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17 Jan, 2020 09:11

'Remember the past & honor the dead': Former president Walesa slams Poland's failure to commemorate Warsaw's WWII liberation

'Remember the past & honor the dead': Former president Walesa slams Poland's failure to commemorate Warsaw's WWII liberation

While the anniversary of Warsaw's liberation is largely overlooked in modern-day Poland, it's worth paying respect to the sacrifice of the Red Army, former president and democracy hero Lech Walesa acknowledged on RT.

It's been exactly 75 years since the Soviet Union's 1st Byelorussian Front and the allied Polish 1st Army defeated the last remaining pocket of Nazi resistance, ending the five-year occupation of Warsaw. But the milestone event, in which 22,000 Soviet and 3,100 Polish soldiers lost their lives, is no longer an occasion for Poland to celebrate, it seems.

While local press maintained a deafening silence about the anniversary – except for several outlets trying to play down its significance – the government did not celebrate it either, limiting commemorations to a pair of privately organized events.

Remarkably, this policy didn't sit well with Walesa, Poland's first post-communist president and recipient of multiple Western awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize.

If I were in power, I would allow myself to be invited – I would invite myself because we must remember the past, respect the past, remember that many people have died, and deserved gratitude and recognition.

Poland has been trying to wipe out certain parts of its history for quite some time. Last year, it went so far as to invite Angela Merkel to the commemoration of the 1939 Nazi invasion, but refused to invite Vladimir Putin to the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet forces.

"If I were in power, I would invite Putin," Walesa told RT. "I would look for positive solutions so that both countries benefited and сould prevent other powers from capitalizing on our mistakes."

The former president, who rose to prominence as leader of the Western-backed, anti-communist Solidarity movement, claimed, however, that there was "another perspective of World War II" under which Poland had fallen "into the captivity of the Soviet Union for 50 years."

The Soviet operation to liberate Warsaw began on January 14, 1945, when the 61st Army crossed the Vistula River and crushed German defenses on the outskirts of the city. Days later, it emerged that the capital stood empty and deserted as the Nazi command had ordered its destruction.

Many civilians had to flee Warsaw, others were persecuted or displaced by the retreating Germans. Those who survived say they rejoiced at the liberation and cheerfully greeted Soviet and Polish soldiers as they entered the city.

Also on rt.com ‘We wanted to be Red Army soldiers’: Polish veterans recall childhood memories of Warsaw’s liberation

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