Statement of Catholic M.P.
Mgr. Joseph Gawlina, Bishop to the Polish Forces, has made a strong protest against the statements of R. R. Stokes, M.P., in regard to Polish history, stating them to be " extremely unjust."
Mr. Stokes, it will be recalled, both in a speech in Brighton and in a letter to this paper, summed up his views as follows: " Poland, until the rise of Hitler, was the most aggressive nation in history. We have, in fact, backed a little aggressor against a big one."
We print on the right a letter from Bishop Gawlina as well as an article on the subject from his pen.
Mr. Stokes, on being shown the documents, stated that he preferred to consider a reply rather than give it off-hand. Not only Poles, but doubtless the greater majority of British readers of the Csinouc HERALD read, with great surprise, Mr. Stokes's letter on the subject of Polish history in the last number of this paper. Tn this letter the thing that strikes one first of all is the sentence that " after the 1914-113 war Poland was created out of Russian and German territory without consulting either Russia or Germany."
It is not necessary to know much history to know that Poland is one of the largest, oldest European countries with more than a thousand years of history and culture behind her—and that, in spite of some mistakes in policy (and what country has none?) she was always a creative element in Europe as well as in humane civilisation—that she extended her territory not by means of aggression or violence but by means of goodwill and union and federation freely agreed upon between other countries and herself . . that heroic and centuries-old fight against the enemies of Christianity from the east, has won her the honourable title of "antemurale Christianitaiis."
EUROPE'S MORTAL SIN
The partition of Poland at the end of the eighteenth century by three great allied enemy Powers was felt by the noblest spirits of all great countries to be a brutal breaking of all the laws of God and man. One of the great thinkers of France of the nineteenth century, P. Lamennais, expressed this feeling by stating that from the moment of the partition of Poland, " Europe found herself to be in a slate of mortal sin."
The giving hack to Poland of her independence after the 1914-18 war, was the greatest act of justice which came our of that war. This is the opinion, expressed in 1933, by Mr. Winston Churchill. Prime Minister of Great Britain.
Let us assume this hypothesis; if Great Britain were to be defeated and divided, let us say, between Germany and France, and later, for instance, after a hundred years of partition and persecution she were to regain her independence after a war in which she fought, would Mr. Stokes also write that " Great Britain was created out of German and French territory without consulting either Germany or France?"
HISTORY WOULD NOT AGREE
What Mr. Stokes has written about Poland and her aggressive character does not in any way agree with history, and Dr. Stephen Glaser has already replied to this in the CAIHOLIC lit:KALD (February 21). Let us sum up briefly :—Poland has not received one province from the Germans in which the majority of the population was not ethnically Polish: on the contrary, mariy Polish people remained on the German side. The peace which was made by Poland and Russia in 1921 at Riga was a compromise. Poland renounced her claims to more than 100,000 square miles of land which had belonged to her before the partition in the eighteenth century.
It is not true that the eastern provinces of Poland, now under Soviet occupation, are Russian in character. Less than I per cent. of the population is comprised of
Russians. In these areas the most numerous group of population is Polish, next the Ukrainians and next the White Russians, who are not Russians and who cannot be Russians. As for Vilno, there is a Polish majority not only in the town itself but also in the surrounding country as has been confirmed by many statistics, including those of the Germans in 1917, who are unfavourable to the Poles.
NOT HIS FIRST ATTACK Mr. Stokes's letter is unfortunately not his first attack on Poland.
I have just read a hook called After the War. which consists of the opinions of several Members of Parliament about British means of peace. In this book Mr. Stokes declares that the so-called Polish Corridor should be given to the Germans. 1 do not need to emphasise that this kind of solution would he contrary to the ideals of Christianity and justice which are dependent upon Christian peace. The unjustly so-called Corridor is the old Polish province of POMOrie, inhabited for centuries for the most part by Polish people. The first Bishoprics of Poland were made in Pomorze in the tenth and eleventh centuries: Kolobrzeg, Julin and Wolin. Even the most tendentious Prussian statistics, published before the war 19I4-l8, could never question the century-old Polish character of this province. Polish Pomorze was not created by the Versailles Treaty, and until the partition of Poland at the end of the eighteenth century this soil had always belonged to Poland for hundreds and hundreds of years. Although terribly persecuted under Prussian rule. the people never lost their national spirit. The fact is that Poland was represented in the Reichstag and Prussian Parliament by Poles.
It is true that cast of Pomorze was transformed by the work of the Teutonic Order, using violence and murder into a German island, which is to-day called Eastern Prussia. This is not, however, sufficient reason for a large nation of thirty millions to be deprived of its outlet to the sea, the more so since this outlet goes right through purely ethnically Polish territory.
The Polish nation deprived of her coastline would be doomed, politically and economically, and would soon become the victim of the reborn German militarism. Mr. Stokes should take all this into consideration when he justly says: " the will of one nation to live must never mean the sentence of death passed upon another."
Possession of Polish Pomorze and Eastern Prussia are not a vital necessity for Germany, but for Poland to be cut off territorially from the sea means sentence of death. Other members of the House of Commons who contributed to this book, After the War, understand this, as do the great majority of the British nation.
EVEN HITLER THOUGHT SO is a very painful surprise, coming, as it does, from a Catholic, for all Poles in Great Britain, especially for Polish soldiers, airmen and sailors who are gallantly fighting alongside their British colleagues against their common enemy.
Poland, one of the largest Catholic countries in the world, is fighting to-day with desperate heroism against the devastating subjugation, the cruelty of which has never been equalled in the history of mankind. On the one hand there is the Neo-Paganism of Hitler, and on the other, the anti
Christian doctrine of Bolshevism. In this terrible struggle the Polish nation which represents the ethics and civilisation of Christianity, deserves the support of all leaders and helpers of Catholic ideals.
OUR BELOVED POLAND
" The blood of innumerable human beings," said Pope Pius XII in his homily of October 20. 1939, " of our beloved nation, Poland, who, by her fidelity to the Church, by her services in the defence of Christian civilisation, which are inscribed indelibly on the annals of history, has the right to the human and fraternal sympathy of the world."
To conclude, Mr. Stokes at the Brighton Conference, according to the Ca-mom Malaria expressed the view " that not all emigre governments represent the views of the masses of the people they have left behind." I can assure Mr. Stokes that as far as the Polish Government is concerned, under the leadership of General Sikorski, it represents all parties of the Polish people. All reports unanimously affirm that he, General Sikorski, has the entire moral support of the Polish people, etnigris as well as those in Poland.
The Germans could not find a Polish Quisling. The British Government is well informed of this from their own sources.
We may add that even Chancellor Hitler in several speeches of the years 1935 and 1938 emphasised Poland's right as a great State to have territorial access to the eta.
Apart from all this, Mr. Stokes's opinion