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Poland in WWI

Atch Activity: 8 / 1,202
Joined: 1 Apr 2015 ♀
 
1 Jul 2016  #1

As today is the centenary of the beginning of the Battle of the Somme, I was just reflecting on the above. Poland of course didn't officially exist and Poles were thus fighting in the armies of the occupying powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Russia. There were some Poles fighting on the Allied side in French legions but Poland's attitude to WWI at that time seems to have been very coloured by their desire to broker a deal for themselves regarding regaining some measure of independence. Am I right in this?? I'm not aware of large numbers of Poles leaving Poland to fight in the allied armies. Would anybody know about that?

Secondly, whilst WWI is still very uppermost in the nation's consciousness, one doesn't hear much about WWI and yet it's a very interesting period in Poland's history. Is it because Poles were perforce largely fighting on the side of the Central Powers and not the Allies? Is there some measure of discomfort in Polish society about this, or is it simply a matter of indifference? Does Poland do anything to commemorate the Poles who died fighting on either side during WWI?

jon357 Activity: 53 / 10,844
Joined: 15 Mar 2012 ♂
 
1 Jul 2016  #2

I think it's seen as other people's battles that Poles were dragged into. Certainly it affected Poland hugely, especially in 1915. There are also British Commonwealth War Cemeteries here. Have you read 'The Family Moskat' by Isaac Bashevis Singer?
gumishu Activity: 10 / 4,156
Joined: 6 Apr 2009 ♂
 
1 Jul 2016  #3

Is there some measure of discomfort in Polish society about this, or is it simply a matter of indifference?

the latter
OP Atch Activity: 8 / 1,202
Joined: 1 Apr 2015 ♀
 
1 Jul 2016  #4

Thanks Jon. I'm pretty sure that if Poland had been an independent nation at the time of WWI they would have fought on the allied side as they had no reason to love their neighbours.

I managed to find some figures. Apparently around two million Poles fought with the three central powers and around 450,000 died. But I really am intrigued to know whether Poland honours those war dead. And where did they bury them?

That's very interesting about the Commonwealth war graves in Poland. I took a quick look, very few graves from WWI. Amazing they managed to maintain them during the Communist regime.

I haven't read that book Jon. Thanks for mentioning it. I'll put it on my winter reading list :)

And where did they bury them?

Found something on First World War graves in Poland:

blog.polishorigins.com/2014/07/17/war-cemeteries-in-western-galicia

Great stuff together with photos for anyone who's interested.

There were 400 cemeteries created by the Austrians containing the graves of soldiers of many nationalities who fell. Sadly not all the cemeteries have survived.
Trevek Activity: 28 / 1,708
Joined: 21 May 2008 ♂
 
4 Jul 2016  #5

The first couple of months of the war saw a lot of action around Warmia-Mazury and there are quite a few cemeteries still standing. As well as this there was a number of POW camps. In 2014 the one in Lidzbark Warminski was renovated and rededicated:



Trevek Activity: 28 / 1,708
Joined: 21 May 2008 ♂
 
4 Jul 2016  #6

Reports on the Lidzbark Warminski cemetery:
westernfrontassociation.com/great-war-people/cemeteries/3665-the-heilsberg-39-a-new-british-first-world-war-cemetery-in-poland.html#sthash.SaERrNUC.dpbs

bbc.com/news/uk-england-27323196

Atch, most of the soldiers would have been serving in different armies and were probably just buried accordingly. It is interesting that around Warmia-Mazury there are still some villages with German memorials. Quite often these are ones with a number of Polish names.

This site has a list: denkmalprojekt.org/covers_og/ost_gebiete.htm
TheOther Activity: 5 / 2,937
Joined: 13 Jul 2009 ♂
 
4 Jul 2016  #7

Here's another web site with loads of information about the German WW I casualties (which includes the ethnic Poles drafted into the German army, of course).

wiki-en.genealogy.net/German_WW_I_Casuality_Lists

You can search online:

des.genealogy.net/eingabe-verlustlisten/search?lang=en
OP Atch Activity: 8 / 1,202
Joined: 1 Apr 2015 ♀
 
5 Jul 2016  #8

In 2014 the one in Lidzbark Warminski was renovated and rededicated:

Thanks very much for all the links etc Trevek. I appreciate your going to so much trouble. Very kind of you.

