

Uncle Volodya says, “It is only prudent never to place complete confidence in that by which we have even once been deceived.”

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.

Why is this Polish nation of Western Slavs one of the chief, if not the greatest, haters of its near neighbour, the Russian nation of Eastern Slavs, both of which having lived in close proximity for centuries? Why are Russophobic statements issued from Warsaw with such regular monotony? What are the roots of this undisguised hatred that all too many Poles seemingly bear towards Russians and the Russian state, be it that Russia ruled by the Rurik dynasty or the Romanov Russian Empire or the Soviet Union or the present Russian Federation? What are the roots of this apparent Polish hatred towards Russia and Russians?

The answers to the above questions are, of course, to be found in the histories of both nations: more precisely, they are to be found in a one-sided interpretation of their histories. However, how far need one go back in time in order to determine when this Polish hatred and suspicion towards Russia and the Russians began? Perhaps this apparent Polish fear and hatred of Russia and Russians has its roots in that time when the greatest conquering army the world had ever known came thundering westwards from the eastern steppes, which horde might well have subjugated Western Christian states had it not returned whence it had come, but not before it had sealed off from the rest of Europe what had been most of “Ancient Rus’”, crushing it for over 200 years under the “Tatar Yoke”, and in so doing, making it terra incognita for Western Christian Europe and turning its Eastern Slav people into “the other”, something unknown, something “Asiatic” and not European and, therefore, alien and to be feared?

Coming somewhat closer to modern times, the creation of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth – formally, the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and, after 1791, the Commonwealth of Poland, might be a better starting point from which one should recount this tale of Polish animosity towards Russia. The Commonwealth of Poland was one of the largest and most populous and most militarily capable countries of 16th and 17th-century Europe. The Poles proudly claim, and with good reason, that in 1683 at the Battle of Vienna, the King of Poland and his army saved Western Europe from Ottoman invasion, albeit that the Russian Empire had been taking on and regularly defeating the Ottomans from about the same time and onwards, right up until the 1917 defeat of the Russian Empire in World War I — but the Russians are “the other”, not “real” Europeans but “Asiatics”!

At its largest territorial extent, in the early 17th century, the Commonwealth of Poland covered almost 400,000 square miles (1,000,000 km2) and sustained a multi-ethnic population of 11 million. Polish and Latin were its two co-official languages and Roman Catholicism its faith and one which it, of course, unabashedly proselytized. And therein one may recognize another cleft, perhaps the fundamental one, between the Poles and the Russians; though never part of the Western Roman Empire, the Polish nation was heavily influenced by it, as were all of the Western European states: the Slavs of Ancient Rus’ and its inheritor state, pace Ukraine Svidomites, the Russian Empire were not: the Poles are Roman Catholics and their laws and governance are to a great degree inherited from Rome, whereas the precursor of the Russian state fell under the influence  of the Eastern Roman Empire, of Byzantium, and adopted the Eastern Orthodox Christianity of that empire.

Russians were, in Polish eyes, errant, uncivilized, eastern schismatics, who needed to be subdued and converted to the Western faith. In the 17th century, the Poles even made incursions into a Muscovy weakened by internal political divisions in an attempt to take control there and to set up a Roman Catholic puppet Tsar. Moscow was occupied by the Poles and eventually liberated by means of a popular uprising against them in 1612.

After many decades of prosperity, however, this once mighty Polish state, this buffer against the eastern Asiatic barbarian hordes, against “the other”, entered a period of protracted political, military and economic decline. This led to its partitioning by its neighbours, the Austrian Habsburg and the Russian Romanov Empires, as well as the burgeoning Kingdom of Prussia, which latter was the new boy on the block, so to speak, the rising star in Western Europe. In fact, there were three partitions of the Commonwealth of Poland: the first in 1772, the second in 1793 and the third in 1795. Interestingly, one seldom hears Poles complaining about Austrian and Prussian seizures of their Commonwealth lands, only of those annexations undertaken by the Russians. Could this be because the two former were considered Western and Christian, therefore “civilized”, whereas the latter were and remain, it seems, eastern barbarians, “the other”?

When Buonaparte with his Grande Armée and his mostly unwilling allied armies marched into the Russian Empire in 1812, the over 100 thousand-strong contingent of Poles in the Corsican’s armed forces were certainly more than willing participants; for them, it was a grudge match in which they were taking part: they wanted their “Commonwealth” back!

Then there was the Polish November Uprising of 1830–31 against the Russian Empire, also known as the Polish–Russian War 1830–31 or the Cadet Revolution, an armed rebellion in the heartland of the erstwhile, still partitioned by the Russians Commonwealth of Poland. Needless to say, the rebellion failed — and the Polish grudge got even bigger.

And then it was all over with the Romanov Russian Empire: in 1917, following two revolutions that year in Russia, the Bolsheviks surrendered to the German and Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires, against which it had been at war since August 1914.

In 1918, taking advantage of the fact that Russia, Germany, Turkey and Austria-Hungary had suffered a severe defeat in WWI, albeit that during that war Polish troops (including Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel’s Polish grandfather) had fought for the German, Austro-Hungarian and Russian Empires, Poland decided to restore its former glorious statehood within the borders of the 1772 Rzeczpospolita [a calque from the Latin res publica —“common thing”, meaning for the Poles: “The Polish State”].

The Polish–Soviet War 1919-1920 was a war of aggression launched by Poland [The Second Polish Republic] against the short-lived Ukrainian People’s Republic and the proto-Soviet Union and fought over what is now the westernmost part of the Ukraine and parts of modern Belarus.

At first, Polish arms were successful and Kiev was occupied by the aggressors. But then the Poles began to suffer defeat and retreated whence they had come. The victorious Reds chased the Poles back to Warsaw, but then the Poles experienced a remarkable change in their fortunes, due largely to the incompetence of the Russian general Tukhachevsky, who underestimated his opponent Pilsudski, and the Red Army was defeated, which Polish victory was declared by the Poles to be the “Miracle on the Vistula” that had saved Western Europe from Bolshevism.

