Traditional Russian historiography of World War II should be revised

Russia should change its traditional historical thesis statement on the liberation of Poland, RISS expert Oleg Nemensky believes. "The term liberation is understood differently in the West, as liberalization. After hearing this term,Westerners start discussing whether Poland was truly independent state or not. But the term actually means the liberation of Poland from Nazi occupation. The Soviet Union and the Red Army saved Polish people from the enemies. This is what we need to discuss," he said.

Nemensky also draw attention to the fact that his Polish colleagues noticed over and over again that Russian historians' arguments meant more 'salvation' than 'freedom'. "Let's take this into account. They are right in their own way, as they evaluate others from their cultural point of view. Let's say that the Soviet Union and the Red Army saved Poland from the enemy invasion. We must admit that 'salvation' sounds more strongly than 'liberation'," he said.

Nemensky also underscores that there are some important problems in Russian historiography of World War II due to errors in ideological policy during the Soviet period. He recalled that Poland had occupied vast territories to the East of the original Polish lands, but Soviet historians had not harshly condemned the Second Polish Republic. The Polish leadership now claims that "this defensive war saved Europe from being overrun by Bolshevik armies." But actually it was an attempt to capture huge territories: the current Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania. Because of this, Poland wasn't ready to join the anti-Hitler coalition. Moreover, Warsaw was against the idea of this coalition.

The Polish government pursued a policy of repression against local ethnic groups in the occupied territories. RISS expert cites the destruction of Orthodox churches and transfer of their property to the Catholic Church as an example. Discrimination against national minorities in interwar Poland should be strictly condemned, he added. Interwar Poland was an extremely aggressive towards national minorities and its neighbors from the East, North, and South. This can be called a fascist regime. Warsaw was even trying to make an alliance with Hitler.

Nemensky also expressed disagreement with the date for the start of World War II that was accepted by the Soviet Union (now it is September 1). This date connects the beginning of the war with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. And it is not clear why Germany's occupation of the Czech Republic is not considered to be the start of World War II, he points out.

RISS expert recalled that the reunification of the Sudetenland with Germany had been based on people's right to self-determination. He suggested to consider the moment when Hitler had invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia in March 1939 despite the decision at the Munich conference as the beginning of World War II.

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