12 04 2010


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70 Years After Katyn Mass Murder

Poland Decapitated Again

 By David M. Dastych  Sunday, April 11, 2010


Warsaw, Poland on Sunday, April 11, 2010: Today, at 12:00 p.m. local time the whole country was in standstill for two minutes in a national mourning (to last one week), following a tragic presidential plane crash near Smolensk in Russia that had occurred on Saturday morning. The dead body of President of Poland Lech Kaczynski (60), landed in Warsaw this afternoon, after a farewell military ceremony held at Smolensk airfield, with participation of Vladimir Putin and Polish officials. After a due military ceremony, President Kaczynski’s body will be exposed at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, awaiting a burial.

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“Crowds of people gathered in front of the Palace, placing there a veritable sea of candles and flower memorials” (PMN, Chicago) and also photos of the Presidential Couple (Lech and Maria Kaczynski) and of other victims. People stayed there until late at night on Saturday, and returned en masse on early Sunday morning. On Saturday, several requiem ceremonies were held, i.a. at Wawel Castle Cathedral in Cracow and at St.John’s Cathedral in Warsaw, to be continued on Sunday all over Poland.


The whole political life of the country will change, at least for the next 2.5 months, until the hastened presidential election, to be held probably in June 2010. According to the Constitution, until then, the Parliament Speaker, Mr. Bronislaw Komorowski, will be Acting President. His first decision was to declare “a time of national mourning” lasting one week. Similar decisions were taken by the heads of state of Russia (a mourning day, April 12), Lithuania (3 days) and Brazil (3 days of mourning, to honor the country’s large community of Polish origin). Never before such a massive (96 victims) catastrophe of any president’s plane have occurred in the whole world. On their way to commemorate the tragic deaths of over 20 thousand of Polish officers, state officials and intellectuals at Katyn Forest near Smolensk in Russia, committed by Stalin’s order in April 1940, President Lech Kaczynski, members of the official delegation and many invited guests perished in a crash of the presidential TU-154M jet, not far from the Katyn Forest Memorial Cementary. Former President Lech Walesa commented on Saturday: “and now, just as Katyn decapitated Poland’s military elite, the crash has decapitated its contemporary leadership in many fields.”

Katyn, the damned

The haunting memories of the Soviet mass murder of Poles at Katyn and other locations linger on for the last 70 years and heavily influence Poland’s history. As Russian Prime Minister (and former President), Vladimir Putin, remarked during a joint ceremony held at Katyn Memorial Cementary (Polish and Russian) on April 7, 2010: “It is my personal opinion that Stalin felt personally responsible for this tragedy, and carried out the executions (of Poles in 1940) out of a sense of revenge,” referring to the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, who ordered the atrocity as revenge for the death of Red Army soldiers in Polish prisoner of war camps in 1920. Putin said 32,000 troops under Stalin’s command had died of hunger and disease in the Polish camps.


The Battle of Warsaw in August 1920, one of the 17 most important world’s battles, was won by the Polish Army led by the Poland’s leader Jozef Pilsudski largely because of Stalin’s order to divert Red Army’s reserve troops to the South, in an attempt to cause “people’s revolutions” in Western Europe. Stalin believed Russia had enough troops to crush Poland and to march through our country to conquer Germany and other European states. He was deeply disappointed when the Army of just revived free Poland stopped the Red Army’s invasion of Europe and totally defeated the communists.

After 3 April 1940, at least 22,436 Polish POWs and prisoners were executed: 15,131 POWs (most or all of them from three camps) and at least 7,305 prisoners in western parts of Belarus and Ukraine. Those who died at Katyn included an admiral, two generals, 24 colonels, 79 lieutenant colonels, 258 majors, 654 captains, 17 naval captains, 3,420 NCOs, seven chaplains, three landowners, a prince, 43 officials, 85 privates, and 131 refugees. Also among the dead were 20 university professors; 300 physicians; several hundred lawyers, engineers, and teachers; and more than 100 writers and journalists as well as about 200 pilots. In all, the NKVD executed almost half the Polish officer corps. Altogether, during the massacre the NKVD murdered 14 Polish generals (Wikipedia).

