VP Pence Speaks on Behalf of Trump in Poland

 

Vice President Pence spoke in Poland, marking the start of World War II with the German invasion of Poland, 1 September 1939. Highlight comments include: “None fought with more valor, or determination, or righteous fury than the Poles…Poland proved itself a homeland of heroes.” and “The fight against the twisted ideologies of Nazism and Communism reflected the eternal struggle between right and wrong, good and evil.”

Vice President Pence’s remarks were punctuated by the notable absence, this time, of the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin.

I have reproduced the whole speech below, highlighting key passages, some astonishing for an American politician in this day and age. The whole of the remarks are worth hearing and reading. Note that this was to have been delivered by President Trump, although it would likely be tweaked to fit the Vice President’s voice. President Trump, appropriately, canceled his plans to go to Poland, prioritizing the domestic priority of responding to Hurricane Dorian.

The Guardian notes that Putin, who attended a decade ago, did not attend this time for these troubling reasons [emphasis added]:

Putin was present at a similar commemoration 10 years ago, but was not invited this year because of the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and Russia’s new revisionist historical policy, which downplays the Nazi-Soviet pact agreed a week before Germany attacked Poland.

The Soviet Union, in accordance with a secret protocol of the pact, invaded Poland from the east on 17 September. Putin called the pact a mistake a decade ago, but Russia’s foreign ministry has embarked on a campaign in recent weeks to show it as necessary and even a diplomatic triumph.

President Trump and his representative, Vice President Pence, rebuff this claim completely. They call communism evil, without excuse or qualification. Just in time for the 1939 commemoration, Energy Secretary Rick Perry announced both increasing sanctions against Russian bad actors and increased liquid natural gas shipment plans from the US to Poland. Stars and Stripes has a great photo gallery of the Warsaw ceremony.


Remarks by Vice President Pence at the Commemoration of the 80th Anniversary of the Outbreak of World War II

Issued on: September 1, 2019
Piłsudski Square
Warsaw, Poland

1:39 P.M. CEST

THE VICE PRESIDENT: President Duda, President Steinmeier, other presidents, prime ministers, and heads of state, distinguished guests, and most of all, the noble citizens of Poland: It is an honor to be here, on behalf of the President of the United States and all of the American people, to mark the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II.

Two years ago, President Donald Trump came to this very city and spoke of the remarkable bond between the American people and the people of Poland, saying, in his words, “America loves Poland, and America loves the Polish people.” (Applause.)

And today, as Vice President of the United States, it’s my great honor to stand here today, on behalf of the American people, including nearly 10 million Polish-Americans, in a Poland that is safe, strong, and free. (Applause.)

As the President said that day in Krasiński Square, “The story of Poland is the story of a people who…never lost hope, who have never been broken…who have never, ever forgotten who they are.”

Today, in the heart of Warsaw, standing humbly before the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, we’ve gathered to bear witness to the courage of a great people, to the spirit of a great nation, and to the profound and lasting strength of a great civilization.

While the hearts of every American are with our fellow citizens in the path of a massive storm, today we remember how the gathering storm of the 20th century broke into warfare and invasion, followed by unspeakable hardship and heroism shown of the Polish people.

During the five decades of untold struggle and suffering that followed the outbreak of World War II, the Polish people never lost hope, you never gave in to despair, and you never let go of your thousand-year history.

In the years that followed this day 80 years ago, your light shone in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

The character, faith, and determination of the Polish people made all the difference. It would, in time, turn shattering defeat into glorious victory.

It is difficult for any of us who are not Poles to fathom the horrors that began here 80 years ago, on the 1st of September 1939.

Within weeks, the armies of Nazi Germany from the West, and the communist Soviet Union from the East, divided up this country into occupation zones. The maniacal Nazi leader issued the command for “the physical destruction of the enemy” and ordered the “mercilessly and without compassion” death of Polish men, women, and children.

Those dual invasions marked the beginning of a conflict unlike anything the world had ever known before, and one we resolve here today the world will never know again. (Applause.)
In just over four years, one in five Polish citizens would be murdered at the hands of an evil ideology bent on racial conquest and authoritarian rule.

