Putin versus Poland – the history lessons as a political weapon

In Russia, politics and the media reacted with the support of their president and with outrage about the protest in Poland

Source: STMED.net

The author of the article is Jens Mattern. The original article has been published in Telepolis. Translation and editing by Defenseweek’s team.


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Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a historical policy initiative against Poland a few days ago – he blamed the country for complicity at the start of the Second World War.

Then Russian Ambassador Sergei Andreev was called to the Foreign Ministry in Warsaw on Friday for a protest. Putin’s statements would convey a “wrong picture of what happened” and “remind us of the propaganda instruction of Stalinist totalitarianism,” the ministry said.

Putin told international media earlier last week that the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact of August 1939 (which included the division of Poland between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union) did not lead to the outbreak of war. “We are ready to clarify the historical truth to Russia’s diplomats for as long as necessary,” Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz tweeted in response.

In addition, Kremlin chief Jozef Lipski, the Berlin ambassador to Poland in the 1930s, called a “dirt bag” and an “anti-Semitic pig”. The diplomat had discussed the deportation of the Jews to Africa with Adolf Hitler in 1938 and promised him a memorial in Warsaw if successful. The Polish annexation of part of Czechoslovakia (the Teschner Land) in 1938 was also mentioned.

In Russia, politics and the media reacted with the support of their president and with outrage about the protest in Poland. The State Duma spokesman, Vyacheslav Wolodin, asked Warsaw to apologize for Lipski’s comments at the “parliamentary and presidential level”.

“A real enemy will never leave you.” This bon mot from satirist Stanislaw J. Lec is currently circulating in Poland. The former Polish ambassador to Moscow, Katarzyna Pelczynska-Nalecz, on the other hand, described this type of Russian narrative as “very dangerous for Poland”.

The move was in response to Emmanuel Macron. The French president recently declared NATO to be “brain dead” and said that it wanted to maintain closer ties with Russia.

The newspaper Dziennik points out that the Russian standard of living has fallen by 11 percent since 2013 and that the Russians are ready to tighten their belts – but “celebrating national pride” is necessary.

Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, in consultation with President Aleksander Duda, issued a statement on Saturday evening on Vladimir Putin’s allegations.

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was a prologue to “unimaginable crimes that were committed over the next few years on both sides of the line (border between Hitler’s Germany and the Soviet Union in occupied Poland).” President Putin would have lied on this subject several times. “In the name of commemorating the victims and in the name of the common future, we have to worry about the truth.”

Russia’s strategy to blame Poland for the outbreak of World War II is at least not new. Back in 2009, the Russian foreign intelligence agency announced that the then Polish foreign minister, Jozef Beck, was actually a “German agent” before the outbreak of the Second World War. Poland, which is governed by national conservatives, currently has an active history policy. The headlines in particular were made by the Holocaust Act of last year – it should therefore be prosecuted who, as a nation, blamed Poland for the genocide of the Jews.

A Russian-Czech conflict is also less polemic in the language. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs criticized that August 21 should be set up for a national memorial day on the initiative of President Milos Zeman. This would “hardly contribute to successful bilateral cooperation”. At that time, Soviet troops and allies marched into Czechoslovakia to stop the liberalization program called “Prague Spring” by the government of Aleksander Dubcek. Zeman is considering not attending the upcoming 75th anniversary celebration at the end of the war.

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