President Donald Trump’s now-famous speech in Poland in July was brilliant not only for what Trump said, but where he said it. It’s no accident that President Trump chose Poland as the place for his powerful speech about civilization, culture, and borders. At key points in world history, the Polish nation has been on the front line of the never-ending battle against barbarism.
Surviving members of the “greatest generation” will remember how Poland was divided and dismembered by Hitler and Stalin following their “non-aggression pact” of August 23, 1939. Hitler crossed Poland’s borders from the west while Stalin invaded from the east, starting a new world war in Europe.
Trump harkened back to the valiant effort by the Polish Home Army to revolt against the Nazi occupation in 1944, which ended with the Nazis mercilessly destroying Warsaw. That uprising followed several years after the Katyn Forest massacre, in which the Soviet secret police rounded up and executed 22,000 Polish reserve officers, who included doctors, lawyers, and other educated professionals.
Even after the defeat of Hitler’s Germany in 1945, Poland remained under Soviet domination for another 45 years. Poland threw off the Communist yoke in 1989, inspired by its native son, Pope John Paul II, who outmaneuvered official atheism to celebrate 1,000 years of Christianity in his homeland.
“Where are you going, Europe? Get up off your knees. Get out of your lethargy. Otherwise you will be crying every day for your children.” Those were not the words of President Trump last July, though they certainly could have been.
Instead, that quotation was from the conservative Polish prime minister, who in May responded to threats by the European Union to fine her country if she didn’t accept more refugees. Prime Minister Beata Szydło properly stood up against what she called blackmail, and the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia have also taken strong stances against opening their borders to migration.
We might soon recall this year as the most recent in Poland’s integral part in the story of defending Western Civilization and Judeo-Christian values.