Poland Demands Putin Apology for Russia's 1939 'Stab in Back'

Article excerpt

Byline: Kiran Randhawa

A ROW between Poland and Russia today has overshadowed a day of commemorations to mark the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War.

Poland's president Lech Kaczynski said the country had received a "stab in the back" from Russia but Moscow had refused to apologise for its part in the conflict.

As world leaders, including Foreign Secretary David Miliband, gathered in Gdansk for the remembrance ceremony, the focus fell on Vladimir Putin to say sorry for Russia, which signed a non-aggression pact with Hitler's Germany and then invaded Poland on 17 September 1939.

Mr Kaczynski, who led the ceremonies starting at dawn, with Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk, said: "On 17 September... Poland received a stab in the back... This blow came from Bolshevik Russia."

Mr Tusk said it was important to remember "who had been the executioner and who had been the victim" during the war, adding: "We remember because he who forgets, or he who falsifies history, and has power will bring unhappiness again like 70 years ago."

On 1 September 1939, the war began with the Germans' early morning bombardment of the Polish Westerplatte fortress, close to Gdansk and the Luftwaffe attack on Wielun, in which more than 1,000 civilians were killed.

Poland waited for Britain and France to come to its aid as the Red Army attacked from the east, grabbing land and partitioning Poland. …