Spetznaz Operation against Poland
Remarks by Prof. Andrzej Nowak
Kremlin’s handpicked Tucker Carlson was used to promote Putin’s vision of history. Instead of listening to this “Short course”, you may have the full version, presented by the Russian President earlier to the American public in his so far most ambitious work on history entitled “The Real Lessons of the 75th Anniversary of World War II”, published in “The National Interest”.
My analysis of this extraordinary piece of propaganda is available in a book “Powrót imperium zła. Ideologie współczesnej Rosji” (Krakow 2023), soon to be published in English as: “Russian Empires: Death and Transfigurations. Mentalities, ideologies, and fears (1907-2023)”. Here I will quote only fragments:
“Poland” is a keyword in Putin’s essay. Indeed, the article is the fullest expression of the truth that it is Poland that should be blamed for the Second World War and especially for the Holocaust. All that Putin signaled in his Westerplatte speech on 1 September 2009 and developed in his speeches of December 2019 was now written in black and white, on paper, and on the website of the American magazine run by Russia’s friends. The narrative begins with presumed Poland’s ambition to annex neighboring countries. Poland made an agreement with Hitler and together with Germany partitioned Czechoslovakia in 1938.
The Soviet Union wanted to help the government in Prague, but as the Western Powers made their own deal with Germany in Munich, it was impossible to carry out that noble intention. “In these circumstances, the Soviet Union signed the Non-Aggression Pact with Germany [the Ribbentrop–Molotov Pact of 23 August 1939]”.
So, Putin drew a parallel between the treaty on the grounds of which the Soviet Union and Germany sought to partition six countries of Eastern Europe that is Poland, Finland, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, and Romania in August 1939 and the non-aggression agreement between Poland and Germany concluded in January 1934, when Germany had not annexed any territories yet, neither had it perpetrated genocide. But above all, no territorial expansion or partitioning occurred on the grounds of the Polish–German agreement, as we know.
Still, Putin spiced up his interpretation with a savoury quote taken out of its context, which is known to historians, from the discussion between Hitler and Józef Lipski, Polish ambassador to Berlin, which took place in September 1938. Allegedly, the quote proved that it was Lipski (or broadly speaking, Poland) that suggested the Endlösung of the Jewish problem to Hitler. When Hitler invaded Poland, the Red Army was sent west to “defend the Soviet borders.”
Putin supplemented this strategic argument for the annexation of eastern Poland by the Red Army on 17 September 1939 with another reason connected with the initial premises of his text: it was necessary to save the minority of millions of Jewish people inhabiting the pre-war territories of eastern Poland because otherwise they would have surely been killed by the “Nazis and their local accomplices– anti-Semites and radical nationalists.”
In Putin’s argumentation, the attack of the Red Army on 17 September 1939 was not a stab in the back undercutting the Polish defense campaign against the Germans, but apparently, a humanitarian operation to prevent pogroms or rather a full-scale Holocaust orchestrated by the Poles and Ukrainians. […] Of course, a major portion of Putin’s article reminds the reader of the decisive role of Russia (the Red Army) in the victory over fascism. The Soviet Union saved the world and liberated Central and Eastern Europe as well as the Far East (from the Japanese version of fascism). Unfortunately, even though the Nuremberg Tribunal condemned not only the Nazis, but also their collaborators, the latter continue to be revered in some countries (presumably in Ukraine and the Baltic states).
Yet, it should be noted, Putin said, that the East European collaborators of the Nazis outclassed their German masters in inhumanity. He quoted examples of such barbarity: the mass execution of the Jewish people in Babi Yar near Kiev, the massacres of Poles in Volhynia, the extermination of the Jews of Lithuania and Latvia, and the burning down of Khatyn.
Naturally, Putin’s text does not contain any mentions of Katyn and other mass murders committed by the Soviets on the territories they occupied in the wake of the Ribbentrop–Molotov Pact, although the number of victims, killed or tortured to death, went into the hundreds of thousands. But he did mention Khatyn, a Belarusian village burnt down in 1943 by an SS unit full of “collaborators” under the command of Oskar Dirlewanger. It was purposefully selected as a memorial site and an important place in Moscow’s politics of memory, because its name is misleadingly similar to Katyn, and so a Nazi German crime was to cover up a far larger atrocity committed by the Soviets.
This was a typical detail in Putin’s narration in 2020. If anybody mentioned a fact that he had overlooked in his text, Putin would call the remark an instance of inadmissible “historical revisionism.” There was a Khatyn, but there was no such thing as Katyn. Whosoever says otherwise is a revisionist (and should be punished for it).
Putin concluded his analysis, clearly turning to his Western readers: only through the cooperation of the superpowers, as happened in Yalta in 1945 but, sadly, was discontinued in subsequent years, can the world be saved from a new war. A new conflict may erupt due to the “state egoism” of small countries and fascism, which is reviving (in Eastern Europe, of course) and may jeopardize the globe, but is being disregarded. The five Powers which are permanent members of the UN Security Council, Russia, China, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, should take Putin’s history lesson to heart and jointly tackle modern-day threats.
I shall not even attempt to catalog the historical manipulations, shocking lies, and captious half-truths that make up Putin’s opus magnum, also because the task has already been undertaken by other historians like Richard Overy and Marek Kornat, the best experts on the history of the Second World War and especially its origins. But my main reason for not engaging in professional polemic with the lord of the Kremlin is that it would be futile. The pen of a historian with an old-fashioned penchant for the truth is no match for a bat swung by a History-Maker backed by the power of his Empire which he does not hesitate to use. One needs a broader overview of Putin’s actions in 2020–2022 to grasp the sense of his sudden interest in Poland’s malevolent part in world history.
From 2015 on, unlike over the eight previous years, Moscow could no longer rely on the benefits drawn from the game of mock-partnership with Warsaw. As we know now, it was getting ready for a new phase of “liberating” Ukraine, and so it had to prepare the ground in its immediate neighborhood.
For Ukraine, since it wants to join NATO and the European Union, there is no better source of strategic support than Poland. It was known too that Warsaw was willing to give its support to Kyiv. Therefore, “under Western eyes” Poland had to appear in a different light. The methods to achieve that were suggested by Professors Aleksei Miller and Fyodor Gayda during the meeting of the Kremlin historians, while the final impressive sortie belonged to Dr. Putin on the columns of The National Interest.
Their counsel in December 2019 was, “If we’re to find an enemy we share in common with the Eurocrats, Poland’s our best bet.” Plainly, the objective was to demonstrate that Poland is a hotbed of anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and racism. All of progressive Europe should turn its back on Poland with disgust, lest the thought of protecting NATO’s eastern flank against any risk other than Polish and Ukrainian “fascism and Banderism” should cross anyone’s mind.
It ought to be pounded into Polish heads that Banderism and the Volhynian Carnage are the only events that mattered in the whole of their historical experience of Ukraine. These were the preoccupations of Vladimir Putin in his article for The National Interest, but of course, such responsibilities also rest with the commandoes of his “information Spetsnaz” as they were aptly named by Igor Panarin, a top-ranking Spetsnaz officer. The “interview” or rather a sermon given by Putin to Tucker Carlson is only the next step in this operation.