Diminishing USSR’s decisive role in defeating fascist Germany ahistorical
20 August 2019. PenzaNews. Experts and political scientists consider the decision of the Polish authorities not to invite Russia to commemorative events dedicated to the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, which will traditionally be held on September 1, as a highly anticipated step in the context of high-level policy that has been held over the years.
Photo: Sfu, Wikipedia.org
According to a number of observers, the desire to misrepresent and even rewrite the past, shifting the emphasis from the facts that actually took place to their loose adaptation in order to present certain events in a favorable light, as well as constant historical claims to Russia, are attempts to divert people’s attention from real problems within the country and ensure their consolidation in Russophobic positions and anti-Russian rhetoric.
At the same time, representatives of the Polish establishment want to openly demonstrate their current political preferences and to “please” the United States in order to create additional obstacles to the normalization of relations between Russia and the EU, some analysts believe.
Warsaw primarily expects the arrival of those countries’ leaders in which it today sees its allies – in particular, the US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The fact that it was Germany that attacked Poland 80 years ago does not bother the current authorities. Both countries are now part of NATO and the EU, and in Poland they are increasingly talking not about the beginning of World War II, but about September 17, 1939, when the Soviet army entered the territory of Western Ukraine and Western Belarus, that is, after the crash of Polish statehood due to the Wehrmacht’s attack.
According to many historians, not inviting Russia to commemorate events, Warsaw unreasonably tries to assign the USSR equal responsibility with Hitler Germany for starting a war, despite the facts indicating the opposite. Poland itself largely contributed to its incitement by signing the Pilsudski-Hitler Pact in 1934 and participating in the destruction of Czechoslovakia after the Munich agreement of 1938. Poland’s foreign policy was directed against the USSR. Warsaw has repeatedly rejected Moscow’s proposals for joint action against Germany. Moreover, many Poles voluntarily fought on the side of the Nazis, and also served in the auxiliary police.
“We have already invited a wide circle of world leaders [to commemorative events on the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II], that is why we expect and are convinced that this will be a global event,” Deputy Prime Minister of Poland Jacek Sasin said in July, adding that the attendance by Russian President Vladimir Putin would be inappropriate.
“I think it would be inappropriate to mark the anniversary of the beginning of the armed aggression against Poland with the participation of a leader who today treats his neighbors using the same methods,” the politician said in Wirtualna Polska studio, referring to the situation in south-eastern Ukraine, although Moscow has repeatedly drawn attention to the fact that it is not a party to internal Ukrainian conflict.
At the same time, the decision of the Polish leadership to hold commemorative events exclusively for its partners became known back in March. Then the press service of the president of the republic informed that “these dramatic events will be commemorated by Poland together with the countries with which we are closely cooperating today in the name of peace on the basis of principles of international law.” These include, in particular, the member countries of NATO, the European Union and the Eastern Partnership, including Belarus as a member of this initiative.
The press service also stressed that “the invitations were issued according to a contemporary, not historical, context.”
A little later, a similar position was voiced by Deputy Head of the Polish leader’s office Pavel Mukha.
“We do not follow the historical path, we do not invite all states, as, for example, we did not invite Japan,” he said.
The reaction of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs followed immediately. The foreign ministry expressed bewilderment over the decision to hold events “in the format of a meeting of Warsaw’s present ‘allies and partners,’ calling it “yet another manifestation of the distorted worldview of the Polish administration, which is systematically falsifying the history of World War II and the post-war period for the sake of momentary political priorities.”
“The Polish authorities justify their intentions with some ‘modern realities,’ ignoring the logic of history. There is no place for our country in this scheme despite its decisive contribution to defeating Hitler’s Reich and the liberation of Poland from Nazi invaders. […] Let it remain on the conscience of the current Polish leadership,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
For his part, Russian President’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said that “any memorial events in any countries dedicated to the anniversaries of the Great Patriotic War or the Second World War cannot be considered full-fledged without Russia's participation.”
Meanwhile, this year, the Polish authorities for the first time refused to hold a traditional memorial ceremony at Westerplatte Peninsula near Gdansk, where in the early morning of September 1, 1939, shots were fired from the German cruiser Schleswig-Holstein, which opened fire on Polish military depots located on the coast. All central events will take place in Warsaw.
This decision, according to the media, may be related to the conflict over the plans to create a museum dedicated to the courage of Polish soldiers during the Second World War on the basis of barrack buildings on the peninsula. The authorities of Gdansk and representatives of the ruling conservative Law and Justice party cannot compromise on the concept of the museum, as they adhere to different approaches to history.
In general, the situation surrounding the preservation of historical memory in Poland seems extremely alarming. Since 2014, by decision and with the support of the authorities of Poland, about 100 monuments to Soviet soldiers who died for its liberation from Nazi invaders were demolished in the country.
Commenting on the current state of affairs, Fernand Kartheiser, Luxembourg Parliament member for the Alternative Democratic Reform Party (ADR), stressed it is very difficult to overestimate the heroism of the Soviet people in the fight against fascism.
“One could reasonably argue that the non-engagement of the Soviet Union until operation Barbarossa helped Nazi Germany in its expansionism. The number of German troops needed in the East in that phase of the war was indeed very low. However, all this changed dramatically after the German attack on the Soviet Union. The German engagement in the East and the Soviet resistance became determining factors of WWII. The number of troops needed as well as the necessary logistical efforts weakened Germany on the West front and helped making D-Day a success. The enormous human losses in the East contributed to the demoralization of Germany and the weakening of its armed forces. The resistance of the people in the Soviet Union was, no doubt, heroic.
