AP NEWS
Related topics

Poland, Soviet Must Tell Truth About Past, Intellectuals Say

September 21, 1988

WARSAW, Poland (AP) _ Intellectuals from Poland and the Soviet Union urged their governments to tell the truth about mistakes made during World War II and the rule of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

The call came Tuesday as more than 100 Polish and Soviet writers, filmmakers and historians opened a seminar on ″Film and De-Stalinization of Culture″ in the basement of the Union of Writers in Warsaw.

″We came here to hurry it (de-Stalinization) up a bit,″ said Soviet film critic Irina Rubanova, one of the seminar’s organizers.

″Only the ruthless truth can be the basis of dialogue,″ Soviet historian Natan Eidelman said in the opening lecture.

The Society of Polish Filmmakers and its Soviet counterpart organized the seminar, which held its first meeting in Moscow in April.

They showed many films from the Stalin era, some of which have never been shown in Poland, but the meetings’ main focus was on historical ″blank spots.″ Only a few years ago, such a meeting would have been unthinkable.

Eidelman said the discussions in Moscow helped eliminate Soviet ignorance and added to the few facts available on Stalin’s crimes.

But he stressed that facts alone will not ensure that the de-Stalinization made possible by Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev’s policy of ″glasnost,″ or more openness on some issues, will endure.

″If you ask me what is necessary, what is most important for our Russian consciousness today, I would say that what is lacking is a sense of shame,″ Eidelman said, citing the forced deportations to Russia of hundreds of thousands of Poles. ″We unfortunately have gone through this stage feebly.″

In April 1987, Gorbachev and Poland’s leader, Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, signed an agreement to establish a joint commission of Soviet and Polish historians to review the blank spots in the history books.

The most important one for Poles is the of more than 4,000 Polish officers in Katyn forest during World War II. The Soviets blame the Nazis, but Western evidence indicates Soviet responsibility.

Many Poles hoped Gorbachev would address the issue during an official visit in July, but Gorbachev left Poland without doing so.

Eidelman had no explanation for Gorbachev’s silence, but said that the person who finally cleared up Katyn would need authority and time.

Polish and Soviet chairmen of the historical commission say they must further assess documentary evidence to reach conclusions on Katyn.

Other blank spots include Stalin’s destruction of the Polish Communist Party in the 1930s and the deportation of Poles to Siberia during World War II.

Another is the Soviet army’s failure to help the Polish resistance in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. Two hundred thousand Poles died while the Red Army camped a short distance away.

While some Poles raised old wounds and lamented the slow pace of de- Stalinization, others welcomed the Soviet efforts.

″We have always believed, often against hope, that a moment will come when we will be able to talk here together as free people with free people with equal partners,″ said Polish historian Adam Michnik.

″I’d like to say that we are for democratic Russia because we are for democratic Poland,″ the longtime opposition activist said.

AP RADIO
Update hourly