German daily describes Poland as "first victim of WWII"
German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Saturday described Russian attacks on Poland as "casting a shadow" over ceremonies marking the 75th liberation anniversary of the Auschwitz Nazi German death camp, and stated that Poland was the war's first victim.
"[Poland] became the first victim of the Second World War and the pact between Hitler and Stalin, concluded in August 1939. Its secret protocol divided Poland, the Baltic states, Finland and Romania into German and Soviet zones of influence. [President Vladimir] Putin is trying to interpret the pact as an act of Moscow's necessary resistance against German War plans," Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) wrote, going on to note that the Russian president had accused Poland of taking the first step towards the Holocaust.
At a December 20 sitting of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), Putin said the immediate cause of World War Two was not the August 1939 Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union but the 1938 Munich Pact, which secured the cession to Germany of Czechoslovakia's Sudeten German territory and which Poland attempted to use to secure its claims to the Zaolzie region, over which it was in dispute with Czechoslovakia.
He also accused Poland's pre-war government of hedging ties to Nazi Germany, by which they "exposed their people, the Polish people, to the German war machine and contributed to the outbreak of World War Two."
FAZ concludes that the 75th anniversary of Auschwitz's liberation is awaited in Poland with tension.
"That is primarily related to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the fact that in Jerusalem, four days before the anniversary, there will be a remembrance ceremony which Polish President Andrzej Duda does not wish to attend," the daily wrote, pointing out that the 5th World Holocaust Forum will be addressed by the leaders of the USA, France, Britain, Russia and Germany.
"In Warsaw the question has been asked whether President Duda should sit silently in the second row while Putin probably repeats his accusations against Poland, the first victim of the war and the main site of the Holocaust," FAZ wrote.