Share this story
Close X
Switch to Desktop Site


Military parades and memorials mark today's 50th anniversary of World War II. But few Poles seem to care. They don't have much emotion about this anniversary, admits Stefan Bratkowski, a leading Solidarity journalist. ``We have so many more important things'' to do - including forming a noncommunist government.

Another problem is deciding what to commemorate. Of the 6 million Poles killed during the war, 3 million were Jews. Earlier this week Roman Catholic Primate Josef Glemp inflamed a dispute over a convent within the Auschwitz death camp, saying as long as Jews showed ``anti-Polishness,'' there would be anti-Semitism.

About these ads

``Glemp unfortunately was expressing what most Poles feel,'' says Konsantine Gebert a Polish Jewish leader. ``Poles suffered so much themselves that it remains difficult for them to understand other people's sufferings. They remain ignorant about the holocaust.''

Another Polish problem concerns identifying the enemy. Ofiicial relations with West Germany remain tense, because Warsaw wants more financial aid than Bonn is willing to provide. West German President Richard von Weizs"acker was refused an invitation to attend today's ceremonies in Gdansk.

Unofficial relations are much better. Young Poles admire West Germany for its prosperity. More than 1 million of them will visit this year, many earning more in a month of illegal work than they could earn legally in Poland during several years.

For many Poles, the real enemy is the Soviet Union. Under terms of an agreement with Hitler, Stalin invaded Poland on Sept. 17, 1939, and occupied the eastern half of the country. Until this year, the Sept. 17 anniversary was not officially mentioned. Now Solidarity senators have passed a resolution condemning Stalin.

``For us, Sept. 17, not Sept 1, is the most important anniversary,'' says Maciej Kozslowski of the newspaper Tygordnik Powszechny. ``We're still suffering from that invasion.''

Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.