Poland shares its WWII experience with world's top newspapers in special pullout supplement
On the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, some of the world’s top newspapers are to run a special pullout supplement containing historical headlines from 1939 and texts by intellectuals, historians and opinion leaders that tell the Polish war story.
Eryk Mistewicz, head of the New Media Institute that is carrying out the information campaign, says: "Headlines from leading newspapers of the time show how they reported on Germany's attack against Poland in September 1939 and the onset of the cruellest of Wars."
"The texts tell of the plight and heroism of Poles and of how Poland's development was severely hampered for several decades as it was caught between Germany and Russia. But they also tell of the passion of Poles, about our love of freedom and solidarity," Mistewicz adds.
Included among the international titles running the supplement are France's Le Figaro and L'Opinion, the US's Washington Post and Chicago Tribune, Germany's Die Welt, Spain's El Mundo, Belgium's Le Soir and Britain's Sunday Express.
The Polish President Andrzej Duda writing about Wieluń, the first Polish town to be bombed in WWII, says that the attack against Wieluń was a war crime and an act of terror, adding that the attack started a global total war in which all moral and legal norms were trampled upon, in which the total destruction of the enemy's resources and mass extermination of civilians were used at an unprecedented scale.
Also included are writings from top British, Italian, French and German historians showing that 80 years ago Poland was betrayed as its allies failed to offer tangible military support for the country that came under Nazi attack, contrary to previous accords.
The Yalta agreement was not a historical necessity but a political decision made by the world's superpowers. Roosevelt yielded to Stalin and consequently Poland paid a terrible price for defending the West in 1939, Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki writes.
"We want to remind people in a way that is direct and tangible for every reader that the most horrible of wars started from an attack against Poland. We want to remind the world of Polish heroism, solidarity, faith and love of freedom," says Marcin Zarzecki, the head of the Polish National Foundation, an institution promoting Poland's image abroad and which was also involved in the project.
The special supplement will present facts on how Poles helped Jews survive the Nazi oppression, depicting such heroes as the Ulma family that was executed for helping Jews and Witold Pilecki, a Polish officer that raised alarm in the West about the Holocaust taking place in Poland. It will also tell the story of the Polish mathematical geniuses that helped to crack the Enigma code and of how Polish diplomats who forged documents for Jews helped the future French prime minister, Pierre Mendes France, to survive the Nazi manhunt.
"When preparing the project with journalists from the world's top newspapers we would often hear the words: 'You Poles have fantastic stories, why haven't we heard them before?'," says the New Media Institute's Michał Kłosowski.
Readers of the international newspapers will also learn about Poland's huge losses in WWII. Six million Polish citizens, or 22 percent of the country's total population, died during the war. This means that 220 people out of every 1,000 died, an astonishingly high number when compared to Western losses, writes Bartosz Marczuk, a Polish journalist and politician. In the case of the US, the figure was 3 people per 1,000, Belgium - 7, Britain - 8, France - 15 and the Soviet Union - 116, Marczuk goes on to observe.
PM Morawiecki says metaphorically that the year 1939 only ended 30 years ago, as he refers to the 1989 fall of communism when Poland regained its full freedom and became a true democracy.
All articles are available on the site: 1939.eu