However, what really interests me is that it's only due to the efforts of the British that the above cemetery was renovated. If it wasn't for the Commonwealth Wargraves Commission, would anything have been done to honour the memory of these men?

I have to say I find it mildly shocking, the coldhearted indifference of the Polish authorities and indeed of the Polish nation to the dead of a massive conflict that claimed so many lives. As you rightly point out, many of these men were Polish and indeed many were conscripted by the occupying forces of Austria, Germany and Russia. In any case, regardless of nationality or which side they were fighting for, it was a hundred years ago and surely we're all mature enough to be able to put aside political differences of the those times.

I must make a point of taking note of what's done by the Polish government on 11 November to commemorate the WWI dead. I think it's a very interesting aspect of Polish history and one that somehow sets Poland apart because this is celebrated as Poland's Independence Day whereas in the West, it's a day of solemn reflection and rememberance of the debt we owe to those who gave their lives for us:

'Went the day well?
We died and never knew
But well or ill
Freedom we died for you'

Here's another web site with loads of information

Thanks Othery. Much appreciated.
Trevek Activity: 28 / 1,708
Joined: 21 May 2008 ♂
 
5 Jul 2016  #9

In Lidzbark, the local community had been starting to clean up the cemetery a few years previously. There is a monument built by the Russian prisoners (the camp was international and contained several thousand at its peak) which is still there. The CWGC asked the Belgian govt if they'd like renovation done on Belgian graves but there was a lukewarm response.

On the rededication and in November, a squad of Polish soldiers stood guard and fired a volley. There are 5 CW cemeteries in Poland and the UK/Canadian military representatives tour them through the week.

Like yourself, I was shocked to see so little done in Poland regards WW1, particularly in the Warmia-Mazury area. There was a reenactment of a 1914 battle (where that photo I posted was taken) and a few lectures but amazingly little. In 2018 there will be commemorations for the Centenary of Independence but I imagine a lot of people will think it just appeared out of nowhere.
OP Atch Activity: 8 / 1,202
Joined: 1 Apr 2015 ♀
 
5 Jul 2016  #10

the local community had been starting to clean up the cemetery

This is another very interesting point about Poland which strikes an 'outsider'. The lack of community spirit and volunteering within communities. I think it really is a legacy of communism when people learned to make themselves as inconspicuous as possible and of course you couldn't just do anything off your own bat, everything needed rubber stamps and 'permsission'. There is a lack of civic pride and always a sense that it's someone else's responsiblity, it's up to the government. It's nice to know that people were trying.

I don't mean to sound horrible, really I don't, but it's as if Poland likes to perpetuate and promote the image of Poland as the victim of WWII and tries to diminish its involvement in WWI because it doesn't sit very comfortably with that image. Because of the ambivalence of Poland's role, not officially existing as a nation and fighting to all intents and purposes on the wrong side with the Hun, the First World War is conveniently forgotten and viewed only in terms of its relationship to re-establishing an independent Poland. I think also perhaps the fact that you didn't see Poles leaving Poland in their droves to volunteer with the Allied forces may be a source of discomfort, when compared with the Polish contribution in WWII.

The fact that you had Pole forced to fight his fellow Pole in the engagements between the Russian and German forces on Polish soil, surely deserves some acknowledgement. The tragedy of Poles who were forced to kill each other should certainly be treated with some regret and respect for those dead.
TheMaskedMarvel  
5 Jul 2016  #11

Poland's WWI experience ends with Piłsudski beating the Commies in the 1920-21 Polish-Russian War, and Polish independence. (The original plan at the start of WWI offered by the Germans and Austrians was a new Kingdom of Poland most likely undera Catholic Austrian prince.)

one doesn't hear much about WWI and yet it's a very interesting period in Poland's history.

Once the Russians had been defeated, the Poles refused to go West and fight the French, although some did fight for the French and returned to fight the Commies and other peasants hostile to a reborn Poland in the East. (See Joseph Haller's Blue Army.) The problem at Riga in 1921 was that the French and British were hostile to a reborn Poland with a border on the Dnieper, since it embraced the Central Powers' strategy of weakening Russia. For Poland WWI and Polish independence were the same cause.

Is it because Poles were perforce largely fighting on the side of the Central Powers and not the Allies?

OP Atch Activity: 8 / 1,202
Joined: 1 Apr 2015 ♀
 
5 Jul 2016  #12

Piłsudski beating the Commies in the 1920-21 Polish-Russian War, and Polish independence.

Wasn't Polish independence established at the Treaty of Versaillesin 1918/19?? And thereafter it was a series of boundary wars to establish the new territories?
TheMaskedMarvel  
5 Jul 2016  #13

Only the German borders. The border with Austria was set by the Treaty of St. Germain en Laye in 1919, and the Russian border by the 1921 Treaty of Riga. A separate agreement set the border with Czechoslovakia.
Paulina Activity: 8 / 1,362
Joined: 31 Jan 2008 ♀
 
5 Jul 2016  #14

I have to say I find it mildly shocking, the coldhearted indifference of the Polish authorities and indeed of the Polish nation to the dead of a massive conflict that claimed so many lives.

LOL
Sweet Jesus, have mercy...

OK, first things first...

As you wrote, around 400 000 Poles died fighting each other in different armies. Another 100 000 died defending the borders and independence. 300 000 - 400 000 civilians died due to poor living conditions and diseases.

Now compare it to around 6 million Poles that perished during WW II (Polish Jews included), a leveled capital of the country, death camps, Nazi and Soviet occupation...

The Second World War in Poland was such a hecatomb that it completely overshadowed pretty much everything that happened before that, WWI included, sorry.

Another thing... Atch, this country is full of cemeteries. They are f*cking EVERYWHERE, OK?

Look at the list of the cemeteries from WWI: pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kategoria:Cmentarze_z_I_wojny_%C5%9Bwiatowej_w_Polsce

There are 321 in the Lesser Poland region alone:

pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kategoria:Cmentarze_z_I_wojny_%C5%9Bwiatowej_w_wojew%C3%B3dztwie_ma%C5%82opolskim

Who's going to pay for renovating and keeping all of this?
Poland has problems with paying for hospitals and you think people will be eager to pay for... graves?

You think those are the only neglected cemeteries in Poland? lol I've seen at my city's cemetery graves of Polish victims of the Nazi occupation with a meter long grass growing on them. The cemetery of Soviet soldiers doesn't look stellar either, to put it midly, I even took pictures.

There's also a cemetry at Bukówka in my city with mass graves of Soviet soldiers that were held by the Nazis in a camp and they were dying of starvation and diseases, there are apparently marks clawed by starving men on the walls...

This is the cemetery:

pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cmentarz_je%C5%84c%C3%B3w_radzieckich_w_Kielcach

Oh, yeah, and let us not forget about Jewish cemeteries too, since there are no Jewish families to take care of them either...

And you're complaining about "coldhearted indifference" of Poles towards graves of people that died almost a century ago... Wow... lol
Cry me a river... ffs...

I don't mean to sound horrible, really I don't,

Really? But you kind of do sound... prejudiced.

but it's as if Poland likes to perpetuate and promote the image of Poland as the victim of WWII and tries to diminish its involvement in WWI because it doesn't sit very comfortably with that image.

What involvement? o_O There was no Poland at that time, ffs.

Because of the ambivalence of Poland's role, not officially existing as a nation and fighting to all intents and purposes on the wrong side with the Hun

What on Earth are you talking about?

the First World War is conveniently forgotten and viewed only in terms of its relationship to re-establishing an independent Poland.

It isn't "conveniently" forgotten. WWI is simply something different, means sth different to Poles than to Westerners. To Poles WWI was somebody else's war thanks to which we got our independence back. So, in a way, for the Westerners it was a big tragedy but for Poles it meant the rebirth of Poland.

I think also perhaps the fact that you didn't see Poles leaving Poland in their droves to volunteer with the Allied forces may be a source of discomfort, when compared with the Polish contribution in WWII.