In 1942, Polish railroad workers found a mass grave at Katyn, and reported it to the Polish Secret State; the news was ignored, as people refused to believe the mass graves contained so many dead. The fate of the missing prisoners remained unknown until April 1943 when the German Wehrmacht soldiers under Rudolf Christoph Freiherr von Gersdorff discovered the mass grave of 4,243 Polish military reserve officers in the forest on Goat Hill near Katyn. Joseph Goebbels saw this discovery as an excellent tool to drive a wedge between Poland, Western Allies, and the Soviet Union (Wikipedia).


Germans also used other channels to spread the news about Katyn mass murder to the Western Allies. A friend of mine, Dr. Gary K. Busch, an American scholar and businessman residing in London, e-mailed to me this information on April 8, 2010:

“In early 1944 my friend and mentor, Guy Nunn, was stuck in the German prisoner-of-war camp at Coldlitz. This was his third prisoner-of war camp, having escaped two earlier camps.He was the ranking OSS officer in the camp, having been recently captured in Hungary trying to subvert Admiral Horthy on behalf of Alan Dulles.

He was surprised to be summoned to the camp commandant’s office where he found himself talking to two high-ranking SS officers. They offered him a deal. If he would go with them from Coldlitz to a place in Poland and report on exactly what he saw there they would repatriate him immediately to the US. They wanted him to be a neutral observer and to report accurately, without any constraints, of what he witnessed. Guy was very wary of this proposal but agreed to send Arthur C., Guy’s OSS number two who was arrested with him. That being agreed, the Germans took him and fifteen other professional intelligence officers currently in their custody in various prisoner-of war camps, to the Katyn Forest where they witnessed the exhumation of the Polish officers’ mass burial. They were given free run of the exhumation and the evidence found which clearly showed that the killings had been done by the Russians. Having witnessed this the prisoners were set free and repatriated to their home countries where they reported exactly what they had witnessed at Katyn.

The Allies were fully aware that the Russians had committed the massacre of the Poles.

The most tragic result of the Smolensk crash is the death of 96 persons aboard, including two Presidents of Poland (Kaczynski (60) and Kaczorowski (91), the later being an Ex-President in Exile), 10 top Polish generals, including the chief of the Army General Staff and the commanders of the Land, Navy, Air Force and Special Forces, deputy Speakers of the Parliament, the President of the National Bank of Poland, many MPs, lawmakers,  high officials of the Presidential Office, a Deputy Foreign Minister and also bishops and priests, social leaders, government ministers and guests, including the famous heroine of Solidarity, Mrs. Anna Walentynowicz.

Guy stayed on in Coldlitz until its liberation. In fact he took the flag of surrender down the hill to meet the on-coming US liberators of the camp. It was felt that this would be safer to send an American down to greet them, despite the overwhelming numbers of British at Coldlitz. Guy said he wished he had gone to Katyn but he thought it might be a trick.”


The banned truth

The news of Katyn and other mass murders of Poles on Soviet-occupied territory of pre-war Poland reached the then Polish Government-in-Exile in London through many channels. The secret truth of Katyn prompted the Soviets to break the diplomatic relations with the legal Polish government in London and to prepare their own communist-controlled political solution for Poland, still during the war. When the then Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Army in the West, and Prime Minister of the Government-in-Exile, General Wladyslaw Sikorski attempted to obtain proof of the Soviet mass murders and wanted to officially inform the governments of Great Britain and the United States about these atrocities, his plane was crashed in Gibraltar on July 4, 1943 and he was proclaimed to have died in the accident. Some Polish and foreign historians question the “Gibraltar Catastrophe” and prove that it was a cold-blood murder of the Polish Prime-Minister, performed by his Polish political enemies under the guidance of the British Secret Service. One of these historians and film documentary authors, Dr. Dariusz Baliszewski, devoted the last 15 years to prove this theory. The remains of General W. Sikorski were returned to Poland and were exhumated again in 2009, to confirm his identity. But his death still remains one of the greatest mysteries of Poland’s and the European history. General Sikorski’s elimination ended the hopes for re-establishment of free Poland after 2d World War and was often named “decapitation” of the leadership of our country. But one year later, in August to October 1944, Stalin’s decision not to help the Warsaw Uprising led to the extermination of the best soldiers of the then secret Polish Home Army (AK) and to full destruction of Warsaw by German troops and the death of about 200 thousand of its inhabitants. After Katyn and General Sikorski’s tragic death, this was the last act of “decapitation” of Poland’s political, military and intellectual elites during the war. Then followed the brutal communist repressions after the end of WWII, extended in time until Stalin’s death in 1953.


