Tuesday, 31 October 2006

A Question of Honor: the Betrayal of Poland in World War II

I've just finished reading Lynne Olson and Stanley Cloud, A Question of Honor: the Kosciuszko Squadron * Forgotten Heroes of World War II *, (New York: Alfred A Knopf, 2004). The book was recommended by Rick Watkins, an American missionary working among the youth of Poland, in a talk he gave to the Canadian team on Poland and its history while we were serving on our mission to Poland last summer. I was much moved by what he had to say and even more moved by the book.

What a sad, sad tale. FDR spoke of the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour as being a day of infamy. The Japanese attack pales beside the US and British perfidy (a good Churchillian word) in their treatment of their Polish allies during the Second World War.

Poland was
the first country to resist Hitler; the only country to fight the Nazis from the first day of the war to the last; the one country defeated by Germany that neither surrendered nor collaborated. (p390)
Polish men and women fought in the air (such as the Koscuiszko Squadron of the book), on the ground (even under the ground in the sewers of Warsaw during the uprising...the Polish underground was the best organized and the most effective in Europe) and at sea with great passion and courage to help the allies defeat Nazi Germany. In return, Poland was repeatedly betrayed by Rooselvelt and Churchill as they tried to placate Stalin. As the war moved to its close, they virtually handed Poland to him on a platter. What made their betrayal so awful was that they were, all the while, assuring the Polish people of their unstinting loyalty and support.

The results for Poland?
More than 6 million Poles, about equally divided between Jews and non-Jews, died in the war. No other country in Europe suffered, proportionately, more damage and casualties. Poland lost about 20 percent of its population, compared to 11 percent for the Soviet Union, 7 percent for Germany, and less than 1 percent for both the United States and Britain. More people died in Warsaw alone during the war than did Americans in both European and Pacific combat theatres. (p408)
...followed by 43 years of Communist rule.

May God bless Poland and may He restore what the locusts have consumed.