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I can name deceased history teachers who’d confirm my lack of connection with the Civil and First World War. Whatever the reasons, I did not relate to those time periods. For me Second Bull Run or the Marne held nowhere near the fascination I felt for the Graf Spee or Tirpitz. The importance for me, therefore, of the Armistice of 1918 was late in arriving. It wasn’t until a year ago that I saw I was far from alone in not grasping some of the basic factors that arose from the end of WW I.
It was a year ago that voices within the EU, others in the media, and finally someone needing me at a social gathering got me going “HMMM.” The specific thing bothering the EU, media, and an outside observer was the report of an immense (tens of thousands participating) supposedly Nazi rally in Poland on November 11. The eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month is Armistice Day but is also known in Poland as the day that nation began its impendence after a long period being swallowed by Russia, Prussia, and Austria. Somehow (see if you can figure it out) outside observers saw last year’s celebration of Polish independence as a clear sign of rampant Nazism. If you didn’t know history and ignored the evidence you too might agree.
A few years after an independent and democratic Poland was back on the map guess what. The Soviet form of Marxist Socialism found that unacceptable and sent an army under Tukachevsky to use Poland as step one to bring Soviet Socialism to Europe. Outnumbered and outmatched, Poles resisted with a citizen army. Students from schools and universities went to the front. These young people did not want to die. More importantly they wanted their nation to live. The impossible (like the Miracle on Ice) happened and tiny Poland stopped the Red Army. Hardly a decade later Poles had cause to be thankful as millions in the Ukraine (Holodomor Genocide) were starved to death in punishment for not sufficiently embracing the worker’s paradise of the collective.
Barely a generation later Poland was attacked again. That as you know, by the Nazis, another form of Marxism called National Socialism aka Nazism, an offshoot of Fascism which also derives from Marxist Socialism. Let’s skip over the tricky bits of Soviet socialism and German socialism agreeing to divide Poland between them to begin the European phase of WW II. And let us also step around the aftermath of WW II where the Soviet state directed the fate of nations it declared as its satellites. Look at the basic track record. Shortly after its independence Poland was attacked by one socialist state, then divided between two such, only to be finally dominated by another socialist system with a well recorded hunger for five year plans and central control that National Socialism (Nazism) couldn’t match.
If you look at the numbers the National Socialist Nazis weren’t really up to the game with a mere eight to ten million murders. Soviet Socialism racked up respectable numbers before the war by educating Ukrainians through starvation and after the war continuing the educational process in gulags and other forms of progressive reforms that ate up an estimated 80 million more human lives systematically bled dry. Think a moment. If a socialist state attacked your new nation and another socialist state joined it for a second go two decades later would you be a likely pro-Nazi voice? Or would you have ample cause to value your independence as by far better than bowing to “superior” forces? Pride in and defense of your nation does not make a person or a state a force for totalitarianism and more than defending your own integrity would make you a Nazi or Fascist. It doesn’t work that way.
Now if your view is EU then nations like Hungary and Poland are contrarian. Ask the Soviets about the Hungarian Revolution of the 50’s and then about the Polish Velvet Revolution that eventually broke the bonds of the Iron Curtain. The Hungarians and Poles were a thorn in the side of the Soviet system as they are today toward the EU when it issues edicts from central authority. The Soviet state sang endless praises in mass choruses glorifying the beauty of the worker’s state. If you heard that for decades while seeing firsthand the actual result you too might not be as convinced when the EU uses the beautiful Ode to Joy as its theme.
Perhaps the most ironic thing about the Nazi accusations leveled against some European nations is the issue of walls and borders. As the Nazi accusation argument has it establishing your border and controlling it makes you a Nazi and your nation into a Nazi fenced-in concentration camp. This misses the point. The Nazis and Soviets used fences to keep people in and not let them escape. This is not the same as border controls to manage entry. National Socialism and Soviet Communism kept its population behind wraps. This meant those with questionable histories were more easily dealt with; their wealth and possessions taken, their property removed, and their worth in labor extracted. The fences of concentration camps and gulags kept people in, not out.