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Year: 2017

Thousand kilometers away. Danish viev on September 17th

I was probably22 or 23 years old when I first understood the severity of what happened to Poland on September 17th 1939. As a person that from childhood where interested in Danish and European history, and having read extensively about WWII, I was of course not unfamiliar with the fact that Poland was carved up – for the fourth time – between its two larger neighbors. But that the event actually was an assault, an unprovoked and fiercely resisted Soviet assault, did not occur to me until I as a young man tried to learn the Polish language and had a Polish-born teacher, who told us the story about her family fleeing Warsaw in the middle of September 1939.

Danish war experience was different from the Polish one. Photo: Danish soldiers durig the German invasion, 1940;

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A novel about an unknown hero

Obrońca Grodna. Zapomniany bohater (Defender of Grodno: Forgotten Hero) by Piotr Kościński is an important and interesting novel. These are already two reasons enough to read it. But it is also well-told, fast-paced and a has well-drawn main character. However, the novel is based on a real-life person—Major Benedykt Serafin, a professional officer in pre-war Poland, who was the actual commander of the three-day defense of Grodno against the Red Army, from September 20 to 22, 1939.

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A collection of disputed points

Polish-Russian debates on the history of the Second World War are primarily a collection of disputed points.  Any signs of a lessening of the distances between these points are small compared to the spaces between the views expressed by Poland and Germany or Poland and Ukraine. The modest common understanding that did take place in the nineties, and the ongoing dialogue of many historians does little to change the current situation:  in 2017 the Russian view of the last of the great wars looks very different to the Polish one.

 The Ribbentrop-Molotov pact map

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Forgotten KOP posts near Minsk

One of the most interesting fragments of the former cordon, separating the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic and the Polish Republic from 1921 to 1939, is located in the settlement area of ​​Nowe Pole–Raków. Several posts of the KOP, the Polish Border Protection Corps, were located here (KOP protected the USSR border and the rest of Poland was protected by the Border Guard – Kresy 1939). One of the border posts was called “Minska”. Like the others, it was a part of the 6th KOP Battalion, the headquarters of which was located in Iwieniec.

   Polish border post

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