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Mary Bell

“Liberating” Europe’s Masses

By Carving Up Poland Over Heads of People

(December 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 52, 25 December 1944, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Charter’s Still Alive in Poland, Frankie?
“2. They desire to see no territorial changes that do not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the people concerned.”
And How Does This Apply to Greece, Winnie?
“3. ... They respect the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live; and they wish to see sovereign rights and self-government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them.” – From the Atlantic Charter.

Poland is a nation which has been conquered and partitioned many times.

This oft-repeated destruction of the Independence of the Poles has produced in them a strong desire for their freedom from foreign domination. It has repeatedly served to unite all Poles.

The issue over which the Second Imperialist World War broke out in September 1939 was violation of Poland’s territorial integrity, when Hitler and Stalin partitioned the country between them. England and France had treaties with Poland, shrieked to the heavens about “poor Poland,” and declared war over the outrage of Poland.

Flip-Flop of the Allies

It was of no moment to Russia that she had a pact with Poland, guaranteeing its independence. It said in part:

“The two contracting parties ... have renounced war as an instrument of national policy in their mutual relations ... undertake to refrain from any aggressive action against or invading the territory of the other party, separately or together with other powers.”

This treaty between Russia and Poland was signed in 1932, extended in 1934 to 1945, and remained in existence during the invasion of 1939!

And what of the Allies, who made so much of defending Poland’s integrity, who said it was because of their sacred pledge and high honor in relation to Polish guarantees that they must go to war, and who winked at the swallowing up of Austria and Czechoslovakia, but could not go back on their word in the case of Poland?

When Prime Minister Winston Churchill laid before Parliament what he termed the “grim, bare bones of the Polish question,” he was in reality exposing the “grim, ,bare bones” of the imperialist nature of war. This latest sacrifice of the independence of a partially “liberated” country on the part of one of the signers of that dead document, the Atlantic Charter, was due to the recent grab for Greece on the part of England. “You Russians can have Poland,” Churchill said in effect, “only let me have a free hand in Greece.”

Let us reveal the “grim, bare bones” of imperialist treachery to the Polish people.

When the Russians and the Nazis engulfed Poland, the Polish colonels, government leaders and men of wealth and noble position – as has been their custom in every occupied country in the course of this war – fled, leaving the Polish people, the workers, peasants and middle classes to fight their oppression.

Throughout these horrors the Polish people never ceased fighting their oppressors. The political parties, Socialists, Communists, Democrats, Christian Socialists, worked underground. Underground labor organizations sprang up under the Nazi heel. In the meanwhile, Russia changed sides when Hitler attacked her, and all Poland was over-run by the Nazis.

London Poles vs. Lublin Poles

The official claimant to represent the Polish people fighting in the underground was the Polish government with its seat in London. As is the custom of such leaders, it fought in armchairs and in the diplomatic offices of England. Its foremost representative has been M. Mikolaczyk, leader of the reactionary landlords’ Peasant Party.

This is the group that ruled Poland since the dictatorship was established in 1926. It reduced the Polish peasants to extreme poverty. It was slightly less brutal than the Nazis in its treatment of the Jews. It seized Teschen from the Czechs in a deal with Hitler. In truth, the London group is as anti-Russian as it is anti-democratic since it wants a Poland “independent” and intact so that it can resume the lucrative sport of milking the peasants and the working people of Poland.

The other claimant to represent the Polish people is the made-in-Moscow Lublin committee. This committee consists of fourteen members, including the usual puppet members of the Polish Communist Party, some peasant leaders, a Zionist leader and a general. The correct stamp is put on the committee by one of its star members, General Rola Zymierski. This man led the Second Polish Division against the Soviet Union when it was a genuine work-ers’ fatherland, in 1920. He was also a member of the Polish Officer Corps and cooperated with Colonel Beck in supporting Franco in the Spanish Civil War.

The London group and the Lublin group have been seesawing for the control of the underground and, through it, control of Poland, since the Lublin committee was formed in July of this year. This contest led to the tragic massacre of 250,000 Poles in the Warsaw uprising which began so heroically in August. The Polish people fought with bare hands and gasoline-filled bottles against the mechanized might of the Nazi Wehrmacht and were bloodily defeated in October, due to the failure of adequate aid by either side.

In the struggle for domination between the London and the Lublin Poles, the Moscow group is now on top. England, hoping originally for a reconciliation between the contestants, was banking on Milokaczyk, who went to see Stalin and became convinced that Poland should give up to Russia the “marshland” east of the Curzon line. Russia then guaranteed that parts of German territory would be included in Poland at the end of the war, including all of East Prussia, Danzig, Stettin, Upper Silesia.

What Price Liberation?

This territory in Germany, of course, is not Stalin’s to give. It happens to be populated by several million Germans who have been victimized by Hitlerism. This arbitrary disposal of these people must be worth several divisions in morale to Hitler’s legions, as is every Allied reference to parcelling out Germany to the victors and every plan for harsh punishment of the Germans, including those workers who fought Nazism when the Allied leaders applauded Hitler.

This offer of German territory would seem generous on Stalin’s part. But the Poles in London realize that surrendering the Curzon territory only brings Stalin that much closer to the heart of Poland and toward making Poland a vassalof the USSR. Now the London Poles not only demand that Poland be returned intact, but that they head the new Poland, including East Prussia and part of Silesia!

The one thing that these leaders are ignoring is what this war is supposedly being fought for – the liberation of the people. The choice is not London’s or Lublin’s. It is the Polish masses who should decide whom they want for their government. It is the Ukrainians and White Russians in eastern Poland who should decide whether they wish to be incorporated in Poland or Russia, or if they wish to be independent of either.

Churchill is forced to give the go-ahead signal to Stalin because he is impotent to do anything about Russian expansion and because of his own designs for control of the Greek government, carried out to the point of shooting down the Greek anti-fascists, who want their own government.

Roosevelt has spoken through the new Secretary of State, Stettinius. Yes, the division of Poland is okay with us, providing the countries involved agree, he says. He does not mean people, naturally, but the usurping “leaders.” Churchill is right in admonishing the U.S. for its pretense of “hands off” since he let the cat out of the bag in relating that Roosevelt agreed at Teheran and Quebec to this division of the spoils of war. So, while the U.S. nominally maintains “hands off,” she is really party and partner to the whole dirty deal.

Let the people of the conquered countries choose their own governments!

And that means to the empire-grabbers of all countries: HANDS OFF EUROPE!

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