While the 75th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over fascist Germany is approaching, the attempts to rewrite the history of World War II are becoming more insolent. As a result, it’s nearly said that it’s the USSR”s fault that the war in Europe began. The topic was also raised during Vladimir Putin’s press conference. The President announced that he’s preparing a big article on this topic. And for now, he’s working with an archive. On Friday, during an informal CIS summit in Saint Petersburg, the President introduced some documents to his colleagues.
Ilya Kanavin will tell us about the extraordinary conversation.
Vladimir Putin: “I suggest that we start, as people say, from midfield — that is, the results of World War I. Let’s start from the conditions under which the so-called Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919. Winston Churchill wrote: “The economic clauses of the Treaty were malignant and silly to an extent that made them obviously futile”. Germany was to pay an astronomical sum for those times — 269 billion gold marks. That’s approximately equivalent to 100,000 tons of gold. The last reparations in the amount of €70 million were made more recently — on October 3rd, 2010. The so-called spirit of Versailles formed a growth medium for radical and revanchist sentiment”.
Mainly in Germany. Germans didn’t feel defeated but humiliated. And a former lance corporal of the Kaiser’s Army knew very well about that. He masterly used that politically. But a huge part of Europe after World War I either became fascist or pro-fascist or totalitarian. Italy, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, the Baltic States… The list is incomplete. That’s also a result of World War I.
Vladimir Putin: “The Versailles world order caused numerous conflicts and tensions. Among them are borders of new states in Europe which were randomly set by the winners of World War I”.
The new borders were drawn by the winners, who thought that the first world war would be the last. Each of them considered himself a guarantor of peace and therefore did everything to weaken the others. The quite young state, the United States of America, also had its own idea of what Europe should look like now. Woodrow Wilson came to Versailles with a fat book of recommendations from U. S. intelligence. Almost every square kilometer on the map has notes on which states should appear, disappear, expand, and move up. Big attention is paid to Russia, of course.
– How to separate, select,… What parts of the former Russian Empire should become independent… Separate from Russia the territory of Ukraine. … Provide Armenia with permanent independence.
– What about Georgia?
– The same thing.
This was recorded 10 years ago at the Library of Congress. Later we made a request to let us record these historical documents again and in more detail. We were told that such documents didn’t exist. Too many countries still try to keep their secrets.
Vladimir Putin: “The report by Poland”s Envoy to Germany Józef Lipski to Foreign Minister of Poland Józef Beck dated September 20, 1938. Hitler suggested that Jews be deported from European countries, for starters, to Africa. Then Poland”s Envoy to Germany replied, “If that finds approval, we’ll set a beautiful monument to Hitler in Warsaw”.
This is a disgusting Polish poster of that time. We’re not going to translate the anti-Semitic message. There are other ones. We’ll translate them. “Hit a Bolshevik!” “European Culture”. “The Bolsheviks Torment Defenseless Women”. In fact, Polish poster-makers were very concerned with the Bolsheviks’ violence against women. Józef Beck — he’s here in the picture with Hitler — often and readily met with Nazi officials.
Vladimir Putin: “Adolf Hitler’s exact words. “In all circumstances, Germany will be interested in preserving a strong national Poland, regardless of the situation in Russia. Be it Bolshevik, Tsarist, or any other Russia”.
It was the bait that Hitler used to keep European politicians — “I’m fighting Bolshevism”. And everyone or almost everyone realized that he’s preparing to fight Russia as it is.
The only European state which actually fought fascism even before 1939 was the Soviet Union. In Spain. In that war, the Hero of the Soviet Union title was awarded to 59 people. The great documentary filmmaker Roman Karmen went through Spain as well. Thanks to his camera, we can see today a lot of what was happening from that time to May 1945.
Vladimir Putin: “Answering Ribbentrop”s question on whether the Poles gave up Piłsudsky’Marshal’s ambitious aspirations regarding Ukraine, Mr. Beck said: The Poles have already been to Kiev. And such intentions surely exist today”.
That happened in 1920. Piłsudsky is an embodiment of the idea of Poland”s expansion from sea to sea. Hitler always showed special regard toward Piłsudsky. He came to his funeral in 1935. A special place was prepared for him at the ceremony. It’s obvious. However, you probably won’t find any footage with Hitler now, although there were kilometers of film recorded at this funeral. Under this huge granite plate, as Piłsudsky wanted, his heart was buried. Nobody touched that in Soviet times; nobody’s going to touch it now.
This is Vilnius. Recorded in August. Somebody started a rumor that someone tried to smash Piłsudski”s plate because he did everything to turn Vilnius into Vilno and return it to Poland. But no, everything was okay. The Poles bring flowers, the of Lithuanians don’t object.
The Hitler-Piłsudsky Pact is the first agreement between a European state and Nazi Germany. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact is the last. Between them are countries, ministers, talks and secrets.
Vladimir Putin: “Let me just list them, with your permission. All right. The German-Polish Non-Aggression Pact — that’s basically the so-called Hitler-Piłsudsky Pact. It was signed in 1934. Then the Anglo-German Naval Agreement of 1935. Great Britain provided an opportunity to Hitler to have his own navy, which was basically prohibited to him or at least minimized after World War I. Then — the Anglo-German Declaration signed by Chamberlain and Hitler on September 30th, 1938. It was agreed upon by them at Chamberlain”s initiative. It stated what the signed Munich Agreement, as well as the Anglo-German Naval Agreement, symbolized, etc. So, the establishment of a legal framework between the two states continued. And that’s not all. The Franco-German Declaration signed on December 6th, 1938 in Paris by the Foreign Ministers of France and Germany, Bonnet and Ribbentrop. Finally, the agreement signed on March 22nd, 1939 in Berlin by the Foreign Minister of Lithuania and Ribbentrop. The agreement said that the Klaipėda Region was to be reunited with the German Reich. And the German–Latvian Non-Aggression Pact of June 7th, 1939.
