Solidarity

Opponents of Poland’s former communist regime reportedly want to pay a posthumous homage to US President Ronald Reagan by erecting his statue in the place of a Soviet-era monument.
In an open letter to the mayor of the southwestern city of Katowice, the former anti-regime activists said that the staunchly anti-communist Reagan had been a “symbol of liberty,” the Polish news agency PAP reported.

As a result, they said, he deserved to become the centrepiece of the city’s Freedom Square, replacing a monument to the Soviet troops who drove out the occupying Nazis in 1945.

They also said that they wanted the site to be rebaptised “Ronald Reagan Freedom Square.”

The article goes on to say that the mayor of Katowice likes the idea, but he isn’t sure the city ought to pay the statue out of public funds (Reagan, of course, would have loved him). Call me crazy, but I think I’m very safe in assuming that the organizers could get some financial help from ye olde blogosphere for this effort.

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11 Responses to “Solidarity”

  1. aaron Says:

    Sniff… I’ve missed you guys.

    Anyway, yeah. If they can get some attention, I’m sure they could find plenty of donations.

  2. Vilmos Soti Says:

    Although I am an anti-communist and also credit RR big time (but not exclusively) for ruining the day for the Soviet Union, I am not sure if I would support this idea.

    I am in no way against to have a public statue for Ronnie. I am also for removing statues which praise Communism. But according to your excerpt, they are about to replace a statue which pays homage to the Soviet troops who drove out the Nazis. There is a good chance that this is not a statue praising Communism (or at least mainly). This is a statue commemorating those poor luckless Soviet soldiers by the thousands who probably gave their lives to liberate Poland. That’s a different thing that Poland became a Communist country afterwards. But it is by no means the fault of the Soviet privates who fought in the war.

    Let’s not celebrate freedom by removing a statue dedicated for those who fought against another horrific tyranny. Freedom is not about revenge. Especially not about revenge against those who had no say in the imposition of Communism on Poland.

    What about keeping the original statue *AND* adding another statue of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and John Paul II? Then Katowice’s Freedom Square would pay homage to both the Soviet soldiers (I intentionally didn’t write Soviet Army or Soviet Union), who after all did have a hand in beating the Nazis, and to the great three who brought down the Soviet Union.

    Also, I don’t think that the square should be renamed after an US president. I am a very big supporter of the US, but every country should name their main squares after their own heroes. This is, of course, not to belittle RR’s role in screwing the SU. The Poles have two great contemporary men who would equally deserve to name a Polish city’s main square after them: Lech Walesa and John Paul II. Both fought in the same war with Ronald Reagan.

    I also hope, if they decide to replace the original statue, that they won’t melt it down. My home city, Budapest, also had her unfair share of Lenin, Marx & Engels, and other communist statues. After the system collapsed, Hungary decided to remove these sculptures. But since they are, whether we like it or not, part of our history, they created a so called “statue park” (http://www.szoborpark.hu) where they collected these (IMO artistically worthless) statues for future generations to see.

    Vilmos

  3. Nick Bourbaki Says:

    Vilmos,

    I understand your point regarding the soldiers, but I disagree with this comment:

    “Also, I don’t think that the square should be renamed after an US president. I am a very big supporter of the US, but every country should name their main squares after their own heroes.”

    How would this be different than the scores of squares, cities and counties in the U.S. named after Lafayette or Pulaski? I think that it shows a great deal of maturity for a group to recognize the contributions of outsiders.

  4. Brad Warbiany Says:

    Yeah, I remember finding it odd when I finished high school in Chicago, went off to college, only to find that nobody outside Chicago got the day off school for Casimir Pulaski day!

  5. Vilmos Soti Says:

    Nick,

    I didn’t talk about counties or scores of squares. I was talking about the main city squares. Or actually, let me correct myself, the major square or road in a city. I think that should be reserved to a native hero (or to a foreign hero who had direct and very major role in the city’s life).

    You mentioned Lafayette and Pulaski. Both actually served in the Independence War, and Pulaski also died in the US.

    On the other hand, this is an issue where, IMO, reasonable people can disagree. If I were a citizen of Katowice, I could definitely live with the main square renamed after Ronald Reagan. While he didn’t have a direct role in Katowice’s life, he definitely had a major role in undermining the SU.

    One more thing. According to the original post, the square’s name is Freedom Square. That is already a pretty good name for me.

    But again, RR definitely deserves a major square/road in any Central European city.

    Vilmos

  6. Steve Skubinna Says:

    Vilmos, I doubt the Poles are much enthused about the sacrifices the Soviet grunts made “liberating” their nation, since they did it in order to impose another flavor of oppression upon them, which in turn took nearly a half century for them to get out from under. And recall that Stalin had the Red Army pause before entering Poland, after encouraging the Polish Resistance to rise against the Nazis and then get slaughtered.

    And then, there’s that whole Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact thing, where the Commies and the Nazis divvied up Eastern Europe betwen them (remember that after the Germans invaded from the West, the Soviets invaded from the East and they split Poland).

    And finally, Katyn Yar. Hell, were I a Pole I think I’d want the Soviet statues kept just so I could visit them every day to urinate on them. I am surprised they’ve survived this long, actually.

  7. Dan Says:

    “Also, I don’t think that the square should be renamed after an US president. I am a very big supporter of the US, but every country should name their main squares after their own heroes.”

    You’d be suprised – when I was in France (France of all places!) I saw many towns with a street or square named after Woodrow Wilson and (less frequently) JFK. Gratitude can be found in the most unlikely places.

    *sigh* – ah, for a time when we were looked upon as actual liberators.

    DU

  8. Sam Says:

    Vilmos, as an Estonian, I have this much to say about the “liberation” of Eastern Europe: it’s only liberation if you stop the cattle trains going to Birkenau, and then don’t turn them right around towards forced labor camps in Siberia.

    I know these statues well, and they’re an affront to every victim of the NKVD terror squads. Fine, commemorate the lives of soldiers who DIED protecting Russia – but hailing them as “liberators” of Poland, the Baltics, etc. on the soil of those countries is a travesty.

    Hell, the Soviets invaded the neutral Baltics first, in 1941, and killed or deported tens of thousands of civilians. By this logic, we should have statues praising Nazi Germany, since they also “liberated” us from late 1941 to 1944.

    A few years ago, a bunch of loons actually erected a statue commemorating the ethnic Estonian volunteers who fought against the second Soviet invasion in 44, wearing Wehrmacht uniforms as the Estonian army was dissolved. This was deemed inappropriate for a public memorial and was removed by our government.

    Why is it inappropriate to commemorate men who fought to keep their country free, by depicting them in uniform? Because they were wearing the uniform of a murderous, criminal regime, if only due to necessity.

    Commemorating soldiers in Soviet uniforms in places like Poland and the Baltics is inappropriate for the exact same reason.

    The Estonian Parliament just passed a law calling for removal of all statues that glorify the “liberation” of our country. Putin will surely call it “proof” of us being fascist crazies. But we do understand the need to respect the soldiers and civilians who died in WW2, regardless of their nationality, and we have erected appropriate memorials – no hammers and sickles OR swastikas need apply.

  9. Sam Says:

    Oh, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with naming streets or squares in thanks to foreigners – we have a square in the center of Tallinn called Iceland Square, commemorating the fact that Iceland was the first nation to officially recognize the newly declared re-independent Estonian government back in 1991. The US was third or something, probably due to the time difference.

  10. Greg Says:

    Don’t you know that a statue honoring President Reagan for ending the Cold War and driving the USSR to it’s knees will just drive out loony Left-wing surrender monkeys absolutely nuts?

  11. J. Mark English Says:

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    http://www.americanlegends.blogspot.com

    If you want to do this just go to my blog and in one of the comments just write your blog name and the URL and I will add it to my site.

    Thanks,
    Mark

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