Poland is in hysteria, after a comment by Russian President Vladimir Putin on the Molotov–Ribbentrop pact, in a response during the President’s annual press conference.
The question was asked by Kira Latukhina from Rossiyskaya Gazeta, and is the following:
“I would like to return to the issue of our Victory in the Great Patriotic War. Next year we will celebrate the anniversary – the 75th anniversary, the Year of Memory and Glory. But at the same time, in September this year, the European Parliament adopted a resolution stating that Nazism and fascism are equated with the Soviet regime, having timed it with the anniversary of the outbreak of World War II. They are calling it totalitarianism and suggesting introducing a new international holiday to celebrate the day of heroes of the fight against totalitarianism on May 25. What do you think about it? What is your opinion?”
In response, Putin said the following:
“There is nothing good about totalitarianism, it is worthy of condemnation, without any doubt.
I know about the European Parliament’s decision. I consider it absolutely unacceptable and wrong, because you can condemn Stalinism and totalitarianism as a whole, and in some ways these will be well-deserved reproaches. Our people were the biggest victims of totalitarianism. We condemned it and the personality cult and so on.
But to equate the Soviet Union or to put the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany on one level is incredible cynicism. This means that people do not know history; they cannot read or write. Let them read the documents of that time, let them see how the so-called Munich Agreement was signed in 1938, when the heads of the leading countries – France, Great Britain – signed an agreement with Hitler on the partition of Czechoslovakia.”
But, the part of his comments that angered Poland followed afterwards:
“How did Poland behave in this situation, which, as one diplomat wrote at the time, “did everything possible to participate in the partition of Czechoslovakia?” How did the Soviet Union behave then, proposing to all participants in international life to create a united anti-Nazi front?
And how, by not creating it, they were really trying to push Hitler to aggression to the East, not realising then that Nazi Germany was interested not in Polish-German relations, but in expanding their living space to the East, that is, war against the Soviet Union.”
Putin asked whether Poland saw its own hypocrisy in the situation and how it took part in the division of Czechoslovakia.
“Yes, they say there were secret protocols, the division of Poland. Poland itself joined in dividing Czechoslovakia. It entered two regions – Tesin and another one. And that’s it. Poland took them over. They in fact gave an ultimatum and set up an entire group for the aggression. But it was not needed because Czechoslovakia surrendered under pressure and gave those territories away. But the Poles did the same.”
Finally, Putin asked the question if the Red Army really did not invade the Polish territories, but rather German troops abandoned them and the USSR forces simply moved in.
“By the way, yes, Soviet troops entered Poland under the protocols. I draw your attention to the following circumstance: the troops did enter but only after the Polish government lost control over their armed forces and over the developments in Poland while the government itself was somewhere near the Polish-Romanian border.”
In response, Poland’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that Putin’s remarks regarding World War II reminded of Stalinist-era propaganda.
In its statement, the ministry wrote that it had received Putin’s words “with concern and incredulity,” and accused the Russian state leader of presenting a false version of history.
According to the ministry, the Russian President’s words forfeited efforts by Polish and Russian experts to-date to achieve rapprochement in Polish-Russian relations.
“It was with concern and incredulity that we received the Russian authorities’ and President Vladimir Putin’s words concerning the origins and course of the Second World War, which present a false picture of these events and are reminiscent of the propaganda practised in the era of Stalinist totalitarianism. The Russian president’s words (threaten to – PAP) forfeit the work carried out by Polish and Russian experts (…) to find a path of truth and reconciliation in Polish-Russian relations,” the ministry wrote.
The ministry also claimed that in the inter-war years Poland sought a balanced policy towards both Germany and the USSR. It also mentioned the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, saying that the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany agreed on the Red Army’s operations in Poland, and then subsequently divided it between themselves.
According to the Polish Foreign Ministry, on September 17, 1939, in defiance of the Polish-Soviet non-aggression pact, the Red Army crossed into the territory of the Republic of Poland, carrying out agreements enshrined in the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany signed the preceding month.
Attempts to portray Poland as an innocent white sheep are anti-historic and easily broken up on facts and documents. Just in 1938, Poland patriciapted in the occupation of Czechoslovakia together with Nazi Germany. However, it 1939 it somehow turned into a victim of some agression.
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