The truth of Katyn and of other mass murders of Poles by Soviets was banned from the post-war history of Poland for several decades, until the regime change in 1989. Only in 1989 Soviet scholars revealed that Joseph Stalin had indeed ordered the massacre, and in 1990 President Mikhail Gorbachev admitted that the NKVD had executed the Poles and confirmed two other burial sites similar to the site at Katyn: Mednoye and Piatykhatky. On 30 October 1989, Gorbachev allowed a delegation of several hundred Poles, organized by a Polish association named Families of Katyn Victims, to visit the Katyn Memorial. This group included former U.S. national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. After Poles and Americans discovered further evidence in 1991 and 1992, the then Russian President Boris Yeltsin released the top-secret documents from the sealed “Package №1.” and transferred them to the new Polish president Lech Wałęsa.

But not all of the hidden truth was revealed until now. Though former Russian President Boris Yeltsin told Lech Walesa “Pardon us, if you can”, no official apology for the Katyn and other mass murders of Poles by the Soviets was uttered by Russian authorities, including the President and now Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and the actual President – Dmitry Medvedev. The Polish-Russian last joint ceremony at the Katyn Memorial Cementary, to where Vladimir Putin invited his Polish counterpart Donald Tusk, held on April 7, 2010, was a big leap forward to acknowledge the Katyn truth. But no legal action followed so far. The investigation of the mass murders by Soviets by the Polish Institute of National Memory is very difficult and meets many obstacles from the Russian side. In Russia, there are still many influential groups claiming – against all evidence – that the Katyn murders have been committed by Germans.


The intention of the late President Lech Kaczynski, who insisted to visit Katyn Memorial Cementary himself on April 10,2010, was to demand a more clear and univocal apology from the Russian authorities and to prompt the legal procedures. Yet, on that day, President Kaczynski met his own fate, and he and 95 other victims, including many prominent Polish political and military people were killed in an unexpected crash of the presidential plane, a Soviet-built TU-154M, before the airfield of their destination near Smolensk.

As Lech Walesa said, it was – once more – a “decapitation” of Poland, though not intended by the Russians this time.  A former US Ambassador to Poland (1997-2000), now a high-ranking State Department official, Mr. Daniel Fried, exclaimed hearing the tragic news about the crash: “Oh, Katyn again, the damned.”

The investigation

While Poland is mourning her dead leaders, the President in the first place, an investigation has been started to find out the cause(s) of the sudden plane crash, claiming 96 victims. With no intention to blame anybody for the accident, one can say that the Russians, including Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev, were extremely helpful and sympathetic, personally appealing to the Polish people and organizing all sorts of help to the Polish government officials, the military, the prosecutors and the families of the victims. There is no sign of any Russian “conspiracy” or even intention to “decapitate” Poland’s leaders again, in spite of divergent views on history, Katyn and many other controversial issues, past and present.

The late President of Poland, Lech Kaczynski, was often very critical of the present authoritarian Russian regime and personally he had engaged himself in the Russian-Georgian conflict, on the site of Georgia (last Saturday, President Saakashvili proclaimed him “A hero of Georgia”). But that never blocked President Kaczynski’s possibility to visit Russia and to engage in political talks with Russian leaders. President Kaczynski planned his visit to Moscow, on the 65th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany, on May 9, 2010. He also offered a seat in his “Air Force 101” Tu-154M plane to General Wojciech Jaruzelski (86), who had been invited to these celebrations by the Russian top leadership as a former combatant of the 2d World War.

