‘The latter is likely to anger former Soviet states like Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which say they were occupied by the Red Army and then coerced into joining the Soviet Union against their will.’
The Times follows the Communist narrative, which avoids any mention of occupation of Poland by Soviet Russia. The phrase ‘coerced into joining … against their will’ is awkwardly euphemistic. We are talking here about murder, torture, concentration camps. The use of ‘former Soviet states’ is inappropriate. They didn’t have any sovereignty.
Note also the following:
‘In response, Mateusz Morawiecki, Poland’s prime minister, called Putin a liar.’
This is a non-essential criticism from Polish PM. By calling Putin a liar Morawiecki avoided giving proper response, which would be to recall the Communist terror unleashed against Polish citizens, such as my family members, in eastern Poland occupied by Soviet Russia. Contemporary Polish ruling class follows unmistakably the same Communist narrative, in which eastern Poland and its citizens are to be erased.
The men in the BBC documentary Borrowed Pasture, Eugeniusz Okołowicz, photographer, and Włodzimierz Bułaj, electrician, were in the Polish Army during September 1939 campaign of WWII, then crossed into Lithuania where they were interned, to avoid capture by either Germans or Russians. Soviets occupied Lithuania in Spring 1940 and transferred the interned Poles to Russian camps. My wife’s grandfather Aleksander Głuchowski was also among them.
The camps, where Włodzimierz/Wlodek Bułaj was held, marked with yellow pins on the enclosed map:
Yukhnov, Kaluga Oblast, from 15 July 1940
Ponoy in the Kola Peninsula, Murmansk Oblast, from 6 June 1941
Yuzha, Ivanovo Oblast
Camps, where Eugeniusz Okołowicz was held are marked by blue pins:
Kozielsk/Kozelsk, from 13 July 1940
Gryazovets, Vologda Oblast, from 2 July 1941 to 3 September 1941
Orange pin is the location of Tatishchevo, Saratov Oblast, where both men arrived in September 1941. This was one of the meeting points for Polish soldiers and their dependants after they were released from the Soviet camps, following the German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941.
Note the location of the Ponoy camp at the tip of the Kola Peninsula. It is a barren tundra in an uninhabited land, very far from any human settlements. Soviets referred to it as the ‘Ponoy point’. Number of prisoners at this location was about 4 thousand. Many of them would be dead during the following months, had they been kept there longer. NKVD documents state the POWs were to be used for the construction of an airfield. It is obvious, however, that the death toll would be enormous. That was probably the aim: to kill by exhaustion and hunger.
My wife’s grandfather was in the same camps of Kozielsk/Kozelsk and Gryazovets as Okołowicz. Thousands of earlier Polish POWs from the Kozielsk camp were murdered by the Russians at the Katyn site near Smolensk in April and May 1940. Returning to Poland under Communist/Soviet control after the war was therefore very risky. Many of the Poles interned in Lithuania and later in the Soviet camps lived in eastern Poland, which was occupied by the Soviet Union after the war. This was the case of Głuchowski and could be the case of Bułaj and Okołowicz as well.
Aleksander Głuchowski arrived in Poland in 1947 to reunite with his son he last saw in 1939, his wife having died of hunger, exhaustion and disease in 1945. He was arrested by the Communist secret police and imprisoned. He died in 1952 at the age of 45.
The 22 December 1959 edition of Western Mail (Glamorgan County) noted that cameraman William Greenhaigh served at the mass celebrated at the farm:
Wearing gumboots, he recently served at a Roman Catholic Mass for two elderly Poles on a remote farm in Carmarthenshire.
The BBC Welsh television unit, of which he is a member, was on location, shooting scenes for “Borrowed Pastures” – featuring Polish farmers who have left their native land to settle in Wales.
Coventry Evening Telegraph, 15 June 1960, in the article Tribute to Courage of Polish Farmers:
A happy ending has been provided to one of the most fascinating human interest stories in recent years, which began when about 100 Welsh farms passed into the possession of Polish Ex-Servicemen at the end of the war.
Two such people were Eugeniusz Okolowicz and Wlodek Bulaj, who borrowed enough money to buy infertile acres and ruined buildings of Penygaer Farm, Trawsmawr, Carmarthen, which had stood abandoned for 20 years.
Neither knew much about farming, but they managed to clear a mountain stream to an old mill and harness a generator. Living on a few groceries and two tins of meat a week, they built up a small herd of cattle and found market for the milk. Also, they found an old tractor, which they bought for £4 10s.
