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Poles will always be grateful for Thatcher

Radek Sikorski, Poland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs has described Thatcher’s fight against Communism as a “moral inspiration”

By on Monday, 15 April 2013

Radek Sikorski, Poland's Foreign Minister Photo: Press Association

Radek Sikorski, Poland's Foreign Minister Photo: Press Association

I have been reading Anne Applebaum’s superb work of history, “Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-1956”. It is a compelling study of how Communism works on the ground and thus how it was able to take control of so many different countries in Eastern Europe so swiftly at the end of the War. In her conclusion she writes, “Even when [human beings] seem bewitched by the cult of the leader or of the party, appearances can be deceiving. And even when it seems as if they are in full agreement with the most absurd propaganda – even if they are marching in parades, chanting slogans, singing that the party is always right – the spell can suddenly, unexpectedly, dramatically be broken.” She is alluding to the dramatic fall of Communism at the end of the 1980s, and ending on a note of hope in what is otherwise an account of enormous suffering, material and moral.

It happens that Applebaum is married to Radek Sikorski, Poland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. And it also happens that Sikorski wrote a thought-provoking article in the Telegraph of Tuesday April 9, sub-titled: “Mrs Thatcher was a moral inspiration in the struggle to free Poland from communism.” I was interested to read it because he implicitly endorsed my blog of the day before, in which I had argued that Thatcher’s greatest legacy was her unflinching stand against Communism.

There are other aspects to her legacy, of course, but these are closer to home and open to heated debate, as we have seen in the conflicting responses to the news of her death. I had thought my blog uncontroversial because it seemed so obviously true, but inevitably it had its critics, those who felt the role Thatcher played in changing the toxic political situation in Eastern Europe – and Russia itself – was negligible.

Sikorski, a Polish refugee in England during the 1980s and now playing a significant part in his own country’s democratic life, wrote in his article, “Mrs Thatcher’s role in changing all this cannot be overstated. For those behind the Iron Curtain, she was a member of the anticommunist “Holy Trinity” – consisting of John Paul II, Ronald Reagan and herself – who altered the fate of the West, and consequently the fate of those outside it.” He goes on to argue that “by rejuvenating Britain, she made the strongest possible case against the model of the command economy in both its hard and soft forms.”

He emphasises that “What inspired us Poles most was that, with Reagan and John Paul II, she was a deeply moral politician…She stood on the side of the angels in the Cold War and provided leadership for as long as the Soviet Union needed to be challenged…We in the former Eastern Europe will continue to remember her with gratitude as someone who hastened the day when we joined the family of democratic nations.”

Strong words and a fine tribute from someone who knew at first-hand the tribulations of his native country, Poland – and what it was like to discover a potent symbol of hope in the improbable figure of this well-dressed Tory lady, with her handbag, hats and pearls who, according to Charles Powell, her foreign policy adviser who accompanied her on almost all her overseas trips as prime minister, was never afraid to speak her mind – to the consternation of her aides. When she first met Mikhail Gorbachev, apparently she greeted him with “I hate Communism!” Being diplomatic was not her strongest suit.

Although Thatcher’s particular role in the “Holy Trinity” may be debated, she did indeed help to break the malign “spell” of Communism and for this, as Radek Sikorski writes, we should always remember her with gratitude.

  • Benedict Carter

    We in Britain rightly remember our efforts in the Second World War with great pride; we were the only nation to stand against Hitler until he invaded the USSR. My own family lost two uncles killed in action and a third as a POW in that war. I am very proud of them.

    While we managed to preserve our own freedom (now given away to the EU, but that’s a different story), our formal reason for going to war – the invasion of Poland by Germany – and our official war aim (Poland’s liberation) ended in defeat: a war started by Britain and France to free Poland ended in that country’s bondage under demonic Communism for half a century, a half century of horror at the hands of socialism.

    And let’s not forget that the invasion of Poland came from the east as well as from the west. Stalin and Hitler together started the Second World War, as allies.

