The Russian Defense Ministry has declassified documents on the war in Poland in 1944-45, which describe Nazi atrocities and the positive attitude of the Polish people toward their liberators.
“The historical documents declassified in July 2017 have never been published in open sources and were only available to a limited circle of specialists,” read a statement by the Defense Ministry’s press service.
It also noted that all documents, such as field reports, certificates and telegrams show that the Poles’ attitude toward Soviet military servicemen was good. For example, a telegram from the Polish Patriots’ Union states that Polish citizens fighting on the Soviet side – in the so-called Armia Ludowa, or People’s Army – “have created a bridge that unites two brotherly nations.”
A special address of the pro-Communist Polish forces, dated July 1944, calls for all Poles to join the fight against the Nazi occupiers. “Give a proper welcome to our ally – the Red Army – that has great achievements in fighting the Germans. Help our military and Soviet troops to destroy the German forces,” the document reads.
The Defense Ministry also emphasized the importance of numerous reports by Soviet military officers that described cases of mass executions, torture and looting committed by the Nazis against the Polish civilian population, as well as the barbaric destruction of civilian infrastructure and historical legacy by the Nazi troops.
The declassification comes after Poland introduced a law in late June that bans any propaganda of totalitarian regimes, such as the Soviet one, including any mention of the names on buildings or other architectural sites. There are fears this could result in the destruction of memorials to Red Army soldiers who died liberating Poland from the Nazis.
Russian officials and politicians have already blasted the new law as an attempt to rewrite history and to blacken the memory of Soviet troops.
In late June, State Duma Deputy Speaker Irina Yarovaya (United Russia) called the Polish law “a crime against their own nation” and “a treacherous move aimed against those who liberated Europe.” Another United Russia MP – Dmitry Sablin – told reporters that the Polish authorities had failed to learn anything from history. “People like them flirted with Hitler before the war and ripped pieces from occupied Czechoslovakia. Now they try to forget the debt they owe those who liberated their country from Nazism,” he said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry reacted with an official statement saying that the recent actions of the Polish government could further strain relations between the two nations.
“No one tries to conceal the fact that the main blow will be delivered on monuments and other memorial sites installed in honor of the feat of the Red Army that freed Poland from the Nazi yoke and saved the Polish people from complete destruction,” the document read.
Poland was occupied by the Nazis between 1939 and 1945. About 6 million Poles – 20 percent of the country’s population died in the war and occupation. Over 40,000 Soviet soldiers gave their lives in the operation to liberate Poland.