Wow... Damn... :D That's the first thing I hear of this... Discomfort? lol No at all. Why would Poles volunteer to the Allied forces?? Wasn't it enough that Poles were killing each other in three different armies already??

The tragedy of Poles who were forced to kill each other should certainly be treated with some regret and respect for those dead.

Atch, when your nation endures the same amount of tragedy, death, horror and destruction as my nation experienced then... maybe then... I will consider your right to lecture us on how to treat our dead.
nothanks Activity: 1 / 612
Joined: 9 Sep 2015 ♂
 
5 Jul 2016  #15

fighting to all intents and purposes on the wrong side

Unlike WW2, there was no wrong side in 'the Great War'. How was there even a winner announced considering there were 0 foreign troops in Germany?

I think also perhaps the fact that you didn't see Poles leaving Poland in their droves to volunteer with the Allied forces may be a source of discomfort, when compared with the Polish contribution in WWII.

"most" Polish leadership decided when it came to bargaining for Independence: the Russians were less likely to reward us after the War. Why would we side with the Allies? You seem to be judging the situation in hindsight: if Allies Won then Poland should have backed Russia. It is as simple as Germany & Austria-Hungary were more trustworthy and forthright compared to the Russians when it pertained to our Independence. We had already sided with France for many centuries and it led us nowhere.

Lastly, I don't think Polish leadership outright supported one side or another. There was no Polish Government just puppets established by the foreign powers. But most viewed Russians in the most negative light (based on their treatment of us leading up to the War). The goal was to weaken all 3 foreign manipulators, not necessarily ride alongside one side to victory.
Paulina Activity: 8 / 1,362
Joined: 31 Jan 2008 ♀
 
5 Jul 2016  #16

Unlike WW2, there was no wrong side in 'the Great War'.

I was wondering about that too... Atch makes it look like there were "good guys" and "bad guys" in WWI...
As far as I remember, I was taught at school that WWI resulted from the rise of nationalisms across Europe... I don't recall there being any clear cut division into "bad side" and "good side" like there was during WWII. Of course Poles didn't sympathize with the partition powers, obviously, but besides that... *shrugs*
Lyzko Activity: 11 / 2,474
Joined: 12 Jul 2013 ♂
 
5 Jul 2016  #17

Poles officially gained their independence in 1918 through the efforts of Gen. Piłsudski! By that time, the advance of the Germans into what is today Polish territory had forced the entire country to submit to German culture for many decades.

Poland was a strategic area during the Great War. Germany realized that, so did France and of course, Papa Bear Russia:-) It was still one of the economically most depressed parts of Europe, and remained so until almost the end of the 80's.
TheOther Activity: 5 / 2,937
Joined: 13 Jul 2009 ♂
 
5 Jul 2016  #18

the advance of the Germans into what is today Polish territory had forced the entire country to submit to German culture for many decades.

Many decades? Polish-German history dates back to the 12th century... :)
Lyzko Activity: 11 / 2,474
Joined: 12 Jul 2013 ♂
 
5 Jul 2016  #19

In fact, back to the even as early as the Livonian Knights, yes, I'm well aware. I never meant to intimate that Polish-German relations "began" at around the time of WWI, merely that until the Gomułka Era and the advent of Soviet hegemony, the influence of Germany was still keenly felt.

Sorry for any misunderstanding:-)

I believe the Polish Premier at the time (later outstanding pianist!) Ignace Jan Paderewski was one of the single most vociferous proponents of Poland's independence:-)
jon357 Activity: 53 / 10,844
Joined: 15 Mar 2012 ♂
 
6 Jul 2016  #20

As far as I remember, I was taught at school that WWI resulted from the rise of nationalisms across Europe...

Sort of. Historians have been arguing ever since about the causes of WWI and there has never been a consensus.

