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Political Apologies and Reparations Document List Details

'Putin Found the Right Words in Gdansk'

Author: David Crossland
Source: Siegel Online International (Link)
Date: 02 September 2009
View Related Articles
Document Type: Press
Donor: Vladimir Putin Event Date: ca. 1939-1945
Recipient: Poland Reparation Date: 1 September 2009

On 1st September 1939, Nazi Germany attacked Poland under a secret agreement with the Soviet Union, also known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.  The invasion of Poland marked the beginning of World War II in Europe, with Britain and France declaring war on Germany on 3rd September.  Soviet forces then moved in to annex the eastern part of Poland on 17th September.  Under Soviet occupation, one and a half million Poles were deported to the Soviet Union, only 700,000 of whom survived.  Many Polish officers and soldiers were also taken prisoner and approximately 22,000 of them were executed by Soviet forces in the Katyn Forest, the Starobelsk camp, the Ostashkovo camp, and other prison camps in western Ukraine and western Belarus.  Soviet authorities continued to deny responsibility for decades.  Finally, on April 13, 1990, the Soviet Union officially and publicly accepted responsibility, as they expressed "profound regret over the Katyn tragedy".  However, no official apology has ever been made for Katyn or the Soviet invasion of Poland.


Acknowledgement; regret


Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, attended a ceremony in Gdansk, Poland to mark the 70th anniversary of the start of World War II.  While stopping short of a formal apology for the Soviet Union's attack on Poland or the Katyn massacre, he said that "all the attempts to appease the Nazis undertaken between 1934 and 1939 by striking various agreements and pacts with them are inadmissible from the moral point of view and from the practical, political point of view are senseless, detrimental and dangerous."

He added that "certainly, one must admit these mistakes.  Our country has done it.  We sincerely want Russian-Polish relations to be also cleared of this residue of the past, developing in the spirit of good-neighbourliness and cooperation to be worthy of the two great European nations."

Putin stopped short of issuing a formal apology for the Soviet Union's role in these events.


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