There then followed in 1921 the shameful (for the Russians at least) Riga Peace Treaty. Russia handed over vast territories to Poland, which Included Western Belorussia and almost all of “Right Bank Ukraine”, namely that part of the Ukraine situated west of the River Dnieper. The Vilnius region of Lithuania was also annexed by Poland, notwithstanding the 1919 borders imposed by the Treaty of Versailles, whereby the Baltic Republics had been established.

According to the Treaty of Riga, the Soviet-Polish border was established much to the east of the “Curzon Line”, named after Lord Curzon, the British government minister who had proposed that the Bolsheviks accept this line as the Polish eastern border. Lenin had refused to accept this proposition. Now, according to the Riga Treaty, the Bolsheviks were to lose huge territories and had to pay Poland enormous reparations. Moreover, there was the question as regards the fate of 110 to 120 thousand Red Army prisoners of war. What happened to the majority of these prisoners is still unknown. In the West and in Poland, the issue of Katyn is often raised, but the issue of those Red Army prisoners of war was simply bypassed and has now been completely forgotten.

Having gathered what it considered its former “Commonwealth” territories, the Poles then took up their usual favourite pastime — internal squabbling. In the inter-war Polish parliament [Sejm], there were 112 parties, 31 governments and 19 prime ministers. One president, Narutovic, was killed by right-wing extremists only 5 days after the election. [On Stalin’s orders, of course!] Because of protracted, internal political crisis, Marshal Pilsudski came to power and conducted the dismantling of Polish democracy. In the mid-1930s, Poland became a centralized and aggressive state, even brazenly demanding from the League of Nations the granting of overseas colonies. At the same time, inside the country, one third of the population did not even speak Polish — in terms of national policy, Poland remained a powder keg.

Reliance on archaic nobility complexes naturally led to aggressive foreign policy, complete rejection of internal compromises in a multi-ethnic society, reluctance to accept historical changes, orientation towards the past, and a lack of strategic vision.

Cue: Friendship with “New Germany”

Heinrich Himmler and Polish Chief of Police Kordian Zamorski, Warsaw, 1939

Springtime for Poland and Germany,  Bad time for Moskals and France?

(With apologies to the makers of “The Producers”.)

During his Warsaw official visit, Himmler met the Polish Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Assistant Under Secretary of State.

In 1935, the news of the death of Polish leader Pilsudski caused great comment in Germany. Goering, for example, followed Pilsudski’s coffin in Poland in the front row; all the main German newspapers came out with condolences on the front pages.

The Nazi Party, racist rag “Völkischer Beobachter” wrote:

“New Germany bows its flags and standards in front of the coffin of this great statesman, who for the first time had the courage of open trust and full alliance with the National Socialist Reich”.

Moreover, Adolf Hitler declared national mourning in the Reich and sent a telegram to the Polish president, in which he wrote:

“I am deeply moved by the news of the death of Marshal Pilsudski and express my sincere condolences to Your Excellency and the Polish Government. Poland lost the creator of its new country and its most faithful son in the Marshal’s call to eternity. Together with the Polish people, the German people mourn the death of this great patriot, who, through his full cooperation with the Germans, rendered a great service not only to our countries, but also invaluable help in calming Europe.”

Hitler even ordered that a memorial service be held in Berlin Cathedral, at which a symbolic empty “Pilsudski” coffin was present. After this symbolic funeral service, a Nazi guard of honour gave the empty coffin full military honours.

Adolf Hitler attending memorial service of Polish First Marshall Jozef Pilsudski in Berlin, 1935.
Adolf Hitler attending memorial service for Polish First Marshall Jozef Pilsudski in Berlin, 1935

Why did Hitler make such genuflections to the Poles?

The Anti-Aggression Treaty (“Pilsudski-Hitler Pact”) between Poland and Nazi Germany was signed in 1934, just a year after Adolf Hitler had been chosen as chancellor of Germany. Japan, Romania, Denmark, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia would also sign individual “pacts” with Nazis, the last of which being the USSR in 1939. The signing of the “Pilsudski-Hitler Pact” was one of the first foreign policy successes of the German government under Hitler’s leadership. The normalization of relations with Poland allowed Hitler to act in the West, where he planned to occupy the Saarland and Ruhr regions of Germany, which had been demilitarized as per the Treaty of Versailles. Now Hitler’s post Versailles re-arrangements of the German western border could be undertaken without fear of what would happen to the German eastern border with Poland. Moreover, Hitler was actively trying to involve Poland in an alliance directed against the USSR.

In turn, the Polish leadership expected Germany to support the realignment the Polish borders, which had also been drawn up at Versailles. In part, these expectations were met after the Munich Agreement of 1938, when Germany, Hungary and Poland began to partition Czechoslovak territory.

Eventually, Hitler unilaterally broke off the non-aggression treaty with Poland on 28 April 1939, on the pretext that Poland had refused to allow Germany to build an extraterritorial highway to Königsberg (now Kaliningrad) through the territory of the so-called Polish Corridor. Poland, however, referring to the text of the Pact, continued to consider it valid until the German attack of 1st September 1939.

In addition to the Pact, additional secret agreements were signed. Poland became the main partner of Nazi Germany in the East. Indeed, the Poles remained more loyal to the ideas of Nazism than others did. According to Professor Ryszard Kaczmarek, director of the Institute of History at the University of Silesia and author of “Poles in the Wehrmacht”, about a half-million Poles served in the Wehrmacht  on both Western and Eastern fronts. There were also Poles in the SS. In the final stage of the war, the so-called Świętokrzyskie Brigade, or “Holy Cross Brigade”, formed of Polish Nazis with radical anti-Semitic views took part in the murder of Jews and was accepted into the SS. Its commander was Colonel Antoni Szatski. Thousands of Poles were awarded Iron Crosses and Knight Crosses.