“Even though the war against the Soviet Union was not the sole decisive factor in the war, one has to recognize its enormous influence on the defeat of Germany,” he stressed.
According to him, World War II remains deeply rooted in the European collective conscience.
“Its cruelty, sufferings, ideological extremism, racism, anti-Semitism and the post-war order with its political divisions on our continent can still be felt every day in Europe. Today, we have to work again to overcome the borders that still exist in our heads. The Soviet Union is dead and buried, the Cold war is gone and we should not tolerate a new Cold War to come up. Today, Europe has no ideological or political divisions as we knew them in the past. All of Europe, including Russia, is striving for democracy, even though there are some problems in a number of countries,” Luxembourg Parliament member said.
In his opinion, Europe today should work for stability and friendly relations on the entire continent, with no artificial antagonisms.
“All countries of Europe contribute their part to our common house – an interesting expression forged in Russia. Young generations should be taught to appreciate European History and European culture in its totality. Young people should visit the Nazi concentration camps so that they know, what the dangers of extremism are. And they should vote for politicians who want to achieve trust, cooperation and friendship in international relations, not tensions or even war,” Fernand Kartheiser explained.
Mikhail Krysin, well-known Russian researcher of history of the Baltic States, author of numerous scientific publications and several books, explained the decision of the Polish leadership not to invite the Russian Federation to the commemorative events on September 1 by the reluctance of NATO countries to hear the truth about the history of World War II.
“The truth that it was Britain and France who initiated this war, who sacrificed even their allies, Czechoslovakia and Poland, not to mention the rest of Europe for the sake of their political goal – the defeat and dismemberment of the Soviet Union. Who and why allowed Hitler not only to arm, but to over-arm Germany? Who opposed all attempts by the USSR to oppose Germany’s aggressive plans in the League of Nations, while it was still considered an authoritative international organization? For those who know the history of Europe in 1930–1940 at least at an average level, this question is rhetorical,” the scientist said.
In his opinion, the Polish authorities seek to distort historical reality.
“The attempts to falsify the history of the Second World War are aimed at presenting the Soviet Union and Russia, as its successor, not the liberators of Europe, but the conquerors of Europe. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact is constantly being spoken about, while the existence of the Munich Pact is simply ignored,” Mikhail Krysin said.
As a vivid example, the historian cited the main excerpts from the program of the scientific conference Euro-Atlantic Security and the Russian Federation Policy, held in Poland in May 2019, where, in particular, Moscow’s alleged desire “to destabilize democracy in the United States and Europe”, “Russia’s aggression in the Kerch Strait” and “militarization of the Kaliningrad Oblast” were mentioned.
“I think such a preamble clearly shows what the goals of historical and political research in the European Union and NATO are. The conclusions are ready, it remains to adjust the studies themselves for them, which is constantly being done. If European and American propaganda had so intensively sought “measures to counter” Hitler in the 1930s, it would probably not have come to the Second World War,” the expert emphasized.
Meanwhile, Pal Steigan, Norwegian politician, publisher, writer, independent entrepreneur in the field of culture and information technology, shared the opinion that the present Polish leadership “worships the reactionary, imperialist ideas of Józef Piłsudski.”
“He dreamt of the re-creation of the Grand Duchy of Poland-Lithuania and created a plan for what was called the Intermarium, a Polish commonwealth from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. In some versions the Intermarium even included Finland and the western Balkans. The present government push these ideas and they hope for US support for these ideas, creating a Polish-dominated East-Central Europe under US tutelage. This coincides with the US ambition of creating an alliance with the same countries as a counterweight to Germany and the Western-EU,” the politician explained his viewpoint.
“The Polish history in the Second World War is less than glorious, so the Polish reactionaries need some historic revisionism to make a better figure. But that is not the main point. They are deeply anti-communist of course, but even more important: this is not about history, it is about the present and the future. They need the re-writing of history for their own reactionary and imperialist schemes,” he added.
Pal Steigan suggested that the ‘battles’ about the facts and realities of the Second World War will probably go on for another hundred years.
“The role of German, British, US, French and Japanese imperialism include so many ugly facts, so they want to hide them. And the ruling imperialist class wants to slander and bury the glorious role of the Soviet Union and the communist parties in the war to keep the lessons of the war away for coming generations,” he said.
In turn, Anton Friesen, Member of the foreign affairs committee and the committee on humanitarian assistance and human rights of the German Parliament, AfD MP, regretted the decision of the Polish leadership not to invite Russian President to the commemorative events of September 1.
“I think, the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II would be a good opportunity for both sides to meet and talk. Maybe the commemoration of the common battle against Nazi-Germany can help Poland and Russia to reconcile their differences,” Anton Friesen said.
“As a German politician, I don’t want to comment any dispute between Russian and Polish representatives regarding their different perspectives considering World War II. Both countries has contributed their part to defeat Nazi-Germany. Many of their citizen died in the battle against fascism. Therefore, Russian and Polish politicians should respect this fact,” he added.
From his point of view, people have learnt many lessons from World War II and the post-war period.
“One of them is, to be open for dialog, especially in times with high tensions. In this spirit, I hope that Polish and Russian politicians come back to the table and discuss their problems. If you don’t talk, no issue will be solved. Annual anniversaries are a good way to remember the lessons we learned from the past. It's also important that we teach our pupils in school our history. Those who do not remember their past are condemned to repeat their mistakes,” the German politician concluded.