From Westerplatte to Kock

Jozef Szaniawski

Another anniversary of September 1939, which was tragic for us, makes us reflect from the perspective of the 21st century, from a completely different epoch. Then Poland, and only Poland, was attacked by two enemies.

Here are the two most popular political mottos of France in September 1939, ‘Poles will fight to the last drop of their blood and we will fight to the last Pole’ and ‘We will not die for Gdansk.’ But only a year later the French would not want to die for Gdansk and even for Paris. Our second ally, Great Britain, limited her help to throwing propaganda leaflets over Germany exactly during the time when the Luffwaffe bombers ruined defenceless Warsaw and other Polish cities. A characteristic English joke from the beginning of World War II was, ‘A RAF aircraft returns to London after its propaganda mission over Berlin. At the airport the general asks the pilot about the flight. ‘OK. Only the parcels with the folders did fall open’, the pilot answers. And the general replies with concern, ‘My God, didn’t you kill some German?’

Aggressors and allies

Another anniversary of September 1939, which was tragic for us, makes us reflect from the perspective of the 21st century, from a completely different epoch. Then Poland, and only Poland, was attacked by two enemies. During World War II no country was attacked by two enemies and Poland was! Hitler justified the attack by the pretexts of Gdansk, the corridor, and by the Gleiwitz incident. Stalin and the Soviet Russia did not even need a pretext – they invaded treacherously, without declaring war, dealing us a blow in the back. The heroic defence of Poland in 1939 against two enemies lasted exactly the same time as the defence of powerful France – 5 weeks. Nobody helped Poland. Great Britain and the Polish Army helped France in May 1940 when she fought with only one aggressor.
The direct and ultimate reason for the outbreak of World War II took place in Moscow on 23 August 1939 when the official German-Russian pact was signed. It was signed by two totalitarian powers: Germany, called the Third Reich, and Russia, called the Soviet Union. The signatories of this treaty were: the Prime Minister of the Soviet government and its Minister of Foreign Affairs Vyacheslav Molotov and the German Minister of Foreign Affairs Joachim von Ribbentrop. But the real authors of the treaty of 23 August were, of course, the dictators-mass murderers: Hitler and Stalin.
The treaty was against Poland in the first place and against Europe. The two political bandits Hitler and Stalin decided to attack Poland and divide it between them. Then they divided the whole Europe into two spheres of influence: Soviet and German so that they could conquer and then make dependent next victims. This is the origin of the outbreak of World War II. The criminal complicity – not co-responsibility but complicity (!) for the outbreak falls on Germany and Russia.
The collection of the statements of the Prime Minister and the Russian dictator, known as ‘Lenin’s testament’, said, ‘We can always unite the whole Russian nation against Poland; we can even ally with the Germans […] The Germans are our helpers and allies everywhere. Our interests are temporarily common. They will divide and Germany becomes our enemy on the day when we want to know whether a new German hegemony or a communist European union is created on the ashes of old Europe.’
Marshal Jozef Piłsudski, the father of Polish freedom and a great political visionary, warned many times that Germany and Russia could enter into agreement against Poland as it had been the case before. He predicted a possibility of the fourth partition of Poland. He said, ‘The dream of Germany is to reach a collaboration with Russia. If it happened it would mean misfortune for us. We must not allow it! Despite huge differences in the systems and cultures of Germany and Russia we should constantly watch the situation. There have been more strange alliances in the world. How to oppose them? The game will be hard considering the paralysis of will and short-sightedness of the West.’
There is a proverb, ‘Preserve us, O God, from false friends and we will manage with our enemies.’ The memory of that September shows that like any other proverb it sometimes fails, especially if it concerns states, nations, alliances and allies. In our situation it has happened too often and that’s why we must carefully watch those who declare hatred and aversion and those who are formal allies and even declare friendship.

Testimony of John Paul II

‘This alliance was the consequence of events that began on September 1939. The Polish Republic was then seeking allies in the West, aware that it would be unable to face the invasion of Hitler's Germany alone. But perhaps this was not the only reason. Poles were aware of the fact that the conflict they were forced to face was not only demanded by patriotism, to defend the independence of the State they had so recently regained, but also had broader implications for the whole of Europe. Europe had to defend itself from the same threat as Poland. The national socialist system was opposed - if this can be said - to the "European spirit". And this problem could not be dealt with by endless attempts at apparent solutions. These attempts resulted in further victims with the invasion of Czechoslovakia. It was clear that other similar consequences would have occurred had Europe not decided to take a firm stand in the military sense as well. The decision taken by the Polish Republic in 1939 was therefore right. Indeed, it clearly appeared that Europe could not be defended without deciding on a defensive war, whose first phase was precisely Poland in 1939. […]
It is necessary again to reflect on another date of the past: 17 September 1939, when Poland, desperately defending herself against invasion from the West, was attacked from the East. And this jeopardized the course of events in that Polish September, leading to a double occupation, with Hitler's concentration camps in the West and those of the Soviets in the East. The tragedy of Katyn, still today a unique testimony of the struggle undertaken at the time, took place in the East.’
This message of John Paul II is one of the most important statements of the Holy Father on World War II. These are the fundamental historical facts, which cannot be omitted and which cannot be manipulated by even the most cynical political game, played both by our friends and our enemies.