Following Poland, the UK, France and Romania also concluded treaties with Germany.

To be exact, Germany and Great Britain did not have a specific non-aggression pact with each other such as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact or the 1934 German-Polish Pact. However, they were party to various multilateral treaties that did technically serve a similar purpose, but there was never an explicit declaration of non-aggression.

Prior to the rise of Hitler in 1933, the Weimar Republic (post-WWI Germany) was still a member of the League of Nations and thus party to its treaties, such as the 1925 Locarno Treaty and the 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact. The Locarno Treaty created the Rhineland Pact, where Germany, Belgium and France agreed not to attack each other, and if any of them did, then the other two were mutually to defend each other. The treaty also stated that Germany would not go to war with any other country, which included the other signatories of the pact, Great Britain and Italy.

The Kellogg-Briand Pact was a renunciation of war as a means to settle international disputes and was signed by both the Weimar Republic and the UK. However, most of this was effectively voided when Hitler pulled Germany out of the League of Nations after he had become chancellor in 1933 and the following 1934 Four-Power Pact failed to effectively renew any of these treaties with Germany.

On March 19 1933, Mussolini called for the creation of the Four-Power Pact as a better means of ensuring international security. Under this plan, smaller nations would have less of a voice in Great Power politics. Representatives of Britain, France, Germany and Italy signed a diluted version of Mussolini’s Four-Power Pact proposal. Mussolini’s chief motive in suggesting the pact was the wish for closer Franco-Italian relations. Though Mussolini’s purpose of the pact may have been to calm Europe’s nerves, the pact actually caused the opposite result. The treaty reaffirmed each country’s adherence to the Covenant of the League of Nations, the Locarno Treaties, and the Kellogg-Briand Pact. The Pact was intended to be the solution to the issue of how sovereign powers could come together and operate in an orderly way, which was the purpose of the League of Nations in any case. Mussolini’s goal was to reduce the power of the small states in the League of Nations with a block of major powers.

The 1938 Munich Agreement at least nominally reaffirmed the commitment for peace between Great Britain and Germany. However, there is the Anglo-German Declaration to be considered, signed by the British Prime Minister, Chamberlain, and Hitler only hours after their signing of the Munich Agreement on 30 September 1938, in which it is stated:

We regard that the agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again.

We are resolved that the method of consultation shall be the method adopted to deal with any other questions that may concern our two countries.

Some might consider the above statement to be a non-aggression pact. It is not: it is by no means any kind of formal treaty. The agreement referred to in the above declaration is the Munich Agreement.

Of course, Hitler violated the spirit of this agreement and thus it can be seen as a broken “non-aggression pact” but it is not a legally binding document. In addition, Hitler blatantly violated the Treaty of Versailles through his re-militarization of the Rhineland, union of Germany with Austria and starting secret rearmament.

However, notwithstanding the fact that other states made pacts, treaties, agreements —call them what you will — with Nazi Germany, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact is the only one that is called into question in the West because it was a pact made between, according to the Western line of argument, the most heinous powers and most heinous tyrants in the history of mankind: Nazi Germany under the leadership of Adolf Hitler and the USSR under the leadership of Joseph Stalin, namely Hitler and Stalin and their respective regimes were both as bad as each other, two sides of the same totalitarian coin, which belief remains to the present day a “given” and is most vociferously expressed with monotonous regularity by the Poles.

What was classified in the Polish-German Pact 1934?

According to Soviet foreign intelligence data released after the collapse of the Soviet Union, in 1935, Polish General Jozef Haller claimed…

… that there is a secret military treaty between Germany and Poland, directed against the USSR. The same opinion was held by another Polish general, Wladyslaw Sikorski, who was sure that there was a secret military treaty between Germany and Poland, based on which the fate of Polish Pomerania was finally decided in favour of Germany.

In addition, the Soviet diplomat Litvinov, as a result his conversations with his Polish colleague Beck on February 13, 14 and 15, 1934 specified “a serious turn in the orientation of Polish policy” and immediately noted:

“It is unlikely that Poland could disdain our cooperation and at the same time distance itself from France without receiving any new guarantees or promises of guarantees”.

In other words, why did Poland risk making a pact with Hitler? Why did Poland rush headlong into destroying the existing security mechanisms in Europe? What could the Germans have promised the Poles?

These questions were raised in all European capitals without exception, and the existence of secret German-Polish agreements, annexed to the pact of January 26, 1934, was suspected. The leader of the Bulgarian Communists, Georgi Dimitrov, noted in his diaries at the time that the pact was dangerous for the USSR:

“Pilsudski is becoming increasingly close to Hitler. True, there are serious imperialist contradictions between them … But what is stronger is their common hatred for the USSR, their common desire to explore new territory in the East …”

Obviously, along with the 1934 Non-Aggression Pact between Germany and Poland, there was a secret protocol, according to which, in exchange for the German commitment not to oppose Poland, in case of an attack on Germany, the latter undertook to observe strict neutrality, which, in fact, meant the actual break-up of the Franco-Polish alliance, which  in turn, would ensure the destruction of the collective security system then in operation in Europe and was the main step towards surrendering Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany.

In 2009, a collection of Soviet foreign intelligence documents “Secrets of Polish Policy” was published in Moscow and compiled by retired KGB Major General Lev Sotskov, according to which Soviet intelligence there was published in December 1938, a report by the second (intelligence) department of the General Staff of the Polish Army:

“Dividing Russia is the basis of Polish policy in the East … Therefore, our possible position will be reduced to the following formula: who will take part in the division? Poland should not remain passive at this significant historical moment. The task is to prepare well in advance physically and spiritually … The main goal is to weaken and defeat Russia”.

During a conversation with Polish Marshal Edward Rydz-Śmigły on February 16, 1937, Hermann Goering said:

“… the danger is not only Bolshevism, but also Russia itself, regardless of whether it has a monarchical, liberal or other system”.

