Russian Novaya Gazeta has published an article by the British historian Roger Moorhouse on WW2, including 17 September 1939, but has removed a fragment of the text due to Russia’s legal ban on equating the actions of the USSR and the Third Reich.
.The renowned newspaper published on its website the Russian translation of the article “This war has never been honestly accounted for” written by Roger Moorhouse as part of the Institute of New Media’s project We are telling the world about Poland. Among other things, Moorhouse writes about “the way in which the current Putin regime is seeking to control history to present a wartime narrative which is favourable to itself and which erases Soviet crimes.” The Russian translation has been stripped of the sentence that comes later, the intervention being marked off by parentheses. A footnote to the article explains that “the gap in the translation of Moorhouse’s article results from the requirements of the current Russian legislation under which comparisons with Hitler’s regime are interpreted as <rehabilitation of Nazism>.”
The removed sentence says: “It is as if the cheerleaders of Hitler were still in power in Germany and were trying to restore the former-Führer’s reputation as a great statesman and orator.” Moorhouse then continues: “It’s grotesque, but we must understand that neither the Soviet Union, nor its successor, Putin’s Russia, has ever been able to be honest about the USSR’s wartime history.”
“Our previous texts have never been interfered with, even though articles that expound the Polish position are difficult to publish in Russia. By translating and publishing Moorhouse’s text in its entirety, the editors of Novaya Gazeta themselves run a risk of suffering serious consequences, including criminal charges that could even put them in prison,” the Polish Press Agency was told by Michał Kłosowski, head of the International Projects Department at the Institute of New Media and deputy editor-in-chief of Wszystko Co Najważniejsze.
“The only solution was to censor that fragment, as it were, highlighting the very fact of censorship. We wanted very much to show the reality of what happened. We believe in the wisdom of our readers, both Polish and Russian. We believe that they will notice that, which is why we flagged up the intervention. The entire text is available online at Wszystkoconajważniejsze.pl” said Kłosowski.
He also pointed out that Russian newspapers have published previous texts covered by the project such as Prof. Andrzej Nowak’s article about the Battle of Warsaw and Prof. Wojciech Roszkowski’s text about “Solidarity”. “These texts have been very well received. In this instalment of We are telling the world about Poland we managed to publish articles by Karol Nawrocki, President of the Institute of National Remembrance, in the Echo of Moscow and Roger Moorhouse in Novaya Gazeta, both of which appeared yesterday, that is on 17 September,” he added.
“The Russian narrative space is heavily protected” so that each of these publications “brings us great joy,” underlined Kłosowski.
Most of Moorhouse’s article published by Novaya Gazeta is about the Polish perspective on WW2. He mentions“Poland’s hugely painful experience during the war – whether it is the Warsaw Rising, or the Holocaust, or the campaign of 1939,” and adds: “Consequently, compared to other countries, recent history is especially present in Poland’s everyday discussions.” He goes on to explain that “in Poland’s case, the honest discussion of recent history – and I mean primarily 20th century history – could only really begin in 1989; the intellectual deep-freeze of communism forbade any honest treatment of those subjects.”
“In the post-war years, the victors essentially wrote the history. The British, Americans and Soviets all wrote their own histories of the war and the west – through the political fellow travellers of the international left – largely adopted the Soviet narrative without criticism,” adds Moorhouse. He also argues that “if we are collectively keen to defend truth in history then we need to remain firm on the historical fact of the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939, or on the historical fact of Soviet guilt for the Katyn massacres.”
Publishing the article on Friday, Novaya Gazeta mentioned a tweet by Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs according to which, on 17 September 1939, the Red Army started its “liberating march” across Poland. “The words sound as if they were borrowed from the propaganda speeches by the Soviet minister Vyacheslav Molotov who justified the aggressive policy of the Soviet state in the same way,” says Novaya Gazeta.
The newspaper also draws attention to the fact that the Russian translation of Moorhouse’s book The Devils’ Alliance was published in 2020.
In 2021 Russia passed a law which makes it illegal to publicly “equate the role of the USSR and Nazi Germany in WW2” and negate the “decisive role of the Soviet nation” in the victory over Nazism.
.The project We are telling the world about Poland is implemented by the Institute of New Media with the support of the Institute of National Remembrance, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Polish Press Agency. All the texts written for the project are published on the website www.WszystkoCoNajwazniejsze.pl. (PAP)