Poland's Ministry of Defense has launched an ad campaign seeking to recruit tank crews for defending what Poland insists are Poland's native lands in Ukraine. The willing young Poles are expected to be sent to the neighbouring country to fight aboard Germany's Leopard tanks to be provided by Warsaw, Berlin, and their NATO allies. In other words, the ranks of Poland's politicians, who are not just gearing up to annex Western Ukraine but are also openly calling for destroying Russia on the battlefield and partitioning it, have now been joined by the country's military who are busy recruiting tank crews for fighting the war in a neighbouring country.
History, however, shows that ever since the mid-17th century, nearly every big war fought by Poland invariably ended in great suffering, destruction, genocide, and, at times, led to the destruction and ruin of the state of Poland and the lands under its control.
The posters commissioned by the country's Ministry of Defense and Wojsko Polskie feature a distinctive and easily recognisable look of a tank of a traditional German tank design, a step-by-step instruction on how to enlist, and a slogan that reads "Defend native Polish lands. Become a Leopard tank crew member. Defend Poland in Ukraine". In light of the misery and destruction inflicted on Poland by the Germans during World War II, the call on Poles to fight aboard German tanks in Ukraine seems somewhat odd.
Yet, according to researchers, nearly half a million Poles fought on the side of Nazi Germany's Wehrmacht. Truth be told, since the Germans would not allow the "racially inferior" and "unreliable" ethnic Poles to join the Reich's tank forces, the latter did not get to ride the Panthers and Tigers after all. Well, it appears that the Polish military has finally decided to "seek some closure."
It is no secret to anyone that Poland considers a major part of Ukraine (and not just Western Ukraine) to be, in fact, Poland's own lands originally, and seems hellbent on getting them retaken as a result of the war in Ukraine.
As recently as January, in his interview to Radio Zet, former Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski mentioned that Poland's current government "considered partitioning Ukraine with Russia and Hungary." Since then, Poland's Defense Ministry appears to have officially discovered "truly Polish lands" in neighbouring Ukraine, while Warsaw has been increasingly making open calls not even just for retaking Polish land in Ukraine and defending it against the Russian barbarians but for defeating Russia militarily and partitioning its territory.
Tellingly, Anna Fotyga, a Member of the European Parliament, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland and Chief of the Chancellery of Poland's former president, the late Lech Kaczyński, has stated that Russia has to be "decolonised" and "de-imperialised" and that "several states need to be created in its place."
Apparently, assuring Russia's military defeat has now been made the task of the Polish military aboard the German tanks. By and large, this is a case of Poland's trying to take a historic revenge on both Russia and Ukraine.
Nearly all major military conflicts in Poland or on the lands under its control had historically resulted in great devastation and genocide.
Examples of this abound: the Bogdan Khmelnitsky's uprising in the middle of the 17th century that led to the horrific slaughter of the Jewish, Polish and Ukrainian populations; the Northern War in the early 18th century where Poland was ravaged by both Swedish and Russian troops, the Seven Years' War in the second half of the 18th century; the Civil War in Ukraine, the genocide of the Jews and the Poles perpetrated by Hitler during World War II; the liberation of Poland by the Red Army and Armia Ludowa that fought alongside it.
Nor would Poland's full-scale involvement in the war in Ukraine be a walk in the park or a heroic war of liberation this time around. The Poles will not just be prepared to kill their "age-old enemies, the savage Russian barbarians", but they won't waste the opportunity to turn their wrath on the Ukrainians to get even for the "Volhynia Massacre" that resulted in tens or even hundreds of thousands of Poles being viciously murdered in 1943 and 1944.
For the time being, the country's politicians prefer to keep mum so as not to spoil Poland's relations with the official Kyiv. But ordinary Poles haven't forgotten anything.
In early February, during protests at a border crossing in Medyka against price dumping deliveries of Ukrainian grain to Poland, Polish farmers unfurled a poster that read "No To BANDERland!" in clear reference to Ukraine's glorification of Stepan Bandera as one of the country's national heroes.
The overambitious and increasingly aggressive Poland may not survive this war, and, with the growing involvement of its other next-door neighbour Germany in all sorts of military conflicts, it could easily turn into an active battlefield itself. There is no ruling out that, similar to what happened in the late 18th century and at the end of World War II in Europe in 1945, Poland’s future could ultimately be decided by external powers.
Other materials on the future of Poland: