“Far from being a ‘liberator,’ the Soviet Union was a facilitator of Nazi Germany and a perpetrator of crimes of its own — before and after the liberation of Auschwitz,” Mateusz Morawiecki said in an opinion piece published by the Politico news service.
“Given that the European Union was born from the ashes of World War II, we must guard against false narratives like those being peddled today,” he added.
Morawiecki argued that, while for Western Europe, “this tragic period of European history came to an end in 1945, with the defeat of Germany’s Nazi regime,” for many European nations, “the declaration of peace did not mean the end of the tragedy, only the beginning of a new one.”
He said: “Soviet occupation, which was to last for another 45 years, cost millions of lives and robbed Poland and Central Europe of their independence and chance for normal economic development.”
Morawiecki asserted that, during its occupation, the Soviet regime “peddled a distorted version of history and World War II, which claimed the USSR ‘liberated’ Europe from Nazism and ignored Moscow’s real role in the conflict.”
In reality, despite claims by Russian authorities, the Soviet Union did not “liberate” Warsaw at the time, Morawiecki said.
Morawiecki wrote: “That false narrative is being rehabilitated and instrumentalized again today, as Russia attempts to burden Poland and other European countries with responsibility for cooperation with German dictator Adolf Hitler.”
Russia’s Putin last month suggested that Poland was partly responsible for the outbreak of World War II, and claimed that the Soviet Union helped “save lives” after it invaded Poland in 1939 following the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between the USSR and Nazi Germany.
The comments triggered anger in Warsaw. Morawiecki said at the time that Putin “has lied about Poland on numerous occasions, and he has always done it deliberately.”
Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk last month said Putin was pursuing a "dangerous narrative campaign" against Poland.
Polish President Andrzej Duda has accused Putin of “post-Stalinist revisionism” and of trying to shift the blame for the outbreak of World War II onto Poland.
‘Stalinist version of history’
Morawiecki said in his opinion piece that, in trying to portray the Soviet Union as “the world’s savior from Nazism,” Putin "neglects Moscow’s military aggression" not only against Poland but also against the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in June 1940, and its decision to provoke a "winter war" with Finland from November 1939 to March 1940.
“Not only is this Stalinist version of history factually inaccurate, it insults the memory of millions of victims of Communism,” Morawiecki said.
He added that the alliance between Nazi Germany and the USSR in 1939 paved the way for the start of World War II.
“The Third Reich would not have been able to rebuild German military capability without the Soviet supply of natural resources and military cooperation,” Morawiecki argued.
“It would not have been able to defeat Poland and France so easily, nor would it have had so much freedom in preparing the devastating machinery of the Holocaust.”
‘Renewed attempts to paint Poland as a perpetrator’
Morawiecki also said in his piece that “renewed attempts to paint Poland as a perpetrator, rather than a victim, can’t be tolerated.”
He added that the Polish losses caused by World War II were among the highest in the world: 6 million Poles were killed, including 3 million Polish Jews, and the country was completely ruined.
Morawiecki asserted that "the truth about World War II and the fate of Central and Eastern Europe is an integral part of Europe's tragic heritage."
“That’s why a united Europe must forcefully oppose the falsification of 20th century history,” he said.
According to Morawiecki, “Russian historical propaganda regarding World War II is an unworthy lie and a deceitful attempt to blame others for the Soviet Union’s actions."
He concluded: “The European Union was built to ensure the tragedy that took place in the first half of the 20th century could never happen again. We can’t afford to let others rewrite our shared history.”
Polish officials are prepared to fend off any lies Putin might tell an audience of international figures at this week’s World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem, Polish private radio broadcaster RMF FM reported on Monday.
Meanwhile, representatives from more than 50 countries and international organisations have confirmed they will take part in commemorations of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi German concentration camp of Auschwitz in southern Poland on January 27.