Nine Days That Changed the World is a film produced by Citizens United, Newt Gingrich’s, former Republican Speaker of the House and Catholic convert, group. That Gingrich produced it will probably reduce the number of people who will see the film, due to the fact that Gingrich is subject to legitimate criticism for his past infidelities to his first two wives, and because he is a devil figure for the Left. That is a shame because this film is a thoughtful look at one of the pivotal events in the last century: the unraveling of the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, which began in Poland and was directly sparked by the visit of John Paul II in 1979 who inspired Lech Walesa and other Poles to found Solidarity and give voice to the Polish cry for freedom that ultimately prevailed.
In his address to the civil authorities in Poland on June 2, 1979, the Pope touched upon the never ending desire of the Poles for their independence:
We Poles feel in a particularly deep way the fact that the raison d’être of the State is the sovereignty of society, of the nation, of the motherland. We have learned this during the whole course of our history, and especially through the hard trials of recent centuries. We can never forget that terrible historical lesson—the loss of the independence of Poland from the end of the eighteenth century until the beginning of the twentieth. This painful and essentially negative experience has become as it were a new forge of Polish patriotism. For us, the word “motherland” has a meaning, both for the mind and for the heart, such as the other nations of Europe and the world appear not to know, especially those nations that have not experienced, as ours has, historical wrongs, injustices and menaces. And thus the last World War and the Occupation, which Poland experienced, were still for our generation such a great shock thirty-five years ago when this war finished on all fronts. At this moment there began the new period of the history of our motherland. We cannot however forget everything that influenced the experiences of the war and of the Occupation. We cannot forget the sacrifice of the lives of so many men and women of Poland. Neither can we forget the heroism of the Polish soldier who fought on all fronts of the world “for our freedom and for yours”.
The London Daily Telegraph is reporting that Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife, the Polish army chief, and most of the Polish political elite and their wives perished in a plane crash over Russia.
“It clipped the tops of the trees, crashed down and broke into pieces,” Mr. Sergei Antufiev reported of the Polish plane carrying President Lech Kaczynski how it crashed. “There were no survivors.” Polish state news agency PAP reported the same.
In the case of a president’s death, the speaker of the lower chamber of parliament, Bronislaw Komorowski, takes over as head of state, Mr Komorowski’s assistant Jerzy Smolinski told Reuters.
Poland declared a week of national mourning as shocked citizens flocked to lay flowers and light candles outside the seat of government.
Notable Catholic blogger Damian Thompson, understanding the Polish people’s propensity for conspiracy theories, is speculating that many will begin blaming a cabal of Russian agencies for this tragic accident.
Let us keep those that have died and the grieving Polish people in our prayers.
For more breaking news of the tragic death of Polish President Lech Kaczynski click here.
Today is the 70th anniversary of the beginning of World War II as Germany bombarded Westerplatte with canon fire. Eventually Germany made peace with their neighbors by recognizing the role they played in the devastation of Europe. Since then Europe has experienced only one conflict since the end of World War II.
But Russia remains another matter.
Russia continues to be belligerent in their interpretation of the war. Denying much culpability in their conflict with Poland and even insinuating of Polish-German designs on the Soviet Union.
In the days leading up to anniversary, Russian media has aired a string of accusations against Poland, claiming that Warsaw intended to collaborate with Hitler in an invasion of the Soviet Union, and that Jozef Beck, Poland’s foreign minister in 1939, was a German agent. Moscow broadcasters have also claimed that there was a “German hand” in the 1940 Katyn massacre of thousands of Polish PoWs, an atrocity generally held to have been the exclusive work of Stalin’s secret police.
In fairness, the de facto ruler of Russia, Vladimir Putin, did offer a conciliatory tone relating to Russia’s aggression towards Poland:
“Our duty is to remove the burden of distrust and prejudice left from the past in Polish-Russian relations,” wrote Mr Putin, who went on to describe the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact as “immoral”, and also thanked Poland “from the bottom of my heart” for the 600,000 Poles who fought on the Eastern Front under Red Army command.