Thursday, May 12, 2016

I Think Poland Was Just Born in the Wrong Place

A couple of years ago I visited Krakow and nearby Auschwitz and Birkenau. Heartbreaking. Now I visit Warsaw and learn of the Uprising and Treblinka.

Warsaw before WWII.

Warsaw after.

Nobody should have to be located between Germany and Russia, nobody.

For brevity, I'll skip centuries of Teutonic Knights, and Prussia, and then not Prussia, and compacts with Lithuania, and then shifting borders, and World War I, and free Gdansk, and then, crap, World War II.

When the Germans crushed the Uprising in September, 1944, they agreed to spare Warsaw. Of course, they quickly and systematically destroyed it.

The Soviet Union was complicit in this destruction. The Red Army, poised across the river, could have saved and even backed the heroic Polish Home Army, who ostensibly were allies. It didn't. Instead, it arrested its leaders and left the rest to die. All told, 18,000 troops and 180,000 civilians perished as Germany crushed the revolt, with Stalin's Red Army's tacit approval, sparing the Soviets having to crush the Poles later after the Russians finished off the Germans.

Then the Soviets took over. They Sovietized Poland, which, as far as I can tell, involved building huge, grotesque apartment blocks and scores of factories, and then looting the country of the product of its labor and resources.

Eventually came Lech Walesa and Solidarity, who stood up and, in essence, toppled the Soviet Union. Some semblance of payback, I suppose.

I left out what I learned about Gdansk, where Hitler first attacked when he broke the non-aggression pact. He later leveled the place, too.

Anyway, like I said, Poland was born in the wrong place.

Of course, I won't even start on the Native Americans. That's another, though similar, story.

Note. Germany has, without a doubt, completely changed. Russia has, emphatically, not. May NATO and the EU keep Poland safe, as they have since it joined in 1999 and 2004, respectively.