The real lesson of the invasion of Poland

The Nazis’ contempt for national sovereignty is shared by the pro-EU crowd today.

Frank Furedi


As politicians and pundits commemorate the 80th anniversary of the invasion of Poland, it is telling that there is more focus on this tragic event than ever before.

Indeed the horrible events of the Second World War, and particularly the Holocaust, are now readily exploited by opportunist public figures. The reasons for doing so are twofold. First, public figures are keen to display their moral sensitivity to human suffering. And second, they use the Second World War to try to score political points and discredit their opponents.

Just count the number of times people are denounced for acting ‘just like Hitler’ these days. Or watch as various contemporary events are compared to the events of the 1930s. Or observe how campaigners describe those they disagree with as fascists or Nazis. Indeed, just about anyone who voted for Brexit or who is concerned about mass migration can be accused of being a far-right xenophobe.

London mayor Sadiq Khan provided a perfect example of such logic in a speech given in Gdansk on Sunday, as part of the official commemoration of the invasion of Poland. It was clear that Khan had no interest in the historical question of what happened to Poland 80 years ago. He was solely concerned with drawing a facile analogy between the rise of fascism and the populist revolt of our current moment. ‘Look at some of the things happening across Europe’, he said. ‘People are trying to divide communities using the language of hate, scapegoating people because of their sexual orientation, because of their ethnic origin, because of their faith, or because of who they are.’

He continued: ‘You see [the language of hate used] across Europe, and I say that in respect to my friends in Poland… you see this in Hungary, you see this in Italy, you see this in France.’ The main point of his largely Eastern Europe-bashing diatribe was simple. He was not merely condemning the Hungarian and Polish governments, but reminding people in the UK that Brexit is analogous to the rise of the Nazis too.

The historical illiteracy is breathtaking. Opponents of national sovereignty like Khan have no moral authority to preach to the world about the horrors of the German invasion of Poland. The invasion of and subsequent carve-up of Poland, first by Germany and then by the Soviet Union, showed a contempt for national sovereignty – one that is too often shared by Khan and his ilk. Their hostility towards sovereignty is often so unrestrained that they cannot tell the difference between possessing national pride and advocating the Third Reich.

In September 1939, the so-called Great Powers were indifferent to the plight of small Central European nations. In 2019, the new powers-that-be are not merely indifferent to people’s national aspirations – they are also explicitly hostile to them. If there is a lesson to be drawn from September 1939, it is that peace and stability rely not on international laws drawn up by the global powers, but on the strengthening of the ideal of sovereignty in a Europe of nations.

Frank Furedi’s How Fear Works: the Culture of Fear in the 21st Century is published by Bloomsbury Press.

Picture by: Getty Images.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.


John Taylor

5th September 2019 at 2:45 pm

It’s interesting that the left have such a dislike for nations but seem to like the idea of ethnic rights vis a vis nations. Native Australians and Americans being examples, they will push for their national status to be recognised but don’t offer any explanation as to what happens when their “rights” are fully recognised.

I suppose they are quite happy to keep them in their reservations, like black people who are trapped in urban plantations with little employment and doubtful futures unless supported by the state. Their latest captivity ploy is sanctuary cities, bring in as many as possible, keep them poor and virtue signal to the world what wonderful people they are.

Ven Oods

3rd September 2019 at 4:26 pm

I’ve thus far thought Citizen Khan a decent sort, but this latest bout of prating does show him in a different light.

Gerard Barry

3rd September 2019 at 2:20 pm

“You see [the language of hate used] across Europe, and I say that in respect to my friends in Poland… you see this in Hungary, you see this in Italy, you see this in France.”

I just started reading the novel 1984 by George Orwell and the ideas contained therein of “newspeak” and “duckspeak” bear an uncomfortable resemblance to the language used by present-day politicians like Sadiq Khan and their attempts to silence political opposition. How dare he draw parallels between the genocide of the 1940s and present-day nationalists’ attempts to secure their borders. The two issues are completely different and only an idiot (of which, unfortunately, there are plenty) would confuse the two.

