By John Eden 22nd August 2012
Today there as been a number of viewers to the site from Poland, I being a Carpenter and Joiner have worked with many Poles over the years, the first ones I encountered, were the generation who had fought in the British Army during the Second World War. My father had fought alongside the Poles at Monte Cassino in Italy, I should say he watched them and the Indian troops take the Fortress, he described the action as a suicide mission, and how the British had tried to raise their flag when it finally fell, something that caused great anger among the Poles and Indian troops who had lost so many men killed and maimed.
I found this piece from Robert Fisk of the “Independent” newspaper today 3rd September, in a report from Syria, in a mixed area of Christians and Moslems but mainly the former, in an area still controlled by the Assad regime.
It tells of the Polish troops my Father saw in Italy and how they got there to fight the Fascists. “Over the Roman temple of Maaloula (Syria my insertion) was built the church, and thence came in 1942
the twice wounded General Wladyslaw Anders, who was shepherding his 75,000
emaciated Polish soldiers from Soviet imprisonment through the Holy Land to join
the Second World War allies and subsequently the battle for Monte Cassino.
Anders gave a beautiful icon of Christ to the church at Maaloula; I found it
inside the front porch, his name written at the base, but no hint of his
mission. His brave II Polish Corps was condemned by Poland’s post-war Communist
government as a legion of defectors.”
The ones I have work with lately are the young generation often with wives back in Poland, travelling back at holiday times.
As a Communist and with the hindsight of history, I have come to the conclusion that one of the major reasons for the failure of Socialism to advance in the 1920s and which still as repercussions today, was the “mistaken” policy of the Bolsheviks to pursue the retreating Polish Army into Poland in 1920, after Poles failed attempt to seize Ukraine. The intension of the Bolsheviks was not the occupation of Poland and the restoration of the Russian Empire, it was to break out of their isolation and spread the Revolution to Germany, or as Lenin later said to “probe the revolution with Bayonets”. The need to spread the revolution was foremost on the minds of all the Bolshevik Leaders, Germany was itself in Revolutionary turmoil, and was also the industrial powerhouse of Europe, Soviet Russia was completely exhausted by the Civil war, which was backed by foreign Armies from 24 Capitalist Nations, This Civil war was essentially over by the end of 1919, the Red Army had been victorious, but all materials and food had been used up to feed this army, there was no materials for the factories, spreading the revolution was essential, the potential counter revolution now came from the Russian Peasantry (although in 1920 this was only implicit not explicit as it became in 1928) not from the defeated Whites and their foreign backers, the peasants were no longer willing to give up their stocks of grain and meat for nothing, their former landlords were defeated and the Red Army itself was overwhelmingly from the peasantry, the alliance between the workers and the peasantry which was so vital to the victory of the revolution and the civil war would be broken if the demands of the peasants and wider society could not be met i.e the necessities of life, but the exhausted Soviet economy had no way of paying the peasants either in money or farm implements, the workers in the factories had no more materials and were returning to the countryside, factories were closing, the transport system had mostly been destroyed,so the urgent need to spread the Revolution.
One thing must be made clear the Polish invasion of Ukraine was not part of the war of intervention against Soviet Russia, it was purely a land grab, the Polish leadership understood completely that to bring down the Workers state, would have meant the return the White Army, the Russian landlords and Capitalists, and they would want Poland again within the Russian Empire, this is why at the height of the civil war 1919 the Poles did not intervene against the Soviet regime, all the wars the Poles fought in this period against their neighbours, and there were many, were to extend their frontiers.
After the Polish Army was forced to retreat from Ukraine, discussions took place in the Soviet leadership and the Red Army whether to pursue the Poles into areas that were ethnically Polish, at this time both Leon Trotsky and Josef Stalin were against this policy, out voted they never the less agreed to carry out the decision to invade Poland. The Soviet Army was defeated at the “Miracle on the Vistula” as the Poles called it. Without going at this time into the reasons for the defeat, I will only say that when Trotsky was asked again to invade Poland some weeks after the defeat he refused, threaten to resign as leader of the Red Army, The Bolshevik leadership backed down, and Trotsky continued as leader.
Photo immediately above, Trotsky with Lenin and Red Army recruits in Petrograd 1921
I will end this blog for today, and try to return to it, with a deeper explanation of the events of 1920.