With a face perhaps reflecting contrition, German Chancellor Merkel

lays a candle after giving a speech [watch below] at a ceremony in

Poland on the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of WW II. She said,

'We caused unending suffering in the world. I bow before the victims.'



NRC Handelsblad, The Netherlands

On 70th Anniversary of WW II, Wounds in Europe Still Sting


"In the West, the arrival of the Americans symbolized the restoration of democracy and the rule of law. In the East, the march of the Soviet Army is viewed as the beginning of a second and much more prolonged occupation. Russian public opinion is offended by these views."




Translated By Meta Mertens


September 2, 2009


The Netherlands - NRC Handelsblad - Original Article (Dutch)

A rather conciliatory Vliadimir Puting presents a candle at the Cemetery of Defenders of Westerplatte where Poland defended itself against the initial Nazi attack on their country, outside of Gdansk, Poland, Sept. 1. Poles still resent the Soviet Union's attack that immediately followed - and the Soviet murder of most of Poland's officers' corp.


RUSSIA TODAY NEWS: Russia-Poland relations strained over historical revisionism, Sept 1., 00:04:33RealVideo

Seventy years later, the war continues to provoke political disputes. The service to commemorate the beginning of the war on September 1, 1939 in Gdansk was dignified in itself. But elsewhere, history was being liberally interpreted. Polish President Kaczynski gave a speech in which he compared the murder of more than 20,000 Polish officers by the Stalinist NKVD [the massacre at Katyn] with the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis. The public relations section of the Russian SVR, its foreign intelligence branch, used the historic date to present a book titled Secrets of Polish Politics, 1935-1945. According to Major General Sotskov, documents in the book prove that in the thirties, Poles wanted to fuel separatism in the Ukraine, the Caucuses and even Central Asia with something called operation "Prometheus."


Were these submissions meant only to bring new interpretations of the facts to the surface?  No. The subtext of Kaczynski’s interpretation was: Stalin was just as much a criminal as Hitler - and that this is a reflection on Putin. And Sotskov's subtext: Poles were and remain cunning fascists.    



Obviously, Europeans are far from a basic historic consensus. The reason is clear. In the West, the 1945 victory of the allies was experienced as a liberation. The arrival of the Americans in particular symbolized the restoration of democracy and the rule of law. In the East, the march of the Soviet Army is viewed as the beginning of a second and much more prolonged occupation - this time by the Russians and communists. This interpretation leaves no room for the fact that between 1941 and 1945, the Soviet Union was an ally of America and England and during those years, perhaps 25 million Soviet citizens were killed. Conversely, Russian public opinion is offended by these views. Russia sees itself as a nation of victims and especially heroes.


At a ceremony in Gdansk, Poland to commemorate the 70th anniversary

of WWII - which began with a Nazi attack on Poland - President Kaczynski

of Poland described the Russian invasion of Poland that followed the Nazi

one, as a 'stab in the back.'

[Watch video by clicking here or clicking on the photo above.]


Disdain for this kind of historical patriotism is inappropriate. In The Netherlands, tempers heat up when the slave trade and Srebrenica is a topic of conversation [Dutch peacekeepers failed to protect Bosnians from a Serb onslaught]. But it's past time for us to be less opportunistic about interpreting history. Thanks to the fall of the Berlin Wall, all nations in Europe have been independent for two decades. This makes detachment more possible. In post-war Germany, the Vergangenheitsbewältigung [the struggle to come to terms with the past] really only began twenty years ago, and a minor dispute among historians burst onto the scene in the mid-eighties.




Izvestia, Russia: Truman and Churchill No Better Than Stalin

Vedemosti, Russia: Soviet Theft of American Nuclear Secrets Was Fully Justified

Der Spiegel, Germany: Why Wasn't Hitler Stopped?

Der Spiegel, Germany: German Editorial Roundup on 70 Years After WW II

The Telegraph, U.K.: Vatican Says U.S. and Britain Knew of Nazi Murder of Jews and Did Nothing
The Times: Does Appeasement Look So Bad, 70 Years Later?


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But before detachment can happen, politicians will have to stop using history to fight current conflicts. Prime Minister Putin, who wrote a reasonably balanced article in Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, said it simply but effectively: “History is complicated. I believe that it is first and a matter for specialists.” And therefore not for politicians who must practically confront the present than an unknowable past.










































[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US September 3, 3:52pm]


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