Monthly Archives: October 2010

Mainstream Media Adds to Misconceptions About Poland During WWII

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Alex Storozynski penned a passionate piece about why it’s dangerous to play fast and loose when identifying who exactly was responsible for what during World War II. He is responding to several recent incidents in which mainstream media outlets (including NY Times, WSJ, LA Times) referred to Nazi concentration camps as “Polish”:

“The Nazi concentration camps were built by Germans, run by Germans, and guarded by Germans. The victims of those camps were Polish. Newspaper editors justify use of the term “Polish concentration camp” as geographical shorthand for “a German concentration camp in occupied Poland.” But this shorthand is Orwellian doublespeak that turns victim into perpetrator and distorts history. It perpetuates ignorance about the Holocaust and gives impressionable readers the idea that Poles built the camps. The Auschwitz killing factory was a product of German engineering, and both Polish Jews and Catholics were murdered there.
….
While there were Poles who committed atrocities against Jews during and after World War II, the Polish government convicted and executed those who killed Jews. The Polish underground established the Council to Aid Jews, Zegota, which rescued thousands of Jews. Irena Sendler saved 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw ghetto. Jan Karski sneaked through enemy lines to beg Churchill & Roosevelt to stop the Holocaust. They did nothing. Polish Army Captain Witold Pilecki volunteered to be arrested by the Germans and sent to Auschwitz to try to organize a prison break. The Germans executed thousands of Poles who tried to save Jews. The phrase “Polish concentration camp” desecrates their memory.”

Read the full story at the Huffington Post.

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Polish Special Forces Fight Taliban Over Major Explosives Cache in Ghazni

The website of the Polish military contingent in Afghanistan reported that last week Polish special forces fought the Taliban at the scene of the largest weapons cache ever found in Ghazni province, and succesfully captured and disposed of over 3,000 lbs of explosives with the help of an American EOD unit.

Their English translation of the news story is here, but for some reason it leaves out the most important part: that the cache, which included 70 barrels of ready-mixed high explosives, was so valuable that the Taliban tried to fend off the Poles with machine guns and hand grenades at the scene.

The materials were intended for the production of roadside bombs, the leading cause of causalities in Afghanistan. Congratulations to the Poles on their most significant counter-IED operation since the start of their involvement in the war in Afghanistan.

Recreating Polish History

At the embassy event earlier this month celebrating the Polish Armed Forces,  a group of volunteers who specialize in recreating historic Polish uniforms was on hand to showcase Poland’s military vintage:

 

You can see all of their pictures from the embassy event here.

Read more about the WWII Polish Living History Group here.

 

What Oman Can Teach Us

A friend of mine who grew up in Oman (he’s American, father was in the oil business), brought this great article to my attention:  What Oman Can Teach Us, from the NY Times:

“Just 40 years ago, Oman was one of the most hidebound societies in the world. There was no television, and radios were banned as the work of the devil.

Oman, a country about the size of Kansas, had just six miles of paved road, and the majority of the population was illiterate and fiercely tribal.

Oman was historically similar to its neighbor, Yemen, which now has become an incubator for Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists. But, in 1970, Oman left that fundamentalist track: the sultan’s son deposed his father and started a stunning modernization built around education for boys and girls alike.

Visit Oman today, and it is a contemporary country with highways, sleek new airports, satellite TV dishes and a range of public and private universities. Children start studying English and computers in the first grade. Boys and girls alike are expected to finish high school at least.

It’s peaceful and pro-Western, without the widespread fundamentalism and terrorism that afflict Yemen.”

Read the rest here.

New Movie about Polish Fighter Pilots in Battle of Britain

A new movie about an aging Polish fighter pilot who defended London in the Battle of Britain is coming out. The trailer looks promising. http://battleforbritain.net

“Mr. Rogulski (Julian Glover) lives in Oxford in a house that time forgot, alone since his beloved wife’s death. One morning, he sets off for a walk to go and feed the pigeons in Oriel Square.   An encounter with the helpful young Steven (Max Fowler) leads to the scooter ride of his life.

The film pays tribute to the extraordinary history of the many Polish pilots that defended the skies of Britain from the Nazis, 70 years ago today.”

And from elsewhere on their site:

“Few of the Polish veterans who remained in Britain after the War ever got the recognition they deserved: Polish soldiers were not even allowed to march alongside their allied troops in the London Victory parade of 1946.

Battle for Britain demonstrates the strong socio-historical link between the UK and Poland.”

Polish General assumes top NATO post

As I mentioned before, I was at the Polish Embassy for the celebration of Polish Armed forces day on September 30. In his speech, Defense Minister Klich noted that the Poles also had cause to celebrate as their own General Mieczysław Bieniek was appointed the day before to the highest NATO post ever held by a Pole.  Bieniek is now second-in-command at NATO headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia, known as Allied Command Transformation (ACT). More about General Bieniek can be found on his official NATO page.

This is the first four-star general position in NATO for Poland, and only five other countries hold posts at this level (America, Britain, France, Germany, Italy). Up until now the Poles have had only two-star positions.

From the signing ceremony September 29, 2010:

From right to left: Polish Army Lieutenant General Mieczyslaw Bieniek, French Air Force General Stephane Abrial, SACT; Italian Admiral Luciano Zappata. Photo by German Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Thorsten Bohlmann

Read the full story at NATO’s ACT website here.

More on what ACT does here.

Recreating Warsaw 1935

This upcoming project looks as though it’s made by the same production company that did the video in my previous post. The images of a reconstructed Warsaw from 1935 look promising, can’t wait to see the final product depicting the “Paris of the East”.