Rewriting history

Following on from Piłsudski, his WWI exploits and his huge erection. For anyone with an interest in the history of the second World War, particularly those who ended up the wrong side of the Iron Curtain, the new series on BBC2 “World War Two: Behind Closed Doors” promises to make statements that have not really been made before. Not in the English speaking media at any rate. Not out loud.

Just looking at one article in the Telegraph, for example, gives one the impression that things long held to be important by Poles (but largely ignored by others) such as Katyn, might actually be given the kind of attention they deserve.

“……for millions of people the war did not really end until the fall of Communism less than 20 years ago; because in the summer of 1945 the people of Poland, of the Baltic States and of a number of other countries in Eastern Europe simply swapped the rule of one tyrant – Adolf Hitler – for another – Joseph Stalin.”

“Only since the collapse of the Soviet empire have we learnt the full truth, for example, about the horrors of Katyn – when Stalin in the spring of 1940 authorised the murder of thousands of members of the Polish elite. Indeed, the crime of Katyn runs like a cancer through this history, as we see how the Western leaders helped suppress the truth about the murders during the war. “We should none of us ever speak a word about it,” wrote Winston Churchill on a memo in 1943, referring to a secret Foreign Office investigation that was to show that the Soviets had most likely committed the crime.”

Another article from The Times includes;

“The book discusses at length Britain’s dealings with Russia over Poland, noting that the government was much less robust than is sometimes thought about Polish territorial integrity. Poland’s borders, shrugged the Foreign Office as early as 1939, were “fluid”. After initial hesitation, both Churchill and Roosevelt became astonishingly willing to redefine them in Russia’s favour, to discourage Stalin from seeking a separate peace with Hitler.”

Sadly, not many of us will be able to watch the programmes as they are broadcast on BBC2 but if you want to pre-order the DVD you can do so online from the BBC Shop for only 20.99 GBP (circa 95 PLN).

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16 thoughts on “Rewriting history

  1. The erection of Pilsudski took place in the middle of the night, so I didn’t get to see it.

    Poland’s borders fluid? Sounds like a pretty accurate description to me.

    I suppose I’ll have to download it. It does annoy me enormously that I can’t watch the BBC iPlayer outside the UK. I realize I’m not paying for a TV license, but surely it’s part of the remit of the BBC to provide the old information, education, and entertainment to UK citizens wherever they are? Can’t I just type my passport number in or something? Don’t talk to me about proxy servers, “poxy” servers more like.

  2. I saw it on BB2 earlier in the week.

    The focus on Poland reflects the need to expose something new in a he documentary, or to highlight something that has been neglected in standard British narriatives of the war. AFter all, if you are not going to say something new, then why bother with yet another WW2 documentary.

    Funny how is was shown during week of hte 90th anniversary of the end of WW1, when the TV schedules were dominated by Western Front themed programmes.

    It took the documentary/drama format, so rather than just talking heads from historians, and archive prictures and newsreels, we had actors playing Stalin, Ribbentrop and all the rest.

    Secondly, the drama was filmed in Poland, using Polsih actors and a large Polsih production team. Any news in the Polish media that it was filmed there?

    Poland offers the advantage of red-brick, green-corridor Tsarist-era prisons and barracks to film in , lots of Polish actors who can speak Russian and German, suitably bleek snow-covered landscapes, and of course, how shall I say, ¨a suite of competitively-priced film production services,¨

  3. Pingback: Weekly review « White and red ghosts

  4. What happened on the Western front grapples the imagination so much that people forget that 80% of all forces fought on the Eastern front. And that despite fighting against Nazis from day one until the capitulation of Germany, Poland after the war lost 52% of its territory to the Soviet Union and was put under the Soviet control for nearly half a century.

    This is not really “rewriting” history – rather expanding the knowledge with facts that for too long were kept hidden from view.

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