“History is written by the victors,” as Napoleon said, and the victors will twist the facts to suit their agendas. Victors will appear as morally good, as fair, as protectors of everything humans admire. The vanquished will appear as black-hearted, savage devils.
Of course, the devils fought hard-they were gallantly vicious. If they were wimps, it wouldn’t be much of a Glory Story, now would it? Thus Hitler’s name has become a synonym post-WWII for demon, the Germans are a race of Teutonic warriors who worship Odin at the drop of a wiener schnitzel and U.S. GIs slew that dragon while simultaneously handing out candy bars to hungry children.
This is an old, old story. Julius Caesar in his Gallic Wars, claimed that one group was attacking another in Gaul and he rushed to protect them, beating the aggressors soundly in the process. Yay Julius! Who would question this? It’s history, it is written down, it must be true.
Except it is no more true than today’s TV news. Gaul, as archeologists have since discovered, was full of producing gold mines. Julius made no mention of gold, nor did he mention the hundreds of thousands of people: men, women and children, whom he just wiped off the face of the earth to get that gold.
While tracking the recent troubles in the Ukraine, I wondered why the landscape seemed so familiar to me, why I felt a sort of connection to it. Is it because I am Polish? As it turns out, the history of Poland/Ukraine/Russia is extremely complex.
If I were Russian I would write a history in which the rotten Poles were constantly plotting to gobble up Russia and from the Polish viewpoint it is obvious that the brave Polskis have been cursed with a big, mean bear on their border for hundreds of years.
Of course, that border has wiggled back and forth like a spastic snake for hundreds of years, as the time lapse video below shows. Who is the devil? Who are the angels? Shoot, I can’t even trace my own family name! Were we Swede-Mongol-Slavs who converted from Russian Orthodoxy to Catholicism? Were we Khazarian Jews who did so?
I looked up old records and found a Polish guard named Czaja who ran a concentration camp for Jews during the Nazi occupation of Poland. He was a rat. Then again I found a Czaja on a list of Jewish victims of the same catastrophe! Then again I found Jews who turned in their friends to save their own hides and Poles who hid Jews to save them. I found Russians who wept over the brutality and Russian who committed the brutalities.
The truth is always more knobbly than BS political “history;” which is often just propaganda with footnotes.
You can tell it’s BS when the story presents one side as all shiny-clean and heroic and the other as smelly, repulsive beasts. This is simply NEVER true. I think we humans must really like hero stories, but the truth is always much more interesting.
Oh-THAT’S why Grandpa was Polish but said he came from Austria!