At the first glimpse, not supported by detailed findings of the current Polish-Russian investigation of the April 10 accident, it seems that the Polish delegation flying to Smolensk for Katyn ceremonies, was in a hurry to attend the solemnities and to join over 400 other guests, who went to Katyn by a special train earlier. The technical condition of the presidential plane, 20 years old but overhauled and modernized in December 2009 in Samara aircraft repair plant was very good, and that aircraft was granted an extension of its flying life to more 5 years and 7500 flight hours. It has flown only 138 hours since the last overhaul and flight certificate.

Three possible causes of the crash are being examined now:

(1) bad weather (thick fog) at the Severnyi airfield,
(2) human errors (of Polish pilots and Russian air traffic control on the ground),
(3) technical defect of the plane.


To me, the first two causes seem the most probable. The Polish crew was warned of bad weather conditions in Smolensk still before the plane’s departure from Warsaw (at about 07:30 a.m. local time), then, when the presidential TU-154M flew over Severnyi military-civilian airfield near Smolensk (about 09:00 a.m. Polish time, and before 11:00 a.m. local Russian time), the fog was still dense and the visibility was no more than some 1500 feet. The Russian air traffic control de-turned a Russian transport plane IL.76 to Minsk, just an hour before. The controllers did not advise the Polish crew to attempt landing at bad weather conditions. But the Poles insisted to land and the plane came down too low, cut some tree tops in the forest and crashed against the ground 0.93 mile from the airstrip. The captain of the presidential aircraft, Mr. Arkadiusz Protasiuk, was considered one of the most experienced and stress-resistant pilots of the Special Air Force Regiment serving the Polish President, the Government and the Military. The Severnyi airport is primitive and has no ILS (Instrument Landing System). It has only radio-lanterns for plane guiding. To attempt a landing there in bad weather was a great risk. A mission control operator told Reuters anonymously: “The pilot was advised to fly to Moscow or Minsk because of heavy fog, but he still decided to land. No one should have been landing in that fog.” (Wikipedia)

The Polish pilots died in the accident. Maybe the investigation will discover why they wanted to land, after all.  A similar accident occurred at Mieroslawiec military airfield in Poland on January 23, 2008, where a Polish CASA military plane hit the ground, killing instantly over 20 senior Air Force officers. That airfield had no ILS installed as well.

The death toll

The most tragic result of the Smolensk crash is the death of 96 persons aboard, including two Presidents of Poland (Kaczynski (60) and Kaczorowski (91), the later being an Ex-President in Exile), 10 top Polish generals, including the chief of the Army General Staff and the commanders of the Land, Navy, Air Force and Special Forces, deputy Speakers of the Parliament, the President of the National Bank of Poland, many MPs, lawmakers,  high officials of the Presidential Office, a Deputy Foreign Minister and also bishops and priests, social leaders, government ministers and guests, including the famous heroine of Solidarity, Mrs. Anna Walentynowicz.


Let their souls rest in peace! But the Polish politicians and the government officials should never again allow to fly so many prominent country leaders in one plane, even a presidential one. This is the biggest error ever made by the Polish decision-makers.

Note about the author: David Marius Dastych (68) is a veteran international journalist and a former covert intelligence agent (1973-1987 in the CIA), jailed in communist Poland for his anti-Soviet activity. He is a handicapped person since a mountain accident in France in 1994 but still professionally active, presently the owner and manager of Davids Media Agency in Warsaw. He is a columnist for Canada Free Press.
Sunday, April 11, 2010

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David M. Dastych  Bio David M. Dastych Most recent columnsDavid Dastych is a former Polish intelligence operative, who served in the 1960s-1980s and was a double agent for the CIA from 1973 until his arrest in 1987 by then-communist Poland on charges of espionage. Dastych was released from prison in 1990 after the fall of communism and in the years since has voluntarily helped Western intelligence services with tracking the nuclear proliferation black market in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. After a serious injury in 1994 confined him to a wheelchair, Dastych began a second career as an
investigative journalist covering terrorism, intelligence and organized crime.
David can be reached at: davids@aster.pl
Other articles by David Dastych

