Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The Plight of Poland

On this day, the 2nd November, in 1939 Joseph Stalin officially annexed the eastern part of Poland into the Soviet Union.  Most people know that on 1st September 1939 Germany invaded Poland sparking the outbreak of World War 2 and the occupation of Poland by German forces lasting until early 1945.  What people tend to overlook is the involvement of the Soviet Union in Poland's downfall and the subsequent horrors that this downtrodden nation had to endure following direct orders from the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.  On the 23rd of August just days before the invasion of Poland the Soviets and the Nazis signed a none aggression pact.  The agreement included plans to create a new border between Germany and the Soviet Union with the line running almost through the center of Poland.  To secure the border the Soviets invaded eastern Poland just 17 days after the Nazis and only 10 days later the Polish nation effectively ceased to exist.  The western part of the country was officially annexed by Germany on 1st November and the eastern part annexed by the Soviets the following day.  The alliance and joint occupation of Poland with the Soviets was maintained by the Germans for the next 18 months or so until 22nd June 1941 when the Germans launched operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union.
Despite their occupation the Polish armed forces in exile fought on gallantly; during the Battle of Britain the pilots of fighter command were joined by over 130 pilots of the Polish air force second only to the British pilots in numbers.  It is estimated that of all those serving with the allied forces the Poles were the fourth most prevalent and Polish units were some of the toughest and most feared by the enemy.
At home though things weren't going so well, the Germans and Soviets treating the local population atrociously.  That brings me to one of the worse cases of genocide ever to happen and be denied, the Katyn Massacre, the extermination of approximately 22,000 Polish officers, policemen and intellectuals.  These people were systematically exterminated under direct orders from Joseph Stalin typically with a bullet to the back of the head at very close range.

On July 12th 1941 following the German invasion of the Soviet states the British and Soviets agreed to a mutual aid pact officially making the Soviet Union an allied nation in the fight against the Nazis.  In 1943 the bodies of those killed in the massacre were discovered and the German government announced the findings to the world.  The Soviets initially tried to blame the Germans for the massacre and continued to deny any involvement in the act until 1990, 51 years after the event.
This was not the only time that Stalin's orders cost the Poles dearly.  In August 1944, with the German army in retreat before an ever stronger Soviet onslaught the citizens of the Polish capital Warsaw rose up against their German occupiers.  They knew the Soviet forces were only miles away within easy reach of the city but help never arrived.  For two months the brave citizens of Warsaw fought on with help just a stones throw away but the Soviets chose not to offer the lifeline so badly needed.  By early October the uprising had been crushed by the Germans and it wasn't until 17th January 1945 that the Soviets liberated the city.

1 comment:

  1. Wow you really know some big words lol on a serious note . . . . good work Ian A* from Miss Teacher!