The mistakes made during World War II should not be repeated in the case of Ukraine, Poland’s prime minister wrote in an article for the Sunday edition of the US daily Chicago Tribune.
In the article, Mateusz Morawiecki prompted Europe’s passive stance towards the Third Reich in the opening phase of the Second World War and warned against adopting a similar response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Morawiecki wrote that the invasion was possible because the world “has forgotten the lessons flowing from the 20th Century. Noting that the West has “shamefully banned from memory” its initial reluctance to oppose Hitler, he stressed that this memory should serve as a guideline in the face of today’s conflict.
“The ability to face the facts about World War II is our duty not only with respect to the past but also with respect to the future,” he wrote.
In this context, he recalled that Poland was the first country to stand up to Hitler, but was betrayed by its Western allies.
“Poland was the first to refuse submission. It chose to be faithful to freedom and faithful to the founding values of Western civilization. It was betrayed by its allies,” Morawiecki wrote.
Morawiecki underlined that the German occupation of Poland was much more brutal than in the Nazi-occupied Western countries and that the Germans carried out most of the Holocaust on its territory.
“It is on the territory of Poland that the Germans committed their most vile crimes. It was on Polish lands that they built the majority of the infrastructure that enabled the most atrocious crime in history: the Holocaust,” Morawiecki wrote, adding that the Jews and the Poles were considered “sub-human” by the Germans.
Thus, Morawiecki continued, drawing the right lessons from World War II “was a greater responsibility than ever in post-war history”.
“Historical comparisons are treacherous but cannot be avoided today. If we were to rewrite the origin of World War II in the present day, the climax would involve the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” he wrote.
The article was published jointly with the Polish monthly “Wszystko Co Najwazniejsze” (All that is most important) as part of a project carried out with the Institute of National Remembrance and the Polish National Foundation.
Alongside Morawiecki’s article, the Sunday issue of the Chicago Tribune also ran a special supplement devoted to Polish history.