“Nations of East-Central Europe remember that imperial Russia, which seeks to expand today again, has always wanted to enslave them… The anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland on September 17, 1939, helps us remember the fact,” Polish President Andrzej Duda wrote in an article published on the website of Venezuelan daily “El Universal”.
Today, Russia wants “what it wanted in 1939 and 1940 when it collaborated with its ally – Hitlerite German, and also in 1945–1991 when it ruled our countries single-handed,” the head of the Polish state wrote.
He added that while September 1, 1939, which is when Nazi Germany invaded Poland, is a commemorated date in Europe, the USSR’s aggression began on September 17, 1939, is not widely known in the West.
“This is why, I think, this event must be constantly recalled – an event that determined the fate of my homeland and the fate of other Central and Eastern European countries for half of the coming century. The reasons why we, Poles, and other nations of our region often say that we know Russia and understand its imperialistic motivations better than the West does, we say so because we have historical experience symbolised by September 17,” he said.
The President went on to recall that the Soviet invasion was a result of the agreement between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union – the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, under which the states divided Poland, Romania, Finland and the Baltic States between themselves.
“For my nation, the direst consequence of the pact was the liquidation of the independent Polish state and the division of our territory between the two occupiers, meaning, Nazi Germany and communist Russia,” President Duda stressed.
The official enumerated the crimes committed by German occupiers in Poland, stressing that only a few perpetrators have been sentenced after the war.
“Nazi German crimes were at least morally condemned by the entire free world,” he noted. “Unfortunately, crimes of communist Russia remained unpunished and often forgotten.”
The President exemplified such crimes with the Katyń Massacre where around 22,000 Polish prisoners of war were killed, deportations of half a million Poles to Syberia and Asian parts of the USSR, as well as the brutal terror and persecution by the secret Soviet police NKVD. He stressed that other nations that found themselves under the Soviet WWII occupation and after also had a similar experience.
Because the Soviets defeated Nazi Germans, they expanded their territory after 1945 by incorporating part of the subjugated states of East-Central Europe while in others, such as Poland, they appointed puppet governments “consisting of local communists entirely subservient to Moscow,” the President added. “For our nations, the demise of the Third Reich did not bring the much-desired freedom. The dependency on the Russian empire continued until the fall of communism – a total of half a century!”
President Duda went on to recall that the states of the region regained their sovereignty only in the wake of democratic transformations initiated by the Polish “Solidarity” movement in 1989. “Independence of the countries of our region has always been a thorn in the side of Russian imperialists,” he remarked and went on to enumerate Moscow’s attempts at rebuilding its sphere of influence in the region, namely, the invasion of Georgia in 2008, multiple brutal clampdowns on freedom movements in Belarus and Ukraine, armed annexation of Ukrainian Crimea and Donbas in 2014, and finally the ongoing “full-scale genocidal war with the sovereign Ukrainian state” that started on February 24, 2022.
“Russia has always wanted to hold sway over the entire Central and Eastern Europe. But free Poland, free Ukraine and all the other independent states of our region will never agree to this. This is a matter of life and death for our nations, of maintaining identity and survival. This is a matter of our future, security and prosperity,” the President recapitulated.
The article was published by “El Universal” and the Polish daily “Wszystko Co Najważnieszje” as part of a project by the Institute of National Remembrance and the Polish National Foundation.
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