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News Russia attacks Poland

  1. Aug 29, 2009 #1


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    http://wyborcza.pl/1,86871,6974126,How_We_Became_Hitler_s_Allies.html [Broken]

    http://wyborcza.pl/1,86871,6957248,What_Matters_Is_What_Putin_Says.html [Broken]

    Sorry, I don't feel like my English is good enough to explain situation in details, thus I am linking to two articles in English. For the last two weeks Russian TV, media and other institutions are attacking Poland lying or saying only half truths about historical events that took place just before WWII. They are trying to prove it was all our fault and they have no choice, but to sign a Ribbentrop-Molotov pact with secret protocols that stated (between other things) that Poland was to be partitioned between Germany and USSR. One of the effects of the treaty was that on September 17th Soviets attacked Poland that was already fighting Germans.

    On September 1st Putin will be in Poland and he is going to deliver a speech during celebration of the WWII outbreak. Nobody here believes this is accidental coincidence. Also nobody understands what is the idea behind, for sure that's not the way of arranging a peacefull cooperation between nations.

    Edit: there will be a press conference on the September 1st, during clebration. Conference is organized by Russian Foreign Intelligence Service. They will publish "unknown materials" about Polish actions prior to the war and they plan to prove Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs Beck was a German agent. Still a coincidence?
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  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 29, 2009 #2
    I tried to ask my russian girlfriend what she thinks about it. So I tried to describe her the material you provided. Then she exclaimed "those d*rn Poles ! It explains everything !" :surprised :frown:

    Either I really do not get it and can't explain it, or it is easy to "convince" a russian citizen of the well-founded russian propaganda for pretty much anything. The truth is, if I understood the motivation behind, maybe I would make more sense.

    Thanks for the information Borek. Fortunately, not everybody buys what television tells. If you get more information about the reason behind this move, it would be certainly appreciated !
  4. Aug 29, 2009 #3


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    Oh my. I thought WWIII had started(see title of thread) and no one was going to talk about it. I cannot really comment on your situation as I was not there, and have no knowledge of current relations between your two countries. I did think it was odd that Ms Narochnitskaya said that Poland that should apologize to Russia for the occupation of the Kremlin in 1612. Perhaps I should send her a letter demanding an apology for the deaths of my relatives in the Ukraine at the beginning of the last century. Or do they place the blame for the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holodomor" [Broken] on someone else also?
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  5. Aug 29, 2009 #4


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    I guess we'll see his (Putin's) point in 3 days.... I'm certainly curious.
  6. Aug 29, 2009 #5
    Bringing up the year 1612 and demanding apology is irrational. It sounds like the accusation is a desperate retaliation for signing the construction of the interceptor base. I doubt that they could have anything more substantial then the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact.
  7. Aug 29, 2009 #6


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    When I read the topic title, I thought WWIII was breaking out too.:rofl:
  8. Aug 29, 2009 #7
    WWIII would not break out of Poland and Russia. Remember Abkhazia and South Ossetia ?
  9. Aug 30, 2009 #8
    Keep in mind that just before WWII the USSR was in pretty desperate shape. Stalin need all the time and space he could get to rebuild his army. It is easy to judge now, but Stalin was in a hard position at that time. He did what he needed to do and Russia survived to beat Hitler.
  10. Aug 30, 2009 #9


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    That's the explanation Russia uses today to justify their actions then. To some extent it is true, and each country has its right to have its own version of history, nobody (in their right mind) denies it. For obvious reasons our version is different. I don't feel strong enough in both English and history to start the serious discussion on the subject. General sentiment here is that Russians are not able to admit they comitted crimes at the time and they are twisting facts to prove it.*

    Similar information appeared in Russian media now and then for many years - but what is happening now is a mass attack, on the eve of the first Putin's visit to Poland.

    Note that it is his FIRST visit in Poland (after being president twice), one of the countries bordering Russia. It was considered here to be a sign of diplomatic relations getting warmer.


