By John Czop
On this 102 anniversary year of the Polish victory at the Battle of Warsaw on August 15, 1920, The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we recall that the detractors of Marshal Jozef Pilsudski refused to give him credit for this successful counter attack. They derisively called this defeat of the Red Army THE MIRACLE ON THE VISTULA. Today, many do not recall the initial pejorative purpose of Pilsudski’s opponents who coined the locution: THE MIRACLE ON THE VISTULA. Nevertheless, Poland scored a decisive victory
for freedom. This key fact receives insufficient emphasis in America, Western Europe, West Central Europe, especially Germany, and in Poland where transformed communists continue to influence the educational system.
At the recently opened Museum of the Victims of Communism at 900 15th Street, NW in Washington, DC there is a panel devoted to the Polish victory at the Battle of Warsaw that stopped the Red Army from carrying at bayonet point the Bolshevik Revolution to Germany and Western Europe. It took 25 more years, and yet another defeat of Germany in World War II, for the Soviet Army to advance communist tyranny to the Elbe River.
Stalin particularly loathed Poland and the Poles for resoundingly defeating General Mikhail Tukhachevskiy, the best Red Army tactician, at the Battle of Warsaw. This victory showed the falseness of communist ideology which insists that workers and peasants have no country; only the Communist International promotes their class interests. Moreover, the Battle of Warsaw was a victory for the vision of President Woodrow Wilson who wanted to make a better world through the League of Nations, an association of democratic countries, versus Vladimir Lenin, who wanted to eliminate nation states and set up a Communist International to rule the world.
In March 1923, Poland and the Soviet Union signed the Treaty of Riga which ended the Polish-Bolshevik War. This treaty fixed the Polish Soviet border approximately along the line of the first partition of Poland in 1772. This treaty was a tragedy for Poland because our ancestral country after the defeat of the Red Army at the Battle of Warsaw was expected to play the role of a great power in Europe without sufficient territory to do so.
The Treaty of Riga left approximately 150,000 ethnic Poles in the western Soviet Union. Stalin considered these Poles disloyal to the Soviet Union and enemies of communism, and he ordered them to be killed in 1937. At least 110,000 ethnic Poles, men, women, and children were murdered on Stalin’s orders because they were Poles and presumed to be disloyal to the Soviet Union. Stalin’s lawyers drafted the 1948 United Nations Organization Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide. They excluded killings for political reasons from the definition of genocide in order to justify mass murder in defense of communism. The United States State Department, still filled with President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s appointees sympathetic to the Soviet Union, approved the 1948 Genocide Convention written by Stalin’s lawyers. These Roosevelt appointees also applauded the decision of the 1945-1946 Nuremberg Tribunals to hold Nazi Germany responsible for the Katyn Forest Massacre in order to appease Stalin’s Soviet Union. No wonder many Poles see the UNO Genocide Convention, the Nuremberg Tribunals, and collective security guarantees by the Western democracies to Poland as a lurid charade. This is why today’s Poland has decided to launch a $20 billion re-armament program.
Tomorrow, we will again commemorate the anniversary of the August 23, 1939 Hitler-Stalin Pact, which was the political preparation for the invasions of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in September 1939. This Pact, signed in Moscow by the foreign ministers of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, Joachim von Ribbentrop and Vyacheslav Molotov, divided eastern Europe between the totalitarian powers, and surprised anti-Fascists who sympathized with the Soviet Union as the implacable ideological enemy of Nazi Germany.
The HITLER-STALIN PACT showed that World War II in Europe was not, in fact, an anti-Fascist and anti-Nazi crusade as it is presented to the public today. Instead, it was a three way struggle in two phases. In the first phase, from September 1939 to June 22, 1941 Hitler with Mussolini and Stalin were allies against the democracies: the British Empire, France, and Poland. In the second phase, Hitler reneged, much to Stalin’s surprise, on their alliance and invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. At this point, the British Empire, then standing alone against Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, sought an alliance with the Soviet Union to fight Hitler’s Germany. The necessity of an alliance of the democracies with the Soviet Union prejudiced the outcome of the war, especially for Poland. Our ancestral country became the victim of both totalitarian powers, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.
As an important ally in the anti-Hitler alliance, named the United Nations in the Atlantic Charter, Poland fought Nazi Germany from September 1939 until May 1945. Poland had the fourth largest contingent of armed forces fighting Nazi Germany. In first place was the Soviet Union after it was invaded by Nazi Germany on June 22, 1941, followed by the British Empire, and the United States, which entered the war in December 1941 after the Japanese air raid on Pearl Harbor, and after the German defeat at the Battle of Moscow. This made December 1941 the turning point of the war.
As a United Nations ally against Nazi Germany, Poland had a stormy relationship with the Soviet Union, which of course invaded Poland as an ally of Nazi Germany in September 1939 and put communists in charge of Poland’s eastern provinces from September 1939 until June 1941 when the German Nazis conquered this Polish territory occupied by the Soviet Union and put German Nazis in charge.
When in 1943 Nazi Germany announced to the world their discovery of the mass graves of Polish prisoners of war shot at Katyn Forest, Poland’s relations with her Soviet ally became impossible. For several years, Poland’s Government in Exile in London persistently demanded explanations from the Kremlin for information about 22,000 Polish prisoners of war captured in September 1939 by the Soviet Union. It was now clear that these Polish prisoners of war were murdered by the Soviet Union at Katyn Forest in April 1940, and at several other killing fields in the western Soviet Union, when Hitler and Stalin were allies.
In 1943, the Kremlin insisted that the Polish prisoners were killed by Nazi Germany. The Polish Government-in-Exile refused to accept this lie and the Soviet Union broke diplomatic relations with their Polish ally. In 1990, the Russian Federation finally admitted that the 22,000 Polish prisoners of war were killed on Stalin’s orders. The Nuremberg Tribunals accepted for political reasons Stalin’s lie that Nazi Germany was responsible for killing the 22,000 Polish prisoners of war. Agreeing to Stalin’s Katyn lie was the price that the United States and the British Empire paid for Stalin’s support to build a better post-war world through the United Nations Organization. This new collective security organization was based on the Katyn lie.
Moreover, after January 1944, when the Soviet army crossed the 1939 Polish-Soviet border, units of the anti-Nazi Polish Home Army were attacked by Soviet troops. It became clear to Poles that the Soviet Union wanted to conquer Poland, their ally against Nazi Germany. Now the Soviet Union reverted to its 1939 policy with the difference that the Kremlin no longer needed to divide Poland with Nazi Germany that nearly was defeated.
The POLISH AMERICAN CONGRESS (PAC) was established in this historical context marked by fear that the Soviet Union would control Poland after the war. The PAC asked President Franklin D. Roosevelt to guarantee that Poland would be re-established within the borders of September 1, 1939 after the defeat of Nazi Germany. President Roosevelt did so without letting the Polish American Congress know that he already agreed to Soviet control of Poland at the Tehran Conference of December 1943. Polish Americans voted to re-elect Roosevelt in November 1944.
From January 1944 until 1948, Stalin’s Soviet Union was using armed force, 17 divisions of troops and numerous police, to impose a communist government on Poland. The best source which describes Polish resistance to communism during this period is Stefan Korbonski’s W Imieniu Kremla,(Paris: 1956, pp. 268, 290). Korbonski states that in the Spring of 1947 the Communist regime in Poland announced that it imprisoned 21,176 individuals for political reasons, and during the amnesty period which ended in April 1947, 55, 277 members of anti-communist organizations came forward and handed over 15,000 weapons, including 10 cannons and 904 machine guns. Communist casualties amounted to 1,427 security officers and 2,000 party members killed in 1945, and to approximately 30,000 communist party members killed from 1945 to 1948.
The Katyn Memorial in Jersey City, New Jersey, a cenotaph which contains soil from Katyn Forest with the remains of the Polish prisoners of war murdered on Stalin’s orders, commemorates Polish resistance to communism and encourages todays Uighurs, Tibetans, Taiwanese and others who are being persecuted by communist regimes to continue their struggle for freedom. Moreover, at this moment when Putin is trying to restore the Soviet Union by prosecuting his murderous invasion of Ukraine, the Katyn Memorial is a rallying point for resistance against communism and for freedom.
This is why the Jersey City Council at its 8 September Neeting should not approve funds to bury the Katyn Memorial, which needs to be visible to all. The Katyn Memorial specifically commemorates the price of Polish resistance to communism and it is of universal value to all who struggle for freedom.