Saturday, May 07, 2011

Sir Winston on Poland

Churchill describes the "dismemberment of the Czechoslovak State in accordance with the [Munich] Agreement:"

[T]he Germans were not the only vultures upon the carcass. Immediately after the Munich Agreement on September 30, [1938], the Polish Government sent a twenty-four-hour ultimatum to the Czechs demanding the immediate handing-over of the frontier district of Teschen. There was no means of resisting this harsh demand.

The heroic characteristics of the Polish race must not blind us to their record of folly and ingratitude which over centuries has led them through measureless suffering. We see them, in 1919, a people restored by the victory of the Western Allies after long generations of partition and servitude to be an independent Republic and one of the the main Powers in Europe. Now, in 1938, over a question so minor as Teschen, they sundered themselves from all those friends in France, Britain, and the United States who lifted them once again to a national, coherent life, and whom they were soon to need so sorely. We see them hurrying, while the might of Germany glowered up against them, to grasp their share of the pillage and ruin of Czechoslovakia. During the crisis the door was shut in the face of the British and French Ambassadors, who were denied even access to the Foreign Secretary of the Polish State. It is a mystery and tragedy of European history that a people capable of every heroic virtue, gifted, valiant, charming, as individuals, should repeatedly show such inveterate faults in almost every aspect of their governmental life. Glorious in revolt and ruin; squalid and shameful in triumph. The bravest of the brave, too often led by the vilest of the vile! And yet there were always two Polands; one struggling to proclaim the truth and the other grovelling in villainy.

-From Churchill, The Second World War: The Gathering Storm, (Houghton Mifflin Company 1948) pp. 322-323

No comments: