09 May 1980

World War II Victory Day celebrations

Polish Army parading on 9th May 1980
It's a big day today in Poland: the 35th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II. Many countries suffered because of the war, but Poland can reasonably claim to have endured the worst.

Victoria Hotel behind unknown soldier monument
Poland was squeezed between The USSR and Germany, Stalin and Hitler, Communism and Nazism, whichever way you look at it, it was a pretty unenviable position in 1939.

These days, of course, it is the fight against Germany that takes center stage. And for sure that is what detonated World War II. And Germany inflicted unspeakable human and economic damage to Poland between 1939 and 1945. More so to Polish Jews. The Soviet attack that immediately followed the German invasion on 1 September 1939, however, gets very short shrift. The official propaganda sings the praise of the heroic Soviet army that resisted German aggression and then moved to counterattack and liberate Poland (and Czechoslovakia, and Hungary, and Romania etc.) from fascism.

Of course, all but the most naive Poles know that is far from the whole truth. But they can't talk about it, not these days in Communist Poland where no one is a Communist but censorship, and self-censorship, are tight.

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