Today, they still work 18 hours a day; their only contact with the rest of the world being a weekly rendezvous with a travelling grocer, and a six-monthly visit of a Polish priest.
The courageous battle of these two men was spotlighted last month in the film, “Borrowed Pasture”, shown on BBC TV, and the Hawker Siddeley Group offered the two farmers one of its new aero-dynamically designed Gloster forage harvesters, worth some £300. An offer which was speedily accepted.
The presentation of the Harvester – built by the same experts who designed Gloster Javelin and Gloster Meteor jet fighters – was made at Penygaer Farm yesterday by a Gloster board member, Mr. W. W. W. Downing.
On Friday, January 6 1961, The South Wales Gazette, Monmouthshire, noted
The BBC Film Unit’s presentation of “Borrowed Pasture” which can be seen on Wednesday, attracted a great deal of attention when it was shown in May last year […]
The film, written and produced by John Ormond, tells the story of two former soldiers in the Polish Army, who settled in a bleak decaying farm on a Carmarthenshire hill-side. […]
The film’s most moving passage deals with loneliness of Wlodek Bulaj, one of the farmers. Bulaj has not seen his wife for 22 years.
John set about the task of helping Bulaj to get Polish and British visas for Mrs Bulaj to come to Wales.
Viewers who had seen the film sent money to help. After months of delay, Mrs Bulaj is now at the farm, having been reunited with her husband in Ormond’s own home. Now she can stay in Britain indefinitely.
The article mentions ‘Polish and British visas for Mrs Bulaj’. This may indicate that the family lived in eastern Poland, occupied by the Soviet Union after WWII.
Here is the scene from the film, in which Włodek is looking at his family pictures. The little daughter he last saw in 1939 has just got married.
However, in 1963, a little over two years after the reunion with his wife, Włodzimierz Bułaj died. What happened to his wife, Mr. Okołowicz, and the farm?
The personal dimension of the story is closely linked with the Communist policy of elimination and separation of anyone not willing to serve the totalitarian system. I mentioned my wife’s grandfather, who was prevented from reuniting with his son, my father in law, and imprisoned upon arrival in Poland in 1947.
Farms of my grandparents on both sides in eastern Poland were seized by Soviet authorities after WWII. Nearly entire family on my mother’s side were sent to concentration camps in different parts of the Soviet Union. Some were tortured. My parents met in the camps. Later on, in the 1980s, Soviet authorities refused permission for my visit to the family still remaining in the Soviet-occupied territory. In 2015, after many years of harassment, my wife and I were expelled from our workplaces at the State School of Music in Zielona Góra and University in Poznań, respectively. Despite official proclamations, the Communist policies continue. I am now in London in the UK, where I came in 2016, while my wife remains in Poland. The story of Bułaj, Okołowicz, Głuchowski, and others like them is not over. It continues.
‘During the Second World War, a generation of young people across Europe were conscripted to fight for their country. For six long years, these mainly young men were separated from their loved ones, lived in fear and died in their millions.’
Some were conscripted to fight for their occupiers. My father, Polish citizen, was conscripted in 1944 to fight for the Soviet occupiers in a Polish army formed under Communist control. His family lived in eastern Poland, area with a sizeable Jewish population, which was already under the second Soviet occupation during that war. He faced an impossible choice: to fight one evil on behalf of another one with high likelihood of being killed or desert from the Communist army. He and many others chose the latter. His group was later captured by the Soviet force. Many were tortured. They were sent to Russian concentration camps after the war. He spent eight years in the camp and further two years in exile in northern Russia.
I understand, of course, where the need for simplified narratives comes from. However, oversimplification comes with consequences.
We must also realise, that evil lives on. It is contagious, it mutates and continues to destroy human lives. It hasn’t stayed behind on the grounds of WWII Nazi camps. While a great effort has been made to develop immune response to one type of evil, there are other variants that spread almost uninhibited.
‘[WWII] didn’t begin in September 1939, when Hitler invaded Poland, but eight years earlier with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. It didn’t end in the summer of 1945, but dragged on until the autumn of 1989, when the Soviet empire finally broke up.’
Nazi Germany and Communist Russia jointly invaded Poland in September 1939, slight delay on the Russian side notwithstanding. 1989 is not the end of WWII. 1989 is significant mainly as the date of West’s crucial defeat on the cognitive battlefield.
