Disinformation About Invasion of Poland
September 1 marked the anniversary of the invasion of Poland by the Hitlerites in 1939.
Reactionary forces use disinformation to rehabilitate the reputation of Nazi war criminals and to cover up who were the victims of fascism in whose name the peoples of the world declared “Never Again!” At this time of year, they use the anniversary of the German-Soviet non-aggression pact signed on August 23, 1939 to claim that this was an act of appeasement, not a tactical move for the Soviet Union to buy time to arm itself for an inevitable confrontation with the Nazis. The disinformation is also used to suggest that it was the Soviets and not the Nazis who invaded Poland in September 1939 and started the war in Europe. This is to hide the fact that it was the European powers that actively appeased the Nazis and permitted the invasion of Poland, while the Soviets fought to defend that country and its people at every turn. Ultimately, this disinformation about the causes of World War II is to justify and commit similar crimes in the present.
Hardial Bains, in his book Causes and Lessons of the Second World War, points out that the war began as “a war between imperialist powers and it only took on an anti-fascist character once the Soviet Union entered the war as the defender of freedom and democracy. Hitler took advantage of Britain’s and France’s policy of appeasement and their refusal to form a mutual assistance pact with the Soviet Union to further his own inter-imperialist contention with Britain and France. He attacked and occupied their eastern ally the Republic of Poland which was itself imperialist. Britain’s and France’s refusal to take advantage of the Soviet Union’s policy of peace and good neighbourly relations and refusal to sign a pact of mutual assistance with the Soviet Union led to one of the greatest tragedies for the Polish nation.” An excerpt from the book is posted below.
Partisans of the Polish People’s Army, alongside the Soviet Red Army, liberated Poland
from Nazi occupation.
Poland in 1939 and before refused to forge a united front with the Soviet Union when it offered to sign a mutual assistance treaty with Britain, France and Poland providing for military assistance if the Hitlerites attacked Poland. The Polish government, acting on instructions from Britain and France, and blinded by their own anti-communism, refused to grant the Soviet request to permit the Red Army to cross Polish territory so as to set up a forward line of defence should the Germans attack Poland. […]
Poland, in the thirties, relied upon an alliance of a sort with Britain and France […]. Events proved what sort of alliance it was, what sort of guarantee the French and British imperialists had undertaken on behalf of the Polish state. On September 1, 1939 when the Hitlerites attacked Poland at 4:15 a.m. with their planes targeting all the cities and all the villages and towns, killing thousands of people in a massive assault, the only support Britain could give was some condemnation on the radio waves and two days later declare that Britain was at war. […F]or the next six years no British soldier was ever to set foot on the soil of Poland to liberate the Polish people. While Hitler’s Wehrmacht of 1,850,000 troops, 3200 tanks and 2000 combat aircraft, a fleet of battleships, over two-thirds of Germany’s entire combat force at that time, destroyed the Polish state and massacred the Polish people, France, with its army of four million facing a German force of less than a million on the western front, waged its ‘phony war ‘ i.e., sat on its hands. The U.S. President sent a telegram to the Polish government condemning the Nazi Germans for mass bombing Polish cities. Yet it is said today that the U.S., Britain, France and others, ‘defended Poland’ while the Soviet Union of J.V. Stalin “occupied Poland.” They are trying to suggest to the world that Stalin was an aggressor against Poland in the same fashion that Hitler was an aggressor.
On September 17, 1939 the leaders of the state of Poland which had landed the Polish nation into such a tragic impasse, whose political offspring are speaking today in the same chauvinist language of the imperialists, fled from Poland and were interned in Rumania. A clique of like-minded political figures were appointed as the Polish-government-in-exile, which the chauvinists today call the “continuation” of the Polish state.
The Soviet Army marched onto the territory of Poland only when the Polish state was in a condition of complete collapse. It marched onto territories of the Ukraine and Byelorussia annexed by Poland during the Polish-Russian War of 1919-1920. The majority of the population inhabiting these territories were either Ukrainian or Byelorussian and relatively less were Polish. Of a total population of 13 million people, more than 7 million were Ukrainian, 3 million were Byelorussian, more than 1 million were of Jewish origin and more than 1 million were Poles. No doubt, one of the reasons the former Polish state did not want to enter into a mutual assistance defence treaty with the Soviet Union is because the oppressed nationalities within their borders would demand self-determination and their desire to be reunited with the Ukraine and Byelorussia.
