July 12, 2016 –
By Eduard Popov for Fort Russ
Translated by J. Arnoldski
Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz
The Polish Senate’s recognition of the Volyn massacre as genocide and its call for the Polish Sejm to adopt a similar resolution has been met with a turn of events in both Poland itself and Ukraine. Suddenly, this issue has turned out to involve Russia.
On July 11th, the head of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS), Jaroslaw Kaczynski, laid flowers before the monument to the victims of the Volyn massacre. In his speech, the President of Poland called the crimes against Poles in Volynia genocide. Kaczynski then recalled how the Senate of Poland had adopted the resolution on the Volyn genocide which, in his opinion, will be adopted by the Sejm.
On July 12th, the Kukiz-15 parliamentary faction introduced a bill to the Polish Sejm proposing a countrywide ban on any symbolism of the Banderites, the most influential wing of Ukrainian nationalists during the Second World War.
Some in Poland have realized that Sejm Marshall Marek Kuchcinski’s promise to Verkhovna Rada Chairman and convicted Banderite Andrey Parubiy that the issue of genocide against Poles in Volynia would not be raised was a mistake and are rushing to fix it. The Poles of the Kresy and descendants of the victims of the Volyn massacre have tried for many years to demand historical justice from the state. They are now closer to this step than ever.
The reaction by Ukrainian deputies was as expected. The leader of the Radical Party, Oleg Lyashko, pushed a draft for Ukraine’s official response to the Polish Senate’s proposal through the Verkhovna Rada. On July 12th, the document was registered in the Verkhovna Rada. The authors of the document are the Radical Party members Oleg Lyashko and Viktor Vovk. Ukrainian deputies are concerned by what is in their opinion a distortion of the history of events in Volynia in 1943. They have also expressed regret that Poland did not agree to adopt a joint statement on the Volyn issue which entailed “mutual confessions of guilt” and “mutual forgiveness for harm.” With such a document, the Ukrainians are implying that they are not the only ones who should beg the Poles’ forgiveness, but that Poles also perpetrated genocide against the Ukrainian population of Volynia.
Polish partisans indeed attacked Ukrainian villages as acts of revenge for the burning of Polish villages and their inhabitants. But the number of victims and the preparation of such attacks simply cannot be compared to any extent to the Volyn massacre which was a planned extermination of the Polish population.
In addition to the legislative initiative of the Radical Party and the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry’s several clumsy calls for history not to be politicized into a growing conflict between the two countries, as expected, the “Ukrainian nationalists” have intervened (I consider the concept of “Ukrainian nationalism” to be ideologically incorrect – instead, it follows that the term “Ukrainian neo-Nazism” should be employed -EP).
On July 11th, on Ukrainian TV’s “Channel 24,” coverage appeared of a protest by “Ukrainian nationalists” at the Polish Embassy in Kiev with the black and red Banderite banners of the OUN-UPA. (As for a historical note, the Banderites, the masters of plagiarism, stole the aesthetic idea of the black and red flag from Spanish anarchists during the Spanish Civil War.) In the interpretation of Channel 24 (which reflects the official position of the Ukrainian state), the Volyn massacre was a “mutual ethnic cleansing of the Ukrainian and Polish populations committed by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army and the Polish Armia Krajowa during the Second World War in 1943 in Volynia.” The protest was a response to the Polish Senate’s resolution. Bearing in mind the methods of Ukrainian neo-Nazis, such peaceful actions can be followed by more radical and far from peaceful actions.
So far, all of these events fit into a logical scheme: with a quarter-century delay, the Poles are hurrying to pass a law restoring historical memory. The Ukrainians are trying to relieve themselves of any charges by either pseudo-demagoguery (the position of Ukrainian officials) or by accusing the Poles of genocide (the position of the neo-Nazis).
However, the coherent and overall logical argument of the Polish side was ruined by today’s (July 12th) statement by Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz. Macierewicz stated that it was Russia who gave impetus to the Volyn massacre. According to the minister, Russia manipulated Ukrainian nationalist forces to organize these events.
Logic, historical facts, and simple human morality have nothing in common with this statement. In February-July 1943, the Red Army was hundreds of miles away from Volynia fighting the bloody battles of Stalingrad and Kursk against the German Nazi patrons of “Ukrainian nationalists.” Soviet partisan detachments were irreconcilable opponents of the OUN-UPA and other gangs of Ukrainian Nazis. The Polish population of Volynia even supported Soviet partisans as consistent enemies of the Banderites and many Poles even joined these units to avenge the destruction of their home villages.
It should also be recalled that 600,000 Soviet soldiers and officers remained forever on Polish soil. The Red Army suffered such losses for the liberation of Poland from the German occupation.
Thus, the words of Minister Macierewicz are either utter ignorance or a distortion of historical truth. From a moral point of view, they are an insult to the memory of the Polish victims of the Volyn massacre and the Soviet soldiers who died for the liberation of Poland.
Macierewicz has repeatedly made Russophobic statements that are incompatible with morality and common sense. Intellectually and morally, he is on par with the leaders of the Ukrainian state who glorify Bandera and Shukhevych. But is it even necessary to explain that such a loud statement caused outrage in Russia as nothing but stupidity and ignorance? I don’t think so.
This “war of histories” is objectively leading to a split in the situational alliance between post-Maidan Ukraine and official Warsaw which supported the coup from the very first days of the Maidan. Polish officialdom is under growing pressure from public opinion among which, growing all the louder, is the voice of Kresy Poles who are outraged by this friendship with the ideological descendants of the executioners of Poles in Volynia. Macierewicz’s statement is an attempt to redirect the anger of Poles in the wrong direction against the “common enemy” of official Warsaw and Kiev, i.e., the Russians.
Pay attention to the illogical “paradox” in Macierewicz’s words: in 1943, Russia did not exist as a state, something that any Polish student knows. But the minister deliberately used the name “Russia” and not the “Soviet Union” for the country that allegedly gave impetus to the Volyn massacre. This substitution of concepts confirms that Macierewicz’s statement has a political and not an historical context. This, in my opinion, confirms the hypothesis that the Polish defense minister’s statement is nothing but a deliberate political act aimed against Russia.
The defense ministers of the countries of Eastern Europe are not appointed by the governments of these countries, but by the NATO headquarters in Brussels. Macierewicz is a typical representative of the American lobby in Warsaw. No professionalism in the military sphere can be demanded from such defense ministers – their only credo is Russophobia and loyalty to the US.
I think that the attempt by the forces standing behind Macierewicz to redirect Poles’ anger towards the Russians is doomed to fail. I hope to dedicate my next article to this possibility.