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Druga Wojna Światowa – World War 2 Posted by on Sep 2, 2009 in History

Yesterday Poland observed the 70th anniversary of the start of WW2. I wasn’t going to write about it initially, but then I realized it would look very stupid and almost un-Polish if I didn’t mention it at all. Yet on the other hand, talking about WW2 makes me a bit uncomfortable. Why? I feel this is something that should stay in history books, and rehashing every year what had happened is kind of pointless.

Yet on the other hand (this would be my third hand, or a prosthetic arm maybe), remembering what had happened is very important. And so I’m torn. I don’t want to talk about WW2, but I feel it’s my responsibility to do so anyway.

WW2 is a fact that cannot be changed (even though some would like to try), but it’s a fact whose details even after all these years are being disputed. And no, I’m talking here about Holocaust deniers, but about the Polish and Russian versions and interpretations of the events from 70 years ago.

This story has been re-written so many times and on so many occasions, that by now I don’t even want to attempt to guess what is REALLY true. And I’m not sure that at this point many Poles actually care. It seems to me that we, as a nation, have moved on and it’s only our politicians that still insist on talking about it while fuming with righteous anger.

Remembering the past is important, but learning from it even more so, because that’s how the past influences our future. And it seems to me that way too many Polish politicians are so stuck in the past that they totally miss the “future” bit of this equation. It’s been our national disease since the times of Mieszko. To the powers that be our nation’s past (whether glorious or not) has always been more important than what’s ahead, and needless to say, this attitude has done nothing to help us win friends and influence (foreign) people. And from what I’m reading in Gazeta Wyborcza, it sounds like Mr. Tusk agrees with me. He said, “On the other hand, becoming preoccupied with the past isn’t good either.” Unfortunately, this is what I see happening in our country right now.

See? This is precisely why I should never write about politics and Polish foreign policy on this blog.

So here are some somber words to learn:

  • druga wojna światowa – WW2
  • druga – second. Since “wojna” is a feminine noun, instead of “drugi”, we have “druga” which is the feminine version of this ordinal number.

In Polish wars don’t merely start but explode. We say that “wojna wybuchła” – literally – a war exploded, just like a bomb would. and hence we would have:

  • wybuch drugiej wojny światowej – the start of WW2
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  1. Kuba:


    Thanks, you are correct we must not forget history or we will repeat it.
    And thanks for the Druga Wojna swiatowa wybuchla

  2. Rebeczka:

    I agree that in Poland many people look back to the past, and that is not good. They should move on and live the present remembering the mistakes done before in order to avoid them in the future.

    I like your blog!


  3. Daria:

    Good words 😉 I am Polish too but I feel embarrassed lookig at what polish politics are doing. They keep on reopening old wounds regardless of results.
    But it isn’t woth mentioning.
    I just wanted to say that what was in past should stay in past. We live now and I think that we shouldn’t be responsible for ppl in past.
    But ,from the other hand ,it is silly for me that Russians can’t just apologize and have a “peace”.

    We should remember in order not to repeat previous mistakes, cause we can’t turn back the time.

  4. Bogusia Wojciechowska:

    Polish Christian survivors of WWII oppression

    All wars disrupt; they leave behind the dead and the living, the victims and the survivors. The war that tore apart Poland in 1939 with Hitler’s avowed annihilation of an eastern neighbor “for German expansion”, Stalin’s westward thrust with Soviet communism and the mass deportation to Siberia of whole societies, all ensured that while millions died, those who survived could not or would not speak of their ordeal. Theirs was the story of deprivation and of humiliation; it was the realization that not only was a homeland lost, but that an entire future was denied.

    Waiting To Be Heard (The Polish Christian Experience Under Nazi and Stalinist Oppression 1939-1955) is an attempt to give voice to those who, in fear of their lives or in anticipation of an eventual and triumphant return, found themselves exiled across the world. Dr. Bogusia Wojciechowska, the daughter of a couple that found refuge in a camp outside Oxford, England, and now Dean at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston MA, had an incomplete picture of her family’s plight until she chanced upon some letters written by her grandfather. Her training as a historian gave her the confidence and the methodology to conduct over one hundred interviews with a rapidly decreasing population that had first-hand experience of both Nazi and Stalinist oppression. In the majority of cases these interviews were the first time this diaspora had spoken at length about their suffering and their determination to secure freedom for their homeland.