The London government-in-exile never gave up trying to re-incorporate these territories, and Polish chauvinists today still complain about the ‘lost territories.’ For this they bitterly condemn Stalin and the Red Army. Polish reaction hated the loss of their conquered territories, the loss of the Ukrainian, Byelorussian and Jewish workers and peasants who the Polish bourgeoisie and landlords exploited and oppressed. It was never in the interest of the Polish nation to have annexed those lands in the first place. When they speak of Stalin’s ‘invasion’ of Poland, they do not mention that the Soviet Union handed over the city and district of Vilno to Lithuania, not because Vilno had a majority Lithuanian population, but because it had been forcibly wrested from Lithuania by Poland. Furthermore, it was a city associated in the historical past with Lithuania and the aspirations of the Lithuanian people. It became the capital city of Lithuania.
The former Polish state also had a bad conscience about the territory Poland annexed from Czechoslovakia. On October 2, 1938, right at the time the Munich betrayal by Britain and France allowed Hitler to annex the Sudentenland in western Czechoslovakia in the name of the German nationality living there, the Polish army marched into Trans-Olza, Czechoslovakia, occupying Western Teschen and Frystat in the name of the Polish nationality living there. The semi-fascist Polish government was at one with Hitler, Chamberlain, Daladier and Mussolini in dismembering Czechoslovakia, even if they weren’t personally at Munich. They acted like brigands. Today the Polish chauvinists leave out the date October 2, 1938 in their official chronicle of events leading up to the tragedy of September 1, 1939. They want to white-wash the imperialist geo-politics and unprincipled manoeuvres of the Polish government at that time precisely because they […] are following the same disastrous and chauvinist course of inter-imperialist geo-politics today.
Once Poland was under the clutches of Hitler, the Nazis perpetrated one of the worst crimes history has ever known against any nation. Poland suffered the largest number of casualties, in terms of the numbers of individuals killed per thousand population, of any country in Europe. Poland suffered a loss of about 6 million people killed. Direct extermination by mass murder, death camps and so on took some 1,750,000 Polish lives; 2,700,000 Polish Jews were exterminated; more than 50,000 out of 75,000 Gypsies living in Poland were exterminated; some 12,000 mental patients and mentally retarded people were murdered; thousands of Polish prisoners of war, men and officers, were systematically shot. Within the first six weeks of the nazi occupation, some 40,000 Polish intellectuals, political personalities and other leaders were shot by the S.S. in a project called “clearing the political ground.” About 38-39% of Poland’s 1938 assets were destroyed, estimated to be worth $49.2 billion (pre-war U.S.). Warsaw was razed to the ground. Poland suffered the highest per capita loss of property in Europe as a result of the war.
(Hardial Bains. Causes and Lessons of the Second World War. Toronto: MELS, 1990, pp. 18-23.)
Polish Authorities’ Political Amnesia
Poland is suffering political amnesia. The condition gets acute any time one mentions the mass crimes committed against Polish nationals. There is a plethora of examples to prove the case. The Volyn massacre is the most illustrative one. Ukrainian nationalists brutally tortured and killed dozens of thousands of old men, women and children. For all that, the Polish government supports the successors of Stepan Bandera who have seized power in Ukraine.
There is another example — the pogroms in Wola that took place during the Warsaw uprising (Wola — a district of western Warsaw). German fascists killed around 60,000 Poles in two days (August 5-6, 1944) — the largest single massacre in WWII.
Today the Polish authorities do the best to get around the details that led to the tragedy. A lot has been said in Poland about the Warsaw uprising. By and large it all boils down to denigrating Soviet soldiers by suggesting they deliberately remained where they were to allow the Wehrmacht time to regroup and put the insurgence down. It is said that whatever Russians say about liberating Poland “Bolsheviks are even worse than Hitlerites,” no matter that it was the German fascists who killed Poles just because they were Slavic people. That’s exactly what they did in Wola.
The reason Germans were so cruel towards Poles is an open secret. In their statements top Nazi officials were candid enough in explaining their attitude. But Polish and Ukrainian propaganda outlets keep silent about it. The following examples are eloquent enough.
