When in the morning of September 17, 1939, the Red Army crossed the eastern border of the Second Polish Republic, it was accompanied by a campaign of lies about Poland and the causes of Soviet aggression. After many years, despite the collapse of the USSR, the historical policy of modern Russia has changed little, also in assessments of the Second Polish Republic

Manipulation of facts, invented situations and assessments is aimed at reducing the real responsibility of Russians for the policy of cooperation with Hitler and its terrible consequences for Poland and a large part of Central Europe, as well as reversing the roles by shifting responsibility to the victim, i.e. Poland. Moreover, for today's Russia, history is one of the most important tools of modern imperial policy aimed at rebuilding Kremlin's influence in areas that the USSR once controlled.

Your Poland unable to exist

In 1939, the Soviet propaganda was aiming at justifying unprovoked aggression against Poland, which, having treaty obligations towards its eastern neighbor (the Non-Aggression Pact of 1932 extended for 10 years in 1934), consistently refused to participate in the plan for joint aggression on the USSR and the division of spoils suggested by the Third Reich. That is why Józef Beck refused to join the Anti-Monetary Pact in 1937, which was, in fact, an alliance of axis states directed against the USSR, and, considering Kremlin's tense relations with Japan, it threatened him with a war on two fronts. Moreover, a few days before the war, under pressure from its Western allies, the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, even considered the issue of consent to the Red Army entering the territory of Poland as part of the defense plan of the coalition of Great Britain and France with the USSR in the summer of 1939, although this project aroused justified concerns on our side. Meanwhile, from September 17 to October 15, 1939 in over 3,000 newspapers (exactly 3264) and 9 million propaganda prints distributed among soldiers who took part in the aggression against Poland, the thesis appeared about the Polish state as ephemeral, i.e. "incapable of existence", pursuing a "utopian", "imperialist" policy "from sea ​​to sea "," fascist "," oppressing Ukrainians and Belarusians "," your ", which was" hunger "," misery "and" lawlessness ". Ultimately, it was to experience a "well-deserved catastrophe" by the cowardice of politicians and military command, the "real culprits" of the defeat who fled the country in panic. The official documents of September 17 also contained the false thesis about the alleged collapse of Warsaw, the total disintegration of the Polish army and the final collapse of the state. The victorious Red Army was to enter as a liberator, "shaking hands with brotherly nations," and thus take revenge for the war of 1920.

Victim responsible for the outbreak of the war

Contemporary elites in Russia, which work on shaping a new identity, defend the myth of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-45, which feeds on the crushing of fascists and the liberation of half of Europe from Germany, and the memory of the USSR superpowers after the war. In this narrative, the USSR in the history of World War II is, on the one hand, "harmed innocence and the greatest victim of war," on the other, the greatest winner and liberator, to whom all humanity owes gratitude for "defeating fascism." And because the creator of this power was Joseph Stalin, modern Russian society has a serious problem with its own history of World War II. Because beside the crimes that are difficult to question, although sometimes there are still attempts to justify them, there is a sense of pride in the Russians, especially in their older generation. In this view, anything that can undermine this myth rises to the rank of an iconoclastic hatred campaign against Russia and its heroes. The elites of modern Russia perfectly understand it and they are trying to build their historical policy on this sensitivity. That is hardly anyone is willing to return to aggression against Poland today, and although Putin condemned the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact a few years ago, he completely kept silent about Stalin's anti-Polish cooperation in 1939-41. There have been defenders of the Soviet invasion of Poland on September 17 in Russia till today, and they assess it as "necessary" and "useful" for the USSR and falsely prove that Stalin had no other choice then to postpone the war with Germany and take over the defensive borders to the west of the old Soviet border. It is contradictory with the talks to the Western countries in the summer of 1939, not only at the political level, but even at the military level, which provided Soviet policy with an alternative to the alliance with Germany. On the other hand, Stalin, guided by cynical calculations, chose Berlin's more favorable offer, which meant unleashing the war and the destruction of many Central European countries, including Poland. And according to this narrative, the USSR did not fight at all until 1941, but participated in "liberation marches"; he attacked Finland first, then annexed the Baltic States, Romania, Bessarabia and northern Bukovina from a position of strength.

The similarities between Stalinist propaganda and the narrative of modern Russia can be seen especially in the assessment of the character and policy of Beck. The first saw him as "Hitler's agent," "a servant of fascism," "bought by Germany," the second describes his policy as "fooling around" between Berlin and Moscow, which ultimately made Poland a "victim of politics" in 1939. , which it cultivated itself, annexing part of the Czechoslovak area in 1938 "- this is Zaolzie, part of Cieszyn Silesia, the disputed area between Czechoslovakia and Poland (assessment of President Vladimir Putin during Angela Merkel's visit to Moscow in May 2015). So, the Poles themselves are guilty of their own, as well as someone else's war woes! In this assessment, there is also a cynical use of someone else's mistakes to remain blind on one’s own - much more serious and fraught with consequences, as well as an unauthorized comparison and a perverse attempt to reverse roles.

Whereas, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has recently published the dubious authenticity of diplomatic materials from almost 80 years ago, supposed to testify to allegedly Polish plans to annex Ukraine in 1939, which were to be revealed in talks of min. Beck with Hitler. They would confirm Poland's aggressive plans for the USSR on the eve of the war and authenticate Warsaw's far-reaching political cooperation with Berlin on this issue. If so, the question arises: why has the alliance not been concluded and these allegedly shared goals have not been implemented? In this way, indirectly, attempts are made to relativize the Soviet responsibility for the alliance of Stalin with Hitler and aggression against Poland, and to point to a "substitute culprit".

It is worth reminding the contemporary Russians, especially to make them aware not only of the Polish perspective, but also the objective truth that the loyal attitude of the western neighbor in 1939 saved this country from earlier aggression, probably from two sides, and gave it the time the country used, unfortunately, against peace and against its neighbors, and today its elites are notoriously manipulating facts, just like at the times of the USSR. That is why we still hear the statement of Vyacheslav Molotov of October 1939, full of arrogance and hatred, about Poland shattered by its neighbors as a "bastard of the Versailles Treaty".


„Niedziela” 38/2019

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: