Unbelievable nonsense. That's what the Russian Foreign Ministry called the incident at the Gdansk WWII Museum. During the European Museum Night, the musicians who were playing Dark is the Night got kicked off the stage by its director. It's one of the most touching and heart-piercing songs about the war. The management of the museum accused the musicians of provocation. Despite the absurdity of the situation, the Polish authorities didn't react in any way. However, Polish society did.
Marina Naumova with the details from Gdansk.
Peter Kosevsky believed that Dark is the Night would be the most fitting for his museum concert because that was the Museum Night in a military museum. He had to interrupt his performance due to the director's demands.
Peter Kosevsky, musician: "He interrupted the performance, called it a Bolshevist song, banned us from performing it, ordered us to pack our things, and leave the museum building."
The Gdansk WWII Museum displays the Wehrmacht and the Red Army as pretty much one and the same. It's no surprise that the director was triggered by Dark is the Night. Karol Navrotsky is a former regional curator of the National Memory Institute that was the first in Europe to equal the Nazis and the liberators. The liberators are shown in the Soviet movie Two Soldiers where the song is performed by Mark Bernes who plays machine-gunner Arkady Dzyubin from Odessa.
"Dark is the night.
I know that you aren't sleeping, my love".
The director of the Gdansk WWII Museum refused to meet the Russian journalists, claiming that he's already stated his position. At the same time, the museum's official website published a statement, calling the lyrical Dark is the Night a propaganda piece and the Polish musicians who performed it provocateurs.
"The nonsensical song depicts the reflections of a Soviet soldier who misses his woman he left at home, who's wiping her tears at the cradle of the kid they possibly had together. One can't help but ask if the soldier gets nostalgic before, after, or during the killing, looting, and raping that was often performed by the romantic Soviet soldiers on their way to Berlin through the Polish territories".
Maria Zakharova, Spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry: "This press release is not just similarly offensive, it sounds nationalistic. Its tone and message are almost racist. Where's the boundary of absurd, where's the boundary of meanness? What rock bottom can one hit trying to erase the role of the Soviet Union and the Red Army in Poland's liberation from the Nazis from the people's memory?”
The Polish lyrics, set to Nikita Bogoslovsky's music, were written back in the 1950s by Julian Tuwim. His hit song Ciemna Dziś Noc is even popular among young performers.
Tomasz Jankowski, political analyst: "Any interpretation of a Soviet soldier as a man who sings, who can do something nice, destroys the image that's being imposed right now. Someone needs young Poles to be absolutely sure that Poland and Russia can have good relations".
The descendants of the heroes who liberated the republic together are particularly outrageous. First, Poland banned the symbols of the victors. Then, it began demolishing their monuments. Now, it closes its ports to Russian cadets. They've even divided songs into right and wrong.
Nikolay Chuikov, Russian Veteran Committee: "I don't know what's so bad about this song, it's a lyrical song. It doesn't imply any sort of extremism or Nazism".
Ariadna Rokossovskaya, Russian Newspaper: "Many Poles have discovered the song. My Polish friends are telling me that people are searching the lyrics and singing it".
Peter Kosevsky intends to sue the Gdansk museum and doesn't even think about taking Dark is the Night off of his repertoire. Moreover, a new trend was started by a theater in Wroclaw: Various musicians from all across Poland are now performing the song.
Marina Naumova, Nikolay Vasilyev Maxim Shchepilov, Yelena Vorontsova, and Eugeny Bekisz Vesti, Poland.