The Nazis systematically murdered 90 percent of Poland’s more than 3 million Jews. Tens of thousands of brave patriots of the Polish resistance would be killed in the fight against the occupation of their homeland. Over 21,000 Polish sons and daughters were massacred at the hands of the communists in April 1940, in the Katyn forest, and buried in mass graves.

And right here in this city, more than 150,000 Polish men, women, and children gave their lives in just nine weeks of the Warsaw Uprising — an uprising which was followed by the deliberate and total destruction of this city by German forces, while Soviet forces stood by and allowed the slaughter.

Those who rose up died fighting to liberate these bloodstained streets from fascism, dictatorship, and the looming menace of communism. But as President Trump said two years ago, “There is a courage and a strength deep in the Polish character that no one could destroy.” (Applause.)

And today we remember the long roll call of Polish heroes who fought for freedom in those dark days. Their names and the memory of their heroism will be enshrined in the hearts of their people and freedom-loving people forever.

The long and terrible war started here in Poland. But before long, that death struggle with totalitarianism involved the fates and compelled the extraordinary sacrifice of freedom-loving nations across the world.

So today, we also remember the 16 million Americans who left the peace and comfort of their home to fight to liberate Europe. They stood against evil. And over 400,000 young American men, including thousands of Polish Americans, gave their last full measure of devotion for their country and the peoples of nations they did not know. Today, I remember my countrymen and their sacrifices with honor and gratitude.

Today we remember the millions of brave and sturdy British citizens who served and sacrificed to save Europe, defend their sovereignty, their liberty, and their beloved Kingdom.

So too we recall the incredible patriots of the French resistance — the Dutch, the Danish, the Belgians, the Czechs, the Greeks, the Romanians, and so many other underground movements and freedom fighters who entered history as legends of courage, and they demonstrated a selflessness that will be remembered for the ages.

But none fought with more valor, or determination, or righteous fury than the Poles. And in their decades-long struggle against tyranny, Poland proved itself a homeland of heroes.  (Applause.)

As we remember the war that began here on Polish soil eight decades ago, we do well to pause and reflect on the causes of so great a conflagration.

The fight against the twisted ideologies of Nazism and Communism reflected the eternal struggle between right and wrong, good and evil. They were driven by an ancient and wicked urge to claim power by any means and impose their will to control the lives of ordinary men and women. All morality became socialist morality. Whatever served the power of the state became justified — even murder on an unprecedented scale.

But when we think of the depravity of totalitarianism, of the death squads, the concentration camps, the secret police, the state propaganda, the destruction of churches, and the endless hostility to people of faith, one cannot help but think of the words of another who lived under Soviet totalitarianism, the Russian dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

Pondering the ruinous times in which he lived, Solzhenitsyn reflected, and I quote, “If I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century…I would be unable to find anything more precise…than this: Men have forgotten God.”

Those who sought to remake the world by force did not have the last word, because there was something greater at work.

Through the brutality of war and through “four decades of communist rule,” as President Trump said two years ago in this city, “Poland and the other captive nations of Europe endured a…campaign to demolish your freedom…your laws, your history, your identity,” and your faith.” “Yet…you never lost that spirit. Your oppressors tried to break you, but Poland could not be broken.” (Applause.)

In June 1979, one of Poland’s greatest sons returned home as Pope John Paul II. History records that in this very square he preached that the Polish people could not understand their history or their future apart from the greatest source of their strength and goodness.

The Holy Father’s visit caused a “revolution of conscience” throughout the land. Within 16 months, solidarity became the first officially recognized free trade union in the Communist bloc. And the momentum of those nine days would eventually lead to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the end of the Soviet Union in 1991. (Applause.)

But on that day, in this place, Pope John Paul II said that, Man cannot understand “who he is, nor what his true dignity is, nor what his vocation is, nor what his final end is…without Christ.”  (Applause.)

And when the Holy Father spoke those words, the millions of Poles gathered here fearlessly spoke for their nation and their history. Lifting their voices, they sang: “We want God. We want God.” And their voices echoed across this nation and around the world.

A memorial cross to honor that historic moment stands before us today just opposite the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It is a symbol of Polish faith but also of Polish hope and resolve. It is a permanent testimony to the belief of the Polish people that true solidarity among people and among nations is only possible when that solidarity is seen in the light of a providential Creator.

