Disinfo: Warsaw rewriting WWII history for propaganda purposes

Summary

Polish officials are minimising the Soviet Union’s role in liberating Poland from the Nazis, in an attempt to rewrite the history of the Second World War for propaganda purposes.

In an op-ed, Polish PM Morawiecki dubbed the Soviet Union a “facilitator” of the Nazi regime, glossing over the tens of millions of Soviet lives sacrificed in a war to topple fascism. Morawiecki also claimed that the Red Army “did not ‘liberate’ Warsaw, as the Russian authorities are now claiming.

600,000 Soviet soldiers died in the liberation of Poland.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative distorting the events of the Second World War.

In his op-ed, Morawiecki rightly notes that "liberation of Warsaw" is an overgenerous term, particularly in the context of Soviet actions before, during, and after the Second World War.

On 17 September 1939, the USSR invaded and occupied the eastern half of Poland, in accordance with the provisions of the Nazi-Soviet Pact concluded the previous August and effective until summer 1941. During that time, Nazi and Soviet officials held regular joint conferences in occupied Poland, exchanging tips on how to deal with potential resistance posed by the Polish intelligentsia and military brass. By June 1941, the Soviet Union had managed to deport over 250,000 Poles to Siberia and Central Asia, murder 22,000 Polish Army officers and imprison half a million citizens.

Long after the German invasion of Soviet territory, Moscow continued to deny support to the anti-Nazi resistance in Poland, most notably during the Warsaw Uprising which claimed 200,000 lives.

After the Nazi defeat, the USSR installed a communist government in Warsaw, effectively delaying Polish independence until 1989.

The claim that 600,000 Soviet troops died during the liberation of Poland is misleading and inconsistent with other Russian claims. A July 2017 statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry reads that this number pertains to Soviet casualties sustained "in battles against the enemy on the territory of this country" between 1944-45. The following month, Russia's ambassador in Poland said that the estimate concerns Red Army losses on present-day Polish territory, one-third of which belonged to the Third Reich before 1945. In 2019, Russia's Defence Ministry said that the number of fallen Soviet troops in the same period was actually 477,000, before bumping up their estimate to 600,000 in 2020, citing a new batch of "archival documents."

That said, the most significant Soviet operation which could be credited with "liberating" Poland from Nazism was the Vistula-Oder offensive, which resulted in the displacement of Nazi troops from Warsaw and other major Polish cities between 12 January and 2 February 1945. According to Soviet data, the operation claimed the lives of 43,251 Red Army troops.  See this debunk for another example of pro-Kremlin outlets manipulating WW2 death statistics.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 181
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 22/01/2020
  • Language/target audience: English
  • Country: USSR, Russia, Germany, Poland
  • Keywords: World War 2, USSR, Propaganda, Red Army, Historical revisionism, WWII, Information war, Nazi/Fascist
  • Outlet: RT (rt.com)
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CIA reveals that the ‘Hero of Ukraine’ Stepan Bandera worked for Hitler

In 2010, Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko granted posthumously to Stepan Bandera the highest distinction of the country, the title of ‘Hero of Ukraine” for “having fought for an independent Ukrainian State”. However, the CIA recently published documents which prove that Bandera was indeed an agent for Hitler. In a report titled Stepan Bandera and the 1941 ‘Ukraine State'”, US intelligence call Bandera “a Ukrainian fascist and Hitler’s professional agent” whose codename was Consul 2.

Disproof

The claim that the CIA revealed that Stepan Bandera was Hitler’s agent is false. The mentioned CIA document is a  translation of an article published in the journal of the Russian Social-Democratic party in exile, the Sotstialistichaskiy Vestnik publication in June-July 1951 and reviewed by the US intelligence’s foreign languages monitoring service. The allegations against Bandera were made by the author of the article, Petro Yarovyy, who was echoing the official accusations of the USSR, and not by the CIA. Besides, the original document includes a standard legend affirming that its content is unevaluated information.

This is a part of a recurrent Russian narrative to deny Ukraine’s identity and Ukrainian nationalism by equating them to Nazism. You can see other examples, such as the allegations that the Ukrainian project is nothing but its Nazi ideology, derived from a Western-sponsored coup carried out by Ukrainian fascists (also known as Neo-Banderas), using Russophobia in Ukraine and other countries to encircle Russia, and that this led to Ukraine’s division in three parts including Banderastan.

Poland, the Baltic States and Ukraine are infected by Russophobia

The solidarity of the Poles and of the Baltic States as well as the position of Ukraine explains their attitude towards history. All of these states are infected by Russophobia.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Russophobia in the Baltic States, Poland and in Ukraine.

“Russophobia” is a manipulative defensive line, often used by Russian propaganda to reduce any criticism of the Russian state to an irrational intolerance towards the Russian people. Outlets such as RTSputnik and Russian national state television use the term to portray almost any foreign criticism of the Kremlin's policies.

The US military intervention in Iraq in 2003 killed millions of Iraqi civilians

The US military intervention in Iraq in 2003 killed millions of Iraqi civilians.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives that exaggerate the number of civilian casualties of US-led or NATO military interventions claiming that such interventions aim to indiscriminately kill civilians.

Although the US-led invasion in 2003 provoked tragic loss of life among Iraqis, the claim that the US and its allied killed millions of Iraqi civilians is clearly exaggerated, and the article provides no evidence to support this claim. One of the best resources for tracking the number of civilians killed in Iraq is the site Iraqi body count. According to this site, the number of documented civilian deaths in Iraq (from the 2003 invasion until the beginning of 2017) caused by violence is 184,775 to 207,645. Further analysis of the WikiLeaks' Iraq War Logs may add 10,000 civilian deaths.