Here in Germany, too, I am often alarmed at the condescension displayed by the German government (and people) to their eastern European neighbours, constantly condemning them for not accepting refugees, for instance (since when is that compulsory?). Seems like the Germans still haven’t learned all the lessons there are to learn from World War II, like minding your own bloody business and stop telling other sovereign nations how they should govern themselves.

Amelia Cantor

3rd September 2019 at 10:31 am

The Nazis’ contempt for national sovereignty is shared by the pro-EU crowd today.

Dr Furedi shares the outlook of a former Euro-MP, who thinks “Brexit is being stolen from the people.”

And who is that former Euro-MP? I give you Dr Furedi’s fellow democrat and champion of the people… (wait for it, wait for it!)…

Nick Griffin, who represented North West England as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from 2009 to 2014 sits down with Resistance Radio’s Jack Sen to update the dire situation Theresa May and her globalist owners have put us in. Are they really going to steal Brexit from us?

So a nazi like Griffin agrees with Dr Furedi and supports Brexit, but Dr Furedi thinks that it’s the Remain community who are like “the Nazis”. It’s reasoning of this quality that explains why Spiked have had so much success winning over BAME communities to the cause of “free speech” and “individualism”.

Jerry Owen

3rd September 2019 at 4:08 pm

Amelia cantor
Your posts get more mad by the day. I expect Nick Griffin would like an end to cancer , does that mean we are all Griffinites ?
Pathetic !

Amelia Cantor

4th September 2019 at 10:52 am

My point, Jez, which I would have thought obvious to the meanest intelligence, is that genuine nazis like Griffin support Brexit, while no genuine nazis oppose it. Therefore the claim that Remainers are like nazis is the reverse of the truth. See? Nazis them like Brexit. Nazis them no like Remain. So Remainers not nazis.

brent mckeon

3rd September 2019 at 7:02 am

The big lesson of the invasion of Poland was that it was done by the National Socialist Workers Party of Germany and followed by the Marxist state of Russia, thus do not trust Marxists/Socialists. Treat them like you would treat a fascist, birds of a similar feather.


2nd September 2019 at 11:10 pm

‘the pro-EU crowd’ — absurd generalisation followed by the reductio ad Hitlerum. How can anyone take this article seriously? Furedi seems to have forgotten that the Nazis, like fascists throughout Europe, were ardent nationalists. Nation states fomented the discord that led to WWII. WWII did not result from international law or the dysfunction of some supranational organisation.

Jerry Owen

3rd September 2019 at 11:38 am

Zenobia Palmyra
Hitler was a socialist .. socialism is the ideology, he had a loathing of capitalism. Nationalism is about geography. Mussolini was a Marxist.
Obviously we know Stalin Trotsky et al were also socialists.
In short Socialism has a very poor track record from whatever angle it’s tried from.
If you studied the writings of both Hitler and Mussolini you would no doubt support their ideologies.


3rd September 2019 at 12:54 pm

Hitler did not have a ‘loathing of capitalism’. Companies such as Volkswagen, Siemens, Hugo Boss, Krupp, etc. did extremely well out of Nazism. It is absurd to describe Nazism as ‘socialism’ without taking into account its far right nationalist aspects.

Jerry Owen

3rd September 2019 at 4:07 pm

Z Palmyra
Your history is shocking, have you read any of Mein Kampf ? You should to educate yourself.
‘We are socialists , we are enemies of today’s capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak’… the quote is from Adolph Hitler. Easily found on the internet.
I note you say nothing about Mussolini !!
Hitler if he were around now would be for the EU .. a German led federal state.
You need to educate yourself … by yourself .

James Knight

2nd September 2019 at 6:28 pm

National self determination and national sovereignty were key ideals that arose in large part as a reaction to imperialism and colonialism.

They are “progressive” ideals, before the word “progressive” became another phrase FOOBAR by the new left.


2nd September 2019 at 11:12 pm

Are you seriously arguing that Hitler, Franco and Mussolini, were all the result of a progressive reaction to colonialism!? Hilarious.

brent mckeon

3rd September 2019 at 7:05 am

The ideas throughts/actions of all three came out of initially being Marxist/Socialists.

Jerry Owen

3rd September 2019 at 11:39 am

How embarrassing for you !