Rydz-Śmigły, in turn, noted that in the event of a conflict, Poland did not intend to take the side of the USSR.

In October 1938, German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop demanded that Poland agree to allow  Danzig (now Polish Gdansk) to be incorporated again into Germany. With the mediation of Japanese diplomats in January 1939, Hitler met with Polish Foreign Minister Jozef Beck, where he assured that Germany “requires a strong Poland”.

Later, having arrived in Warsaw at the end of January, Ribbentrop tried to convince Poland that if Germany succeeds in its confrontation with the USSR, it would be able to get part of the Ukraine as compensation for Danzig.

The Polish minister promised to consider the proposal, but refused to join the Anti-Comintern Pact, which Hitlerites had created to counteract Soviet influence.

In the end, a German-Polish strategic alliance did not take place. Formally, the alliance between Poland and Germany was broken off owing to a complete divergence of views over the “Danzig Corridor” and the future of the “Free City” of Danzig, populated primarily by the Germans. On April 28, 1939, Hitler announced the denunciation of the German-Polish non-aggression pact, thus including Poland in a zone of potential aggression.

Munich Collusion

The events of 1938 are known in the Russian interpretation of history as the “Munich Collusion”. The then leaders of European states turned a blind eye to the territorial claims made by Nazi Germany against Czechoslovakia and gave their consent to the annexation of the Sudeten area of that country which had been created at Versailles. Germany seized the Sudeten area, and Poland aided and abetted the German annexation by its seizure of the Cieszyn area. At the end of 1938, the former Czechoslovak enterprises of the Cieszyn region made up almost 41% of the cast iron smelted in Poland and almost 47% of its steel. Together with Cieszyn region, the Poles squeezed in four Carpathian villages from Slovakia: Gladovka, Lesnica, Sukhoy Hora and Tatranska Javorina. And they wonder why on September 1, 1939, the Slovaks entered Poland together with the Germans…

When the Germans invaded the Sudeten area, they were afraid of USSR intervention. After all, the USSR and Czechoslovakia had an agreement on military assistance. There was another factor as regards military aide to the Czechs and Slovaks: military aid from France. According to a treaty with Czechoslovakia, the Red Army was to enter only after the beginning of military assistance from France, which did not happen. Thus, the division of Czechoslovakia enriched Poland and unleashed the hands of Germany. Soon Germany took over all of Czechoslovakia. Everything was going hunky-dory between Germany and Poland, and then, in the spring of 1939, Poland came into close contact with Germany’s main enemy, Great Britain.

On 31 March 1939, Great Britain promised Poland that, together with France, it would become a guarantor of Polish national security. On 6 April 1939, during a visit to London by Polish Foreign Minister Jozef Beck, it was agreed that these guarantees would take the form of a British-Polish military alliance.

In his book “World War II”, Churchill wrote:

“And now England, leading France, offers to guarantee the integrity of Poland – that same Poland, which six months ago with the greed of a hyena took part in the robbery and destruction of the Czechoslovak state”.

Hitler neither forgot nor forgave Poland’s treachery.

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact

Every year in autumn, the moans and lamentations begin in Poland as yet another anniversary of the beginning of World War II in Europe takes place. The media are full of headlines such as: “Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact: the Devil’s Testament”, “The Fourth Partition of Rzeczpospolita“. This has become an obligatory ritual, without which it is difficult to imagine present-day Poland. However, in Poland they seem unwilling to recall the events of 1934 and 1938.

The non-aggression pact of August 1939 between the USSR and Germany was the last non-aggression pact signed by Nazi Germany. It was signed after Great Britain and France, after long negotiations, had refused to conclude such treaties with the USSR. Speaking at a session of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, the head of state, Molotov, in arguing for his proposals on the need to ratify that treaty, said: “We were left with no other choice”.

Everyone present understood that war with Nazi Germany was inevitable.

The Secret Protocols

Public awareness about the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was first raised at the Nuremberg trials: the defendants built a line of defence on this fact. Whilst on trial, Ribbentrop talked about the treaty with the USSR, and Rudolf Hess, also on trial and who had, when his star was falling in the Nazi hierarchy, flown, without permission from Hitler, to Great Britain during the hostilities in order to broker, off his own bat as it were, a peace treaty between Great Britain and Nazi Germany. Hess had got hold of a typewritten copy of the protocol and tried to make it public, but he was refused to do so on the pretext that he had refused to tell the court the source of the copy. Later, in his memoirs, Hess wrote that he had received the copy of the protocols from US intelligence.

The document gained wide popularity in 1948, when it was published in the collection of the U.S. State Department’s “Nazi-Soviet relations 1939-1941”. In addition, the collection contained German and German-Soviet diplomatic correspondence with direct references to secret agreements. This fact was the basis for the analogies between the policies of the USSR and those of the Nazi Third Reich, and for the accusation that the Soviet Union had been complicit in the outbreak of World War II in Europe.

In the USSR, the existence of the secret protocols was denied. Only in 1992 did the Russians publish the Soviet-German secret protocols concerning their division of spheres of influence.

At the same time, however, all the other states that had concluded pacts with Nazi Germany kept their protocols closed. Western leaders, unlike Yeltsin and Gorbachev, were not in a hurry to share responsibility for the outbreak of WWII in Europe, preferring to lay the blame on “totalitarian regimes”, which is what can still be witnessed now.

For example, in 1987, following Hess’s death in Spandau Prison, Berlin, the secret part of Hess’s wartime negotiations with the British government were classified until 2017. Then, in 2017, that classification was extended for another 50 years. Obviously, the British have something to hide, and so there is still no full understanding of the “appeasement” policy undertaken by Great Britain.

What are the fundamental differences between the Polish and Soviet pacts with Germany?

The Poland of Pilsudski was no better or worse than most other contemporary European states, each of which having tried in its own way to appease Hitler.

