Every May 9, Russia celebrates the defeat of nazi Germany (for the Western Allies the war ended on the 8th) and does so by using the word “liberation”.
Germany and the USSR invaded Poland in 1939 starting World War II
Both Russia and its propagandists insist on that word, and they do not stop insisting on how “much” we owe to the USSR for its contribution to the defeat of Nazism. This propaganda cannot hide two obvious facts: the first is that the World War II began with the German-Soviet invasion of Poland in September 1939, an invasion organized on the basis of a secret protocol in the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact with which Germany and the USSR shared Poland, Finland and the Baltic republics. Furthermore, in that invasion, Germans and Soviets even organized a joint parade to celebrate their victory over the Poles. The alliance was such that in the last quarter of 1940, both dictatorships negotiated the incorporation of the USSR into the Tripartite Axis formed by Germany, Italy and Japan.
The Soviet ‘liberation’ of Poland consisted of changing one dictatorship for another
Secondly, it must be remembered that, after having joined the Allied side for the betrayal of their German allies in June 1941 (a betrayal without which the USSR would have maintained its alliance with Hitler, which even led the communists to boycott the Allied war effort), in 1945 the Soviets took over Eastern Europe, seeding it with communist dictatorships. It is not possible to call “liberation” the fact of passing from a totalitarian and criminal regime (national-socialism) to another totalitarian and criminal regime (communism).
The crimes committed by the Soviets in the first occupation (1939-1941)
For Poland, the war began with a German-Soviet occupation and ended with a Soviet occupation. In 1945 the country found itself subjected to Stalin, the same genocidal dictator who had started the war together with his then ally, the also genocidal dictator Hitler. Poles had serious reason to fear a new Soviet occupation: by 1940, the USSR had murdered 22,000 Polish prisoners at Katyn. In the two years (1939-1941) of the first Soviet occupation of Poland, the Soviets deported 1.2 million Poles to Siberia and other remote parts of the USSR, in a total of four waves. In addition, 150,000 Poles died as a result of that first Soviet occupation.
The rape of more than 100,000 Polish women and girls by the Soviets in 1944 and 1945
In 1944, the “liberation” of Poland by the Red Army began in the worst possible way: more than 100,000 Polish women and girls were raped by Soviet soldiers, and many of them were also killed. The victims ranged in age from 4 to 80 years old. In the city of Olsztyn all Polish women and girls from 9 to 80 years old were raped. The wave of rapes at the hands of the Red Army caused a pandemic of sexual diseases, which affected 10% of the Polish population.
The bloody Soviet persecution against the Polish resistance
The new Soviet occupants began a harsh persecution against the members of the Polish resistance loyal to the Polish Government in exile. The communists falsely accused them of collaborating with the nazis, and treated Polish heroes and patriots as bandits and criminals. Already before the end of the war, Stalin had ordered the liquidation of the Polish resistance, with betrayals such as that suffered by the Polish soldiers who liberated Vilnius, where the Soviets captured thousands of members of the Polish resistance who had defeated the Germans in that city. Many of them were deported and others killed.
Already in August 1944, the Soviets reactivated the German concentration camp of Majdanek to detain members of the Polish resistance, where they were subjected to inhumane conditions. To give us an idea, in the Lublin area alone, 50,000 resistance soldiers were arrested. Likewise, between the end of 1944 and January 1945, the Soviets murdered between 1,300 and 1,800 members of the Polish resistance in the Uroczysko Baran massacre, today known as “Little Katyn”.
The mass deportations of Poles by the Soviets
In 1939, when Hitler and Stalin divided up the country, the USSR had invaded the Polish eastern fringe or Kresy strip, annexing it and dividing it up among the Soviet republics of Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine. In 1945 Stalin did not return these territories to Poland and expelled more than a million Poles from them, most of whom were resettled in the western fringe of Germany, which was given to Poland as compensation for the loss of the Kresy fringe. It was a mass deportation, an act classified as a crime against humanity by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
The deportations of Poles had already started as soon as the Red Army re-entered Poland. In June 1944, the mass deportation of 40,000 Polish resistance members who refused to join the Red Army began. In 1945, between 40,000 and 45,000 Poles were deported to the Soviet Gulag, deportations that continued well into the 1950s. Some 300,000 Poles fell victim to this second wave of deportations. I repeat: facts classified as crimes against humanity.
Soviet attacks on religious freedom and freedom of education
Soviet violations of human rights were also directed against religious freedom and freedom of education. The communists imposed compulsory indoctrination in Poland in schools, in an attempt to increase the very little sympathy that Poles felt for communism. The Catholic Church, which was the only social institution outside the control of the state and which kept alive the flame of Polish national identity under nazism and under communism, was subjected to smear campaigns and also to persecution, as evidenced by the imprisonment of the Primate of Poland, Stefan Wyszyński, and the assassination of the priest Jerzy Popiełuszko.
The looting of the Polish economy by the Soviets
The curious Soviet idea of the “liberation” of Poland was also reflected in the economy. As early as September 1944, the Soviets imposed the confiscation of land and businesses from their rightful owners, to which must be added the looting committed by Red Army soldiers against the Poles. In the case of farms, the new occupants imposed a system of requisitions that they maintained until 1972 and that forced farmers to deliver part of their production. In addition, between 1948 and 1956 a forced collectivization of the land was imposed, which provoked great resistance among the Polish peasantry, a resistance that was combated through repression and fiscal looting by the communist dictatorship imposed by Stalin. Finally, in 1950, a monetary reform stole two-thirds of the savings of Polish citizens.
It was not a liberation: it was a change of occupants
Due to the repression they suffered at home or the exile into which they were pushed, for many Poles the Second World War did not end until 1989, with the fall of communism. For half a century, Poland was occupied by foreign powers, first by Germans and Soviets, then by Germans alone, and finally by the Soviets again. It took Poland half a century to regain the freedom and democracy lost with the 1939 invasion. That is why Poles today are rightly offended when they read or hear someone say that the Soviets “liberated” Poland. It was not a liberation, it was just a change from some totalitarian occupants to other totalitarian occupants. And the same can be said of what happened in other Eastern European countries.
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