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Sulla II mondiale, rassegna

1 settembre 2009. Celebrazioni a Danzica, ma la storia è ancora un campo di battaglia
Di acqua ne è passata sotto i ponti e i grandi nemici di un tempo ora convivono nel parlamento europeo. Eppure, a settant’anni dall’invasione tedesca della Polonia, atto che la maggior parte degli storici indica come l’inizio della seconda guerra mondiale, c’è ancora chi vuole togliersi qualche sassolino dalle scarpe.
Alle celebrazioni di oggi a Danzica sono presenti molti leader europei. Tra loro c’è anche il premier russo Vladimir Putin e proprio da lui ci si aspettano le prime polemiche sul ruolo dell’Unione Sovietica nella guerra.
Quest’estate, ricorda l’Independent, alcuni paesi dell’Europa centrale avevano indicato il patto di non aggressione Moltov-Ribbentrop come il vero precursore della guerra. Mosca aveva risposto con rabbia sottolineando che Stalin non era responsabile dello scoppio delle ostilità. Questa responsabilità, diceva, andrebbe anzi data alla Polonia.
I polacchi, poi, non hanno gradito le notizie diffuse negli ultimi giorni dai mezzi d’informazione russi, secondo cui Varsavia progettava con Hitler l’invasione dell’Unione Sovietica.
Anche il presidente Dimitrij Medvedev ha ribadito domenica scorsa che non ci può essere dibattito su “quale paese ha cominciato la guerra e quale ha salvato milioni di persone e, in ultima analisi, l’Europa”. Un attacco a chi considera il patto Moltov-Ribbentrop una spartizione dell’Europa che di fatto equipara Hitler e Stalin.
Equiparazione che il Jerusalem Post ritiene “pericolosa” per la storiografia sulla Shoah, perché “mette sullo stesso piano i crimini del comunismo a quelli del nazismo”.
Dopo settant’anni, il campo di battaglia è ancora caldo.
70 years after the outbreak of World War II
Eurotopics – European Press Review of 01/09/2009
The German invasion of Poland 70 years ago on September 1, 1939, marked the start of World War II. The repercussions of the war are still felt across Europe today. The European press comments on the event 70 years on.
Eesti Päevaleht – Estonia – The daily Eesti Päevaleht writes that World War II lasted varying lengths of time in different parts of the world, and that its repercussions are still being felt today: “It was only with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the political changes it brought about that the war ceased to have repercussions in Eastern Europe. The Cold War only came to a definitive end in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union, while for Estonia and Latvia World War II dragged on until August 1994, when the last Russian soldiers were withdrawn. … And even today we feel the repercussions. Think of the unrest over the Soviet war memorial in Tallinn. And bombs and mines from the Second World War are still being uncovered. But there are also problems elsewhere. For example Warsaw accuses Moscow of still not having published all of the documents concerning the Katyn Massacre [when Soviet troops murdered thousands of Poles].” (01/09/2009)
Die Presse – Austria – Austrian historians and intellectuals bemoan the silence about the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of war they say reigns in many places. The Austrian daily Die Presse claims there are many reasons for this silence: “In the case of Austria and the Second World War another motive for discreet repression comes into play: we as the first political victim – hardly anyone today believes we were a military victim – have nothing to do with the Second World War. At least that’s the line of argument that has been maintained for years. But that countless Austrians were forced to take part in the war of aggression, some enthusiastically, some involuntarily, has been forgotten. In Germany there are naturally military institutions that bear the names of Hitler’s would-be assassin [Count Claus Schenk] von Stauffenberg and his helpers. However as a result of this non-recognition in Austria there is not a single barracks dedicated to the Austrian heroes [who participated in the plot] of 20 July 1944.” (01/09/2009)
The Times – United Kingdom – On the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II the conservative daily The Times comments on the British-Polish friendship: “Britain … provided a home for a burgeoning exile community of 70,000 Poles who had remained after the Second World War. It gave support too to the emerging Solidarity movement. When Margaret Thatcher visited Warsaw in 1988, she and [Solidarność leader] Lech Walesa were decorously mobbed by the congregation of the Church of St Brygida. In its journey from communism, Poland has taken a circuitous ideological journey, encompassing the right-wing populism of the twins Lech and Jaroslaw Kaczynski. But its status as an integral part of a tolerant, liberal continent is unquestionable. As Tony Blair said on its accession to the EU in 2003, Poland is, for Britain, an old friend in a new Europe.” (01/09/2009) Diário de Notícias – Portugal – The whole world won a victory with the end of the Second World War, writes the daily Diário de Notícias on the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the war: “When it ended in 1945 this war had proven to be the most lethal to date. 70 million dead – 50 million more than in the First World War. And worse still: 60 percent of them were civilians. … That the Second World War was ended with a nuclear bomb, a new weapon which proved so terrible it was never used again, lifts this war to a level of the absurd all of its own. … Today a ceremony will take place in Gdansk at which Polish President Lech Kaczynski, [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel, [Italy’s head of government Silvio] Berlusconi and [Russian Prime Minister Vladimir] Putin will be present. To all appearances they represent the victim, the attacker, the allies and the accomplices, respectively. But in reality they all represent the victors, because considering the way the Second World War ended we all won.” (01/09/2009)
Commemorating World War II
Eurotopics, European Press Review of 02/09/2009
Heads of state and government from all over the world gathered in the Polish city of Gdańsk on Tuesday to commemorate the outbreak of World War II 70 years ago. Among the guests of the Polish government was German Chancellor Angela Merkel as well as Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Despite some steps towards reconciliation, according to Europe’s press many questions still remain open.
