History is ever present in Poland. I’ll admit that the anniversaries, commemorations and speechmaking by politicians can get tedious, but today is one day that no Pole should ever forget. The terrible Nazi invasion of September 1, 1939 saw its fulfillment in the second invasion by the Soviet Union from the east on September 17, 1939. Hand in hand the Nazis and Soviets tore Poland apart and began the greatest genocide in human history. As I wrote two years ago:
The Soviet attack had devastating consequences for Poland, whose situation was already desperate. The Red Army advance could not be countered, because most of Poland’s forces had been shifted to the west to face the Nazis. The Polish military’s strategy to fight against Germany, while consolidating its forces in the south-east of the country while waiting for the British and French to join the fight, became impossible. The heroic resistance of the Border Protection Corps and a small number of cavalry couldn’t hope to stifle the advance of hundreds of thousands of communist troops, supported by tanks and artillery.
The mass murder of millions of Poles, Jews and others would never have been possible without the cooperation of Soviet Russia. It’s quite possible that the Gestapo-NKVD Conferences of 1939 and 1940 inspired the Nazis to model their concentration camps on the Gulag that the Soviets had perfected over the previous decades.
It is said that time heals all wounds, but the modern Russian government seems intend on gnawing off scabs and pouring acid on the truth of history. Just two weeks ago the Russian Supreme Court held that the claiming that the statement of fact that the USSR invaded Poland in 1939 was a distortion of historical memory: “‘USSR did not invade Poland in 1939’ court ruling upheld.”
Sadly it has no longer become a shock that Russian “historians”, prosecutors, judges and ambassadors (!) propagate the lie that the USSR was merely engaged in a defensive action in 1939 to rescue its countrymen from a proto-fascist government in Warsaw.
I bear no ill towards Russian people, some of whom are my friends, but I have nothing but contempt for a political system that rests on the propaganda of the “Great Patriotic War, 1941-1945”. Russians can take pride in the courage and bravery of their young men and women who fought valiantly in often suicidal circumstances. Then again Germans can also take pride in their soldiers who fought desperately to stave off the Red Army horde that raped hundreds of thousands of women enroute to the enslavement of Eastern Europe for half a century. Both were cannon fodder in the most cynical game in history between two of its worst despots, and thousands of underlings who did their bidding.
When you ask experts about the possibility for change in Russia, there is never any optimism besides the old standby “it could always be (or it has been) worse.”
The recent passing of the famous exorcist Father Gabriele Amorth, “A firm believer that the Pope still needs to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart, as requested by the Blessed Virgin, in order to usher in a period of world peace”, reminded me that the greatest problems in the world aren’t for us to solve alone.
I hope that Poland will never again be subject to a war with Russia. In the meantime the battle of historical memory continues. It’s never settled, liars will always try to bury the truth to gain power. Resistance is better than the shallow grave of denial or despair.