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    Foundations of Third Republic were riddled with communism, therefore quest for remembrance is our duty, says PM

    History is also an important tool for building so-called soft power. We care about making our country stronger and stronger. Through history and the good done by Poles, and undoubtedly our presidents-in-exile were depositories of good, therefore we can fight for a positive perception of Poland around the world. It is also crucial to rebuild the memory of them for ourselves, for Poles. These remains we are bringing back are a compass for us, the living, on how to live and how to serve Poland,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki says in an interview with Gazeta Polska Codziennie.

    The date of November 11 promotes reflection on our great ancestors. More than three decades after the fall of communism, the remains of Poland’s three presidents-in-exile will be brought into the country. Why now?

     

    We have been planning the realization of this project for a long time. A nation that does not know where it comes from and does not care about its ancestors, or its great leaders, is a nation that will not know where to go. Therefore, it is our duty to cherish the memory of great Poles. Preparing the exhumation and transportation to Poland of the remains of Wladyslaw Raczkiewicz, August Zaleski and Stanislaw Ostrowski took time and complicated diplomatic efforts. Fortunately, everything was arranged.

     

    And three of our heroes will finally return to their homeland…

     

    These men, under very difficult circumstances, in a very difficult time, in foreign countries, not only kept the insignia of the Republic and were the depositories of the great idea of an independent Republic but also tried to keep the West interested in the “Polish matter.” What the “Polish matter” was, we have known since the times of Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski. For more than two hundred years, it would not have survived if it had not been for the people who tirelessly brought it to life on the international stage. Wladyslaw Raczkiewicz, August Zaleski and Stanislaw Ostrowski continued this mission in particularly difficult times. For, after all, the period after the war up to the election of Karol Wojtyla as Pope and the rise of the Solidarity Trade Union was a time of great frustration and sadness. At the time, many people believed that communism would last up to a hundred years.

     

    By standing up for such figures, Poland is proving that it is fighting for historical truth.

     

    History is also an important tool for building so-called soft power. We care about making our country stronger and stronger. Through history and the good done by Poles, and undoubtedly our presidents-in-exile were depositories of good, we can fight for a positive perception of Poland around the world. It is also crucial to rebuild the memory of them for ourselves, for Poles. These remains we are bringing back are a compass for us, the living, on how to live and how to serve Poland. And this is also what their memorials are for – to show society a certain pattern of patriotism. Unfortunately, still, a large part of compatriots does not know what a hard fate awaited Polish emigrants abroad, how difficult it was to strive for Polishness and what was the role of Polish emigration after World War II.

     

    There was a particular moment in 1990 when Lech Walesa was asked if he would symbolically take over power from the president-in-exile. He refused, at the same time explaining that he would take over power from the people. This showed that the elites of the Third Republic had not broken up with the communist state and thus had not taken over the traditions of the Second Republic. At this point, can we say that we have already taken over this continuity from the Second Republic?  

     

    The elites of the Third Republic did not break up with the People’s Republic of Poland. A breakneck synthesis of the old communist order with the new democratic one was attempted. In view of this, taking over the insignia of the Republic of Poland from Ryszard Kaczorowski was not taken into account by the circle, because it would have meant the breaking of the continuity of the People’s Republic. Besides, leaving our presidents in exile, as the elites of the Third Republic did, can be compared to leaving a comrade on the battlefield. Now, it is our duty to bring them back to Poland.

     

    The consequences of the Third Republic elites’ failure to make a decisive break with the communist state are still being borne today. One example is the situation in the judiciary. The Supreme Court is still ruled by the communist criminal Jozef Iwulski, and it is very difficult to change this situation.

     

    The consequence of the failure to break up with the People’s Republic of Poland is the unwanted inheritance of the entire legal system or the system of enrichment of the nomenklatura, which not only was not marginalized but very quickly raised its head and began to create an economy dependent on post-communist connections. Although the ideology of Marxism-Leninism was abolished, power in various branches of the economy, in the media, in the judiciary, in banks, and politics, was left in the hands of the former apparatus.

