Poland Wants to Put Lithuania and Ukraine into a Museum
Residents of the Ukrainian city of Lvov will soon be able to look at themselves and their homeland in a museum. For this, in Polish Lublin, which is four hours away by car, the so-called “Territory of the Eastern Lands” will open. Lvov and its role in Polish history are only a part of the future exposition. It will also include Ukraine's Ivano-Frankovsk region, western Belarus, and southeastern Lithuania with its capital, Vilnius, which has already been given a separate hall with a sign labeled “Vilna.” By the way, they didn’t even have time to react to this in Vilnius and Kiev.
And what's the point of calling the Polish ambassador to the Foreign Ministry again if he hasn’t yet responded to the first note of protest. This week, they protested against the “passport scandal.” It seems to be the only reason why the diplomats of Lithuania and Ukraine are united not ag*ainst each other but against Warsaw. These are the same countries which used to allow Poland to stretch “from sea to sea” and for which present Poland has an appetite again. A campaign launched by the Polish Ministry of Internal Affairs called “Design the 2018 Passport with Us” became the aperitif.
Ukraine and Lithuania supported the neighbor's initiative, but that was before they looked closely and recognized themselves in it. Or, rather their attractions, which are being passed off as Polish in the list. Among 26 applicants, there are the Gate of Dawn in Vilnius and a rotunda chapel, which is located on the territory of Lychakov cemetery in Lvov. And the Ukrainian site was included in the group of “inviolable” wonders of the Polish nation. That is, it’s already likely to decorate the pages of Polish passports.
The gate at Vilnius still has a chance to escape this fate, although, judging by the fact that more than 60,000 Poles have already voted for it, these chances are minimal. The Poles think that it’s their city. And, of course, Ostra Brama, Our Lady of Ostra Brama is one of the sites. For us, it's a lot like the Pochayiv Lavra, the Kiev Pechersk Lavra, and the Alexander Nevsky one. That’s why the Poles believe that Vilnius is the city that they created, their city. And the Lithuanians, just like the Ukrainians in Lvov, are the aboriginal people. They came from somewhere, but it's not their culture, it's Polish culture. For the current ruling party in Poland, there is a personal motive behind the history of the gates.
In 1927, near Ostra Brama, the ideologist of modern Polish nationalism, Marshal Piłsudski, prayed to the Virgin Mary and pronounced “Mother, Thank You for Vilna,” which was immortalized in stone. Piłsudski promised to bury his heart in Vilnius. The funeral procession in May 1936 was held in front of the same gate, after which the marshal's heart was buried in Rasos, the town cemetery. There, in 2013, the Poles came to clean the tombstone with the Lithuanian flag. The incident resulted in a huge scandal involving the foreign ministries of both countries.
The clashes between young Poles and Ukrainian nationalists is embedded in the history of the Lvov Eaglets Memorial, which is also included in the list of Poland's “passport relics.” In 1918, when Austria-Hungary collapsed, the Ukrainians of Galicia proclaimed a republic with its capital in Lvov. Lvov itself was inhabited by Poles, mostly students and seminarians. They refused to give the city to the Ukrainians and defended it at the cost of their lives. Today's Poles see the memorial to the eaglets who died in those battles as their own. They didn’t forget that in the early 2000s, the Lvov city council proposed to remove the word “heroically” from the phrase “Unknown Polish soldiers who heroically died for Poland.”
And in 2013, they almost removed the image of the sword, the notch on which, according to legend, were made by the Polish king during the storming of Kiev. Modern Kiev was always against the memorial, but Warsaw supported Maidan, and Yushchenko gave money for the restoration. But now, Poland needs more. This decision, in fact, reflects some historical phantom memory of those times when both Vilnius and Lvov were Polish cities. It was like this, but this doesn’t mean that they should be on the passports of Polish citizens. Otherwise, by analogy, we could put on our passports pictures of Warsaw and Helsinki, which were once part of the Russian Empire. Logically, we don’t do this.
The Polish press is perplexed. After all, it was Ukraine's Petliura who in 1920 recognized Galicia and Transcarpathia, including Lvov, as Polish lands, and then called on his western neighbors to fight the Bolsheviks. Why is Kiev so angry now? Outside the classroom, historical debates between the citizens of Poland and Ukraine look like this. In Polish Rzeszów, Ukrainian students had to go to the hospital after shouting “Lvov is Ukraine” in the street. In May, Polish Neo-Nazis in Krakow beat a Ukrainian teenager with two-by-fours with nails for not being a Pole.
In response, firecrackers were set off near the Polish consulate in Lutsk, followed by an attack using a grenade launcher. The guilty weren’t found. It's not only about the monuments, but also about a racket that's being disguised as an attempt to restore historical justice, and with which the Poles are rushing to Ukraine. Warsaw decided to extort what was Polish until September 1939 under the auspices of the program “Restitution of Kresov.” It wants Ukraine to pay 5 billion dollars. Whether Kiev will actually pay is questionable. But there is another Ukraine. Lvov, Ternopol and the Ivano-Frankovsk Regions, judging by the rhetoric of their governors, feel closer to Warsaw, and not to Kiev. And not only territorially.