Germany was certainly arming itself and preparing for war for around a decade. Germany and Austria probably suffered the most afterwards with the loss of both monarchies, Austria losing an Empire and Germany suffering the revolution of 1919 and decades of misery to follow.
Lyzko Activity: 11 / 2,474
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6 Jul 2016  #21

Certainly true, jon! Germany bore the brunt of heavy losses, Poland being on the "Allies' side", during WWII as well:-)
nothanks Activity: 1 / 612
Joined: 9 Sep 2015 ♂
 
6 Jul 2016  #22

As far as I remember, I was taught at school that WWI resulted from the rise of nationalisms across Europe...

Maybe the Germans and Austrians could be labeled somewhat as instigators or more precisely accelerating/increasing the conflict but WW1 did not have the figure head leaders or more importantly the atrocities of WW2, needed to label one side good and/or bad.

IMO the story of WW1 were the European Empires (all would fall with British Empire ending after WW2). These Empires had intertwined treaties (some blood connections) that led to a domino affect once the War got going. One nation protecting it's ally resulted in another nation rushing in to protect an ally on the opposite side. So the blame of who started the War or in this case turned a regional War into a Continental and then Global, was handed off.
OP Atch Activity: 8 / 1,202
Joined: 1 Apr 2015 ♀
 
6 Jul 2016  #23

compare it to around 6 million Poles

I always find it strange when people reduce individual dead human beings to statistics. The number doesn't matter. The people do. Each person who died in WWI was a person with parents, siblings, a wife, children. They mattered.

this country is full of cemeteries

I never said there weren't. I asked a question:

I really am intrigued to know whether Poland honours those war dead. And where did they bury them?

I was seeking information Paulina. If you are a friendly and open minded person who wants to have good relations with foreigners domiciled in your country, then it might be better to show a little patience and courtesy towards them. In Britain evidence of commemoration of war dead is very public and obvious, here not so much for WWI. Obviously there is a huge public profile for WWII. However, I find it odd that there are Red Army monuments etc all over the place still, after all these years since the end of communism, yet very little to draw public attention to the victims of WWI.

graves of people that died almost a century ago... Wow... lol

Lol??? Really? You find the war dead a source of amusement do you? My grandfather lost his twin brother in the Battle of the Somme and his older brother at Ypres. Oddly enough when he died at the age of 86, 60 years later, he was still rather upset about his brothers. And still had shrapnel lodged in his own head from his war wounds.

when your nation endures the same amount of tragedy, death, horror and destruction

I'm Irish. A thousand years of war and bloodshed. Let's take just two examples The Nine Years War fought by the Gaelic chieftains against the British between 1594 and 1603. Around 100,000 Irish died in that.Bear in mind that the Nine Years War was the culmination of sixty years of continuous war which completed the Tudor Conquest of Ireland. Cromwell's campaign in 1649-1653 - around a quarter of a million Irish dead and 50,000 deported to the West Indies as indentured labour. And let's not forget the famines of 1845-1852, around a million dead. So for a small country like Ireland, that's a lot of war, suffering and death. And that's just a sample of it. Not the whole by any means.

how to treat our dead

Interestingly, Ireland was unable to bring itself until very recently to honour the war dead of those two conflicts because they served in the British army. Now thank God Ireland is mature enough to acknowledge and honour the sacrifice of those men.

Here's a link to an interesting article that addresses the questions I originally asked about the lack of public awareness and official acknowledgement of the dead of WWI. It's from the blog of Professor of history, Rodney Earl Walton.

roadstothegreatwar-ww1.blogspot.com/2013/08/polands-absent-world-war-i-memorials.html

Here's the full essay:

Collective Memory in Contemporary Poland and Pre-Independence (1918) Warfare: An Early 21 st Century Foreign Traveler's Observations concerning Polish Battlefield Memorials

ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/res/article/view/26480/16195

It's very well worth reading and I think it's of interest to Polish people.
TheMaskedMarvel  
6 Jul 2016  #24

Well the author is right that the official commie history was to stress that the "recovered territories" had been originally Slavic, and to de-emphasize the long period of German control of what is now Western Poland. What he fails to state, is that, conversely, those policies covered up the loss of 700 years of Polish history in the Western cities of the modern states of Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania. That opens up a can of worms. Communist party historians and historiography remained the "official" history after the fall of communism, and only now can that begin to be deconstructed by a new generation of Polish historians.

The non-historian author was quite wrong on one point. The capital of Galicia, (Austrian Poland) was not Krakow, but the very Polish city of Lwów. Lwów had been occupied by the Russians during WWI, as he notes was Przemyśl. Again, the author either didn't understand, or didn't want to consider the opposite side of the coin for modern Poland's Soviet imposed borders.

Yes, Poland could benefit from tourists interested in history if it did a better job of listing such historical places. I wouldn't call it intentional. Try finding the site of the Great Escape in Sagan. There is a museum there, but the signs to find it and the camp were poorly done last time I visited a few years back. It is a fair point that there is more work to be done in identifying historic sites, and it benefits tourism to Poland.
Lyzko Activity: 11 / 2,474
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6 Jul 2016  #25

I actually don't think that German-held dominance of originally Slavic territories was being emphasized at all, furthermore, so-called 'commie history" all depends upon whose side of WWI the author is:-)

Official historical fact points to the presence of Germanic peoples throughout the area, roughly between the Oder/Odra on through much of the present-day Baltic states, since at least 1200AD, a fact which the late, great "Soviet" motion picture director Eisenstein went to great lengths to portray in >Alexander Nevsky<! Moreoever, Eisenstein was a propogandist for the Communist causeLOL

His depiction of the Germanic conquerors, incidentally, shows theirs as barbaric cruelty!
OP Atch Activity: 8 / 1,202
Joined: 1 Apr 2015 ♀
 
7 Jul 2016  #26

The non-historian author

If you mean the article I linked to in the Canadian Journal 'Review of European Studies', he's a professor of history but yes that's an error. However as he's an academic he would hopefully welcome having that pointed out to him. His speciality is not Poland, it's military history. I think he brings an interesting dimension to historical subjects because he's not only an historian but a Doctor of Philosophy - and he's a Vietnam vet. Quite a combination! The blog I linked to isn't actually his, but he's a contributor. You should make a comment there.
Paulina Activity: 8 / 1,362
Joined: 31 Jan 2008 ♀
 
7 Jul 2016  #27

Maybe the Germans and Austrians could be labeled somewhat as instigators or more precisely accelerating/increasing the conflict but WW1 did not have the figure head leaders or more importantly the atrocities of WW2, needed to label one side good and/or bad.

Indeed.

Each person who died in WWI was a person with parents, siblings, a wife, children. They mattered.

Jesus... Now you're being a nasty demagogue. Of course everyone matters, but any sane person understands that losses of such magnitude as Polish losses during World War II are likely to eclipse everything that came before it in the society's consciousness.

I was seeking information Paulina.

No, you weren't. That's the problem and hence my reaction. You figured it all out for yourself even before making this thread as evidenced by your later comments following your "questions".

And, as often it is in your case, the answer that was born in your chauvinist, prejudiced head was: Poles are bad, baaad, horrible people and that's it folks :)))

Now maybe you will tell me again: noooo, I was just asking a question because I was "curious" and stuff and I wanted to know, to "learn"...

And I will say: "Really?"
Then why when jon357 explained it to you, you just went on with your prejudiced rant?
Examples:

"the coldhearted indifference of the Polish authorities and indeed of the Polish nation to the dead of a massive conflict that claimed so many lives"

"I don't mean to sound horrible *(but you knew that you were and you just kept going :))*, really I don't, but it's as if Poland likes to perpetuate and promote the image of Poland as the victim of WWII and tries to diminish its involvement in WWI because it doesn't sit very comfortably with that image. "

"fighting to all intents and purposes on the wrong side with the Hun, the First World War is conveniently forgotten"

"The tragedy of Poles who were forced to kill each other should certainly be treated with some regret and respect for those dead." *(Like we have no regret and respect for them?)*

So, the only explanation for you is that Poles must be coldhearted, indifferent, it's because we like to perpetuate and promote the image of Poland as the victim of WWII and we diminish "involvement" in WWI because it doesn't sit very comfortably with that image.

Well, Atch, your theory and attitude shows how prejudiced, ignorant, arrogant and Western-centered you are.

If you are a friendly and open minded person who wants to have good relations with foreigners domiciled in your country,

I am a friendly and open minded person as I've proven many times on this forum (you yourself called me "a lovely girl"), but I don't see a reason to be friendly with prejudiced, two-faced people.

then it might be better to show a little patience and courtesy towards them.

One of the reasons why I write such long posts on this forum (I don't write comments that are THAT long in other places on the internet) is to explain things to you people about Poland and Poles. But sometimes even my patience is all but spent. And believe me, considereing your prejudice and chauvinism (your "Irish brilliance" that Ziemowit ridicules) I am being courteous towards you. A Russian in the same situation would mercilessly ridicule you and eat you raw :) Maybe except for a few liberals, but they are saints and I truly admire them lol

However, I find it odd that there are Red Army monuments etc all over the place still, after all these years since the end of communism, yet very little to draw public attention to the victims of WWI.

I don't understand what's "odd" about it. The memory of WWII is not only more painful but also more recent, fresh. There are still people alive who lived through the WWII. I was waiting for a visit at the doctor and some very elderly man with manners of a pre-war gentleman and still a very handsome face with beautiful blue eyes sat next to me and told me about his life, that he was a pilot and a prisoner of a concentration camp in Northern Nazi Germany and then he was in a secret service prison in communist Poland and when he was released his weight was something over 40 kilos.

WWI is history in comparisement.
Just like Polish uprisings, for example. I've seen once some sort of monument indicating a mass grave of Polish insurgents from the January Uprising somewhere deep in the woods at Karczówka mountain - I wouldn't even know about it if I didn't wander there in the search of forest flowers and I probaly wouldn't be able to find it again. It was in a bad shape, obviously, and it made me sad that noone will lit a candle for people who fought for our independence so I just put flowers that I picked in the forest under the modest monument and prayed a little.

As for Red Army monuments - they are all over the place because Poland was a communist country and a Soviet Union's puppet. Does such obvious fact really has to be explained? Atch, how long have you been living in Poland?

Lol??? Really? You find the war dead a source of amusement do you?

No, I don't. But I do find your self-righteous, judgmental, arrogant, insolent, ignorant and prejudiced attitude amusing, yes :) Hence my "lol".

My grandfather lost his twin brother in the Battle of the Somme and his older brother at Ypres.

That's sad, Atch, but that's what wars are like. I don't know what were my family's experiences in WWI, I only know some of my family's experiences during WWII, like my grandfather and his family almost starving to death, his sister dying (his other sister told me once while standing over her grave with her eyes bulging and staring at me that I look like her... That was creepy...), my other grandfather fought in the underground against the Nazis, one of my relatives survived Auschwitz... Most of Polish families were affected to a lesser or a greater degree by the WWII. The "family memory" of WWI is non-existent in comparison.

Maybe here lies the reason... British families weren't affected to such an extent by the WWII as Polish families were... Let alone Irish families...

Atch, aren't you by any chance feeling some kind of discomfort because of the behaviour of Ireland during World War II and that's why you're "mirroring" it on Poland and taking it out on Poles in this thread?

I'm Irish. A thousand years of war and bloodshed.

Most countries in Europe have a thousand years of war and bloodshed but I don't think there's anything in the recent history of Ireland that would be comparable to Nazi and Soviet occupation of Poland and the general horror of WWII in this region of Europe, tbh.

And anyway, I don't lecture you on what kind of attitude you should have towards your dead and their graves, especially considering that I'm no expert on the history of your country and the sentiments your nation may or may not have.

The insolence of some Western people is sometimes really astounding.

Interestingly, Ireland was unable to bring itself until very recently to honour the war dead of those two conflicts because they served in the British army.

That's your problem and your shame so don't "mirror" it on us. Those Poles who fought during WWI were never dishonoured the way those Irish who fought against the Nazis were in Ireland. We are well aware of the tragic situation of the Polish soldiers during WWI - I was taught about it during history classes at school. Just like about Ireland's neutrality during WWII, btw.

Now thank God Ireland is mature enough to acknowledge and honour the sacrifice of those men.

