Look up chutzpah in the dictionary, and this might be the definition. Earlier this morning, the Russian foreign ministry posted objections on Facebook to Poland’s compliance with some post-Soviet treaties, with a preamble that accused Poles of being ingrates. While there may or may not be legitimate gripes with actions relating to the Friendly and Goodneighbourly Cooperation Treaty of 1992, Russia’s foreign ministry accused Poles of denying that the Soviets were their saviors in World War II:
Astonishingly, their declaration accused Poland of being at “war with its own history”:
On Poland’s war with its own history and legal commitments
There are various ways to deal with inconvenient historical facts. You can take them on the chin or ignore them. Sadly, the latter is what the Polish authorities have been doing recently. You see, politicians in Warsaw continue to deny the Soviet Union’s participation in Poland’s liberation from fascism and the restoration of Polish independence, after the Second World War. This ignorance has manifested itself in the demolition of the monument to I.D. Chernyakhovsky in Pieniężno and many others similar moves. In addition to the preventing Russia from the international project “Sobibór Museum” and the ridiculous demand for reparations for the actions of the USSR during the Second World War. Modern Polish politicians seem to believe they have no obligations to remember Soviet soldiers who died for their freedom.
This makes perfect sense … if Russia forgets the history leading up to the Nazi attack on the Soviet Union’s lines in June 1941 in Operation Barbarossa, which were in the middle of Poland. And why were Soviet troops in Poland in June 1941? Because Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler had agreed two years earlier to carve up Poland between them in the Molotov-Von Ribbentrop “Non-Aggression” Pact, and turn the Poles into Nazi and Soviet slaves — and worse. Coincidentally, RealClearHistory marked the 78th anniversary of this despicable act earlier this week:
Less than a month later, Soviet troops invaded Poland from the east after Nazi troops had invaded from the west. That pact not only sealed Poland’s fate for decades, but also that of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and that of Finland for a much shorter period. Had the Soviets not signed that pact, World War II might never have happened at all — which does not let Britain or France off the hook for their own failures, including their serial refusals to enforce the Versailles treaty and the failure to make an alliance with Stalin while they still could.
It’s true that the Soviet army pushed the Nazis out of Poland eventually, but it’s equally true that the Soviet army had earlier helped the Nazis wipe Poland off the political map. And after the Nazis got pushed out, the Soviets occupied Poland themselves as well as the Baltic states and kept them under Moscow’s thumb for 45 more years. Only when the Soviet Union finally collapsed under its own imperial ambitions and contradictions did the Poles finally taste liberation, and only in the form of Russian soldiers getting the hell out of Poland.
As noted, the specific complaints Russia made relate to treaties between a free Poland and a different Russian government. If those complaints are legitimate, then Russia has a right to protest. But only one country in this mix is at “war with their own history,” and it’s not Poland. It’s long past time for Russia to take ownership of its Iron Curtain history in eastern Europe and to stop claiming that the Soviet army was a liberating force anywhere outside Russia proper.