Printed from: http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/21866



23 10 2009





PHOTO: General Wojciech Jaruzelski, 86, at his Warsaw Office


Wojciech Jaruzelski: “American missile shield was not to enhance Poland’s security”

 On Tuesday, October 20, 2009, American Vice President Joe Biden came to Warsaw to assure that the United States would embrace Poland by its new system of missile defense (BMD). On the same day, a popular Russian daily Izvestia printed an interview of General Wojciech Jaruzelski. The interview granted to Izvestia’s foreign correspondent Oleg Shevtsov was made in Paris, on September 18, 2009. The title was taken from the response of the General to a final question: “How do you assess the American withdrawal from deployment of a BMD system in Poland?” A coincidence? Rather not. From the very beginning, the Russians strongly opposed a planned building of a U.S. missile receptor base in Poland and of a U.S. forward radar system in the Czech Republic and they ditched it with the help of the Obama Administration. The interview of the last communist leader of Poland presents his biography and his views on Polish–Russian relations. It is very interesting and that’s why I decided to translate it from Russian to English and to publish it. – David Dastych    

Full text of the interview:

  Former President of Poland, Wojciech Jaruzelski, is one of the most controversial figures in the current history of his country. For some people he is almost a criminal, an organizer of a military coup d’etat, a strangler of democracy in full and of the activists of the “Solidarity” trade union in particular. For other, he is a patriot who had saved his country from an armed intervention of the Warsaw Pact, and a man, who helped to dismember the world communist system. And how he, himself, appraises his part in the history? About this and a number of other questions discusses with General Jaruzelski an Izvestia’s correspondent in Paris, Oleg Shevtsov.

”Polish ‘troglodytes’ incited Brezhnev to intervene”

 Question: You have entered history as “the last dictator of Poland”, the one who imposed the martial law on the 13th of December 1981. Now there is going on a criminal trial, where responsibility is put on you for all that has happened in these years. Do you feel culpable?

Photo: Former communist leaders Jaruzelski and Kania at court in Warsaw.

  Photo: Former communist leaders Jaruzelski and Kania at court in Warsaw.

 Answer: I confess for twelve years now. And then, in 1981, I knew: the decision to introduce the martial law will hang on me to the end of my days. I talked about it during the trial. The martial law was a nightmare for me. But at that time, in my opinion, there was no other variant which could be better for Poland. I knew the realities of that epoch. I knew what could menace to us in case we resigned of the introduction of the “law of war” [martial law]. I can remind to you the known words of Brezhnev: “If the Polish communists would submit themselves to counter-revolutionary public feeling, then the fate of Poland, the fate of peace in Europe would be solved by force.” If I, or you, were a Soviet general and could see the developments in Poland, I would have decided to intervene.

 Q: Was there any other decision? What your comrades of the Party leadership suggested to you?

 A: The martial law – it was an evil, but a smaller evil in comparison to that catastrophe we stood at the threshold of. There were particular political reasons for this catastrophe [to happen]. In the Polish Communist Party there were dogmatists – “troglodytes”, as I named them – who did not want any reforms and were ready to get rid of them at any price. They maintained secret contacts with the leaders of the USSR, incited them to military intervention. In the inner circle of Brezhnev there also were old dogmatists – Romanov, Grishin. Well, I should be careful [pointing to] old sclerotics: Brezhnev died at 75, and I am already 86 years old.



 There were also economic reasons. At that time USSR, Czechoslovakia and GDR [East Germany] offered main help to Poland – we needed all: products, energy, raw materials. Beginning from the 1st of January 1982, all supplies of natural gas were to be cut off. Already in December 1981, we suffered big downfall of the supply of energy-portents. And, finally, the third threat – the military one. Being the Commander-in-Chief I knew: Soviet armies were concentrated at our frontiers. I understood too well what that meant.

