Author Topic: Liberation of Poland: What People without Shame Would Like to Forget  (Read 1913 times)


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 Liberation of Poland: What People without Shame Would Like to Forget
 Nikolai MALISHEVSKI, Strategic Culture 
 | 16.03.2015 | 00:55

 It took place in March 1945 or 70 years ago. The 1st Ukrainian Front launched the Upper Silesian Offensive which actually was the continuation of the Vistula-Oder Operation to liberate the Polish territory west of Vistula.

Poland was liberated by the 1st Belorussian, 2d Belorussian, 1st Ukrainian and 4th Ukrainian fronts of the Red Army. Liberating Europe from Nazism the fronts were carrying out a number of interrelated missions. The Red Army was delivering final blows to the enemy in Poland to push the enemy out of the country and pave the way for the offensive against Berlin. It had to help the allies who were begging for help. They were in trouble as a result of the Ardennes and the Vosges offensive launched by the remaining German SS units and the «incapable» formations transported from the German rear to create a bulge in the Allied front line. Having achieved a success in the west, the Hitler's command set the mission to hold Poland and its capital at any price.

30 most capable divisions, two brigades and the powerful Warsaw garrison (4 infantry battalions) were concentrated near Serock and Jaslo. There were up to fifty separate battalions located elsewhere. 7 fortification areas were erected between the Vistula and the Oder. Germans believed them to be unassailable. The first area near the Vistula was the strongest to be defended by the main forces of Army group «A».

No matter all the efforts to fortify the positions, the forward defensive line was broken by the 1st Belorussian Front at the start of the January offensive. In five days the Soviet forces liberated Warsaw and broke the 500 km long frontline to advance 150 km deep into the enemy's defense lines. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill wrote to Josef Stalin on January 27, 1945, «We are delighted by your glorious victories ... Accept our warmest thanks and congratulations on the historical feats».

The German Army group «A» suffered a major defeat. The 1st Ukrainian Front liberated Krakow, the ancient Polish capital, and entered the German territory. In early February the major offensive of WWII was a complete success.

Residents of Warsaw and Red Army soldiers together

It's a pity that today Poland has forgotten the well-known words of Winston Churchill, who said, «Without the Russian armies Poland would have been destroyed or enslaved, and the Polish nation itself would have been wiped from the face of the earth. But the valiant Russian armies are liberating Poland, and no other forces in the world could have done so».

Today they try to shy away from mentioning the fact that over 600 thousand Soviet soldiers gave their lives for liberation of Poland from Nazis.

The proud Polish nation that they were considered to be «untermensch» – the people of second rate. They were not allowed to use the same transport as Aryans. The representatives of the proud Polish nation have also forgotten the warning signs which the Nazis hung on the doors of the restaurants, cinemas and city parks of occupied Polish cities: «Für Hunde und Polen verboten!» («No dogs or Poles allowed!»)

They have forgotten that during the Nazi occupation Poland lost 21, 4 % of its population. Poland had more death factories on its soil - the most horrible places in human history - Auschwitz, Treblinka and Maidanek concentration and forced-labor camps

They have forgotten that Germans destroyed around 40% of buildings leaving a third of population without shelter and food.

The material assistance the USSR provided for the recovery of postwar Poland has also been forgotten; the Soviet Union renounced all claims to German property in Poland and yielded 15% of reparation payments and 15% of industrial equipment exported from Germany to Warsaw. They have forgotten the fact that when bread was being rationed in the USSR, in January 1945 the Soviet Union started free shipments of 60,000 tons of grain to Poland. It is possible that many Polish Russophobes and their parents owe their lives to this very grain.

They have forgotten that thanks only to the unbending position of the USSR, or of Stalin, to be more exact, the current Polish-German border was drawn through the Oder-Neisse line, which gave Poland access to the Baltic Sea and increased the country's territory by over 100,000 square kilometers.

They have forgotten that in the 1980s, so difficult for Poland, the USSR gave over 7 billion rubles in free assistance, and in the early 1990s Russia essentially forgave Poland's debt of 5.3 billion rubles, at that time not yet devalued, in foreign currency. Today Polish politicians call all this the «Soviet occupation» and permit lowlifes to desecrate the memory and graves of fallen Red Army soldiers. They do not like to recall these and other facts, like the mass deaths of Russian, Ukrainian, Belorussian and German prisoners in Polish concentration camps in modern Poland. But the Poles themselves do not mince matters with regard to their neighbors' historical memory.

Today Ukraine advocates the ideas of Stepan Bandera whose followers slaughtered dozens of thousands people just because they were Poles. The people without shame do not remember their past. They refuse to honor the memory of the Soviet and Polish soldiers who together hoisted the Victory Banner over Warsaw in 1945.



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Liberation of Poland: the Man who Saved Krakow
 Nikolai MALISHEVSKI, Strategic Culture 
 | 18.03.2015 | 10:37

 Krakow, the ancient capital of Poland, has recently celebrated the 70th anniversary of the city's liberation from fascist Germany. The festivities devoted to the date included city excursions and seminars organized by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Experts on local history and museum staff tried to shy away from comments.

Soviet infantry men marching in Krakow on the liberation day, January 1945

The city museum of history adopted a derisive attitude naming an exhibition «Liberation or Subjugation?» The organizers of the exhibition preferred to avoid discussing the losses suffered by the 1st Ukrainian Front and everything related to the fierce fighting that took place to liberate Krakow. Instead they told an invented story that the city, which was made a regional capital by Nazis, did not suffer great damage because it was a military target of little importance.