    *Have you heard about Katyń massacre? That's what the Wajda's movie is about. Russians killed about 22000 Polish officers and intellectuals that were taken prisoners after USSR attacked Poland on September 17th, 1939. Initially after war Soviets blaimed Germans for the massacre. During Nuremberg trials Soviet attorney general said in his speech that it was a crime against humanity. I think somewhere during Jeltsin times Russians published documents that were clearly stating they were responsible for the massacre (order signed by Stalin between others). Investigation was started to find out details. But later Russians closed the investigation - claiming that the statute of limitations has expired (not sure if it is a correct English). Trick is, crimes against humanity are exluded from statute of limitations. So, when Germans killed Polish officers - it was a crime against humanity. When Russians did it - it was just a crime. That's a double talk.

    Oh, and even if the documents were published, every year you can read here and there in Russian media "Germans did it". And that's what most of the Russians think, they are not aware of the real history behind, and it seems nobody in Russia is interested in teaching correct version of the history. This is clearly propaganda.

    Problem is, they are not able to admit "we were wrong here or there". They were always OK just the world was wrong. This is childlish.
  11. Aug 30, 2009 #10

    I've watched (a big part of) the documentary mentioned in one of your links. I didn't find it anti-Polish at all. Actually, I found it rather well-balanced. It contained a lot of facts about the pre-war history, which were new to me. For example, I learned that when Hitler occupied Czechoslovakia in 1938, a smaller piece of the country went to Poland. Of course, the partition of Czechoslovakia between Germany and Poland was completely different from the (later) partition of Poland between Germany and USSR. The documentary simply made the point that nobody was perfect in those turbulent times.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2009
  12. Aug 30, 2009 #11


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    I must admit I haven't seen the documentary, so I have to rely on opinions of others - but many of these are opinions of people that have earned my trust over the years. If it was the case as you described - I doubt it will stirr so many controversies here. The main objection repeated here is that the movie used a selection of facts that were skewing the history. As you have wrote - you were not aware of some of the facts presented; question is - what other facts that you were not aware of were not presented in the movie (I hope I don't sound attacking - it is not the intent, I am just trying to point out to why your opinion - while sincere - can be wrong; not seeing the documentary and not being historian I can be wrong as well).

    For example, non-agression pacts were more or less common in Europe at the time, and Poland had them signed with both Germany and Soviet Russia. From what I read here, movie mentioned only one of them - the one with Germany, leaving the impression Russia was not protected against attack from Poland by international treaty.



    What these pacts were worth is another question.

    And yes, we were not perfect, I have no doubts about it.
  13. Aug 30, 2009 #12
  14. Aug 30, 2009 #13


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    Thanks. My Russian is too rusty for getting everything (I have missed most of the Ukrainian thread), but I am afraid what I have seen and understood confirmed what I have read before - movie is biased. Only selected facts are presented (as told earlier, no word about Soviet–Polish Non-Aggression Pact), and some of those presented are reduced to absurd by not mentioning key points.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but it is told that Rydz-Śmigły said in August 1939 that we won't allow any Russian soldiers on Polish soil. It is later explained by Polish historian that basis for this statements was we have not trusted Russians that they will retreat once they are not needed here. This is then commented by Russian politologist (? not sure who the man really is) that at the time nobody in Russia was thinking about making Eastern Europe their sphere of influence, so our fear was unfounded. Sorry? I don't see a link here. If we have not trusted Russians we had our reasons based on several hundred years of history with Russia as a neighbor and occupant (occupant that left Poland just 20 years earlier).
  15. Aug 30, 2009 #14
    No doubt about that. Though, I think it is impossible to make a completely unbiased film about that period. I also haven't noticed any significant distortions of historical facts or outrageous commentaries. At least, nothing on the level to justify statements like "Russia attacks Poland".

    Of course, the statement "...at the time nobody in Russia was thinking about making Eastern Europe their sphere of influence." is ridiculous. Since 1917 Soviet leaders wished about making the entire world their "sphere of influence" and they didn't make this wish a secret. They openly talked about the "world revolution".