Today, we are gathered as friends, as allies, from more than 40 countries, representatives of freedom-loving nations. Today, the fates of our people are linked by a shared love of freedom and self-determination.

So let us, on this day, resolve that the words heard in this square that unraveled that long night of oppression, not just for the people of Poland, but all across Eastern Europe — let us resolve that those words and truths that have sustained human freedom from the very beginning will never be forgotten.

America and Poland will continue to stand with all of our allies for our common defense. And America and Poland will also continue to call on all our allies to live up to the promises that we’ve made to one another. For the American people and the Polish people “know that a strong alliance of free, sovereign and independent nations is the best defense [of] our freedoms” now and always. (Applause.)

So thank you for the honor of representing our President and the American people on this historic occasion as we mark the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II.

Today, we remember those that were lost in Poland, in their long twilight struggle, and all of those who sacrificed from my nation and nations represented here to win a victory for freedom. We remember those that were lost on this day, but we also do well to celebrate — to celebrate an enduring victory for freedom and the role that the people of Poland played by their strength and their example.

As President Trump said here in Warsaw two years ago, America never gave up on the “freedom and independence of the Polish people, and we will never will.” (Applause.)

And, on this occasion, if any should doubt that the destiny of mankind is freedom, let them look to Poland, to the courageous Polish people, and see for themselves the indomitable spirit, strength, and resilience of freedom-loving people standing on a foundation of faith.

Through their decades-long struggle, their courage and faith shone forth, you prove again, here in Poland and for all the world, that though it may take decades, that “where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”  (Applause.)

Having paid tribute to the past, we now look to the future. And with the inspiration, courage, and resolve of the Polish people, from this day forward, I can assure you that Poland, America, and all freedom-loving nations in the world will meet that future together.

Thank you. God bless you. God bless Poland. And may God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

END

There are 17 comments.

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  1. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    A great speech! Thanks for posting this.

    • #1
  2. DonG Coolidge
    DonG
    @DonG

    Thanks for post. No visa waiver program yet? Shame on us, Poland is a great ally.

    • #2
  3. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    I have posted separately on President Trump and Hurricane Dorian. I significantly updated this with new information on 1 September.

    • #3
  4. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member
    Misthiocracy grudgingly
    @Misthiocracy

    I will reserve judgement until 17 days from now when it’s the 80th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland. If he delivers a similarly rousing speech, he will get my applause.

    • #4
  5. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Ironically, the leftists controlling New York, Andrew Cuomo, are now deliberately starving New York of natural gas and electricity, just as President Trump is countering Putin’s energy stranglehold on Europe.

    For commentary on the start of World War II, I recommend Steven Hayward of Power Line.

    • #5
  6. colleenb Member
    colleenb
    @colleenb

    @misthiocracygrudgingly: at least VP Pence mentioned the Soviet part of the invasion of Poland. Too often it’s completely forgotten just because it happened 2 weeks later. I also appreciate that his speech included the menace of Nazism AND Communism.

    • #6
  7. Ruthenian Member
    Ruthenian
    @Ruthenian

    A friend from Poland alerted me me to this speech; she watched it live and loved it, especially the emphasis of faith in the resolve of the Polish people. I was going to look up the speech. Thank you @cliffordbrown for saving me some effort and providing the transcript.

    • #7
  8. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    colleenb (View Comment):

    @misthiocracygrudgingly: at least VP Pence mentioned the Soviet part of the invasion of Poland. Too often it’s completely forgotten just because it happened 2 weeks later. I also appreciate that his speech included the menace of Nazism AND Communism.

    Exactly so. He called out specific Communist evil, starting with Katyn Forest, which Putin denies. He spent more time on the longer term evil. The speech was magnificent.

    • #8
  9. Ruthenian Member
    Ruthenian
    @Ruthenian

    Ruthenian (View Comment):
    He called out specific Communist evil, starting with Katyn Forest, which Putin denies.