This is a brazen lie. The ancient Polish city avoided the devastation thanks to two people. Ivan Konev, the Marshal of the Soviet Union, gave an order not to use heavy artillery to avoid damage during the battle to liberate Krakow. The liars resort to a dirty trick rejecting his contribution into saving the city from destruction. The successors of those who survived those days as the city was spared expressed their «gratitude» to him in the most peculiar way. The street named after Konev has been re-named to become the street of Armia Krajowa (the Polish Home Army). His memorial sculpture in Krakow has been dismantled.

Soviet soldiers in liberated Krakow, 1945

There is another person the city owes its very existence to. His name is not mentioned in Krakow at all. He led a group of people who exploded a huge storage of explosives near the Jagiellonian Castle located in Nowy Sacz, a town in the Lesser Poland Voivodship (region) in southern Poland. The operation prevented Germans from destroying Krakow and the bridges across the Dunajec River (used by the Red Army to enter the city) and the Roznów Dam. If not for the men who did it, the city would have been flooded and the rapid advance of Red Army through the broken lines of German defences would have been delayed for uncertain period of time. Germans would have had an opportunity to beef up their defensive positions.

Aleksey Botyan led the group of Red Army soldiers to destroy the storage (killing 400 fascists there). The action prevented the demolition of Krakow. Botyan was born on February 10 (January 28 according to the old calendar), 1917 in the western Belarusian village of Chertovitsi, Oshmyany district 78 km from Minsk. After the Soviet-Polish war the place of his birth happened to be located in the territory of Rzeczpospolita (the Second Polish Republic). As a petty officer of Polish air defense forces he joined the fight against Germans on the very first day of the Second World War. His battery brought down a German Yunkers plane on September 1, 1939. He was taken prisoner by Red Army near Lutsk. Having gone through a thorough check, Botyan graduated from an intelligence school to join a special troops infantry brigade that defended Moscow. He took part in subversive operations in the enemy's rear, including the demolition of German commissariat (a military registration office) in Ovruch, a city in the Zhytomyr Oblast (province) of northern Ukraine. He killed 80 German officers, including experts in anti-guerilla operations and military instructors.

There is an obelisk near the town of Ilza on the way to Krakow with a sign that reads «Night time May 15, 1944 the Armia Ludowa and a commando group codenamed «Alesha» under the command of Lieutenant Alexey Botyan were here to fight fascist occupants».

A year before the end of war the Alesha group was actively involved in subversive operations near the ancient Polish capital. It fought the Hitlerites and the punishers of Ukrainian SS division Galichina. It also had to resist the low acts committed by Armia Krajowa under the command of Polish London-based interim government in exile. Alexey Botyan wrote in his memoirs «Poles were afraid of Soviet soldiers. An Armia Krajowa's officer who went around under the alias Captain Galya (former staff-captain of Russian Tzar's Army Musilovych) warned me that the Army command will suggest that we engage in a joint operation to lead us into an ambush set up by Germans. Thanks to this information we avoided the trap».

Many Polish patriots helped the group. By the end of 1944 Alesha and Polish comrades-in–arms took prisoner Zigmund Ogarek, a German survey-engineer who served in a rear located unit. He had maps of German defence fortifications. The prisoner provided valuable information on the plans to ruin the city as Soviet troops approached. He also informed on the location of the storage with explosives to demolish Krakow, dams and bridges.

On January 10, 1945 the information was confirmed. The Botyan group intercepted a telegram sent by German staff. Ober-Lieutenant Franz Shligel, an officer who was trapped and killed, had a document which provided the information on the plans to mine Krakow memorials and other objectives. It also provided some additional data. According to it, Germans planned to demolish and flood the city to inflict maximum damage on rapidly advancing Soviet forces that happened to be much closer to the city than Germans expected.

The occupants had no time to fulfill the plans. The Alesha group demolished the storage on January 18. On January 19, the forward based units of the 1st Ukrainian Front under the command of Marshall Ivan Konev moved forward without artillery support to enter Krakow having broken German defences in a rapid and unexpected assault.

Red Army soldiers fight Germans at the outskirts of Krakow, January, 1945

This and other operations conducted by Alexey Botyan serve as lessons for special operations training courses. After the war he remained on active service for forty years. He took part in creating Vympel, the legendary special operations force, sharing his vast war experience. He trained the special operations soldiers who took the Amin Palace in Kabul in 1979.

He was nominated twice for the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. The both times he was decorated with Order of the Red Banner. His service as a petty officer within the ranks of the Army created by Pilsudsky regime did him more harm than good but his friends and comrades-in-arms continued to cherish the dream of achieving justice. With every passing year more people put their signatures on the petition. The number of signatories grew to 450.

The day came. According to the presidential executive order ? 614 on May 10, 2007 the 90-year old Colonel, retired, Alexey Botyan became the Hero of the Soviet Union «for courage and heroism displayed during the operation to liberate the Polish city of Krakow and the prevention of its demolition by German fascists in the period of 1944-1945».

«It's an honour for me to give the Honour of the Hero of Russia to a military intelligence officer. Thanks to his courage, Krakow, one of the most beautiful European cities was saved for Poland and the whole world», said Russia's President Vladimir Putin.

Krakow residents and Soviet soldiers, January, 1945