At the same time, the circumstances of the conclusion of the Polish-German Pact of 1934 and the Soviet-German Pact of 1939, with all their non-public agreements, were fundamentally different.

The USSR concluded a pact with Germany that had been forced on it by Nazi Germany, when there had remained for the SU no other options that it could take, following the failure of negotiations on a military convention with Great Britain and France. Poland, on the other hand, had made an alliance with Hitler consciously, whilst having many other options to ensure its security against aggression, including the existing Franco-Polish military alliance and Soviet proposals for a military alliance against Hitler’s aggression and many proposals that a united front be created in order to combat fascism.

The USSR concluded the Molotov-Ribbentrop Non-Aggression Pact when faced with the threat of a war on two fronts: in August 1939, the USSR had been engaged for 7 years in continuous border conflicts with Japan; in 1934, no such a danger for Poland existed.

The USSR concluded its 1939 non-aggression pact in the face of the significantly strengthened strategic positions and military strength that had been achieved by Nazi Germany by August 1939, whereas Poland, with its pact with Hitlerite Germany, created the conditions for this strengthening of a then, in January 1934, weak Germany.

Thus, the Soviet-German non-aggression pact was a forced response to consequences, the foundations of which had been laid by Poland in its assistance in the strengthening of the Third Reich.

Therefore, if any pact could be said to have started the Second World War in Europe, then it was the Polish-German Pact of January 26th 1934.

Responsibility for starting the Second World War

It is repeatedly claimed in the West that the USSR and Hitlerite Germany jointly invaded Poland in September 1939, thereby starting WWII, which claims in the Western mass media often imply or say outright that the USSR and Nazi Germany invaded Poland on September 1st, 1939.

The First Day of WWII

First point: September 1st, 1939, was the first day of hostilities that took place in the European theatre of WWII: some would argue that WWII Actually started several years before that date when the Japanese invaded Manchuria.

Second point: what was the USSR military actually doing on September 1st, 1939?

Answer to the second of the above points: Nothing! At least, nothing on its Western frontier. On the Eastern border of the Soviet Union, however, the Red Army and Mongolian units on the river Khalkin-Gol were coming to the end of a battle that they had been fighting since May of that year.

The Red Army had been fighting with the Mongolians on Mongolian territory according to a treaty, whereby the USSR provided the Mongols with military assistance in their fight against Japanese militarists. However, Warsaw regularly insists it was the USSR and Germany that launched World War II in September 1939 by their jointly attacking Poland.

The Second World War broke out at another time and in another place, many thousands of miles away from the western border of the USSR and not in September 1939, as the Western media says, most especially the Polish media,

In 1931, the Japanese invasion of Manchuria began, namely, the Japanese Empire seizure of northeastern China. The Japanese wanted to move part of their population to the mainland, to Manchuria. The reason for that was seismic and other island problems, not least that Japan has a high population density. However, for such a massive operation, the Japanese had to rid the territory of the Chinese: in other words, in Manchuria, the Japanese had embarked on a genocidal war. In their creation of the puppet state of Manzhou-Go, the Japanese exterminated millions of civilians in an operation sometimes labelled “The Asian Holocaust”.

In 1937, Japan’s war with China became widespread. On August 21, 1937, at the request of the Chinese, the USSR signed a treaty with China on military and economic assistance. Military equipment, weapons and aircraft were sent to China as well as military specialists and volunteers, and this continued until 1941. Therefore, at the request of China, in fact, the USSR entered World War II. That is why the incidents of 1939 on Lake Hasan and the Khalkhin Gol River can be considered as events that took place as part of World War II.

It must also be remembered that Japan was a member of the so-called Axis countries, allies against communism and its spread throughout the world. The Axis states were initially: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan. Later Axis states were Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Thailand, Croatia and Slovakia.

What happened in Europe on September 1st, 1939, was that Nazi German and Slovak troops launched “Operation Weiss” and invaded Poland. On September 3, 1939, Great Britain and France declared war on Germany — and did nothing much else.

Apart from a naval blockade, a couple of surface engagements between the British Royal Navy and German Kriegsmarine commerce raiders and counter-U-boat measures, despite all their bluster, Great Britain and France took no direct military action against Germany. Furthermore, it seems that they did not intend to do so. The RAF, for example, dropped propaganda leaflets over Germany. When, in the House of Commons, it had been suggested that the Black Forest be set fire to, the Secretary of State for Air replied: “Are you aware it is private property? Why, you will be asking me to bomb Essen next!”

The “Phony War” had begun, which lasted until May 1940.

Meanwhile, the Polish army was unable to stand up to the German Blitzkrieg. Great Britain and France, which had concluded allied treaties with Poland, instead of sending military aid to the Poles (though it is hard to imagine how they could have done this), continued to seek ways to appease Germany. Taking advantage of the inaction of the British and French, the German command intensified its campaign in Poland.

The Red Army enters Poland on September 17, 1939

Citizens of the USSR learnt about this from the organ of the CPSU, the publication “Pravda”. The Soviet government statement explained the reasons for this Red Army incursion.

The government of Poland had by that time left the country, taking with it all the Polish gold reserves to Great Britain. Polish statehood had collapsed. It was therefore argued that all treaties between the USSR and Poland were no longer in force. It should be noted that in the West, it is often stated that this “Red Army invasion of Poland” had been secretly undertaken. Some secret: it was on the front page of “Pravda”

The Red Army troops that entered Polish territory on September 17 had been forbidden to fire on or bombard civilian settlements, as well as to fight against Polish troops if they offered no resistance. Red Army soldiers had been told that they were going to Western Belorussia and Western Ukraine not as conquerors but as the liberators of Ukrainian and Belarussian brothers from the oppression, exploitation and power of landlords and capitalists.