 I couldn’t forget about still one more factor. Following Yalta, after the year 1945, the [Western] frontier of Poland changed favorably for us. At that time, the only guarantor of our Western frontier territories was Stalin, who pushed frontiers Westward to enlarge the zone of Soviet influence. Western Germany [FRG] opposed this. In 1967, General de Gaulle was the only one among the Western European politicians, who came to Poland from the West, entering ten kilometers deep into former [German] Silesia. By this [move] he confirmed that it was the territory of Poland nowadays. From Moscow we always received reminders about who guaranteed our [Western] frontier. And [Russians] let us think: as long as you remain a socialist state, your [national] territory will not be curbed. And if not, then…

 “Our country was mediaeval– still in 1945”  

 Q: As you are coming from a family of landed gentry, don’t you feel nostalgic about the old, before-the-war Poland?

 A: In fact, I have been born to a Catholic family of small land-owning gentry. I graduated from a private Catholic college. Well, and then followed – Siberia, the war, I was wounded twice at the front, when I fought against Germans. The ancestry of our house dates back to the thirteenth century. Many people in the West don’t realize to what extent our country was mediaeval [backward] – still in 1945. When my father visited the places where our estate was located, [peasants] kissed his hand. Even when I occurred to be there after the war, the villagers addressed me [by a title] of “my lord” and took off their caps. But there is no nostalgia in me about that before-the-war past.

 One may criticize socialism at free will, but no one can deny that: after the war Poland made a great social leap forward. [After WWII

] we inherited a country of 24 million inhabitants –- six million perished during the war. But by 1970 there were counted [in Poland] 38 million people – it was a real demographical dash. As to the reproductiveness, we outdistanced GDR [East Germany], and also Czechoslovakia. But social provisions for such a big population growth began to crumble in the 1970s. As people used to tell then, in [Polish] shops one could find only vinegar. But [sarcastically] that vinegar was a strong aphrodisiac, as it brought about the birth of 14 millions of new Poles.

 Q: Did the introduction of the martial law accelerate the fall of communism, or delay it?

 A: On the one hand, the martial law delayed the fall of the Berlin Wall by eight years. But there’s also an opposite view. The entering of the Warsaw Pact armies to Poland [in the 1980s] certainly could have solidified the position of the partisans of a brutal policy line in the leadership of the USSR. In such case, Gorbachev wouldn’t have assumed power and he couldn’t begin his reforms. I don’t justify that forced decision [of the martial law] but it was the least of all evils. There is no subjunctive mood in history. But we know how ended the coup d’etat of Jozef Pilsudski in 1926, and how ended an unprepared Warsaw Uprising of 1944. 

 Q: Don’t you think of yourself as of a usurper?

 A: No, my decision was truly legitimate. The Polish Parliament (The Sejm) voted for the introduction of the martial law [in 1981]. It was not a coup d’etat at all.

 “I love Russians, Russian nation, Russian culture”

 Q: Are normal relations between Poland and Russia possible, considering our complicated common history?

 A: Let me begin from [the fact] that presently there are many divergences between Poland and Russia – especially on the higher level, in the academic circles and so on. All that makes me bitter. I will never stop repeating: I have high respect for Russia, I love Russians, Russian nation, Russian culture. The Russian nation is close to us, a Slav nation. Russia – it’s a huge, multi-national country, the whole continent.

 In spite of [the fact that] there was a forced exile to Siberia in my life, that there was taiga – where my Father remained for ages, I am very grateful to Vladimir Putin for making possible to me to travel to Altayskiy Kray to pay a visit at the grave of my Father. But regardless of my difficult life history, I still love Russia, and I think that our mutual relations may be and can be good. It’s a pity that it isn’t so now. I don’t want to judge which party is more culpable for that. Now I am far away from politics and I don’t dispose of full information to be able to formulate a judgment. But, to begin with, in my opinion, we have to get rid of emotions, of which, unfortunately, there is a lot in Poland. One can’t build normal relations on emotions. Different countries can’t understand history in the same way. But this should not prevent them from living in harmony, moreover when they are neighbors.



