World leaders gathered in Poland today to mark the 70th anniversary of World War II, amid rising tensions between Russia and Poland over the depiction of the two countries’ roles in the war.
Watch World Remembers Beginning of World War II, a report by English-language TV station Russia Today highlighting the difficult history between Russia and Poland.
Vladimir Lensky, the New York bureau chief for Russia’s Channel One, discusses Russia’s role and responsibility in World War Two.
In a Russian language blog on Moscow radio station Echomoscow’s website, writer Sergei Shagunov comments on Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s recent article in a Polish newspaper about the Soviet-Nazi pact to split up Poland in 1939.
It is frequently necessary to disagree with Vladimir Putin, but in his article published in the newspaper “Vyborcha” [the Polish newspaper], there are strivings for objectivity. Today this is rare thing. Of course [even-handedness] is possibly only when there is open discussion. …The 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Second World War is reason for a sharp, honest, difficult conversation.
Poland was up until the end a [partner] of Hitler, participating in the invasion of Czechoslovakia… and its minister of foreign affairs Bek spoke about pretensions to Soviet Ukraine… It’s necessary to remember that England France from the beginning shut their eyes over Germany’s armament, then gave Czechoslovakia to her, and finally, drew out and [ruined] Moscow discussions about the creation, together with the USSR, of an anti-German coalition. So Hitler broke the East. ..
Yes, the Soviet Union was totalitarian. But even totalitarian states have their own interests…..For example, interests of safety.
A simple question: was it necessary to sign an amoral supplement to the Soviet-German pact?
Everyone was amoral, including Poland. Everyone is guilty in the war. To different degrees? Perhaps. But all the same – guilty.
Writing in the UK’s The Guardian, Anita Prazmowska says that despite Putin’s subsequent efforts to praise Polish bravery during the war, the timing of his comments will strike many Poles as misplaced. Read the full post here.
1 September is seen in Poland as a beginning of its enslavement, first under Nazi domination and then, after the war, to Soviet domination. 1 September is a time of grieving. One can’t really expect Poles to see this as a date for reflection on the shortcomings of their own governments’ policies in 1939 and subsequently. Thus Putin has on the one hand accepted that the Soviet Union was wrong, but he has also publicly reminded the Poles that they too have to address some unsavory moments in Poland’s history. The fact that he spoke of the Russian people being victims of both Stalinism and of Nazism has done little to soothe Polish anger.