As regards that nowadays all too frequently heard accusation that Russia is expansionist and is in the habit of annexing territory, annexation was not fundamental to Soviet policy in September 1939. At the time, Soviet leadership was anxious to move the theatre of possible military operations against Nazi Germany as far away as possible from important centres such as Kiev, Minsk and Leningrad. The USSR was primarily interested in the issue of security: the September 1939 Polish campaign of the Red Army was driven first and foremost by considerations of self-defence.

Had there not been a Molotov-Ribbentrop Non-Aggression Pact, the Germans would have been able to attack the Soviet Union as early as 1940. The expected Nazi attack, Operation Barbarossa, was eventually launched at 04:00, June 22nd, 1941, when there began the most bloody and horrendous wars in human history; an ideological war in which the objective of the aggressor was nothing less than the extermination of the Eastern Slavs, and any others whom the Nazis considered “subhuman”, and the seizure of vast territories in Eurasia, the Nazi-German Lebensraum.

That year and a half that was thereby gained by the USSR, in which it could build up and prepare its armed forces and military industry, was a huge win under those conditions that existed in September 1939.

The fact that the 1939 Polish campaign of the Red Army was not an act of aggression against Poland is evidenced by the reaction of the international community at the time when it took place. Neither France, nor Great Britain, which declared war on Germany on September 3rd, 1939, following the invasion of Poland by the Wehrmacht, declared war against the Soviet Union when it sent its troops into Poland on September 17th of the same year. Consequently, neither in London nor Paris, was it considered that the USSR had committed an act of aggression against Poland, nor did the “guarantors of Polish security” consider that the USSR had “started the war”. Even the Polish government speaking in the League of Nations did not classify the actions of the Soviet Union as aggression.

As regards the 1939 Soviet seizure of Polish territory, from the Soviet Union point of view, this seizure was simply a retrieval of lands that had been lost to the proto-USSR as a result of the 1921 Riga Peace Treaty, which was made at the end of the Polish-Soviet War 1919-1920, which war was most definitely one of aggression waged by Poland against a post-Imperial Russia riven by internal strife. (The USSR only came into existence on 30th December, 1922.) Those lands of former Imperial Russia territory, later the USSR, that Poland had annexed following the Polish-Soviet War, were inhabited mainly by ethnic Ukrainians and Belorussians. The local populations of the former Polish territory that was occupied by the Red Army in September 1939 welcomed the Red Army as a liberator. There had been an accumulation of negative attitude towards the Polish administration since the Treaty of Riga. Since the 1920s, Polish colonists had been settling in Western Ukraine and Belorussia, where teaching in Ukrainian and Belorussian had been forbidden. As regards the living standards of the Belorussian and Ukrainian peasantry that had been living in the eastern borderlands of Poland, they were worse than those that existed in the Polish heartlands.

Present trends in European animosity towards Russia

Since the end of the Soviet Union, there has existed USA triumphalism, spurred on by the inane belief amongst the thinkers and shakers of the “Exceptional Nation” that the “End of History” had been reached. Those in the USA who claimed that their purpose was to shape reality, ably served by the US “soft power” machine and its lickspittle “free” mass media, have for the past 20 years and more diligently promoted the idea that Russia is nothing more than a “mafia state” run by political gangsters; a gas station with missiles and a long criminal past; the inheritor of that totalitarian state that had aided and abetted its alter-ego, totalitarian Nazi Germany, to unleash the most frightful war that man has ever known. Russia, they believe, should cease to exist, much as Prussia, because of its alleged warmongering history, was wiped off the slate of human history in 1945. One should stress here “Russia”.  Carthago delenda est! The wealth of Siberia, however, is held by these servants of Hegemon to be the property of “all mankind”.

The USA’s chief running cur in Europe, Poland, also has some geopolitical alternatives on offer. For example, the modern version of the Polish project “Mezhduhmorye” [“between the seas”, i.e. the Baltic and the Black Sea, as was the Commonwealth of Poland], is a regular propaganda feature of “Belsat”, a TV channel broadcasting in Belarusian and Russian, launched on December 10, 2007, in response to demand from the “Belarusian democratic community” for the media to provide reliable news and promote the national culture and language in Belarus. Belsat HQ is in Warsaw. It is a subsidiary of Polish state TV.

Belsat proposes that the Ukraine and Belarus be included in the Polish sphere of influence. Moreover, in the case of the Ukraine, Poland has already made with it “sweetheart” trade deals and granted it the free movement of labour and youth into Poland in order that they may study and earn money.

It should be recalled that at one time almost all European countries were parts of empires. They had been colonies of various empires throughout most of their histories; empires such as the Western and Eastern (Byzantium) Roman Empires, the Ottoman Empire, the British Empire, the Spanish Habsburg and Austrian Habsburg Empires, the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, the Swedish Empire and, not least of all, the Russian Empire. This colonial system only collapsed in recent historical times, during the “Age of Nationalism” in mid-19th century Europe, which collapse was later partly aided by Communism, which had been imported into the Russian Empire.

Today there are no colonies in Europe (Gibraltar, maybe?) in the old form, but there are protected markets for goods, weapons and energy to varying degrees, as well as cheap labour provided by post-colonial immigrant helots.

In addition, since 2015, Polish analysts have been compulsively warning Belarus that it is threatened by Russian military occupation, thereby driving the region into an arms race.

Today, any military conflict on European territory would be only beneficial to the U.S. and, perhaps, Poland itself, which the United States has practically bought.

That is why all attempts to classify Russia as a criminal state, a state that always has been criminal and forever will be, because that is the nature of “the other”, the subhumans, the Russians, is nothing new. Russia makes nothing. Russia is not a major power. Russia is backward, evil, and malevolent. The West does not need Russia in any way, shape or form — neither Tsarist, nor Bolshevik, nor any other.