 “Myself – I am a staunch Bonapartist”

 Q: Now, twelve years after the crush of the Berlin Wall, are there still any dividing lines in Europe?

 A: There will be no wall between Russia and the rest of Europe. All [countries] have their own traditions and ways to democracy and all need different timing to walk that long way [to the end]. After the fall of the USSR, there was necessary to bring together [again] what had been dispersed. A time will come, and we will be close [with Russia] again. Gorbachev didn’t want any new barriers to rise in Europe, and he didn’t want to disrupt the Soviet Union either. After all, there are other geopolitical realities – China, the Islamic world. Perhaps in twenty, thirty years to come we will be together again. 

Q: And in 1939, who invaded Poland?

 A: Poland was subjected to aggression from both sides [Germany and the Soviet Union]. And then there was Katyn Massacre, which is very painful for the Polish national identity. Assessments of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact had been made from our and from the Russian side. Putin himself admitted that the agreement with Hitler was immoral.

 But this Pact should be examined in the political context of that epoch. At that time, I was 16 years old and I remember the bitter, unfortunate things that have been committed, also by us. But the history, the wounds inflicted by it are not to be quickly healed.

 Let me give you an example. When I was President [of Poland], I flew for a visit to England. In a castle outside London Margaret Thatcher took me to the attic, where there were stacked on the table old things, some documents. She picked up an old, worn out thin brown leather folder and said: “Do you know who it belonged to?” I didn’t know. “To Napoleon. But I wouldn’t bring a Frenchman to this place!” See: two hundred years have passed, and the British cannot forget. They live with the French in alliance, two world wars fought together. Nevertheless, each country retained its diametrically opposite view of Napoleon, its own version of history. But this should not prevent cooperation. I am, incidentally, a staunch Bonapartist myself.

 “Gorbachev called Poland ‘a laboratory of reforms’”

 Q: Was is possible to act in a different way, not to disrupt to the end – of the Warsaw Pact, the socialist system, the USSR?

A: Truly, all that could be made in a different way, perhaps something could be done differently, but it was impossible to solve that differently then. There are laws of the development of social order, but we stayed behind schedule. To move to a new [higher] level of civilization, we needed a qualitative leap forward. Of course, it had to be controlled not to allow such high social costs, but quite painless it could not have happen. And communism – in its ideal version, which was badly damaged by the historical practice – had to be considered as a social experience.

 The government of Tadeusz Mazowiecki, which acted when I was he head of the state, began deep reforms. And, theoretically, they could have been successful. We took a path of a mixed economy. To introduce the principles of capitalism would end in massive unemployment, which was not to be allowed for. To conserve the [dominant] role of the state would lead to stagnation. So we were searching a third way. We hit upon the possibility of introducing a third economic factor – cooperatives. All documents of that time were not only signed by Mazowiecki, but also by myself. [That’s why] Gorbachev called Poland a “laboratory of reforms.”

 Since that time our country has changed very much. I would be lying if I said: everything that is happening now, I like it. Now no one takes into account the social costs. Therefore many problems have accumulated.

 Q: How do you appraise the refusal of Americans to deploy the Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system in Poland?

 A: As a professional soldier, from the very beginning I doubted about the efficacy of that plan. The most of questions evoked its [alleged] targeting against Iran. Of course, this was [only] a pretext for strengthening the [U.S.] strategic position against Russia, what gave rise to such nervousness in the relations between Moscow and Washington.

An [eventual] deployment of [elements] of the American BMD in Poland by no means would enhance Poland’s security. One way or the other, we are members of NATO. And, according to the agreement, each country – member of the alliance – has the right to collective defense. Therefore a U.S. bilateral agreement with Poland on missile defense – could be an unnecessary duplication of the existing security system. So the [acceptance of the American] missile defense system could be truly a manifestation of [Poland’s] distrust of NATO. And in the conditions of the present [economic] crisis, it became still prohibitively expensive.

 Translated from Russian by David Dastych


The original Russian version: http://www.izvestia.ru/world/article3134426/