Recognizing Poland's vibrant democracy

by MACIEJ SWIRSKI

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Last month, the Polish people celebrated their 100th Independence Day, an anniversary they mark from Nov. 11, 1918, the end of World War I. As they have every year since communism fell three decades ago (the celebration was banned during the German Nazi and Soviet occupations), Poles of all political stripes devoted the day to rejoicing in their nation’s escape from bondage. But this year, as it did last year, much of the global media covered the event not as a festival of liberty but a bonfire of extremism. This is wrong.

A long and painful history lies behind the annual celebration. In 1795, imperial Russia and Prussia finished a nearly quarter-century-long process of creeping occupation with the final and complete division of Poland between them. That ended the country’s official existence for the next 123 years. Not until the Versailles Conference following the “Great War” did an independent Polish state reemerge. Freedom was lost once more in 1939, as Nazi Germany invaded from the west and Soviet Russia from the east. Subjugation continued until 1989 and the end of Soviet-backed communist rule.

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Poland today is a vibrant democracy. It has a passionate and patriotic people of many views, faiths and backgrounds, who, having experienced decades of totalitarian trauma, love freedom and are determined to preserve it. We wish the international media would recognize that simple fact and tell it candidly to a candid world.

To read the article in full, visit the Washington Times.