PM writes in Hungarian press world faces "reborn totalitarian empire"

Mateusz Marek/PAP

Poland's prime minister wrote in Friday's edition of Hungary's Magyar Nemzet daily that Russia's invasion of Ukraine shows the 20th century's lessons have not been learnt and that the world is faced with the rebirth of an empire with "totalitarian tendencies."

In his article, Mateusz Morawiecki highlighted some basic facts about the start of the Second World War, since "European societies are ever less aware of the genesis of events which decided the shape of modern Europe."

The prime minister wrote that pre-war Europe fell into the trap of WWII because it had for years failed to understand and correctly assess the threat represented by two totalitarian ideologies.

According to Morawiecki, Hitler had made no secret of his imperial ambitions and systematically set about realising them through annexing Austria into the Third Reich and later occupying Czechoslovakia. "Each of these steps was met with a passive attitude by Europe, which deluded itself that war could be avoided if Germany's appetite was satisfied," Morawiecki wrote.

He continued that Berlin had tried to court Poland's cooperation but that Warsaw had consistently rejected the Reich's advances. As a result, Germany invaded on September 1, 1939, and on the 17 of the same month, the Soviet Union attacked from the east, leaving Poland divided between two totalitarian regimes in line with a secret protocol to the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact between Berlin and Moscow.

"Poland became the first bloody victim of the war and Hitler and Stalin had a sense of a double victory," Morawiecki went on. "Not only had they used an overwhelming military advantage for lightning-fast triumph, but they had also met with no concrete reaction from the West."

He added that Germany's rapid post-war return to the international community without the need for comprehensive settlement had "opened the doorway to the relativisation of evil."

"If we were to rewrite the genesis of World War II into modern conditions, the culminating point would be Russia's invasion of Ukraine," he wrote. "The fact that it happened means that many countries have forgotten the lesson that comes from the 20th century."

The article was published jointly with Polish monthly Wszystko co Najważniejsze (Everything that's Most Important) as part of a historical project of the Institute of National Remembrance and the Polish National Foundation.