867 thoughts on “A Four-Hundred-Year-Old Grudge Meets a Line in the Sand

  1. White-Russian Jewish roots, as a matter of fact. His family spoke Yiddish at home in New York, so he said.

    Douglas was born Issur Danielovitch (Yiddish: איסר דניאלאָוויטש‎) in Amsterdam, New York, the son of Bryna “Bertha” (née Sanglel; 1884–1958) and Herschel “Harry” Danielovitch (c. 1884–1950; citations regarding his exact year of birth differ). His parents were Jewish immigrants from Chavusy, Mogilev Region, in the Russian Empire (present-day Belarus), and the family spoke Yiddish at home.



  2. Oh look! No rotten fish heads and cabbages:

    Акции в Перекрестке с 11 по 17 февраля 2020 года в Москве

    Special offers at Perekryostok from 11 to 17 February in Moskva.

    Salmon bottom right at $7 a pound.


    1. Interesting… Salmon steaks are at
      $7.00/lb here (upstate NY).

      Halibut fillets are $27.00/lb.
      Do you have fresh halibut in Russia?


          1. They do lovely smoked halibut in Russia, too; it’s often paired with salmon and sturgeon in smoked-fish variety trays. It’s mild and slightly sweet, very nice – my favourite among smoked fish. I find sturgeon flesh a little strong, but that’s unsurprising, it is a rough fish and a bottom-feeder. I don’t recall ever seeing smoked halibut here, or I’d buy it. Tons of smoked salmon, this is one of the salmon capitals of the world (although Alaska, with some justification, also claims the title), smoked herring in the British-foods section, but no smoked halibut


            1. The halibut in Moscow is either flown in from the Far East (I mean the Russian Far East!) or Murmansk.

              I had never tasted halibut in my life before I came to Russia. Mrs. Exile bought a great big piece of smoked halibut for me shortly after we had got wed (from a Soviet style gastronom, bear in mind, and that was in the bloody awful ’90s) because she worships me body and soul.


  3. Euractiv avec AFP: Ambassador: EU eyes larger security role in Pacific

    The EU wants a greater security role in the Pacific and will have no problem working with China in a region where Beijing has boosted its influence in recent years, the EU”s ambassador for the Pacific announced.

    Speaking in the wake of Brexit, the EU’s ambassador for the Pacific, Sujiro Seam, told AFP he wanted the bloc to forge deeper trading ties and play a more active political role in the region.

    Seam, who began his four-year term in September, said he aimed to change perceptions in the Pacific that the EU was primarily an aid donor which also helped out with humanitarian assistance when required.

    Let’s get this right, u-Rope is facing high terrorist threats from countries that is has f/ked up with the US and struggling to cope yet it hopes to provide security agreements on the other side of the planet with countries that just happen to surround China and China is not included?

    The spokesman talks of ‘EU credibility’ where it does not exist. The EU is unable to act independently – let alone effectively – of the United States on defense issues. It can mess around the edges and do a bit here and there in former colonies territories (Salut La France!), but it still refuses to pay in money and in blood. All that’s left is puff-chested posturing, which is what this guy is doing. But, China is supposed to suck it all up and say ‘Thank you Sir!’ Deluded.


    1. I read it differently, at least in the declarative sense – the EU is announcing its willingness, even eagerness, to work in a cooperative relationship with China. The EU needs new trade partners and markets to offset its losses due to addle-headed rushing to obey Washington-ordered sanctions. Also, naturally, the EU fancies that with time and its Grand-Chessboard strategic thinkers, it may be able to increase its influence with some partners to the point it can split them off from China and make them trade satellites of the EU. But it could not realistically back up such actions militarily, and I’m sure China knows enough not to be outsmarted by Europeans – it’s been quite a long time since they were dumb coolies. The EU might, in some quarters, even entertain the notion of replacing its big-economy ties with the United States with similar-scale economic ties with China. But likely a majority in the EU still feel that China is a predatory partner which has to be top dog, while the United States is an equal and giving friend.


      1. Sounds very much like cake and eat it syndrome. While I do understand that U-Rope needs to big itself up, they are yet again being contradictory, let alone still trying to sit on more than one stool.

        Or is this just the nature of a conglomerate of disparate member state interests that is the best papering-over-the-cracks they could come up with? I’m not particularly anti-EU, but why would anyone support such a project if it cannot get its shit together and follow through?

        Rather than having modest goals and more likely exceeding them, it declares major goals and looks like it is sucking a watermelon though a straw. No-one else is going to do it any favors.

        Speaking of which, I was heartened to read this:



        Hopefully this is the beginning of a GTFO for foreign ‘advisors’ like the US AFRICOM which Washington thinks is essential.


        1. Know who’s very, very good at building road and rail networks at a very competitive price? China.

          Bitumen, made of heavy crudes, is extensively used for road-building and road waterproofing. Know who’s got a lot of bitumen? Africa (low sulfur). And Venezuela, and Canada. In fact, much to my surprise (because I thought the opposite), oil traders are increasing their shares in bitumen; the market, valued at around $75 Billion, is forecast to grow to $94 Billion by 2020, which it…is now. Hmmm…


          I’ve seen loads of criticism of the Canadian Trans-Mountain project, the twinning of which is expected to triple the output, based on the premise that nobody buys that shit any more. Looks like that’s another porkie. There is plenty about the pipeline to criticize from an environmental point of view, but when the Trudeau government says it has the potential to be a serious moneymaker, looks like they were not lying. I wonder if their noses get shorter when that happens.

          Unfortunately, I would only expect that now Africa looks to be getting its shit together, Washington will only intensify its clamor for AFRICOM to be consulted on everything and to have ‘beneficial input’ which will, just coincidentally, favor American companies. And expect Washington also to augment its personnel strength in AFRICOM. The one factor arguing against it having a real impact, and instead being easier to ignore and dismiss, is that it’s not actually even in Africa – it’s in Kelly Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany.