Dominic Straiton

2nd September 2019 at 5:37 pm

Kahn doesn’t seem to have a grasp on history or its relevance in our world. The constant comparison of centre right politicians to a murderous regime is actually embarrassing. The American constitution is a guard against fascism .Just because the Nuremberg laws were lifted almost directly from the Democrat party doesn’t make America a breeding ground for Fascism. Kahn and Lammy are a comic duo who would do equally badly on Mastermind. If were going to play the fascist game their are only two groups in the world today that reach the bar in comparison with supremacy ,racism and all the rest. On here it is impossible to name either if I want to have a quiet life (which shows how much they threaten our freedom). Crescent and sickle. Having a go at Trump and Johnson will generate nothing

michael savell

2nd September 2019 at 5:31 pm

Hi Michael,There are many arguments as to why we should never have gone to war with Hitler,not least how many fathers and sons we lost,not to mention our total loss of Empire,our gold reserves,the loss of having the reserve currency and our infrastructure,not only these things but the fact is that Hitler had probably no intention of declaring war on us,in fact wanted us to join him.
GB kept to it’s word and declared war on him,but it hasn’t taken Europe long to forget and now we have Germany running Europe without a shot fired.How long before they turn to Russia and we are left with a recalcitrant USA.Nobody will ever invade the USA but they will invade a weak UK,all for our own good no doubt.I am 82,I remember the war and it’s annoying when these career politicians appear to be lobbying for yet another predator to overrun us.

Jerry Owen

2nd September 2019 at 4:25 pm

Why is the Mayor of London globe trotting ?

Ven Oods

3rd September 2019 at 4:17 pm

No point in having that job and forgoing all the logging opportunities?

Ven Oods

3rd September 2019 at 4:18 pm


Jane 70

2nd September 2019 at 3:27 pm

I shouldn’t imagine that the Poles, with their truly awful experiences of conquest, invasions and carve ups, were too impressed by Mayor Khan’s sound bites.

Polish people are very patriotic- who can blame them? – and strongly attached to their Christian traditions.

As to having a pop at citizens who are rightly concerned about continuing mass migration, and splicing this entirely legitimate concern with Naziism; the man’s historically illiterate.

Has he heard of informed consent, or the lack of?

Why was he there?

Gerard Barry

3rd September 2019 at 2:24 pm

I can’t understand either why he was there but I find his speech downright insulting and cheeky. To visit Poland and insult the Poles like this. They were one of the main victims of World War II and he goes there and draws a parallel between the current Polish government’s refusal to bow to EU pressure to admit refugees and the mass murder of Poles during World War II. A typical “liberal” politician saying all the “right” things in the hope that it will win him votes, I suppose.

jessica christon

2nd September 2019 at 2:29 pm

It’s almost unthinkable that we’d be alienating the POTUS in this way. And the lessons of Hitler are lost on them too. Hitler didn’t create the German’s problems post WW1 – the problems created him!

Politicians on both sides who gaslighted the public for almost two decades telling us that wages at the bottom of the payscale weren’t being held down by freedom of movement even though we could see they were, telling us that EU migrants weren’t being given jobs at the expense of local people even though we could see they were, telling us it was all good because a net benefit to the economy as a whole while GDP per head was falling off a cliff and people couldn’t afford to live, all the while promoting division on the basis of race, religion, gender and sexuality, creating ‘protected classes’ and ‘hate speech’ laws to punish people if they speak out, it is they who will be responsible for the rise of a REAL far right of a kind which has never been seen before in Britain.

Winston Stanley

2nd September 2019 at 2:59 pm

GDP per capita was pretty pitiful in the 60s and 70s. It began to rise in the mid-80s and it rose pretty steadily after that. It more than doubled between 90 and 2007. It has not recovered from the 08 financial crisis and it remains below that level. This it seems that immigration did not impact negatively on GDP per capita. spi ked has some articles on what would now need to be done about productivity growth but I have to fly.

jessica christon

3rd September 2019 at 2:09 am

Winston, when the BoE said that mass immigration has a “small negative impact” on average wages and that most of this is seen in semi skilled and unskilled jobs, and that on average a 10% rise in immigration will see a 2% fall in average wages at the bottom end, these are not simply meaningless statistics.