Thus, the agreement between the Soviet Union and Germany was the last in the list of those signed by other European countries that were interested in keeping the peace in Europe. I wish to note that the Soviet Union agreed to sign this document only after all other opportunities had been exhausted and all the Soviet Union’s suggestions had been rejected — the suggestions for creating a unified system for security, basically an anti-fascist coalition, in Europe”.
Andrey Artizov, Head of the Federal Archive Agency: In modern Russia, we acknowledge and say that the pact existed, as well as the secret protocol and everything that followed it. All that is known and free in that sense. We’ve taken the trophy documents. And it turned out to be an unknown source of reports by the French military mission, diplomats from Paris and Moscow. And when it all lined up chronologically, there was consistency. Footage from the trophy archives. Here’s the French Premier after his conversation with Poland”s envoy Lukasevich. The eve of the Munich Betrayal.
Vladimir Putin: “These are the words of the French Premier. Not only can we not count on Poland”s assistance; we’re also unsure whether Poland won’t strike from behind. He asked him if the Poles would let Soviet troops through, to which Lukasevich replied in the negative. Daladier then asked if they would let Soviet aircraft through. Lukasevich said that the Poles would open fire on them”.
Poland doesn’t let France — its ally — protect its ally, Czechoslovakia, from plunder and promises to open fire on the Russians if they try to help. Diplomatically speaking, China acts aggressively and confidently. Why though?
Vladimir Putin: “The record of Adolf Hitler’s conversation with Foreign Minister of Poland Józef Beck dated January 5, 1939. The fuhrer says directly: It wasn’t that simple to get the consent from France and Great Britain in Munich on including in the agreement Poland’s and Hungary”s claims for Czechoslovakia as well. So Hitler was working in the interests of those countries’ officials then”.
Poland, together with Germany, is tearing Czechoslovakia apart. A Polish soldier is kissing a German one in Těšín. Polish and German troops are fraternizing right after a march. A Polish soldier is posing in a German helmet for a photographer on the street of Těšín, Czech which was just an hour ago.
There were only 5 people in the whole government of Czechoslovakia who were against docile capitulation. And among them only one who offered a defense plan with all the military, technical, and tactical assumptions. A Russian general — Sergey Wojciechowsky. The one who fought against the the Bolsheviks together with Kolchak and Kappel. Czechoslovakia was a motherland to him, though second and forced. He doesn’t believe in Hitler’s spell-like vows to fight Bolshevism. He’s ready and willing to fight fascism. But no one listens to him.
Vladimir Putin: “The partition of Czechoslovakia was extremely violent and cynical. It was basically a robbery. And who are justifiably it can be said that it was the Munich Betrayal which became a turning point in history, after which World War II became inevitable”.
European leaders rejoice. It’s a holiday in Europe, in honor of which a commemorative medal is issued. Here, the unity — Mussolini, Hitler, Chamberlain, and Daladier. And only Churchill will be horrified: “We’re faced with the greatest tragedy that struck Great Britain and France”.
Vladimir Putin: “During the Nuremberg trials against the war criminals, it was asked whether Germany would have attacked Czechoslovakia in 1938 the Western countries had supported Prague. Field Marshal Keitel replied, “No. We weren’t strong enough from a military perspective. The goal of the Munich Agreement was to push Russia out of Europe, win some time and finish the arming of Germany”.
The European friends didn’t let Czechoslovakia evacuate its industry. Here’s the result. Poland was attacked in 1939 by the tank corps consisting of vehicles produced at Škoda. According to some sources, every fourth German shell was produced at Czech factories. These shells were thrown at Poland, then France, then Leningrad and Stalingrad. It’s commonly believed in the official Polish historiography that the relations with Nazi Germany worsened when the Poles refused to comply with Berlin”s demands that Danzig be returned. The Poles had already grown roots there and renamed it to Gdansk after World War I.
Vladimir Putin: “The government of those countries at the time, including that of Poland, threw their people under the wheels of Nazi Germany’s military apparatus. Because they underestimated what was the real cause of Hitler’s actions. Here’s what he said during a meeting with the commanders of the German army at the Reich Chancellery. Quote, “This isn’t about Danzig. This is about expanding our living space to the east and ensuring food supply”.
Polish poster-makers stopped drawing evil the Bolsheviks. They didn’t have any issues with them anymore. “England! That’s your doing” — says the wounded Polish soldier who so hoped that France and England would come and protect him. Why would they do that though if they didnt come to Czechoslovakia? There were no issues with the Soviet Union either. The troops were ordered not to resist the Red Army.
World War II begins. Years of blood and trenches, gas chambers, concentration camps, death, despair, and heroism… And a victory which was shared throughout the world.
Vladimir Putin: “The future generations will acknowledge their debt to the Red Army as unconditionally as we are doing this today, having lived long enough to be the witnesses of these splendid victories”.
These are Winston Churchill’s words. How right he was in the 1930s. And how mistaken was he in the eyes of the current generation of his political heirs?
Ilya Kanavin, Mikhail Averenkov, Viktor Prikhodko, Oleg Dubinin, Natalia Gubina — Vesti News of the Week.