Poland: Victim of Colonial ambitions

Poland: Victim of Colonial ambitions

The emergence of contemporary Poland on the world map started with a military intervention. In March 1919 it attacked Russia devastated by the First World War and civil conflict. Having captured Kiev, Vilna and Minsk, Poland was not strong enough to go to Moscow and write on the Kremlin wall that speaking Russia was forbidden as Pilsudsky wanted. In June it received reinforcements – a 70 thousand strong army formed in France with American Poles making up the majority of its fighters. By the spring of 1920 France sent its generals and supplied the force with 1494 artillery pieces, 2800 machine guns, 385,5 thousand rifles, 42 thousand revolvers, around 700 aircraft, 10 million munitions, 4,5 thousand carriages, 3 million uniforms, 4 million boots, as well as means of communications and medical supplies. 

Upon getting the military aid Poland moved to the East to seize Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania. It partly fulfilled its plans getting hold of Western Ukraine, Belarus, the city of Vilna and its outskirts. Dozens of imprisoned Red Army soldiers were tortured to death. 

Not satisfied with what the Versailles Treaty gave it and what it had already grabbed, the Pilsudsky regime sent saboteurs and terrorists to provoke unrest in Upper Silesia to be occupied afterwards along with Katowice. Germans made up a large part of population which ended up in Polish concentration camps. Then Poland went farther to seize Austria’s Galicia. 

With Hitler coming power the German-Polish relationship intensified. Poland willingly defended the German interests in the League of Nations after the Nazi Germany demonstratively left the organization on October 14, 1933. At the time the Hitler’s plans worked out in the 1920s started to be brought into life. He wanted Germany to go to where it was six hundred years back. He wanted it to expand to the South and the West and then eye the East. Hitler made precise that saying the East he meant Russia and the adjacent states. 

The 10-year Non-Aggression Pact was concluded on January 26, 1934 to become an important step forward for the fascist Germany. It was to remain in force if one of the parties went to war with a third country. The document was added by the trade and navigation treaties, the agreements on press, radio broadcasting, cinema, theatre etc. 

The Polish diplomats used the podium of the League of Nations to justify the violations of Versailles and Locarno treaties by Hitler as Germany launched total conscription, tore up the arms control restrictions agreed before and ordered troops to enter the demilitarized Rhineland. 

Poland maintained «special relationship» with one more member of the tripartite block – Japan. It went back to the days of Russia-Japan war when revolutionary Pilsudsky collaborated with Japanese intelligence services. In the autumn of 1938 the League of Nations adopted a resolution imposing sanctions against Japan to punish it for expanding its intervention into China. Polish ambassador to Tokyo Count Romer was the first foreign representative to notify the Japanese government on October 4 that Poland would not comply with the resolution. 

In the autumn of 1938 Poland and Hungary took active part in the occupation of Czechoslovakia under the patronage of Germany. Berlin needed Poland and Hungary going along to make the aggression look like a peacekeeping operation the same way NATO bombed Yugoslavia to «save the lives» of Kosovo Albanians. Poland had serious problems with illegally occupied German territories. By 1939 it boasted a long history of wars and conflicts and had territorial disputes with all the neighbors. 

But it did not set much store by neighbors. Poland saw itself as a great power, it dreamed of African colonies. It did not have enough «living space». Starting from 1937 Poland started to intensively address the colonial issues. On April 18, 1938 Poland organized a great holiday devoted to the Day of Colonies. Pathos was great. The celebrations included jingoist demonstrations putting forward the demands for overseas colonies to be possessed by the great nation. Churches held solemn services. They showed films devoted to the colonial issue. On March 11, 1939 the government published a program of action to address the problem… 

By the time Poland had internal colonies – Western Ukraine and Belarus. The occupied lands were subject to tough policy of colonization. Poland was willingly cleansing East Kresy of foreigners: Jews, Belarusians. Anti-Bolshevik sentiments gave rise to rampant anti-Semitism. The authorities inspired Jewish pogroms. After Poland was occupied by Germany joint German-Polish patrols hunted for Jews. 

Local population was hostile to Polish occupants who started to form civil defence units to shoot and burn people inside their houses and cut stars on the bodies of prisoners following the example of Hitler’s fascists. 

After Minister of Internal Affairs of Poland Peratsky was assassinated, on June 17, 1934, Pilsudsky ordered to establish the first concentration camp. Bereza Kartuska was the place where prisoners were treated with extreme cruelty to make them broken down. They were often beaten to death. 

Kresy Wschodnie as they called the Ukrainian and Belarussian lands were used for extraction of raw materials, and the people who lived there were nothing more than cannon fodder for wars in the East and the West. On August 18, 1939 Polish ambassador to Paris Juliusz Lukasiewicz told French Foreign Minister Bonnet frankly that if hostilities were unleashed Poles not Germans would take initiative and attack to advance deep into the territory of Germany in the first days of war. Those days they sang in Warsaw «In shining armor and led by Rydz-Smigly we will march to Rhine»…

Polish cavalrymen were getting ready to fight. In a few days after the war started they got tired of attacking German tanks with swords. As soon as they saw the real might of German forces, these brave men ceded all of Poland to Germans in two weeks and two days. Polish President Moscicki disappeared as soon as the country was attacked. On September 4 Polish government started to pack to vanish on September 5. Polish officers followed suit. It’s well known what happened next. Poland fell victim to its own ambitions. 

An impartial look at the past would no doubt stand the country’s elite of today a good stead as they proudly speak about the period between the two world wars. Today they rewrite the pages of history and close ears so they would not hear the tormenting questions about the need to repent and responsibility for what their predecessors who made other people go through such great sufferings.

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