We publish the yesterday’s speech of the U.S. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur in the U.S. Congress. Ms. Kaptur is the U.S. Representative for Ohio’s 9th congressional district and a Democrat. Serving her eighteenth term in the House of Representatives, Ms. Kaptur is currently the dean of Ohio’s congressional delegation and the longest-serving woman in the House.
Ms. Kaptur, we thank you very much for your great speech commemorating the 100th anniversary of regaining Poland’s independence!
COMMEMORATING 100th ANNIVERSARY OF POLAND’S REEMERGENCE
Ms. Marcy Kaptur
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join my colleague, Representative JACKIE WALORSKI, as cochairs of the Polish Caucus. This year, we commemorate the 100th anniversary of Poland’s reemergence as a European nation in 1918. As grateful Polish Americans, we join together on a bipartisan basis to acknowledge this historic achievement of freedom’s advance. The reality is history has been brutal to Poland. In the late 1700s, Poland was erased from the map of Europe for 123 years by three adjacent predatory empires because it passed a constitution inspired by ours, which included a separation of powers. Poland became the first nation in Europe to abolish serfdom by the Polaniec Manifesto on May 7, 1794. Then, in 1918, following World War I, with the support of President Woodrow Wilson, Poland was restored to the map of Europe and resumed its torturous climb to freedom. b 1030 But then, in 1939, World War II began. As Poland was invaded, first by Nazi Germany, and then 3 weeks later by Communist Russia, Poland suffered an unimaginable loss of 20 percent of its population that perished during World War II, the most of any nation in that war. Of the 14 million civilians killed by Nazi Germany and Communist Russia, over 6 million were killed in Poland; 3 million Jews and 3 million Christians, as well as Roma and Sinti, the disabled, homosexuals, and other innocents. Poland never surrendered. There never was a collaborationist Polish Government. Establishing a free government in exile, Polish armies fought on every front in Europe, including alongside American soldiers at Normandy. Despite the Nazi and Soviet campaign to wipe out Poland’s most educated and accomplished and, indeed, Poland’s history, Poland resisted at home with the largest underground resistance movement in Europe. Poland never surrendered, nor did it ever surrender to Nazi nor Communist, murderous ideology. At Katyn, Communist Russia, with bullets to the back of their heads, killed over 12,000 Polish leaders from its military, civil society, their educational community, and their religious leadership. 1945 brought allied liberation to a war-torn Europe, but not to Poland, which fell under the Soviet yoke, repressed, and blocked from its own identity, indeed, even denied a true representation of its wartime history of heroism, tragedy, and terror. But in 1989, after 43 years of increasing resistance to occupation inside Poland, its fierce love of liberty spilled over into successful resistance and massive electoral victory won by Solidarnosc, the labor movement that yielded ultimate liberty for Poland. This was the first wave of major popular and anti-Communist opposition across the Soviet bloc that resulted in the Berlin Wall’s collapse in 1989, the wall that divided liberty from tyranny and, ultimately, communism’s demise. Poland has accomplished much in the generation of freedom that followed. She has achieved a steady economic growth in each year since its return to freedom, the most robust of any nation in Europe. Yet, the millions of souls who perished in Poland across every faith, confession, and ethnic origin, most remain unknown to history. Our globe is still weighed down with the collective sense of unresolved grief and the lack of historical truth that humanity must address. For the millions who perished, this anniversary year of Poland’s rebirth should be an occasion to uplift that historical truth to heal, not divide. As we speak, vicious Russian aggression aims to destabilize Europe and our precious transatlantic and NATO alliance, essential to liberty. Free nations, including Poland and her critics, should use this moment to recommit to liberty and rule of law, setting aside language and gestures that inflame divisions across Europe. Now is a time for unity, not division. Now is a time for restraint, not antagonism. Now is the time for reasoned dialogue, not media taunts. And let me commend the Polish-Israeli Reconciliation Commission for its reasoned progress and recent statement. Now is the time for diplomatic excellence and military readiness, not provocative gestures, legislative or otherwise. Now is the time for robust archival restoration so the full truth of millions who perished can be known and recorded forever. Now is the time to strengthen freedom’s umbrella, not weaken it. May I extend all congratulations and blessings to Poland on its 100th anniversary of reborn nationhood.
Images of Ignacy Jan Paderewski: Polish National Digital Archive.