    This underlined above is not quite accurate. In 1990 Michael Gorbachev acknowledged Soviet involvement in the Katyn Massacre, and in th same year Boris Yeltsin released documents from the Soviet archives which showed that Joseph Stalin agreed to the proposal of NKVD head Beria to execute 25,700 polish prisoners of war. In 1998 Yeltsin agreed to have a memorial erected at the Katyn Forest to commemorate the Massacre. In 2010 Vladimir Putin invited Donald Tusk then the Prime Minister of Poland (and the current President of EU) to attend a memorial service on April 7, 2010. (Because of the “friction” between the Prime Minister of Poland and the President of Poland, the latter was scheduled for a separate service on April 10, 2010. The President’s plane crashed during the approach to an airport near Katyn; all aboard were killed including Polish top political and military leaders… but this is another story.) Also, in 2010 Russian Parliament Duma passed a resolution acknowledging that the Massacre was carried out on orders of Stalin. I do not know of any official pronouncements by Putin denying Stalin’s and Soviet culpability in this crime.

    • #9
  10. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Clifford A. Brown:

    Within weeks, the armies of Nazi Germany from the West, and the communist Soviet Union from the East, divided up this country into occupation zones. The maniacal Nazi leader issued the command for “the physical destruction of the enemy” and ordered the “mercilessly and without compassion” death of Polish men, women, and children.

    Those dual invasions marked the beginning of a conflict unlike anything the world had ever known before, and one we resolve here today the world will never know again. (Applause.)
    In just over four years, one in five Polish citizens would be murdered at the hands of an evil ideology bent on racial conquest and authoritarian rule.

    The Nazis systematically murdered 90 percent of Poland’s more than 3 million Jews. Tens of thousands of brave patriots of the Polish resistance would be killed in the fight against the occupation of their homeland. Over 21,000 Polish sons and daughters were massacred at the hands of the communists in April 1940, in the Katyn forest, and buried in mass graves.

    And right here in this city, more than 150,000 Polish men, women, and children gave their lives in just nine weeks of the Warsaw Uprising — an uprising which was followed by the deliberate and total destruction of this city by German forces, while Soviet forces stood by and allowed the slaughter.

    Cliff,

    A great speech. The dishonesty with which the Poles have been treated by our new woke historians is incredible. They were attacked by both sides of the Russian-German pact. They fought bravely against an attack by a massively larger force equipped with superior weapons. As the holocaust had become known the Warsaw uprising was a fight to the death against the most grotesque odds.

    The Poles have the right to be proud. Mike Pence did a great job.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #10
  11. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Clifford A. Brown: The Soviet Union, in accordance with a secret protocol of the pact, invaded Poland from the east on 17 September. Putin called the pact a mistake a decade ago, but Russia’s foreign ministry has embarked on a campaign in recent weeks to show it as necessary and even a diplomatic triumph

    It allowed Uncle Joe to go into Operation Barbarossa with his eyes shut and leading with his chin.

    ”Diplomatic triumph.” Feh.

    • #11
  12. JamesSalerno Coolidge
    JamesSalerno
    @JamesSalerno

    This was an excellent speech. The more I see of Pence in these situations, the more I realize how underrated he is.

    • #12
  13. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Ruthenian (View Comment):

    Ruthenian (View Comment):
    He called out specific Communist evil, starting with Katyn Forest, which Putin denies.

    This underlined above is not quite accurate. In 1990 Michael Gorbachev acknowledged Soviet involvement in the Katyn Massacre, and in th same year Boris Yeltsin released documents from the Soviet archives which showed that Joseph Stalin agreed to the proposal of NKVD head Beria to execute 25,700 polish prisoners of war. In 1998 Yeltsin agreed to have a memorial erected at the Katyn Forest to commemorate the Massacre. In 2010 Vladimir Putin invited Donald Tusk then the Prime Minister of Poland (and the current President of EU) to attend a memorial service on April 7, 2010. (Because of the “friction” between the Prime Minister of Poland and the President of Poland, the latter was scheduled for a separate service on April 10, 2010. The President’s plane crashed during the approach to an airport near Katyn; all aboard were killed including Polish top political and military leaders… but this is another story.) Also, in 2010 Russian Parliament Duma passed a resolution acknowledging that the Massacre was carried out on orders of Stalin. I do not know of any official pronouncements by Putin denying Stalin’s and Soviet culpability in this crime.

    To be precise, in 2010, Putin denied Russia had any culpability.

    And now, Putin is rehabilitating Joseph Stalin as a tough guy who did what had to be done.