Die Welt – Germany – Seventy years after the outbreak of World War II Russia must face up to its past, writes the conservative daily Die Welt: “Throughout the Putin era … Russia has continually put the clamps on historical and political interpretations of the former Soviet republics and satellites in Europe. Anyone who talks in clear terms about how badly these nations suffered under Soviet dominance in the wake of the Hitler-Stalin Pact is accused by the Russian leadership of putting Stalinism ‘on a par’ with Nazism, or even worse, of spreading ‘fascist’ propaganda. Poland is still waiting for a Russian apology for the Soviet annexation of its eastern regions several days after the German invasion of September 1, and for the ensuing atrocities committed against its elites. True, Vladimir Putin has acknowledged that there are ‘good reasons’ for condemning the Hitler-Stalin Pact and the murder of 15,000 Polish officers in Katyn by the Soviets. But Putin’s vaunted ‘new pragmatism’ between Poland and Russia can only truly come about if the Russian leadership stops making it taboo to speak of the extent of the atrocities carried out by the Soviet Union and its temporary complicity with Hitler.” (02/09/2009)
Gazeta Wyborcza – Poland – The daily Gazeta Wyborcza calls the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of World War II a “success for Poland and Europe”: “Europe’s political leaders have not looked elsewhere for someone to blame but have shouldered the responsibility themselves. … German Chancellor [Angela] Merkel affirmed Germany would not avoid taking blame for the outbreak of World War II. … [Russian] Prime Minister Vladimir Putin condemned the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Representatives of the former anti-Hitler coalition criticised the treatment of the Third Reich that led to the disgrace of Munich [with the Munich Agreement]. [Polish Prime Minister Donald] Tusk reminded us that the National Socialists shot not only Polish elites in Piaśnica [in northeast Poland], but also Germans, and that Soviet soldiers who fell in the capture of Gdańsk lie in a graveyard near his parents’ house. They were not able to bring freedom to Poland, he said, because they had none themselves.” (02/09/2009)
Latvijas Avīze – Latvia – The daily Latvijas Avīze stresses how important the commemoration ceremony marking the anniversary of the outbreak of the war is for Poland: “Those who say the Latvians are making too much fuss about their past and the historical revision of the Soviet occupation haven’t seen what’s been going on in Poland these days. Hitler and Stalin, both regarded by the Poles as the initiators of the war, stare out at you from all the newspaper and magazines and it’s impossible to ignore the 70th anniversary of the German attack on Poland. … Surveys show that a clear majority of Poles would have liked to see [Russian Prime Minister Vladimir] Putin apologise for the Red Army’s attack of 17 September 1939 on eastern Poland and also for the Katyń [massacre] at the ceremony in Gdańsk. That would have drawn a line under the past and enabled a new chapter in relations to begin. But for now this remains a dream.” (02/09/2009)
The Irish Times – Ireland – Commenting on the ceremony commemorating the outbreak of World War II held in Gdańsk on Monday the Irish Times praises the Polish and Russian initiative giving historians access to their archives: “Polish representatives are rightly using it to assert their own specific history and identity against the partial accounts of the Germans and Russians who occupied their country (and the Baltic states) under the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. They insist that responsibility for that twin occupation be accepted by those involved, including for the murder of 20,000 Polish officers and intellectuals by Soviet troops in 1940. … Progress was made yesterday when Mr Putin and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk agreed historians must have greater access to the relevant archives. … Such an approach will not erase the differences between history and public memory, or eliminate political disagreements, but it can help to civilise international relations.” (02/09/2009)
Moscow’s selective memory
Postimees – Estonia | Tuesday, August 25, 2009
“It’s only natural that we in Estonia should above all consider the Hitler-Stalin Pact and its secret additional protocol as the tool that stripped us of our freedom. For us the anniversary is not only cause to remember; most Estonians alive today experienced the consequences of it first-hand,” writes the daily Postimees in a commentary criticising Russia for not facing up to its past: “Unfortunately Moscow’s selective memory still influences foreign policy today. And even if in the political arena of the 21st century democratic states no longer sign such ‘master race’ treaties without considering the consequences they will have for others, one cannot say with certainty that this sort of policy has been relegated to the past. The decision-making process for the construction of the Nord Stream pipeline and the war between Russia and Georgia in August last year have once more put Europe to the test.”
Criticism of Russia’s attitude to Katyń
Gazeta Wyborcza – Poland | Tuesday, April 14, 2009
On the national holiday commemorating the victims of the Katyń Massacre in which several thousand Polish officers and civilians were shot, the liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza criticises Russia’s attitude to the massacre, which continues to be a bone of contention between the two countries: “The Russians say the Poles have a ‘Katyń problem’, but they’re wrong because they’re the ones with a problem. We believe people should express sympathy for the victims of this crime, and rehabilitate them, while the executioners must be condemned. But with its schizophrenic resistance Russia condemns the victims and defends the executioners. And this is about more than Katyń, it concerns the Stalinist crimes in general. The Russians never stop looking for one justification or another. By now we’re used to seeing how the official [Russian] propaganda and judiciary approach the subject of the crimes of the Soviet NKWD [People´s commissariat for internal affairs] in 1940. The courts conceal evidence of Katyń, and refuse to rehabilitate the murdered … Poles.”

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