Also, no one here seems to be concerned that the Yalta deal, signed by Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin in 1945 was an illegal one.
Dwight Garner in The New York Times, March 8, 2021.
I hope Kaiser recovers his family property. I am very familiar with ‘Kafkaesque hurdles’ in Poland. You need to understand the presence of the red elephant in the room. My wife and I extensively dealt in recent years with state administration, law, legal issues, prosecution office, and through correspondence, with top state officials. The Kafkaesque process is symptomatic of fundamental, deeper issues. This is not anomaly. This is actually modus operandi of the state that does not want to follow its own laws.
In other words, the legal processes and enforcement of the law have been taken outside the law. The law functions only as a theoretical concept. There is theory and there is experiment. Experimental data do not agree with theory.
We have spoken to many lawyers. I would not describe any of them as a ‘normal lawyer’. Kaiser’s difficulties are neither weird nor accidental. They are systemic.
In many ways, WWII hasn’t ended in 1945. I am currently paying mortgage on an apartment in Zielona Góra (German Gruenberg). My presence there is an indirect consequence of WWII. My parents lived in eastern Poland before WWII. They were both prisoners of Communist concentration camps in northern Russia after WWII. Their family properties are located within current Belarussian borders. Their farms were seized by the Soviet authorities during their post-1945 occupation of the area.
Whichever way you look, WWII does not want to go away.
There is an article in the same World section of today’s Times about removal of a kneeling slave memorial from Boston in the US, illustrated by a picture of the statue. The slave is crouching in front of an erect figure of Abraham Lincoln.
The current article, in turn, is illustrated by a crowd in front of a towering Soviet monument, Joseph Stalin Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw erected in the 1950s on orders from Moscow.
There is no plan to remove the monument. Publishing pictures of this building whenever possible is part of the Communist policy. The picture, although not an illustration of the article’s subject, is consistent with the text in the sense of discourse control.
Writing and talking about, and sometimes prosecuting Nazi crimes is fine. The article is equipped with a testimony of one of the victims of Nazism. Good.
Not so with the Communist crimes. The aim is to purge them from memory, history, and public life. The illustration of the article with the picture of the Joseph Stalin memorial is also a clear message that Communism has not collapsed and the power remained in the hands of the same ruling class.
The article mentions “177 Polish women, many of whom had been arrested in the Warsaw Uprising.” They are only mentioned collectively as a nameless and faceless number. The Joseph Stalin memorial picture represents their post-WWII Communist oppressors. Other postwar Communist buildings in the picture were obviously not what those women fought for. Those buildings are symbolically tied to the Communist oppressors, not to the women.
Polish authorities have not tried to do anything remotely resembling prosecution of the Communist crimes. I have an obligation to raise my voice and point this out as child of survivors of Communist concentration camps and more recently a target of campaign against my own family.
“The democratic uprising that I accompanied most closely, the rise, fall and rise again of Solidarity in the Poland of the 1980s and 1990s, still has some useful pointers for today’s revolutionaries.”
Mr Boyes must have been reporting from Po La Land, not Poland. Solidarity was created and controlled by Communist political strategists. Millions of people joined once they had the impression this would be tolerated by the authorities. My father, a worker in a clothes making factory joined as well.
As a first-year student of chemistry, I took part in a two-week student strike and sit-in at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń. However, both workers and student strikes have been engineered by the Communists themselves.
He surely must have known, that one of key ‘opposition’ figures was Adam Michnik, son of a Soviet agent working diligently in the 1930s on increasing support for the future Soviet control of eastern Poland. Michnik’s mother had a PhD in history and was a devout Communist as well. His half-brother Stefan was a Communist military judge and is responsible for murdering many Polish officers who fought against Nazi Germany and resisted the Communists post-WWII.
The Communist authorities manufactured a fake fall from power. Adam Michnik became the editor in chief of the main newspaper in Poland.
My pianist wife was fired from her teaching job in the State School of Music in Zielona Góra, Poland. She was the best piano teacher of the school. Her grandfather fought against Nazi Germany in 1939, was imprisoned by the Soviet Union in 1940-1941, then fought with the Polish forces on the western front. When he returned to Poland in 1947, he was immediately arrested and imprisoned.
I was fired from my job at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań also in 2015, where I was an associate professor of physics. I have a PhD from a well-known American university. My parents and many members of my mother’s family were prisoners of Communist concentration camps after WWII.