Truth cannot be divided

The historical justice demands the truth and the truth is indivisible although inconvenient for some people. The truth about September 1939 is ours, Polish, and not any other version: heroism, honour, glory for the defeated and deserted, attacked from all sides. Although Poland never surrendered our both mortal enemies announced the liquidation of the Republic of Poland as a state – ‘the clumsy bastard’ as Molotov, the Prime Minister of the Soviet Russia, called us. Justice and truth demand to remind our allies of their cynical political stands in September 1939 and also of the conference in Yalta in 1945.
The battle of history, which has been waging all over Europe and especially in Poland, Russia and Germany for quite a long time, concerning the origin and circumstances of the outbreak of World War II by Germany and Russia, have evoked and will evoke numerous arguments and discussions. These disputes are especially dramatic for Poles because the obvious facts are falsified and there are also attempts to rob us of history!

Soviet aggression

At dawn, 17 September 1939, the age-long enemy invaded Poland. The aggression of the Soviet Russia was co-ordinated with the German aggression, which had begun on 1 September. It was as early as 1 September that the collaboration between Germany and Russia against Poland started. The Soviet radiolocation stations guided the air raids of the Luffwaffe bombers over the Polish Army units to the east of the Vistula.
The Russian invasion was treacherous, perfidious, without declaring war; it was a cutthrow blow in the back. That’s why it is a historical falsification to use such euphemisms as ‘the Red Army crossed the Polish border’ or ‘the Red Army marched into’ or ‘the Red Army made an invasion.’ No – we do not say that the Wehrmacht marched into Poland but the Germans attacked Poland. And the attack of 17 September should also be defined, ‘Russia attacked Poland!’ And we should say ‘Soviet Russia’ because it was the name of this criminal, totalitarian and genocide state. The dictator of this empire of evil, Stalin, planned to liquidate the Polish state together with Lenin in November 1918! The author of this plan of aggression of 17 September 1939 was Marshal Boris Shaposhnikov, the Chief of Staff of the Soviet Russia; the commander-in-chief was Marshal Voroshylov and those who attacked Poland were the most eminent Soviet Generals: Timoshenko, Chuikov, Batov, Kovaliov, Tieliegin. One million and a half soldiers attacked Poland in two strategic batches/projections.
The first attack took place in Podwoloczyska, Czortkow, Skala and Husiatyn at 3.00 a.m. The Border Protection Corps (KOP Czortkow) was the farthest eastern defence centre of the Republic of Poland. The small and poorly armed Polish unit, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Marceli Kotarba, decided to defend the attacked Homeland. They faced the Soviet corps of tanks and cavalry. The heroism of those several hundred soldiers of Lieutenant Colonel Kotarba is compared with the heroism of the soldiers of Major Sucharski who defended Westerplatte. Thousands of publications, book and films were created about Westerplatte but there is a conspiracy of silence about the soldiers of KOP Czortkow. The Polish Army fought an unequal combat with the Red Army, defending Grodno, Wilno, Podolia. There were battles of Tomaszow Lubelski, Szack and Wytyczno. Lwow and Brzesc were besieged by the Russian and German soldiers: the Red Army and Wehrmacht!

Battle of Kock

On 4-6 October the operational group ‘Polesie’, surrounded by the Soviet and German divisions, under the command of General Franciszek Kleeberg fought the last battle defending Poland near Kock. Like the battle of Westerplatte, where the first shots were fired and where there was the outbreak of World War II, the battle of Kock, fought in October 1939, became a symbol and legend of the Polish September. Kock was the last part of free Poland, defended heroically by the soldiers of the Polish Army. It was here, after a desperate fight, after the last bullets were shot, after the last Polish gun was destroyed, the soldiers of the group ‘Polesie’ surrendered to the enemy on 6 October 1939.
In the conquered Polish cities, including Bialystok, Brzesc, Przemysl, the units of the Red Army and Wehrmacht made joint defilades. In Krakow, just next to the seat of the Governor Hans Frank, there was the general consulate of the Soviet Union. It was there that the NKWD and the Gestapo discussed the details of the German and Soviet genocide, including the extermination of the Polish intelligentsia. 250,000 non-commissioned officers, officers and generals of the Polish Army were taken prisoners of war by the Soviets. Moreover, the Russians took over 120,000 officials of the Border Protection Corps, police, prison guards, forest guards and state officials, bank clerks and priests. Out of them ‘only’ 4,600 defenceless prisoners – officers of the Polish Army, were killed by the NKWD over the death pits at Katyn. The Moscow archives hide the real number of the victims of the Soviet genocide after 17 September 1939. And that’s why the Russians are consistent in refusing access to these archives. Since the truth about the Soviet crimes is surely far more horrible than we know and the lies of the Russian propaganda are traditionally gloomy and slanderous.
Stalin wanted to conquer the whole Europe and Poland was to be and actually was his first prey. This is the truth and the truth should not yield to rotten political compromises in fear of the wrath of the Kremlin. The truth is indivisible! The Soviet Russia was a genocidal state that murdered several million people. This state was rightly known as ‘empire of evil’, ‘another world’, ‘inhuman land.’ This country invaded Poland on 17 September 1939, having a precise plan of a totalitarian genocide.
Both mass murderers, Hitler and Stalin, are dead. There are no remains of Hitler. Whereas the monumental sarcophagus-grave of Stalin is located in the most honourable and prestigious place of Russia – under the wall of the Kremlin, in the Red Square in Moscow. Every day thousands of Russians pay tribute to the bloody tyrant and lay flowers on his grave even nowadays, in 2010, after the facts about his crimes have been revealed! Vladimir Putin, the President, Prime Minister and KGB general in one person, has paid tribute to Stalin many times in the 21st century! This fact should make Poles, and not only them, reflect. I mean President Komorowski and Prime Minister Tusk, who have used the famous term ‘reconciliation with Russia’ intensively since 10 April 2010. Reconciliation with Russia is a good and useful thing but reconciliation cannot be an aim in itself. The aim in itself is security and the Polish raison d’etat.

"Niedziela" 37/2010

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: