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political world

The Triumph of Provocation

Jan Peczkis|Friday, April 9, 2010

This work provides countless historical details, a few of which I mention. King Stanislaw August is described as excessively conciliatory to Russia, but not someone who was a puppet of Catherine the Great. (pp. 40-41).

Polonophobes and Communist apologists still try to blame the Poles for starting the 1920 Polish-Soviet War. Mackiewicz, a participant in this war, knows better. He notes the seamless flow of conflict going back to the battles of WWI: "It [the 1920 War] was caused in the first place by the Germans' withdrawal from the intervening zone of occupation, the Ober-Ost, in February 1919, and continued without a break until 12 October 1920. The Soviet War grew out of the first unplanned skirmish, which occurred at Bereza Kartuska in Byelorussia on 14 February 1919." (p. 218).


Pilsudski's eventual strike into the Ukraine, far from being an act of unilateral aggression or an attempt to restore Poland to her pre-Partition boundaries, was actually a bold pre-emptive move against an incipient Soviet offensive against Poland: "In 1920, the action expanded dramatically. Over a million [Soviet] men were deployed in a swiftly-moving front...From January onwards, the Red Army was constructing a huge strike force of 700,000 men on the Berezina...But Pilsudski nipped these preparations in the bud. A sharp attack on Mozyrz in March, the daring march on Kiev launched on 24 April, and the fiercely contested Battle of the Berezina in May all served to delay the Soviet advance." (p. 219).

Finally, Poland really had no real choice in 1920. The Russian Reds wanted a "free" Poland, which really meant a Communist-ruled one. The Russian Whites professedly were willing to recognize a Polish state in her "ethnographic" boundaries (pp. 71-72), which meant hardly any Poland at all--only a tiny rump state along the lines of the Duchy of Warsaw.

In fact, Poland's critics have always portrayed the Kresy as "not rightfully Polish" on "ethnographic" grounds. The author, on the other hand, realizes that modern ethno-nationalist divisions are a relatively recent development. He writes: "In the 1860's, `Lithuanian' was more a territorial designation than an ethnic one. A Pole from Vilna (Wilno, Vilnius) would call himself a Lithuanian in order to distinguish himself from the Poles of the KORONA, i. e., of the Polish Kingdom..." (p. 220). Mackiewicz continues: "Western observers in 1921 and 1922 noted the absence of any particular national consciousness on the part of the rural population of the Vilna region...Given the mixture of languages in the region, the population could just as easily become ardent Belorussians or Poles...[as Lithuanians]." (p. 221).

Holocaust-uniqueness proponents have tried to create an essential difference between the murderous racist policies of the Nazis and the murderous "classicist" policies of the Communists. Mackiewicz rejects this dichotomizing: "Why should the murder of people because they are Jews be worse than the murder of people only because they have achieved a certain social status or because they believe in other ideals?" (p. 21).

Communist apologists have tried to picture Soviet Communism as something benign until it "was made bad" under Stalin. Mackiewicz notes the irony of anti-Communists also being preoccupied with Stalinism, and then makes it clear that Communism was a murderous, totalitarian ideology from the beginning: "It was Lenin who was the first to introduce concentration camps, of which the most notorious was situated on the Solovki Islands. It was Lenin who ordered tsarist officers to be drowned in leaking boats in the White Sea. It was he who ordered the murder of the Tsar's entire family, including the children and faithful servants...It was the time of the greatest religious persecutions: thousands of adherents of the Orthodox, Catholic, and other denominations, priests and pastors, bishops and archbishops were murdered; churches were turned into warehouses of even into stables." (pp. 203-204). The organizational structure of Soviet camps, codified in 1919, was later copied by Hitler. (p. 17).
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