  4. http://www.johnhelmer.net


    Heir apparent, or accounting app.
    “………In the politics of the Russian succession, Alexei Kudrin, 59 years of age, has two distinctions. The first is that he is hated by the General Staff, Igor Sechin, and a large number of Russian voters. The second is that he is loved by the US Government, the international banks, the Russian oligarchs, and President Vladimir Putin.”

    How true is this? Kudrin comes across as the most untrustworthy person. Who would sell out Russia if he ever had the power.


    1. Right off the top of my head, without even reading the Helmer piece – which I promise to do – I would disagree that Kudrin is loved by Putin. I wouldn’t say Putin is incapable of real affection for anyone, but I’ve never seen him display genuine affection for anyone in politics especially, and really only for his dogs. I find it very hard to believe he would treasure the friendship of someone like Kudrin, who can barely get around the corner following a meeting before bumping into a western journalist and repudiating everything he and Putin just spoke about. He is not even really much of an economist, consistently misreading trends and predicting doom if his liberalizing ideas are not followed. Comes to that, I’m not even sure how much of a real liberal he is: he was dead-set against increasing pension payouts, gnashing his teeth and forecasting – you guessed it – doom if money was put into it. The increases in pension payouts turned out to be sustainable and were promptly reflected in increased consumer spending, so the expense was somewhat recouped, and it improved the standard of living of the elderly and those who cannot work. Kudrin just as promptly took credit for the idea, telling his western audience it proved Russia was capable of compassion and managing its accounts at the same time or some such twaddle. That was when he was still finance minister.

      I think that what Putin might have affection for is Kudrin’s stubborn reliability as a western wanna-be, and the gravitas it lends his administration to have a liberal critic like Kudrin around. Those who go on and on about how Putin swiftly kills anyone who disagrees with him looks pretty funny against the continued railing and ranting of Kudrin.


    2. Should one judge a man by the company he keeps?

      The Opposition
      an ex-minister, the daughter of an ex-minister, an ex- vice premier, a former assistant of a governor, a frightful parody of Bieber



    3. Vladimir Putin seems like someone who likes to keep his enemies close by (to keep an eye on them) rather than cast them adrift where they are likely to be picked up by even greater enemies who then recruit them and pay them big money to cause even greater problems.

      That is why Alexei Kudrin is employed in the Audit Chamber as its Chairman: he can have the impression that anything he says will have a huge influence on policy (when it doesn’t) and he gets to put his ideas in practice in an area where people can see them for what they are (and Kudrin’s own character is exposed) and where these ideas can do minimal damage. The situation in which Kudrin says old age pensions should be cut and warns of the dire consequences if they are not cut or are increased, the government then increases the monthly amounts, the results disprove Kudrin’s warnings and then Kudrin tries to take credit for the results, is just such an example.


    1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladislav_Surkov

      …Aslambek Dudayev.[17] His parents, the ethnic Russian Zinaida Antonovna Surkova (born 1935) and the ethnic Chechen Andarbek (Yuriy) Danil’bekovich Dudayev (born 1942)…

      …After his military training, Surkov was accepted[when?] to Moscow Institute of Culture for a five-year program in theater direction, but spent only three years there….

      …He became head of the advertising department of Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s businesses.[when?] From 1991 to April 1996, he held key managerial positions in advertising and PR departments of Khodorkovsky’s Bank Menatep…

      FM! Poacher turned gamekeeper? No-wonder he has been so effective.


  5. Wh….wh….whaatt???? The United States cannot take anything Ukraine says at face value??? Are you SHITTING me???

    William Barr says the Justice Department – now that the Trump impeachment show is over – is taking and carefully evaluating Ukraine information (managing in the process to refer to it as “the” Ukraine, and as we all know, a Ukrainian nationalist drops dead every time that happens) from Rudi Giuliani. I see a pit yawning before the Democrats in general, and Joe Biden in particular. But the statement that made my jaw drop was the one I led off with.


    Now, NOW the United States cannot take anything Ukraine says at face value. After how many years, again, of repeating Petro Puckershenko’s laughable claims of battalions of active-service Red Army soldiers operating in the Donbas, yet Ukraine’s poorly-equipped forces, including formations largely comprised of street toughs and criminals who had undergone a minimum of training, alongside formations of conscripts seized right out of the university parking lot, was somehow holding them off? The United States would have affected to believe Poroshenko if he had said Whistler’s Mother was a transvestite. But now, information from Ukraine must be parsed for lies.

    Jesus wept.


    1. All you had to hear was the Russian statement, ending with “This is extremely alarming”. The United States Department of Defense (???) figures that as long as it is causing alarm in Russia, it is doing its job and doing it well. The more scared the Russians announce they are, the more swagger it puts in the step of the Admirals and Generals.

      Incidentally, that will probably be the most safeguarded missile currently at sea. The USA loves its ‘nuclear advantage’, but it does not want to be the one to start things, or to be seen starting things. The ideal solution would be for Russia to get off a panicky launch, the USA shoots it down with one of its trusty interceptors somewhere where it can’t do any damage, and then empties the nuclear magazine into Russia, destroying it completely and utterly as if it had never been. One missile at sea is not going to make a tremendous difference; it could maybe destroy one city, maybe not even that. But it normalizes the process of US vessels openly carrying nuclear weapons. Another thing – the USA uses ‘nuclear-armed’ and ‘nuclear-capable’ interchangeably when it refers to Russian assets. Nuclear-capable bombers flying in international airspace the USA considers its ‘backyard’ are reported as if they actually and verifiably have such weapons aboard, where the safest deterrent value lies in maybe-I-do-and-maybe-I-don’t. Perhaps Washington is trying to pressure the Russians to follow suit, and to openly carry nuclear weapons. That will be put down to constitute intent, and ‘force’ the USA to adopt a yet-more-aggressive posture.


  6. The Russian pipelaying vessel AKADEMIK CHERKSIY has left port in the Far East and is proceeding…somewhere. Destination unspecified, but presumed to be the vicinity of where construction on Nord Stream II left off.



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