MINSK, 17 September (BelTA) – The Belarusian people evolved into a single nation through unthinkable trials. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko made the statement during the patriotic forum Symbol of Unity held in Minsk Arena on 17 September to mark People's Unity Day, BelTA has learned.
The entire history of Belarus' sometimes difficult and dramatic road towards gaining and preserving its statehood has more than once confirmed the ancient wisdom of strength in unity, Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.
“We, Belarusians, know what losing half of the native land to accommodate someone else's national interests, someone else's exorbitant geopolitical ambitions means. We know what losing ties to your friends and family members for long 20 years means,” the president stated. In his words, during those decades over 4 million people, who lived in the territory occupied by Poland, were deprived of the right to speak the native language, go to national schools, develop their original culture, and simply call themselves Belarusians.
To illustrate his point, the president insisted that a map of Belarus in 1921 should be shown during the forum. The country's territory was several times smaller than now. “Look at what Belarus was. A devastated country, a country that was torn apart and divided… Was it fair? It wasn't. For 20 years people suffered and were humiliated. They were forbidden to talk how they want without mentioning that kids had no appropriate schools, this part of Belarus was being polonized. We couldn't live with it,” the Belarusian leader pointed out.
Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded: “It comes as no surprise that residents of Western Belarus welcomed the Red Army as a liberator on 17 September 1939. With tears in their eyes and with flowers in their hands. The archive photos that are carefully preserved in old family albums remember that meeting.”
“Yes, today we don't have the strength to silence nationalists of various kinds, descendants of the collaborators that liken this event to Nazi Germany's assault on Poland. But we can and should pull no punches in order to at last respond with facts, which we have started doing,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed. He reminded that Poland suffered a crushing defeat in the war with Germany by mid-September 1939, the Polish army was destroyed and the government fled to the UK. Poland ceased to be as a state. The shadow of Nazi Germany hanged over Western Belarus, which had been part of Poland. “By regaining the ancient Belarusian lands that had been lost, the Soviet government stopped the deadly threat for residents of the region for two long years,” the head of state noted.
He pointed out that Poland took offense because Belarusians decided to celebrate the day of the country's unification on this memorable date in their own country and in accordance with their own Constitution. “Why did they take offense? Polish lands. It turns out we ‘occupied' them,” the president noted. In response to such accusations and rebukes Aleksandr Lukashenko stated that the historical decision to reunite the lands in 1939 was correct and just.
The president said: “On 1 September 1939 Germany attacked Poland and the Polish state ceased to be within two weeks. If the Red Army had not moved its troops to the west, towards Brest and Grodno, the Germans may have not stopped at that western border. They could have moved as far as nearly Minsk. I dare say today that if Germans had been close to Minsk back in 1939, two years before Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union, the Great Victory of 1945 may have not been possible. The Soviet Union could have been destroyed by one rapid strike targeting Moscow. This is why Stalin's preventive move to the west and the reunion of the western Belarusian lands with ancestral Belarusian lands represent the right, fair, and logical decision,” the president is convinced.
Talking about events of September 1939, the Belarusian head of state wondered why Poland failed to protect its lands and surrendered the entire territory, including Grodno and Brest, within two weeks. “Why didn't you die if that land was yours? What could be said about the eastern lands that had become part of Poland… Our days would be numbered,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
He remarked that some say that Poles could not resist the might of the German army. “Let me ask the second question: why didn't your benefactors help you? Did you notice where the Polish government fled to? To the UK. And Anglo-Saxons were strong back then. Why didn't they defend Poland as they had promised? And another question: Poland received a deadly blow on 1 September  from an ally. Because Germany had been an ally with Poland till 1 September 1939. They were tight. The Polish government, the leaders were ready to erect a monument to Hitler in the center of Warsaw. Archive documents confirm it. And then Hitler stomped all over Poland several months later,” the Belarusian head of state stated.
Aleksandr Lukashenko repulsed all kinds of complaints about Belarus in connection with events of September 1939. He stressed that in that period the Belarusian nation once again regained the right to live and grow within borders of one republic. Over a short period of time people in western regions were granted the right to free healthcare, nearly 6,000 schools started working, national universities and theaters were opened. New factories and plants were built, the president reminded. Belarusian newspapers and magazines became available in all the oblast capitals and district capitals. “Belarus' reunification in 1939 gave a powerful impulse to the development of economy, science, and culture. But most importantly Belarusians became united. They stood together in the fight against those in favor of recreating the ‘great' Poland and in the fight against the Nazi occupation,” the president noted.
Aleksandr Lukashenko went on saying: “Residents of Western and Eastern Belarus died without a second thought in the name of their Fatherland on battlefields, fighting as partisan units and as the underground resistance movement. During that most dreadful and cruelest war in the history of mankind the people's unity of Belarusians, Russians, Ukrainians, Poles, Jews, and other small ethnicities, who lived in the republic, grew stronger and was tempered. The Belarusian people evolved into a single nation through unthinkable trials.”