    I also don't think that any particular move by any particular government could have stopped this war. The truth is that everybody (at least the major players) wanted this war. Britain and France wanted Hitler to go to East to crush Soviets. Stalin hoped that the war in Western Europe would weaken all involved parties, so that he can "rule the world". Sorry to say, but Poland was just a small pawn in this game, so it suffered unproportionally.
  16. Aug 30, 2009 #15


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    If it was for this one movie, nobody will pay any attention. But several things happening in a short succession especially at this particular moment can't be accidental. And could be we are oversensitive, but we feel we are being targeted. No idea why nor for what purpose.

    Note that todays inteview with Medvedev continues the same line - "whoever connects Russia with the beginning of the WWII tries to falsify history". I am afraid it seems that many of the countries outside of the Russia are involved, see OSCE resolution on the roles of Germany and the Soviet Russia in starting WWII.

    That only enforces my point that some of the messages in the movie are ridiculous and biased :wink:
  17. Aug 30, 2009 #16
    I don't think you should see it as a sign of aggression toward Poland.
    I think the reason for the increased propaganda activity is the desire to set the record straight. To "separate flies from cutlets", so to speak.

    In many European countries there is a tendency to place the equation sign between Hitler and Stalin. There is a widespread opinion that Germany and USSR are equally responsible for starting the WWII, and all others were just innocent victims. Following this logic, members of SS batallions (e.g., in Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine) are cheered by some as "freedom fighters". This can be never accepted by people living in Russia.
  18. Aug 30, 2009 #17


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    Maybe it's just friendly initimidation? :biggrin: :rolleyes:
  19. Aug 30, 2009 #18


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    Movie that we were talking about seems to be supporting the opinion that it was Russia that was just an innocent victim, which is about as right as the above statement.

    And vice versa. This is a double edged sword.

    We will probably never find an exact answer to the question what was the Russia responsibility, but it existed. And as long as Russia is not ready to accept that fact, there is no way of finding some reasonable ground to proceed ahead.

    I can be wrong, but from what I have heard books used to teach history in Russian schools don't mention secret protocols to Ribbentrop-Molotov pact, they don't mention Russia attacking Poland on September 17th, nor killing of Polish offcers in Katyń, just as they don't mention hunger that killed millions of Ukrainians. These are things I have heard of, how many other things were omitted as they are uncomfortable, I don't know. Probably every nation bordered by Russia has its own list. Russia can't ask everyone around to support its version of history, if this version of history doesn't contain important facts.
  20. Aug 30, 2009 #19
    This is not new. Many other countries (e.g. Asian) are in similar situation.
  21. Aug 31, 2009 #20
    I haven't read recent Russian history textbooks, so I can't comment on what's in there. It doesn't seem right to draw far-reaching conclusions based on unverified second-hand information.
  22. Aug 31, 2009 #21

    you wanted to know what Putin is going to say about these issues in Warsaw? He's just published an article in the Polish newspaper "Gazeta Wyborcza". The article doesn't look confrontational to me. You can read it for yourself

    http://premier.gov.ru/eng/events/3514.html [Broken]
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  23. Aug 31, 2009 #22


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    I am basing my knowledge on the same sources I have mentioned earlier - mostly journalist that earned my trust over the years. IIRC they wrote that in fact September 17th was mentioned in one of the books - once. And it was book that was printed in small number and never became part of the manistream history teaching.

    If I am adding almost everywhere remarks that I don't know for sure, that's because I am trying to be as unbiased as possible.

    I did - and indeed, this is a very good text, balanced and - agreed - non confrontational, it rather tries to calm down the situation. I really, sincerely like it.

    But the question remains - what was the rationale behind the preceeding events?
  24. Aug 31, 2009 #23
    Borek, how much do I owe you?
  25. Aug 31, 2009 #24


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    You owe me something?
  26. Sep 2, 2009 #25
    This is an interesting read.

