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.

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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.

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