    Presented as a series of vignettes, Waiting to Be Heard is a chronology punctuated by the poetry of a subsequent generation that includes Martin Stepek, John Guzlowski, and Hania Kaczanowska, each of whom pay respectful and heart-rending homage to the dignity of their parents. This 400-page book contains many photographs and artifacts, and has a foreword by Ryszard Kaczorowski, former president of the Polish Government-in-Exile in London who, in 1990, was finally able to hand over the safeguarded State Insignia to the newly and democratically-elected president, Lech Walesa, in Warszawa.

    Published this September, by AuthorHouse, Waiting To Be Heard is printed to order, so wait times may vary. Please order through Amazon, and Barnes & Noble websites, or through your local bookstore. Meanwhile, one can get a feel for the content by visiting http://www.PolishDiaspora.com. The ISBN is 978-1-4490-1370-7

  5. Janusz (Yehuda ben Hur):

    In September 2009 I have visited Poland after 40 years of absence. I left as a 15 year old boy with one-way ticket and no longer as a Polish Citizen because apparently I and my whole family were Zionists. I think really what we were at the time one could describe as “scapegoats”, Polish Government’s solution to the tensions that have emerged in March 1968. Of course over the ages Polish Catholicism has instilled the distaste for the Polish Jewish community and it is not surprising that around that time people came out on the streets shouting “Zydki do Izraela”. In reality I am not Jewish simply because I am a non-believer and therefore do not practice Judaism. In Poland I remember I would be referred to at school as “Zydek” because I did not go to church. In Australia I am a non-Jewish person because I do not go to a synagogue. But I do believe that a definition of being non-Jewish is less harmful than growing up Communist Poland with a label “Zydek”.
    Well after forty years I came back to Poland and I met many “polaczkuw”. Especially middle aged ladies behind counters in shops and train stations. I found that often I was treated with rudeness with the biting arrogance and complete lack of respect. I do not think however this was because they knew my Polish Jewish roots, but rather they could tell I was a tourist with a strong Polish accent. Polaczki have a long way to go, as far as their manners are concerned in the area of “customer service”. I am sure that a time will come that they will catch up with their German friends, to whom they appear to “suck up” so much.
    Now what really staggered me was the idea that in Poland during the WWII, Armia Krajowa was the main if not the only hero in the story of the Poland’s war effort. With a great surprise I discovered that Poland was invaded by the Soviets on 17 September 1939, who were as mean, if not more mean, than Germans. Apparently this was a great hidden secret in the Communist era and no body talked about it. I also found that there was hardly any mention of Armia Ludowa led by General Swierczewski or Kosciuszko Army led by General Berling. They seemed to have vanished from the Polish history. As I remember from the school days in 1960s, these armies have liberated Poland from Nazi occupation; they were the good guys then. Obviously I was not told the truth. The truth is told now. Thank you Polaczki, I am pleased to know that now is the time of truth.
    But still I felt uneasy about this new truth. Polaczki have now a truly democratic country. Shouldn’t they pay respects to all their past brothers and sisters who spilled blood for Poland? Obviously I am wrong in my thinking here, because the Combatants of Armia Krajowa’s ilk, are in Government today and together with paedophilic priests they are distorting Polish history by placing emphasis on Soviets as aggressors rather than liberators. So, as a consequence, Polish soldiers and patriots who were fighting Hitler on the eastern front are to be ignored.
    Well such is the fate of Polaczki. They are now a homogenous white Catholic race damaged seriously by the loss their Polish Jewish cultural heritage and brilliance, that they failed to appreciate for so many centuries. And now they are failing to appreciate the blood of their own brothers.
    The night before my departure I visited a Jewish restaurant in Kazimierz in Krakow and a Christian Polish waiter was serving a soup with matzo dumplings. He was saying a loud with a little smirk on his face: “Sir, I recommend to you the typical Jewish dumplings” – I nearly puked.
    I left Poland a felt sad. I kept thinking of the “war story” that my father used to tell me; how he entered the suburb of Praga in September 1944. Warsaw was burning on the other side of the river. While the Soviet Army stood idle, thousands of soldiers of his Kosciuszko Army attempted to force the river Wisla, to get to the other side, to help in the Warsaw uprising. He said that the boats were such easy targets for the Messerschmits; the river was full of blood and dead bodies. When my father got to the Srodmiescie bank, as he stepped out of the boat, he was sprayed with a series of bullets that ripped his abdomen apart.
    And so this is Polish Christian Justice. People like my father do not count at all in the Polish history. I guess Soviets stood idle and that was not right. But then what about the members of the Polish Government who sat behind their English desks, far away from war torn Poland, and gave their idiotic orders for they countrymen to begin a suicide fight. 200 000 dead and the city razed to the ground.
    Well I left the land of Polaczkis, and I do not think I will be asking for my citizenship to be returned.
    Yehuda Ben Hur

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