“At the time of aggression against Ukraine, the memory of the Second World War becomes more important than ever before and must be nurtured so that the same mistakes are not made,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki wrote in a supplement on Polish history published by the Chicago Tribune.
He argued that Europe has been constructed on the memory of the victory over the German Third Reich as well as the “shameful denial of the truth about the passivity in the first phase of the war.” He was referring to the fact that neither Britain nor France came to Poland’s aid in 1939, that the Russians stabbed Poland in the back by joining the German invasion, and that the U.S. entered the war belatedly in 1941 following the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Morawiecki wrote how “awareness that Germany turned Poland into a hell on earth was very slow in reaching the West,” just as the knowledge about the Holocaust was initially found to be unbelievable by Western leaders.
The ongoing Russian aggression against Ukraine makes the responsibility of upholding the memory of World War II “greater than at any time in post-war history,” according to Morawiecki, who said it is a duty for future generations to uphold it. “The ability to face the truth about World War II is our duty not only to the past but also for the future,” he said.
The Polish prime minister further believes that Germany has not fully accounted for the evil that occurred in its name. “The fact that post-war Germany was so quickly re-integrated back into the international community without the need for accounting fully for all its crimes has opened the floodgates for the relativisation of evil,” he underlined.
Morawiecki feels that the events that led up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine show that the lessons of the 20th century have not been heeded, warning that the world had yet again chosen to shut its eyes to evil and tyranny in the hope that war could be avoided.