Poland summoned the Russian ambassador in Warsaw to explain President Vladimir Putin’s remarks about the anti-Semitism of the 1930s Polish ambassador to Germany. Moscow is refusing to budge from historical truth.
In a speech on Tuesday, Putin described Jozef Lipski, the Polish ambassador to Berlin (1934-39), as “a bastard and anti-Semitic pig.” He based this on Lipski’s own words from 1938, when the envoy told Hitler the Poles would “erect him a beautiful monument in Warsaw” if he carried out the plan to expel European Jews to Africa.
Warsaw responded on Friday by summoning Russian Ambassador Sergey Andreyev to the Foreign Ministry. After having a “harsh but diplomatic” discussion with the head of the Eastern Department, Andreyev said he stood by the president’s statements as Russia’s official position.
“We will not allow anyone to lecture us.”
“We have something to say ourselves, on the topic of politics of history,” Andreyev told reporters after the meeting.
Putin had brought up Lipski in the context of Poland’s push for WWII revisionism, including the removal of monuments to Soviet soldiers who died in its liberation from Nazi Germany, and a resolution Warsaw pushed in the European Parliament in September, which claimed that the 1939 non-aggression pact between Moscow and Berlin had “paved the way for the outbreak of the Second World War.”
Modern Polish historical narrative argues that the Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement was a conspiracy against Warsaw, and that there is no difference between the Nazi invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939 and the Soviet troops coming in from the east 16 days later.
Russia has rejected this as a falsification of history, often pointing out that neither the government in Warsaw at the time, nor its British and French allies – who had earlier declared war on Germany in support of their security guarantees to Poland – saw fit to declare war on the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union was the last country in Europe to sign a non-aggression pact with Berlin – Lipski had negotiated Poland’s in 1934 – and only after the UK and France had partitioned Czechoslovakia at the 1938 Munich conference to appease Hitler, over Moscow’s objections.
Lipski played a key role in interwar Poland’s pro-German and anti-Soviet foreign policy. After the war, he moved to the US and represented the de-recognized ‘Polish Government in Exile’ until his death in 1958. His anti-Semitic remark quoted by Putin is public knowledge in the West.
Header: Adolf Hitler in conversation with Polish ambassador Jozef Lipski, January 1, 1935 (Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung) © Getty Images/Heinrich Hoffmann