It tells you that the benefits of immigration accrue to high and middle earners while the detriment of it is borne almost entirely by those who are already the most economically vulnerable, and the point is you can’t keep telling them forever that a) it isn’t happening to them or b) it benefits the economy – because it isn’t benefitting *them* and they can right through all the politics and bullshit.

So, if the answer from those who are supposed to be our leaders is ignoring, dismissing and sneering, they can’t also be surprised when the people who’ve been having the bird flipped at them for years eventually turn away from mainstream political parties and vote for a charismatic figure who articulates their pain and says he will rectify the situation by whatever means are necessary (nudgewinkhitlermark2).

Outside of very specific conditions like a post war or disaster situation, there is almost never any need to import unskilled labour into a population – and anywhere it happens in large numbers you will see the same problems.

Jim Lawrie

2nd September 2019 at 4:48 pm

The left, in the service of God knows who, think it a great achievement to have shut up the indigenous working class. Job insecurity at the bottom of the market and mass immigration are key to this. On the ground the contempt these foreigners have for the indigenous working class is displayed openly and with self righteous pride, taking their lead from the leftists and their masters.


2nd September 2019 at 11:16 pm

Calm down, Jim. Sit down. Pour yourself a brandy. Now examine the economic statistics in the cold light of reason. The fact is, the EU immigrants are overwhelmingly in employment and are a net economic benefit to this country. The immigrants who do not benefit the UK economically come mostly from outside the EU. Unfortunately, Brexit will do nothing to limit unproductive immigration from outside the EU. We have had over 30 years of solid economic growth in this country, while we have been in the EU. If the EU has been so bad for this country, then why have we done so well out of it?

Jane 70

3rd September 2019 at 6:09 am

Correct, and it’s also the rise of parallel societies, alienation and sheer overcrowding which have been dismissed over many many years by politicians, the media and various do gooders.
The whole debate has now been hijacked by the open borders lobby and the umbrella term refugees.
This is leading to what you so rightly point out is a the possible emergence of a far right never seen before in Britain: the pressure cooker effect.
As a former immigration officer, I know only too well how the system works, or doesn’t work.
Internal controls are woefully inadequate and the asylum system is manipulated by activists and clever lawyers, with media support from the usual suspects.
Blair and Merkel have a lot to answer for.

Danny Rees

2nd September 2019 at 2:22 pm

80 years on since the Nazis invaded Poland and writers describe Nazis as just something people disagree with.

Gosh I wonder why nobody thought to sit down and debate those Nazis.

Mark Lambert

2nd September 2019 at 2:19 pm

Khan has zero credence.
There has been no recognition of being wrong about snuggling up to Yusuf al Qarawadi, or trying to get Louis Farakhan into the country. When it was unearthed that he had used the term “Uncle Toms” he just seemed uncomfortable. When a representative of the Muslim Association of Britain said that “Europe will be in flames” (at some sort of Mohammed cartoon protest) he called it “flowery language”. He splashes the word “diversity” about regarding London, with all loss of absolute meaning. All he means is the gradual replacement of the original occupants of the city. The man is not to be trusted one bit.

Mark Bretherton

2nd September 2019 at 1:52 pm

Why the hell was Khan’t giving a speech in Gdansk? In what role? At the end of the day he’s just a city mayor, so unless it was a meeting of city mayors, why him?

Michael Lynch

2nd September 2019 at 1:31 pm

I’d say that everyone outside of London recognizes Khan’s lack of credibility. He is nothing more than a sawdust Caesar trying to punch his way on to the world stage. The very fact that the POTUS, democratically elected head of an ally who helped free Europe, was absent from proceedings was very telling. Why was this little upstart there giving us the benefit of his big head instead?
Britain had to give up enormous resource, not to mention the lives of its youth, to free Europe from dictatorship. This is now lost on an elite who are determined to thwart the sovereign democracy of the people. Have they forgotten that there is no such thing as a benign dictatorship no matter what the long term goals might be? History is littered with examples of such folly. Peace and coexistence cannot be bought without true democracy.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to comment. Log in or Register now.