     

    It can be said that the lack of a firm search for figures such as Wladyslaw Raczkiewicz, August Zaleski, Stanislaw Ostrowski and others of their ilk has led to a number of problems for the Polish state. We have not returned to what has always been the essence of the Republic, that is, the will of the people.

     

    We must clearly emphasize that Wladyslaw Raczkiewicz, August Zaleski, Stanislaw Ostrowski, i.e., these three great figures who will rest on Polish soil, but also Kazimierz Sabbat, who, in accordance with the will of his family, will remain in Great Britain, Edward Raczynski, who is laid to rest in Rogalin in Greater Poland, and Ryszard Kaczorowski – they have all written beautiful notes in our history. It seems obvious that the reborn Republic should refer precisely to this legacy, and not to the communist one. Unfortunately, the break with the People’s Republic never happened and was the original sin of the Third Republic.

     

    Is the bringing of the remains of our three presidents in exile the end of a certain stage or the beginning of one?

     

    I would say that it is a stage of restoring Poland’s historical memory and thus regaining its identity. These presidents were the depositories of the values of the independent Second Republic. I guess that they would like to pass on these values to free Poland. Communism collapsed, and faster than some predicted, but unfortunately, the foundations of the Third Republic have managed to be riddled with this system.

     

    Does the fact that the remains of Wladyslaw Raczkiewicz, August Zaleski and Stanislaw Ostrowski will finally rest on Polish soil mean that Poland is closing in on some of the effects of World War II?

     

    The effects of World War II will never be overcome. We lost nearly 6 million citizens, we lost freedom, and a huge part of our territory, and we also suffered huge property losses. Certainly, however, bringing the remains of our presidents to exile is a crucial symbol on the path of the struggle for historical justice.

     

    There are many graves of our heroes outside Poland’s borders. Perhaps we should carry out such an action that would result in the return of their remains to Polish soil. I have in mind here such places as Katyn.

     

    I will admit that I am torn on this issue. I wish the nations lived in friendship and that we respected each other’s soldiers’ graves. Of course, there are some exceptions to this. I believe that the graves of war criminals, SS men or Gestapo men should not be venerated. Their names should not be commemorated. Let them be cursed forever. It was with great sadness that I once noticed that right next to the grave of my grandfather, who was a member of the Home Army and took part in, among other things, the “Storm” action, there were plaques erected with the names of those German soldiers who died during the Warsaw Uprising and World War II. Among them, I found the name of Jürgen Stroop, the same one interviewed by Kazimierz Moczarski in “Conversations with an Executioner.” I personally intervened to have this cursed name struck off this monument and succeeded in doing so. On the other hand, there are still many names of absolute war criminals on such monuments. I stressed at the outset that the best scenario would be if we lived in friendship with other nations, but if mutual respect is unattainable, then the matter of bringing the ashes of our heroes from abroad should perhaps be seriously considered.

     

    A clear example of the lack of respect for the resting places of our compatriots is the situation in Belarus, where the graves of AK soldiers are being destroyed.

     

    What is now happening to the graves of Polish Home Army (AK) soldiers in Belarus cries to heaven. I call on the Belarusian authorities to stop the despicable acts, not only from a political point of view but above all from the point of view of ordinary humanity. The people who rest there are soldiers who died fighting for their freedom and that of their compatriots. They deserve respect no matter what relations Poland and Belarus have today.

     

    I think we can say that the quest for memory is also a quest for our position in Europe and the world.