Just one week prior to launching the attack on Poland, Hitler made an address to his chief military commanders at Obersalzberg on August 22, 1939. He said, “Our strength consists of our speed and our brutality. Genghis Khan led millions of women and children to slaughter — with premeditation and a happy heart. History sees in him solely as the founder of a state. It’s a matter of indifference to me what a weak western European civilization will say about me. I have issued the command — and I’ll have anybody who utters but one word of criticism executed by a firing squad — that our war aim does not consist in reaching certain lines, but in the physical destruction of the enemy. Accordingly, I have placed my Death’s Head Units [SS-Totenkopfverbände, responsible for administering the concentration camps — TML Ed. Note] in readiness — for the present only in the East — with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space (Lebensraum) which we need.”
Hans Frank was appointed Governor General of the Occupied Polish Territories by Hitler’s decree dated 12 October 1939. On January 1, 1940 the official told the conference of department heads that he was given an order to devastate the territory leaving no traces of economy, culture, social and political structures. He said Poland was wartime booty to be treated accordingly.
The Nazis really made no distinction between their words and deeds. The destruction of Warsaw and the Volyn massacre provide good evidence to go on. Neither the contemporary Polish Russophobe propaganda warriors, nor overseas story-tellers shed light on who was behind the tragic events. One has to get acquainted with the testimony provided right after the massacre by witnesses, those who saw what happened with their own eyes to testify right after the events.
The underground newspaper of the Polish Workers Party Trybuna Wolnosci (N.64, 1944) published an article signed by Lieutenant Zenon (real name Zenon Kliszko), deputy commander of Army Liudova (the People’s Army of Poland) at the time of the Warsaw Uprising. He said, “The very thought of bloodshed in Warsaw, the city lying in ruins, never leaves the minds of those who fight for full liberation of the country from Hitler’s yoke. The stronger the pain, the more clearly we realize how hard our people suffered and how important it is to pinpoint the real culprits. All the details have to be clarified and come into the open. The problem of the uprising in Poland has been many times discussed on the pages of the party press. The leadership of the party noted that such an action cannot be improvised. It has to be thoroughly planned taking into consideration the experience gathered by the guerrilla movement. It has to coincide with an active phase of mass struggle. It is imperative to coordinate activities with the allied military, especially with the Red Army liberating Poland. …
“In those days the German Eastern Front was rolling back. There was an impression that the Red Army and Polish people were about to liberate Warsaw from Hitler’s occupiers. The great victories of the Red Army made leaders of the Armia Krajowa (the Home Army) panic. They decided to seize Warsaw and bring their reactionary clique to power.
“Contrary to good reason and logic and ignoring the opinion of others, the Armia Krajowa incited the uprising on August 1. The rebellion unleashed by Bor (meaning “the Forest” — the code-name of General Count Tadeusz Komorowski, the commander in chief) and his accomplices a day before the capitulation of the Warsaw uprising, was a criminal political venture.
“As soon as the uprising started the real intentions of its leaders became known. The staff of the Armia Krajowa failed to come up with an operational plan. The action was not well-prepared. True, the state of combat readiness had been declared a number of times for training purposes. There was no clarity about the start of combat action — the H-hour was changed repeatedly. Many Armia Krajowa units were not engaged in the operation at all. The real intent was not to organize an uprising against the Germans, but rather liberate the city without the participation of Soviet forces. That’s what the root of the problem was and that’s what doomed the action to failure. Two days before the insurgence the “convention of independent organizations” distributed leaflets denigrating the Red Army. The leadership of Armia Krajowa was blinded by hatred. It forgot about the Germans in Warsaw. It said that the units of the Red Army deployed at the forward edge of the battle area were merely dozens of tank divisions ready to enter the city at any given moment. The Armia Krajowa commanders did not consider the Germans to be their enemies anymore.
“They considered the Soviet Union and entire camp of Polish democracy as the prime target. That’s what made the leadership of Armia Krajowa and the London-based Polish government-in-exile commit this grave crime in Warsaw.”
The testimony adduced here provides undisputed evidence which allows a strict definition of what really caused the tragic events in Wola.
(Originally published under the title “Wola Massacre and Polish Authorities: Another Case of Political Amnesia,” Valéry Vrublevsky, Strategic Culture Foundation, June 1, 2015. Slightly edited for grammar by TML.)