    • #13
  14. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    To be precise, in 2010, Putin denied Russia had any culpability.

    And now, Putin is rehabilitating Joseph Stalin as a tough guy who did what had to be done.

    Cliff,

    This kind of crap must be challenged. This propaganda from Putin plus the NY Times 1619 garbage is enough to destroy the objectivity of any young person no matter how bright.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #14
  15. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    James Gawron (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    To be precise, in 2010, Putin denied Russia had any culpability.

    And now, Putin is rehabilitating Joseph Stalin as a tough guy who did what had to be done.

    Cliff,

    This kind of crap must be challenged. This propaganda from Putin plus the NY Times 1619 garbage is enough to destroy the objectivity of any young person no matter how bright.

    Regards,

    Jim

    I think we must distinguish between “challenging” to audiences outside Russia and Russian audiences. I don’t see any chance of winning inside Russia, which seems steadily on course to sustain its centuries old system of strong men, and occasional women, ruling as protectors against internal and external enemies of Russia. Putin is just the latest czar.

    Arguably, Xi is just the latest emperor, ruler in the most recent dynasty, this one based in a roughly hereditary elite selecting emperors from its membees. 

    • #15
  16. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    James Gawron (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    To be precise, in 2010, Putin denied Russia had any culpability.

    And now, Putin is rehabilitating Joseph Stalin as a tough guy who did what had to be done.

    Cliff,

    This kind of crap must be challenged. This propaganda from Putin plus the NY Times 1619 garbage is enough to destroy the objectivity of any young person no matter how bright.

    Regards,

    Jim

    I think we must distinguish between “challenging” to audiences outside Russia and Russian audiences. I don’t see any chance of winning inside Russia, which seems steadily on course to sustain its centuries old system of strong men, and occasional women, ruling as protectors against internal and external enemies of Russia. Putin is just the latest czar.

    Arguably, Xi is just the latest emperor, ruler in the most recent dynasty, this one based in a roughly hereditary elite selecting emperors from its membees.

    Cliff,

    We must challenge where it will do some good. In other countries threatened by Russia & China and on college campuses. What can be very powerful is that the net will have repercussions inside both Russia & China which may not be controllable by the government.

    Got to keep challenging their vile narrative with the truth.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #16
  17. Ruthenian Member
    Ruthenian
    @Ruthenian

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Ruthenian (View Comment):

    Ruthenian (View Comment):
    He called out specific Communist evil, starting with Katyn Forest, which Putin denies.

    This underlined above is not quite accurate. In 1990 Michael Gorbachev acknowledged Soviet involvement in the Katyn Massacre, and in th same year Boris Yeltsin released documents from the Soviet archives which showed that Joseph Stalin agreed to the proposal of NKVD head Beria to execute 25,700 polish prisoners of war. In 1998 Yeltsin agreed to have a memorial erected at the Katyn Forest to commemorate the Massacre. In 2010 Vladimir Putin invited Donald Tusk then the Prime Minister of Poland (and the current President of EU) to attend a memorial service on April 7, 2010. (Because of the “friction” between the Prime Minister of Poland and the President of Poland, the latter was scheduled for a separate service on April 10, 2010. The President’s plane crashed during the approach to an airport near Katyn; all aboard were killed including Polish top political and military leaders… but this is another story.) Also, in 2010 Russian Parliament Duma passed a resolution acknowledging that the Massacre was carried out on orders of Stalin. I do not know of any official pronouncements by Putin denying Stalin’s and Soviet culpability in this crime.

    To be precise, in 2010, Putin denied Russia had any culpability.

    And now, Putin is rehabilitating Joseph Stalin as a tough guy who did what had to be done.

    I do not know what is in Putin’s head. Since he is a former KGB officer, I have no difficulty believing that he may see the massacre as justified. My point was that he does not deny that that the deed was done by the Soviet secret police NKVD.

    BTW, the headline on the first article you linked is “Blame for massacre of Poles cannot be put on Russians – Putin” — Russians and Russia not exactly the same.

    As to Stalin’s popularity in Russia—now reaching 70%—it is extremely worrisome. I can’t fathom how it is possible. Actually, I can but I do not know what can be done about it.

    • #17

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