This year, 66 thousand Ukrainians moved to Poland, and by the beginning of summer, they bought out 7% of the entire real estate market, even surpassing German and British economic activity. The Polish Foreign Ministry made it clear — if you want to buy more, give up your heroes. Our message is very clear. You won’t enter Europe with Bandera. We've said it again and again — we won’t repeat the mistakes of the 1990s when there were certain problems in German-Lithuanian relations. Having such experience, we will firmly demand from Ukraine that all the matters are settled before Kiev stands at the gates of Europe with a membership request.
In Lithuania and Ukraine, those who fought in the SS divisions are now heroes. This will never happen in Poland. The Poles, naturally, will never accept that the Bandera followers are some kind of national heroes or heroes in general. They remember the Volhynia Massacre, which was arranged by those same Banderites against the Poles. The European Union is already too small for Poland. It’s attracted by Piłsudski's ideas about the great Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the one “from sea to sea.”
The environment of the current President, Duda, convinced him that if they organize a summit in Warsaw, call it Three Seas, invite the leaders of 12 countries of Central and Eastern Europe, and include Trump as a godfather, this will not only help block the second branch of the Nord Stream but will also make Warsaw the axis of the new European bloc. In Piłsudski's dreams, such a state association was to become a powerful political player, hostile to both Russia and Germany. One of the sources of inspiration for Piłsudski was a painting by Jan Matejko, who depicted on canvas the first of three divisions by Austria, Prussia, and Russia of his native Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.
Polish historians convince the rest that, according to legend, Piłsudski wanted the same from Matejko, only with himself in the center of the plot of the reunification of the country. The irony is in the factual mistakes. Here, for example, the Russian ambassador, Prince Repnin, depicted here surrounded by two princesses-mistresses, despite the fact that women weren’t allowed to attend the Sejm meetings. There were neither any portraits of Catherine II nor any portraits of Russian soldiers. But the author of the picture really wanted to show the future generations who their enemies were.
However, even before Piłsudski, the enemies of Poland were named and sung about in lockstep, which has now become the Polish anthem. Now, in the Polish anthem, there are no words about the Germans and Muscovites, but in the 1797 version, there were. “The German nor the Muscovite will settle, when, with a backsword in hand, 'concord' will be everybody's watchword and so will be our fatherland.” But for the sake of Poland “from sea to sea,” firstly, one could be friends against enemies. It was Piłsudski who suggested that France attack Germany, which was weakened after World War I. Secondly, enemies can be used.
In 1934, at the invitation of Piłsudski, Goebbels came to Warsaw. Then, the Germans and the Poles began to shake hands with each other more often. Here is one such example. Here's Polish Marshal Rydz-Śmigły and the ambassador to the Third Reich, Von Studnitz at an Independence Day parade in Warsaw in November 1938. That year’s parade was dedicated to the fact that they retook the Tishinskaya region from Czechoslovakia. Polish tanks invaded after repeated ultimatums a few weeks after the Munich Agreement between Germany, Italy, Britain, and France.
The Czechoslovak delegation was allowed into the hall after Hitler, Mussolini, Chamberlain, and Daladier signed a death sentence to its country. And at the moment when the neighbor's house was burning, the Poles didn’t rush in to help, but to plunder the property, without thinking that the fire could spread to their house. This was in 1938.
And in 2017, this week, Polish Foreign Minister Waszczykowski said that the Soviet Union was responsible for World War II. And this week, Poland decided to “invade” Germany. Or, more precisely, its budget, with a demand for multi-billion dollar reparations for World War II. Another interesting fact is that between 1989, when socialism collapsed in Poland, and 2004, the year of its entry into the EU, all Polish government officials stated that the issue of war reparations from Germany was closed. Lech Kaczyński, following the example of his idol, Piłsudski, kissed the hand of Europe, and then bit it. And one more detail about the “passport scandal.”
The Federal Republic of Germany organized the same historical provocation on Poland in 1945, when Silesia and Pomerania became Polish lands, and Breslau, Danzig, and Stettin became Wrocław, Gdańsk and Szczecin. In large and very large German cities, place names such as “Breslauer Platz” and “Danziger Straße” started sprouting up like mushrooms. And until 1970, the Germans didn't recognize the eastern borders of Germany on the Oder-Neisse, which assigned Pomerania and Silesia to Poland. The last one, by the way, doesn’t recognize itself as Polish today.
As for Germany, Poland should be grateful to the Soviet Union for the fact that after World War II, it gained a lot territory in the west of the country that were taken from Germany and given to Poland. The Poles always prefer to play the role of the victim in history, claiming that their evil and aggressive neighbors, Germany and Russia, constantly ripped it apart. Not long ago, at the congress of the Free European Alliance in Katowice, a resolution was adopted on recognizing the autonomy of Polish Silesia in the event of Poland's withdrawal from the EU.
The arguments of the Silesians include their own language, which is nothing like Polish, and financial support coming from Berlin. And historically, this is a Germanic-speaking land. In ancient times, Silesia was owned by the Germans and the Czechs, from the 16th century — by the Austrians, from the 18th century — by the Germans again. Modest parts of historical Silesia are still parts of Germany and the Czech Republic. Ironically, the Silesian flag is just like the Ukrainian one, as a reminder of what lands Poland worked on so hard to plant Russophobia and nationalism.
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