     

    The quest for memory is our commitment to those who sacrificed their health and lives for the homeland, their neighbours, and their loved ones. The quest for memory is a fight to ensure elementary historical justice, and after all, we want the world to be based on justice. Finally, the battle for memory is also particularly important for us, Poles, because it determines our place in Europe. It is the place of those who, in tragic times, were able to stand up to great evil. If we want future generations to have a moral compass pointing to the good, we simply must restore the truth about those who stood on the side of good. That is why we recently succeeded in bringing the remains of Maurycy Mochnacki, co-founder of “Gazeta Polska,” to Poland. We are also trying to bring to our homeland the ashes of Mieczyslaw Jalowiecki, so crucial in our history. His colourful biography is one of the more remarkable in this generation, which has lived what seems like several lifetimes through so many experiences. Jalowiecki saw with his own eyes the great changes, i.e., borders, epochs, regimes, and customs. If one can say about someone: “witness to history”, it is about Jalowiecki. In post-war emigration, he wrote down his memories of a world that has irretrievably passed away. I highly recommend the books “Na skraju Imperium” (English: On the Edge of Empire), “Wolne Miasto” (English: Free City) and “Requiem dla ziemiaństwa” (English: Requiem for a Landed Gentry).

     

    Reportedly, “Free City” was the last book read by John Paul II, or rather – listened to, as it was read to him by Wanda Półtawska in the last weeks and days of his life in 2005.

     

    Another such person is Jan Lukasiewicz, whose remains will arrive in Poland later this November. An outstanding Polish scientist and politician, he is buried in Ireland. As the founder and one of the main architects of the Warsaw School of Logic and founder of the Polish Logical Society, he contributed to the development of computer science and information technology. His most famous achievement was the formulation of the principles of many-valued logic.

     

    A patriot involved in the affairs of the country and an active architect of a Poland reborn after years of non-existence – including as one of the resurrectors and rector of Warsaw University, minister of education in the first government of the reborn Republic. During the German occupation of Warsaw, he participated in secret teaching.

     

    His fate was inextricably intertwined with that of Poland. Two world wars deprived him of almost all his life’s achievements, but after each of them, he recovered – as did the Republic. He died in Dublin, Ireland, on the eve of the 20th Congress of the CPSU, considered the end of the Stalinist era. He was also buried there.

     

    It is high time that those who did not experience a free Poland during his lifetime, at least symbolically a free Poland, could return.

     

    The Temple of Divine Providence is slowly becoming our national mausoleum. Can we expect that in the future the ashes of more great Poles, whose graves are now scattered around Europe and the world, will be deposited there?

     

    The Temple of Divine Providence houses the remains of a great many noble people. Among others, there are ashes of people who died in the Smolensk catastrophe, but I would like to mention one figure, in particular, namely Wiktor Wegrzyn, that is, one of the initiators of the international Katyn Rally. We want the Temple of Divine Providence to be a kind of national necropolis surrounded by reverence and remembrance. We have plans to bring the remains of more great Poles, some of which I revealed during the interview. I recently heard about plans to liquidate the Tempelhofer Parkfriedhof cemetery in Berlin, where Aleksander Brückner, one of Poland’s most distinguished literary historians, rests. His grave may be ploughed up in five years, as there are plans to build a housing development on the site of the cemetery. I am probably brought up in a different culture because such a procedure is completely incomprehensible to me. We have enough places in the world to respect cemeteries. I can assure you that I will strive for this great Pole to rest on Polish soil.

     

    There are many voices from abroad that Poles judged the threat from the East best. This is probably due to our history and memory. Polish memory was better than the intelligence analyses of many countries and strategists.

     

    Our historical memory should serve as a warning against bad alliances and wrong actions, even today. The nightmarish mistakes of Germany’s policy toward Russia meant a path toward war, and we can see this very well today. Europe’s dependence on raw materials from the East emboldened the Kremlin to attack another sovereign and independent state. Russia, in this matter, has acted like a drug dealer who lured into a trap by offering its hydrocarbons cheaply, and today has revealed its true price. Poland has always vociferously stood up for those whom the Russians attacked, this was the case with Ukraine, but earlier also with Georgia or Chechnya. I do not even allow the thought that Ukraine could lose this war. If that were to happen, Russia would not wait long to take another country as a target. Ukraine today is fighting for its freedom and ours. Today, the fate of the world is being decided in Ukraine.

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