    "We are already seventy years away from the tragedy that occurred on one dark day in the history of civilization - 1 September 1939 - the outbreak of the most disastrous and slaughterous war that Europe and the entire humanity have ever lived through.

    Invited by Donald Tusk, Polish Prime Minister, to take part in the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Second World War, I did not hesitate to accept the invitation, I could not do otherwise: because the war took a heavy toll of 27 million lives of my compatriots, and every Russian family keeps both the sorrow of loss and the honor of the Great Victory, while each successive generation takes over the pride in their fathers and grandfathers fighting in the battlefield; because Russia and Poland were allies in that righteous battle. And we - people living today - ought to be moral enough to bow our heads to the fallen and praise the courage and firmness of the people from various countries who fought and eventually smashed the Nazi.

    The twentieth century inflicted deep, non-healing wounds - revolutions, coups, two World Wars, the Nazi occupation of the bulk of Europe and the Holocaust tragedy, as well as the ideological divide in the continent. However, the European memory retains also the victorious May of 1945, the Helsinki Act, the demolition of the Berlin Wall, the tremendous democratic changes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe at the turn of the 1990s.

    All of the above are the elements of our intrinsic common history. No judge can give a totally unbiased verdict on what was in the past. And no country can boast of having avoided tragedies, dramatic turning points or state decisions having nothing to do with high morals. If we are eager to have peaceful and happy future, we must draw lessons from history. However, exploiting memory, anatomizing history and seeking pretexts for mutual complaints and resentment causes a lot of harm and proves lack of responsibility.

    Half-truth is always a deceit. The past tragedies - not fully comprehended or interpreted in a double-minded or hypocritical manner - inevitably lead to new historic and political phobias, which result in collisions between States and peoples and affect the public consciousness distorting it for the benefit of unfair politicians.

    The canvas of history is not a third-rate copy which can be roughly retouched or, following customer's orders, modified by the addition of bright of dark tints. Unfortunately, such attempts to rehash the past are quite common today. We witness the efforts to tailor history to the immediate political needs. Some countries went even further, making the Nazi accomplices heroes, placing victims on a par with executioners and liberators - with occupants.

    Individual episodes are taken out of the general historical background, political and economic context or military and strategic considerations. The situation in Europe prior to the Second World War is considered fragmentarily, regardless of the cause-and-effect relationship. It is indicative that history is often slanted by those who actually apply double standards in modern politics.

    One cannot help but wonder to what extend such myths-makers differ from the authors of the memorable "Brief Course of Russian History" published in the Stalin period, where all names or events uncomfortable to the "leader of all nations" would be erased and stereotyped and completely ideology-based versions of reality would be imposed.

    Thus, today we are expected to admit without any hesitation that the only "trigger" of the Second World War was the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact of 23 August 1939. However, those who advocate such a position neglect simple things - did not the Treaty of Versailles which drew the bottom line of the First World War leave a lot of "time bombs", the main of which was not only the registered defeat of Germany but also its humiliation. Did not the borders in Europe begin to crumble much earlier than 1 September 1939? What about the Anschluss of Austria and Czechoslovakia being torn to pieces, when not only Germany, but also Hungary and Poland in fact took part in the territorial repartition of Europe. On the very day when the Munich Agreement was concluded, Poland send its ultimatum to Czechoslovakia and its army invaded Cieszyn and Freistadt regions concurrently with the German troops.

    And is it possible to turn a blind eye to the backstage attempts of Western democracies to "buy off" Hitler and redirect his aggression "eastwards" and to the systematic and generally tolerated removal of security safeguards and arms restrictious system in Europe?

    Finally, what was the military and political echo of the collusion that took place in Munich on 29 September 1938? Maybe it was then when Hitler finally decided that "everything was allowed". That neither France nor England would "lift a finger" to protect their allies. "The strange war" on the Western front and the tragic fate of Poland left without help demonstrated, regrettably, that his hopes were met."
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