Is a Holocaust restitution campaign being used to keep Poland in line?
This article originally appeared at Dances with Bears
In Poland, voters will elect a new president on May 10, and then a new parliament and prime minister by October 30. On present polls, the pro-American war factions are unlikely to win. That will mean the elimination, at least in Poland, of Radosław Sikorski (lead image, left), last year’s Anglo-Polish foreign minister, this year’s speaker of the Polish parliament (Sejm); and of his Anglo-American wife, Anne Applebaum (right).
The Siklebaums aren’t the only casualties. Victoria Nuland, leader of the war party at the State Department in Washington, tweeted from Warsaw last week: “I think countries like the United States and Poland, need to do everything we can to support the Ukrainians.” Polish officials told Nuland, after downgrading her meetings to the lowest possible protocol level, that enough is enough.
Sikorski is currently under investigation by the Polish authorities for fiddling state budget funds for personal expenses. Next month, like other Polish public officials, he must disclose how much of his life style is subsidized by the earnings of his wife, who is paid in turn by a State Department-financed propaganda outlet in London. For more on the Siklebaum subsidies, read this.
Last year the couple tried but failed to exit from Warsaw when Sikorski was rejected for a NATO post in Brussels, and then for a European Union post.
This year Applebaum has launched her own eastern front offensive, berating the Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians, Serbs, Greeks, and finally the Poles for fiddling their own expenses, and failing to do more in cash and arms to support the Kiev government’s war in eastern Ukraine. They were all pawns, she claims, in the Kremlin’s “grand strategy…to delegitimise Nato, undermine the EU, split the western alliance and, above all, reverse the [post-communist] transitions of the 1990s.” “No one is fond of Russia in Poland, but that isn’t the point: Russia doesn’t need Poland, Hungary or Slovakia republic to be ruled by pro-Russian governments. They just need anti-German governments in central Europe, or anti-western governments, or simply incompetent governments that can persuade the rest of Nato to throw up their hands and say ‘we won’t fight for these people’.”
On April 13, the State Department announced that Nuland was arriving in Warsaw to “meet with senior government officials to discuss a broad range of bilateral and regional issues.” In fact, she was relegated to mid-level officials. According to the Polish Defence Ministry communique, Robert Kupiecki (below left), a vice minister, was decidedly non-committal in what was reported as a discussion of “the state of regional security in the light of current events in the eastern and southern flank of NATO… including measures to further adaptation of NATO to the changes in the security environment [and] the American presence in the region.”
At the Foreign Ministry, Nuland was met by Undersecretary Leszek Soczewica (right), a military officer who ranks seventh in his ministry’s pecking order, and is responsible for the US, not Europe. His communique disclosed that he and Nuland had “focused on the prospects of deepening cooperation in the field of innovative technologies and in the energy sector.”
Nuland was followed into Warsaw by Rose Gottemoeller, an under secretary of state, one rank higher than Nuland. She calls herself an expert on Russian military affairs; nine years ago Gottemoeller, who describes her origin as a “big German Catholic family”, headed the Moscow office of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. In Warsaw her greeter was also General Soczewica; neither he (left) nor she (right) issued a communique.
Gottemoeller “discussed allied efforts to support Ukraine”, according to US Embassy tweets.
Applebaum missed the Nuland-Gottemoeller blitz. She was touting, er tweeting on her husband’s behalf: “for those who missed it 18 years ago, “Full Circle” by @sikorskiradek is back in stock on amazon.”
They were all relegated by the Polish government’s fury following last week’s speech at Washington’s Holocaust Museum by James Comey, the director of the Federal Bureau of investigation (FBI). Comey gave his remarks on April 15, then repeated them in the Washington Post the following day. A lawyer, state prosecutor, and practicing Catholic, Comey said: “Good people helped murder millions. And that’s the most frightening lesson of all—that our very humanity made us capable—even susceptible—of surrendering our individual moral authority to the group, where it can be hijacked by evil. Of being cowed by those in power of convincing ourselves of nearly anything. In their minds, the murderers and accomplices of Germany, and Poland, and Hungary, and so many, many other places didn’t do something evil. They convinced themselves it was the right thing to do, the thing they had to do. That’s what people do. And that should truly frighten us.”
Comey’s reference to himself, to Americans, to everyone – “our” humanity, capability, moral authority – has been ignored. Instead, the Polish president, prime minister, parliament, and state media issued protests. The foreign ministry summoned the US ambassador in Warsaw to hear them. Poland had been a victim in the world war, not a perpetrator, the government protests claimed, avoiding mention of Germany.
The Siklebaums protested too. “Our envoys begged U.S. for help in stopping the Holocaust. We await the Director’s correction,” tweeted pater. Comey “got it wrong on the Holocaust,” wrote mater, conceding that “many [Poles] were frightened by or indifferent to the fate of the Jews, and some murdered in order to avoid being murdered.”
In Moscow the Russian assessment is that the Polish protests are cynical. “Not only the American, but also the Polish Government does not deny itself the pleasure of distorting the history of the Second World War”, commented Leonid Kalashnikov (below, left) , deputy chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the State Duma. He was referring to declarations in January, first by Polish Foreign Minister, Grzegorz Schetyna (right), then by Sikorski, that it had been Ukrainians, not the Red Army, which had liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1945.
Moral duplicity had been the FBI Director’s point; taking sides is the Siklebaums’ point – as it has become increasingly evident in Washington that Polish politicians and their voters are unwilling to be drawn any further into the Ukraine civil war, or into US military escalation on Polish territory against Russia.
“We can see that after Sikorsky’s dismissal from the Foreign Ministry, there is much less barking about Ukraine in Warsaw”, comments an influential Polish analyst. “The Comey remarks demonstrate that basically Poland has no allies. Even historically good relations with Hungary have now been destroyed through the attack on [Hungarian Prime Minister Victor] Orban by the Polish government [Warsaw, February 15] The Weimar Triangle group of Poland, Germany and France is more and more a diplomatic formality, not an alliance . And as we know [former Polish Prime Minister Donald] Tusk in Brussels is a mere puppy of Auntie Merkel, and not the influential representative of a strong and powerful Poland in the EU. After Poles sabotaged the career of the Sikorsky-Applebaum couple and cooled on Ukraine, Poland is now being reminded how low it ranks in Washington, Brussels and London, too.”
On April 3, the Polish Foreign Minister hosted the French and German Foreign Ministers, dubbed the Weimar Triangle, at a conference in an empty sports stadium at Wroclaw. The communique claimed there was a “single voice of France, Germany and Poland…considering the current political situation in the EU’s neighbourhood.”
Sources in Warsaw say they suspect officials in the US and Israeli governments of threatening to revive a campaign claiming $65 billion in compensation from Poland and other European governments for losses of life and property caused to their Jewish nationals during the war. The project, launched in 2011, is called the Holocaust Era Asset Restitution Taskforce (HEART). It is based in Israel, headed by Rafi Eitan, the Mossad agent directing espionage against the US in the 1980s. In Milwaukee HEART has been managed by a Democratic Party consultant called Bruce Arbit and his A.B. Data company who have run several earlier Jewish restitution campaigns. HEART was suddenly suspended last July, without explanation.
In Warsaw, according to Polish sources, officials believe it would be a small price to pay to allow more US troops into the country and spend more on the war against Russia than to risk having to pay the bill for Operation HEART. The Siklebaums are among them, the sources say.