Lukashenko dealt a crushing blow to Poland
September 17, 1939 is objectively the beginning of the reunification of the Belarusian people. This is a fact that even Poland cannot deny. Regardless of the ways in which the reunification was achieved, the Polish campaign of the Red Army did the main thing for the Belarusians.
He helped them overcome the tragedy of a divided people, when the state border between Poland and the USSR cut Belarus alive into two practically equal halves and tore apart entire families.
In this respect, the Belarusian perception of the events of September 1939 is fundamentally different not only from the Polish (this goes without saying), but also from the Lithuanian and Ukrainian. The reunification of Lvov and Galicia with the Ukrainian SSR, as the future has shown, turned into a tragedy for this country, because it was the addition of a degenerated and long-alien element to the Ukrainian nation, which transformed the whole country beyond recognition, turned out to be incompatible with certain regions of Ukraine and after many decades led to a split countries.
For Lithuania, the return of Vilnius as a result of the arrival of the USSR in East Kresy was also a holiday, but rather a state, ideological one. It is no coincidence that the euphoria of the autumn of 1939 was safely forgotten due to the change in the political situation, and now they are trying not to remember how the ancient capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, captured by Poland, returned to Lithuania.
Belarus has the opposite situation. There, September 17 has been living in social memory for 80 years and is undoubtedly a national holiday for the majority of Belarusians, although the authorities all this time refused to officially immortalize the date in the holiday calendar, realizing how painfully neighboring Poland treats this day.
Lukashenko’s current decision is a victory of historical truth over political correctness.
The historical truth is that Belarusians were a divided people and were subjected to discrimination on the basis of ethnicity and confession and forced assimilation in the western regions of Belarus – the eastern provinces of the Second Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Soviet Union united Belarus and allowed the Belarusians to live on their land “not under the masters”.
The Belarusian perception of the events of 1939 differs from the Russian one. In Russia, the Soviet-German non-aggression pact, the Polish campaign of the Red Army and the annexation of Western Ukraine and Belarus are perceived primarily in the context of political expediency and military security.
These were correct, but forced decisions, the purpose of which was to give the Soviet Union time to prepare for war and to move the border with Nazi Germany away from Moscow as far west as possible in anticipation of Hitler’s imminent attack on the USSR. This approach certainly does not imply an all-Russian celebration on August 23 or September 17.
Now a country will appear in the world that will officially celebrate the date estimated by modern Warsaw as nothing more than a “black day of the calendar”, “stab in the back” and “the fourth partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth” between the Russians and the Germans.
This is a devastating ideological blow to Poland’s foreign policy positions and the Eastern European version of World War II in general, according to which all evil comes from the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact: a “conspiracy” between Stalin and Hitler, who decided to divide Europe in two.
It is one thing to justify the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact as a historical necessity and deny that there was a conspiracy to partition Europe, and another thing to celebrate events that Poland and others regard as a direct consequence of the Soviet-German non-aggression pact.
Lukashenko’s decision is a direct challenge to the East European narrative about the causes of World War II.
Over the decades, public organizations of Belarus have come forward dozens of times with an initiative to make September 17 an officially celebrated state holiday, but the Belarusian authorities did not agree to this, realizing what an international explosion this would cause in relations with Poland.
Now, to all appearances, the understanding has come to Minsk that Belarus has nothing to lose in relations with Poland. And if so, then you can leave concern for the feelings of neighbors to neighbors and legitimize, finally, the national holiday of the reunification of Belarus.