Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Dziekuje!

Poland is one of history's most tormented nations, regularly invaded by its neighbors (and occasionally invading them), and in 1945 shifted like a skateboard several hundred miles to the west. This was Stalin's double punishment: eastern Poland was incorporated into the Soviet Ukraine, and in exchange Poland got a chunk of eastern Germany, thus diminishing both rivals and pushing the USSR's security zone deep into Europe.

The other day, Stalin's successors took responsibility for another of his atrocities against Poland: the murder of thousands of Polish officers and noncoms at Katyn and other forest sites. (The link is to the gripping 2007 film.) This is progress, as noted in the Wall Street Journal today. The editorial tells a lovely story about the jazz pianist Dave Brubeck, who was a soldier in the liberation of Europe from German control, and who visited Poland in 1958 on a cultural exchange mission. At that time, Mr Brubeck composed a piece entitled Dziekuje. He played it the other day at his 90th birthday celebration, at which time he explained that "dziekuje" is the Polish word for "thank you. And I want to play this piece as thanks to the people of Poland for resisting Soviet Communism."

When Soviet agents murdered those thousands of Poles, they intended to decapitate the future Polish society. They then blamed the atrocity on the Germans, figuring that no one could ever challange that story. Instead, they cemented the evil in historic memory, and encouraged rather than suppressed Poland's desire for freedom. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

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