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5 Aug, 2007 01:26

FSB helps Polish historians look into past

A book has been released in Poland marking the anniversary of the Warsaw uprising of 1944 – an ill-fated revolt against Nazi occupiers. Many of the crucial historical documents used were donated by Russia's Federal Security Services.

Russia and Poland may not be on the best of terms as far as politics is concerned, but relations are better when it comes to science. Russia's security agency the FSB has provided some of its documents to help Polish historians publish a collection about the 1944 anti-fascist uprising.

Anna Shelek representative of the Russian embassy in the Polish capital says the project has helped bring the two countries together: “Despite any difficulties there might be, this is a good example that specialists can work and do work and, that the work of specialists creates the right climate for improving relations in other spheres,” she says.

Polish historian Marcin Majewski also stresses the positive impact of the project on Russo-Polish relations: “It is well known that Polish-Russian relations are not at their best right now. However the Polish Institute of Remembrance and the Ministry of Internal Affairs are co-operating well with the Russian FSB. Of course there are conflicts and differences of opinion, but a compromise can always be reached in the matters they are working on,” he believes.

On August 1, 1944, the Polish resistance – the Home Army – clashed with German occupiers. The battle continued for over two months. 18,000 Polish soldiers were killed and 25,000 wounded in addition to up to 200,000 civilian casualties. After the Polish surrender on October 2, Nazi troops systematically burned Warsaw block by block.

The Warsaw upheaval of 1944 was a special moment in Polish history.  The Polish army fought the German army and German occupation for 63 days.  During this time the German army and German police committed many brutal crimes.

Marcin Majewski, historian,
Polish National Institute of Remembrance

To mark the anniversary of the revolt, Polish historians have released a book about the event based on 149 documents of various special services including the FSB.

“It's a very substantial project. It was a huge amount of work for the archivists who looked for these documents and found them, and a huge amount of work for the historians who provided commentary, because the documents were not simply published but are accompanied by reference material,” explains Ms Shelek.

The book has simultaneous translation in Russian and Polish, and is already selling in bookstores in Warsaw.

Today's diplomatic relations between Russia and Poland are currently at a low point. Ironically as historians point out it is a past event that has brought the two countries closer together. And the remembrance of this, historians say, could help make today's setbacks a thing of the past tomorrow.