The Times is publishing myths and fantasies about Poland.
P.S. The Times held my comment for about 5 hours before releasing it eventually. The newspaper arrested information which should be common knowledge. Interesting parallel to imprisonments pointed out in my comment.
Artykuł reprezentuje narrację komunistyczną. Mieszkańcy regionu jezior mazurskich uciekli przed wojskiem komunistycznym Związku Radzieckiego lub zostali wypędzeni później w akcji totalitarnej czystki. Praktycznie cała populacja dużego regionu została usunięta. Prusy Wschodnie zostały podzielone arbitralnie poprowadzoną granicą i radziecka enklawa “Kaliningradu” została umieszczona w części północnej. Koenigsberg (Królewiec) Immanuela Kanta i kilkaset lat historii zostały zostały zlikwidowane.
“The capital of the region is the “garden town” of Olsztyn”, czyli “stolicą regionu jest Olsztyn, miasto-ogród”
Nie jest to miasto-ogród. Pełno w nim komunistycznych bloków mieszkalnych. Do drugiej wojny światowej było to miasto Allenstein w Prusach Wschodnich.
Wera Głuchowska i jej syn Witold, babcia mojej żony i jej ojciec, wówczas mały chłopiec, znaleźli się w Allenstein jako uchodźcy w 1945, kiedy wojna dobiegała końca. Ich dom znajdował się w Iwacewiczach, miasteczku Polski wschodniej, które znalazło się pod okupacją sowiecką, a teraz w rękach białoruskich. Żywności nie było. Wera zmarła w 1945 z choroby i wyczerpania, wkrótce po zakończeniu wojny. Jej grób znajduje się na zaniedbanym cmentarzu za kościołem świętego Józefa (to nazwa współczesna, nie jestem pewien nazwy niemieckiej). Biuro polskiego Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej znajduje się naprzeciw kościoła po drugiej stronie ulicy. Nazwa tej instytucji jest jednak myląca. Krótki spacer na cmentarz wystarcza do obnażenia tego kłamstwa. Stan cmentarza nie ma nic wspólnego z pamięcią i upamiętnianiem. Dowodzi polityki usuwania z pamięci i podporządkowaniu propagandzie władz.
Cmentarz jest świadkiem wielkiej tragedii. Są tam groby małych dzieci, które przyszły na świat wkrótce po zakończeniu wojny, groby osób starszych narodowości polskiej, które zmarły na obcej ziemi, zamiast na swoim gospodarstwie, w otoczeniu, w którym wyrośli i pracowali. Groby przedwojennych mieszkańców Prus Wschodnich, których potomkowie uszli, zostali zabici lub wygnani. Groby są zaniedbane. Ich granice są często trudne do wskazania.
“The farm near Utka was bought by her great-grandparents for a small sum when the borders were redrawn after the Second World War. This previously German region became Polish, the Germans left, and residents from modern-day Lithuania moved south.”
“Gospodarstwo koło Utki zostało kupione przez pradziadków za niewielką sumę, kiedy granice zostały poprowadzone na nowo po drugiej wojnie światowej. Niemiecki wcześniej region stał się polski, Niemcy wyjechali a rezydenci współczesnej Litwy przenieśli się na południe.”
Nazwa tej miejscowości w języku polskim to Ukta, nie Utka. To prawdziwe osiągnięcie, że udało się sfałszować tyle historii w dwóch zdaniach. “Granice zostały poprowadzone na nowo”? Przez kogo? Kto tego dokonał? Dlaczego? Żadnej wzmianki o nielegalnej umowie z Jałty, której stroną, niestety, był również rząd brytyjski.
Zwrot “kupione przez jej pradziadków” ma sugerować legalną transakcję, jak również stworzyć wrażenie długiej polskiej historii tego miejsca. Zdanie “Niemiecki wcześniej region stał się polski, Niemcy wyjechali a rezydenci współczesnej Litwy przenieśli się na południe” jest klasycznym przykładem totalitarnej metody opowiadania. Autorka sprowadziła tragedię ogromnej rzeszy ludzkiej do prostej transakcji sprzedaży domu. Ta tragedia była wszystkim, tylko nie sprzedażą domu.
Jest to narracja komunistyczna podporządkowana narracji sowiecko-rosyjskiej.
Zwrot “rezydenci współczesnej Litwy przenieśli się na południe” jest zwykłym kłamstwem. Jestem dzieckiem tych “rezydentów”. Byli rzeczywiście rezydentami, ale nie Litwy. Przez długi czas po drugiej wojnie światowej rezydowali w komunistycznych obozach koncentracyjnych w północnej Rosji w rejonie Archangielska. Mieli wielkie szczęście, że przeżyli. Wcześniej byli obywatelami Polski. Radzieccy okupanci pozbawili ich obywatelstwa polskiego.. Oboje moi rodzice mieszkali w Polsce wschodniej, dziś zaznaczonej jako część państwa Białoruś.
Urodziłem się w Kętrzynie, pruskim Rastenburgu, i dorastałem wśród rodzin uchodźców z Polski wschodniej. Mieliśmy bardzo małe mieszkanie w byłych koszarach niemieckich. Wśród naszych sąsiadów była cicha rodzina Niemców. Mogli być wyrzuceni ze swojego gospodarstwa lub domu. Wyjechali do Niemiec około 1970. Dwóch spośród moich kolegów z dzieciństwa również przeniosło się do Niemiec w tym czasie. Ich ojcem był Polak, a matka Niemką.
W miarę upływu czasu stopniowo zrozumiałem ogrom tragedii wszystkich ludzi w tej wojnie.
A co nam serwuje The Sunday Times? Żadnej wzmianki o zniszczonych domach, zrujnowanych gospodarstwach. Wszystko jest słodkie i piękne. “Kupione za niewielką sumę”. Naprawdę? Ten region nie jest moim miejscem i nie jest moim dziedzictwem.
WWII and associated developments are typically viewed from mostly a military perspective. Started on [date], ended on [date]. [number] mln killed.
My family comes from eastern Poland, which suffered three occupations during WWII and afterwards: the Soviet one 1939-1941, the German 1941-1944 and again the Soviet one from 1944 on.
The war has not ended in 1945. My parents and other family members were imprisoned in concentrations camps in the Soviet Union for many years after WWII. One of my uncles was tortured to the point of not knowing his own name. He was permanently damaged. Technically alive, dead as a human being.
My mother suffered terribly as well. WWII was terrible enough, but the real hell came post-1945. The war against our family has never really ended. More recently, my wife and I were fired from our jobs in Poland in 2015, because the neural correlates of our consciousness exhibited features proscribed for elimination by the ruling class installed as a result of the Communist occupation.
Our families suffered from both Nazis and Communists. My wife’s grandfather fought against the German invasion in 1939, was later imprisoned by the Soviets in 1940-41, then fought with the Allies on the western front, and again imprisoned by the Communists when he returned to Poland in 1947.
While WWII understood as a military campaign ended in 1945, the violence associated with it continued in non-military forms against civilians. Poland understood as a civilization developed over the centuries, has been wiped out. Now the same name is being used by the Communist fake.
I would like to return to the second paragraph of the review, on which I commented already earlier. The entire article is based on the concept of symmetry of the two dictatorships.
“One of the Polish cities the Soviets annexed was Lwow, which they incorporated into Ukraine.”
Ukrainian Soviet “republic”.
“As the German forces neared Lwow the local NKVD — the internal security police — massacred 4,000 political detainees in Brygidki prison. A few weeks later the occupying Germans egged on local Ukrainians to murder 4,000 Jews by way of retaliation. It was a bloody symmetry, of a kind.”
This is a misrepresentation. There is no symmetry here. Those killed by the Soviets were Polish citizens of Polish and Ukrainian ethnicity. Those killed by the Germans were also Polish citizens. Omitting their citizenship is beneficial to the Communist narrative. Soviet Union worked through their agents before WWII, such as the father of a contemporary prominent figure in the Polish media, on promoting support for the annexation of eastern Poland. The occupation by the Soviet Union of eastern Poland in 1939-1941 and again post-1944 was appropriately manipulated by Moscow. Declaring that Poland was dead, omitting the victims’ citizenship, and focusing on their ethnicity instead, while eliminating Poles from the picture, is part of that Communist narrative.
The Nazi occupiers also killed professors of the Polish universities in Lwów.
Poland was the only significant country which fought against both of these totalitarian states.
P.S. Note the captions under pictures of the dictators:
“Adolf Hitler always planned to attack the USSR”
“Joseph Stalin refused to listen to warnings about German aggression”