Yes, Ireland is mature since 2012 - it took you long time, didn't it lol
But you see - Poland never had anything against Poles who died fighting during WWI. Actually, anyone who attended history classes in Polish school knows that those Poles who survived WWI used their war experience and military training in the Prussian army, for example, to fight for independence later on against those same Germans that were their "brothers in arms" during WWI. Ironic, isn't it?

Now, Atch, if you don't like the tone of my comments - pity, but I don't like your tone either. I don't like your prejudice, arrogance, your closed mind, your chauvinism and your two-faced attitude. You don't have any inhibitions when talking about Poles and Poland so why would I have any when talking about you, right?

So I guess we're even.

Here's a link to an interesting article

I don't see what WWI has to do with de-Germanization. It doesn't make sense to me, tbh.

As I was saying earlier, there are many cemeteries in Poland, all kinds of cemeteries from all kinds of wars, uprisings, mass executions, etc.
Some are better kept, some are neglected. There are Soviet cemeteries that are well kept and there are Soviet cemeteries that are neglected. There are WWI cemeteries that are well kept and there are those which are neglected.There are WWII cemeteries that are well kept and there are those which are neglected. There are Jewish cemeteries that are well kept and there are those which are neglected. There are uprisings cemeteries/monuments that are well kept and there are those which are neglected.

The general rule is that the older the war and the graves are the less likely they are to be well kept or remembered. I don't see any ill intent in this or sth done on purpose or out of some kind of selective "coldhearted indifference" lol Poland isn't as rich as Western countries are though and so we have to prioritise somewhat, I imagine, which cemeteries to care for. Even at Powązki Cemetery in Warsaw which is a historic cemetery, the most famous cemetery in the city and one of the oldest, famous people, actors and such, are collecting money every year during All Saints Day for renovation of the more important graves - and even those have to be prioritised/selected because there's simply not enough money to renovate all of them.

And, as I wrote earlier - WWI means sth different to Poles and sth different to the West. When will you learn that there's a whole world outside the West and that not everyone has the same viewpoint on everything?

There were many wars in Poland, there were many Poles killed in all kinds of conflicts and massacres, there was an enforced communist "amnesia" and censorship on all kinds of things that we're still coming to terms with, like, for example - the Katyń massacre - after some time after the collapse of communism there were still people who thought it was done by Germans, did you know?

And you're complaining about graves of people who died a century ago? Why not two centuries ago, or 3 or 4 or 5, or 1000 years ago for that matter? They "mattered" too and they had "parents, siblings, a wife, children" too.

Your family and your country was probably more affected by WWI than by WWII. Fine, that's your history.
Our is different. Deal with it. Accept it that we're different, we have different history and maybe different sensibilities. Not everything has to be like in the West. And maybe not everything can be (at least not yet).

And next time, if you don't want me to be "unfriendly" with you, stop at asking a question and wait (patience) for an answer if you actually want to learn (humility) something instead of inventing prejudiced theories (friendliness).

Now, Atch, be good and sin no more :P

(And look at the length of my post - that IS patience on my behalf, trust me lol)
TheOther Activity: 5 / 2,937
Joined: 13 Jul 2009 ♂
 
7 Jul 2016  #28

I don't see what WWI has to do with de-Germanization

Treaty of Versailles rings a bell? Only a fraction of the Germans that had lived there before remained in independent Poland. Read up on the so-called Optantenlisten. Interesting chapter in Polish-German history right after WW1. They even tried to go separate ways on amicable terms.
Paulina Activity: 8 / 1,362
Joined: 31 Jan 2008 ♀
 
7 Jul 2016  #29

OK, TheOther, I'll be more specific then - I don't see what Polish soldiers fighting in the armies of the three partitioning powers, their graves and the memory of those soldiers have to do with de-Germanization. Poles didn't fight only in the Prussian army.
TheOther Activity: 5 / 2,937
Joined: 13 Jul 2009 ♂
 
7 Jul 2016  #30

Paulina, I just read the article again. The author is arguing that "Poland's de-Germanization policy following World War II impacted battlefield commemoration". The de-Germanization after WW2 was responsible for the fact that there are hardly any WW1 war memorials left in the area that was called the "Recovered Territories" by the commies. That's at least how I understand the article.




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