By DOUGAL MACDONALD
On June 22, 2017, the Polish government’s lower house voted to amend the “decommunization laws” to demolish all monuments and memorials honouring the Soviet Union’s liberation of Poland from the Nazis. The fact that the amendments were passed on the 76th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union would appear to be no accident. The majority of parties of the Polish parliament endorsed the amendments in the first and second readings. A total of 408 MPs voted yes, seven said no, and another 15 abstained. The war against monuments is clearly aimed at trying to erase from the Polish people’s memory the fact that the Red Army and their own patriots, many of whom were communists, saved them from total annihilation by Hitler’s Nazis. But facts are stubborn things and the facts of history do not change despite the efforts of the modern day falsifiers of history.
So what are the facts about the liberation of Poland? At 4:15 AM on September 1, 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland in a massive assault. Hitler’s Wehrmacht of 1,850,000 troops, 3,200 tanks, 2,000 combat aircraft, and 11 warships — over two-thirds of Germany’s entire combat force — destroyed the Polish state and massacred the Polish people. Behind the Wehrmacht followed Himmler’s S.S. Einsatzgruppen, killing squads specialized in mass murder. The Polish people were greatly outnumbered but fought back bravely. The leaders of Poland fled to Rumania on September 17 but the Polish people’s spirit of resistance remained strong. Many Poles fought courageously in the communist-led underground Resistance. Poles formed their own patriotic Polish divisions and fought alongside the Red Army against the Nazis all the way to Berlin.
Against Poland, the Nazis perpetrated one of the worst crimes history has ever known. Poland suffered the largest number of casualties per population of any European country. A total of about 6 million people were killed. Direct extermination by mass murder, death camps, and so on took some 4,450,000 Polish lives including 2,700,000 Polish Jews exterminated; 2,000,000 children and youth were murdered; more than 50,000 Roma were exterminated; some 12,000 mentally handicapped people were murdered; and thousands of Polish prisoners of war, soldiers, and officers were systematically shot.
Some 40,000 Polish intellectuals, political personalities, and other leaders were shot by the S.S. within the first six weeks of the Nazi occupation. Beginning in May 1939, Nazi Operation Tannenberg, which was part of Hitler’s Generalplan Ost (Masterplan East), had already identified and listed more than 61,000 Polish activists, intelligentsia, scholars, former officers, and others, who were to be interned or shot, mainly by the S.S. Einzatsgruppen. The murder of 5,000-6,000 Poles in Fordon, Bydgoszcz in October-November 1939 is just one example of the many executions the S.S. and the Wehrmacht carried out. Another example is the murder of the 4,143 Polish officers found buried in Katyn Forest.
The Soviet Army marched into the territory of Poland on September 17, only after the Polish state had collapsed, the Polish army had disintegrated, the government had ceased to function, and its leaders had fled. Further, the part of Poland the Soviet Union marched into was the territories of the Ukraine and Byelorussia that Poland had forcibly annexed from the Soviet Union during the Polish-Russian War of 1919-20, when Poland was one of the 14 invading imperialist countries that attempted but failed to strangle the newborn Soviet socialist republic.Only about eight per cent of the people in the Ukraine and Byelorussia were of Polish origin. “As a result of the Soviet Union’s timely entry into what had been territories of the Polish State, Hitler was forced to accept a line of demarcation between his troops and the Red Army. […] [The] Red Army saved millions of people inhabiting those areas, from suffering the fate which Hitler reserved for the rest of the Polish people.”Even the arch-reactionary Winston Churchill publicly justified the Soviet march into eastern Poland.
Today, the modern-day Hitlerites, including the rulers of Poland, masquerading as democrats, continue to spread the vicious lies that “both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union invaded Poland” and that “Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union secretly conspired to divide Poland between them.” These lies, meant to equate the Soviet Union with Nazi Germany, were first put forth by Hitler himself, who referred to “secret protocols” to divide Poland in a speech where he declared war on the Soviet Union. The “secret protocols” were resurrected again by the Nazi defendants at Nuremburg where the Presidium threw them out as a forgery. It was only when the U.S. took up the mantle of Hitlerism after the Second World War and became the modern day master of Goebbels’ big lie technique that Hitler’s concoction about “secret protocols” became a so-called historical fact.
The real historical facts clarify why Hitler attacked Poland. In 1939 Poland was an imperialist country created by Britain and France through the 1919 Versailles Treaty. One of Poland’s aims “was to add the rich agricultural regions of the Ukraine to Polish territory and extend Polish territory […] from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. […] The Polish landlords and bourgeoisie dreamed of restoring the Polish empire of medieval times.” Financed and armed by the British and French monopolies who wanted to regain their lost profits and privileges, the Polish rulers attacked the Soviet Union in 1918, occupying large parts of the Ukraine, Byelorussia, and Lithuania. During the following 18 years of semi-fascist Polish rule, the workers and peasants in those regions were viciously exploited by the Polish landlords and industrialists.
As war clouds loomed over Europe, the Polish ruling circles considered Britain and France to be their allies and the Soviet Union their avowed enemy. The Anglo-American and French imperialists wanted to ensure their own world domination so they followed the policy of appeasing Hitler and egging him on toward the East to attack the Soviet Union, rather than organizing collective security with the Soviet Union. Poland also hoped that Hitler would go east and attack the Soviet Union, and that Poland could seize Soviet territory. Thus Poland refused to settle outstanding border questions so as to make the Soviet defence line against the Nazis as deep as possible within Soviet territory and refused the Soviets permission to enter Poland to stop the Nazi advance. Instead of taking all measures necessary to defend against the impending Nazi invasion, the Polish rulers wanted to manoeuvre for advantages for themselves.
In attacking Poland, Hitler was both taking up the Anglo-American policy of going east and implementing his own plan, outlined in Mein Kampf, to increase Germany’s “living space” (lebensraum) by taking over the Ukraine as part of his plan to enslave the entire world. Hitler made his barbaric intentions toward Poland very clear. Only ten days before the attack, Hitler in his Obersalzburg speech instructed his generals to “send to death mercilessly and without compassion men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space (lebensraum) which we need.” Tragically, in the end, Poland paid very dearly for its own imperialist ambitions and its rejection of Soviet assistance.
Today, the reactionary Polish ruling circles continue to spread the same lies that the Nazis did and try to throw mud on the wartime exploits of the Soviet Union. On September 1, 2009, Polish President Lech Kaczynski called for “glory to all the soldiers who fought in World War Two against German Nazism and Bolshevik totalitarianism.” Soon after, the April 10, 2010 crash of a Polish airliner near Smolensk, in which Kaczynski and 95 others died, was used by the Polish rulers and others around the world to resurrect the old lie that the Soviet Union and not the Nazis committed the wartime Katyn Forest Massacre. Such deliberate falsification ignores the fact that it was the Nazis who killed 6 million Poles and that it was the Red Army, together with a Polish Army, that finally liberated Poland from the Nazi occupiers and returned to the Polish people the lost land in the West formerly taken by the Nazis.
4. Poland had already concluded a non-aggression pact with Germany in January 1934, the first state to form such an alliance with the Nazi administration.
5. See Hardial Bains, Causes and Lessons of the Second World War, Toronto: Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin Institute, 1990.
6. These included oil giant Royal Dutch Shell, the Metro-Vickers arms trust, and the big banking houses such as Baring, Hambros, and Credit Lyonnais. Soon-to-be U.S. president Herbert Hoover also had large investments in Czarist Russia.
Source: TML Weekly, June 24, 2017 – No. 23