“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Putin has the nerve to show up in Poland for 70th Anniversary of WWII catastrophe
There are few nations that deserve more contempt than Germany or Russia for their joint responsibility for World War II. German and Soviet crimes resulted in 70 million dead. Japan would never have attempted to unilaterally take on the United States without the backdrop of the European disaster caused by the killers Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin. That is the truth the World should never forget.
Germany was encouraged and abetted by Stalin and the Soviets. Any attempt by Russia and Putin to explain away their responsibility is a hideous travesty. The Katyn forest massacre demonstrates the big Soviet lie and exposes those that chose not to see the truth.
Poland remembers its catastrophe
By Jonny Dymond
BBC News, Gdansk
Searchlights lit up the sky as the hour of the anniversary approached - three streams of light pricking the early morning darkness.
Around the monument to the heroes of the Battle of Westerplatte, military units shuffled into formation.
A long line of dignitaries - military, governmental and religious - faced the obelisk, itself a throwback to Soviet-era sculpture.
Westerplatte is one of Poland's great moments of resistance: bombarded by the German warship Schleswig-Holstein, vastly outnumbered by German troops, and dive-bombed by Stuka planes, 180 lightly armed Polish troops guarding a military depot held out for seven days before surrendering.
At the appointed hour - 0445 (0245 GMT), marking the passage of 70 years to the minute - trumpets rang out across the Westerplatte.
There was, of course, talk of heroism in the speeches of the mayor of Gdansk, the President Lech Kaczynski and the Prime Minister Donald Tusk.
But for Poland, perhaps more than any other nation on earth, World War II was nothing but a catastrophe. By the war's end, five to six million Poles had been killed, many of them Jews - a greater proportion of Poland's population than that of any other country.
Both Nazi and Soviet occupiers sought to wipe Poland and its civilisation from the map.
The country's intellectual, religious, commercial and military elite were slaughtered. Properties were confiscated, museums looted, universities and schools closed. The capital Warsaw was destroyed on the orders of Hitler.
And the country became a base for the mechanised slaughter of the Holocaust. Auschwitz, Sobibor and Majdanek were some of the camps placed here by the Nazi occupiers.
"We remember," said Mr Tusk, "because we know well that he who forgets or he who falsifies history, and has power, or will assume power, will bring unhappiness again, like 70 years ago."
'Knife in the back'
Mr Kaczynski, the country's more nationalist president, threw a little more fat on the fire of an argument raging between Poland and Russia over responsibility for the war.
Poles have long seen the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Treaty, signed a week before war started, as the starting gun for the German invasion.
Just two weeks later, in mid September 1939, the Soviet armies occupied eastern Poland, and the country was effectively no more.
"On 17 September," said President Kaczynski, "when we were we still defending Warsaw… that day Poland received a knife in the back."
The Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will speak later in the day.
But as the dawn broke over the Westerplatte, and the trumpets sounded again to mark the end of the ceremony, it was the soldiers of Poland - who fought and fell for their country - who were, once more, remembered.
The apologists for Russia and Russia's attempt to rewrite history.