    I have to say that I wish the victorious Allies had continued eastwards until Communism, like Nazism, had been utterly defeated. We had an overwhelming advantage in materiel and we had the atomic bomb. Yet it didn’t happen and a final victory over Communism will have to wait until a Pope at last obeys Our Lady and consecrates Russia to the Immaculate Heart together with all the Bishops of the world.

    God bless Poland!

    The leftists and anarchists celebrating Mrs. Thatcher’s death are utter and complete scum. They richly deserve the kind of suffering Poles, Hungarians, Czechs, Germans, Bulgarians, Latvians, Estonians, Lithuanians, Romanians, Ukrainians and Russians had to endure for so long.

  • Unimpressed

    Francis, we discovered you are a Maggie fan with your first tribute to her; the second piece was unnecessary….and now a third. Please let this one be the last. Yes, let us pray that she rests in peace but I think we’ve had enough of the hagiography.

  • $20596475

    The collapse of communism was self inflicted. Thatcher had nothing to do with it. She just benefited from the reflected glory of happening to be around at the same time. The idolising of this very nasty woman seems entirely inappropriate for any true Christian. She had some admirable qualities but applied her convictions without any apparent compassion. Her death has re-opened wounds that had begun to heal and for the hard right to be eulogising in the way they are is pretty offensive to many, like me, of a moderate mind set. I am far from being a socialist, or an anarchist as I vote Tory.

  • Gregory Nearing

    Anyone who is anti socialist or anti-communist or both is a friend in my book

  • Gregory Nearing

    I know, right? They would rather have the poor poorer, if the rich were less rich.

  • James Moriarty

    Well, to be fair, Ben, we had Canada, Australia and other Empire/Commonwealth countries fighting with us from the start; although we were in the front line.

  • http://jabbapapa.wordpress.com/ Julian Lord

    Yes, her Pole Tax didn’t make everyone unhappy with her, eh ?

    Though to be fair — When she first met Mikhail Gorbachev, apparently she greeted him with “I hate Communism!” ; my dad spoke to people exactly the same way on the same subject.

  • http://jabbapapa.wordpress.com/ Julian Lord

    The leftists and anarchists celebrating Mrs. Thatcher’s death are utter and complete scum

    This much is 100% certain — disliking her policies is one thing ; the obscenity that these people have been providing is something utterly foul.

  • Tridentinus

    So you would be one of the “wets” then?

  • http://jabbapapa.wordpress.com/ Julian Lord

    [fill-in-the-gap] seems entirely inappropriate for any true Christian

    Funny how you so violently dislike most characterisations by Christians of atheism and atheists, and yet seem keen to opine on how a “proper” “christian” “would” behave ???

    In fact, atheists do NOT have magical powers to dictate the actions, attitudes, nor beliefs of any non-atheists.

  • Benedict Carter

    You what, right?

  • Benedict Carter

    Quite right to point this out. Sorry, Empire.

  • Benedict Carter

    A diseased limb sometimes has to be cut off.

    If only the Pope would do this with a few diseased limbs. Perhaps he will.

  • $20596475

    Perhaps that was why the cabinet finally decided to dump Thatcher! Perhaps too the Pope will decide to cut off some of the those holding extreme views.

  • $20596475

    I am an admirer of MacMillan, Heath and Heseltine. If that makes me “wet” then I accept your intended insult with pride. I would rather be “wet” than part of the nasty party.

  • $20596475

    You, and your fellow right wingers, do NOT speak for Christians. You speak only for yourselves. You have an opinion. So do I. You don’t have any powers, magical or not, to dictate my actions, attitudes or beliefs over what I think are appropriate for a Christian. That is for me alone.

  • Frank

    I tend to agree with quite a lot of the sentiment expressed in your post. Not all of it but I was one of the ones that, previously, posted a different opinion to Francis. Being an outspoken critic of communism was a major point in her favour but I thought MT presided over a great deal of breakdown in this country and in my opinion failed to achieve many of her self-declared aims, especially in areas of family and social behaviour. But then in these particular issues, as far as I can see, in politics, she is not unique.

  • $27740841

    Apologies for going slightly off topic but I was very critical of Margaret Thatcher on a previous thread. And then I watched Martin Durkin’s Channel Four documentary ‘Margaret: Death of a Revolutionary’ on Saturday, 7.00pm.

    Is it possible for a set of attitudes to be seriously challenged by an argument presented in a documentary? Well, mine have been. Margaret Thatcher, among other things, wanted to see ‘every man and woman become a Capitalist’ and to this end set out to give working class people access to capital. Am I wrong in seeing a similarity between her ideas and those of the Catholic writers who proposed Distributionism, or Distributivism, as an alternative to both Communism and monopoly Capitalism. This documentary has opened my eyes, to say the least, and it can still be viewed here:
    http://www.channel4.com/programmes/margaret-death-of-a-revolutionary/episode-guide/series-1/episode-1

    As for the subject of this thread, who is going to save BRITAIN from Communism? This article by Quentin Letts in Saturday’s Daily Mail – ‘How the Left’s Grip on Britain is Tightening…’ – is a real eye opener.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2308301/How-Lefts-grip-Britain-tightening.html

    In my own defence, it was impossible to ignore the fact that Margaret Thatcher was honest and had integrity. What you saw was what you got. And as some even on the left did acknowledge, at least you knew where you stood with her, unlike many in politics today. She is in my prayers.

  • Tridentinus

    Aw! I thought you might appreciate it as humour.

  • http://jabbapapa.wordpress.com/ Julian Lord

    “right-winger” LMAOROFL (as dear Anti Molly would say, if her gin-hole weren’t so filled with carpet-munchings)

  • tmib

    Don’t forget France too!

  • tmib

    The allies did make plans for a conflict with the Soviet Union “to impose upon Russia the will of the United States and the British Empire” They called it Operation Unthinkable – and not for nothing – the Soviets outnumbered the Allies 2:1 in tanks and 4:1 in personal by the end of the war in Europe.

  • James M

    Such people do more to discredit their cause than their critics could. Which is some consolation – quite a lot, actually.

  • James M

    She stood up to, and defeated, the unions. That by itself entitles her to the gratitude of this country – of course she is hated for breaking the stranglehold they used to have; how can that be surprising ? Her predecessors failed to confront them – fortunately, she was made of sterner stuff. Considering that some of the union leaders were in the pay of Moscow, she was utterly right to do what she did.The only pity is that Communism is still alive in this country, which owes her an immense debt of thanks.

  • $20596475

    Then your Anti Molly must be as silly as you seem to be.

  • $20596475

    That she did, and was correct to do so. It needed to be done and it would have to have been tackled by who-ever was the PM. No-one gets everything wrong! I don’t though see how anyone can believe that Communism is alive in the UK. It is as dead here as almost everywhere else.

  • $20596475

    I don’t trust a word published in the Daily Wail. It has an agenda, and a pretty nasty one at that.

  • Benedict Carter

    And we admired them (rightly) for having been the meat-grinder that ground the German armies down. 27 million dead. I know going on to fight them would have been impossible. But so much terrible trouble in the world that followed – the proxy wars in Asia, Africa and in Latin America; the cost of the Cold War; the spread throughout the world of the evil fruits of Marxism – feminism, continued socialism, the “political correctness” of our own days – would have been avoided.

    Well, Our Lady has told us what Heaven’s terms are for victory against Communism, and it seems the Church does not want to meet those terms. Communism is not yet defeated.

  • Benedict Carter

    Completely agree. Scargill took money from the Kremlin and from Gaddafi. And Jack Jones (didn’t he end up in the House of Lords?) is known to have taken money from the Soviets. Those two weren’t the only ones.

  • $27740841

    What agenda is that? Or are you just being a bit, how shall I put it, closed-minded? Why not embrace diversity of opinion?
    Or do you prefer sticking to the well-worn tactic of demonising those you don’t agree with so that you never have to engage with their arguments?

  • $27740841

    If you think that Communism, or more specifically Marxism, is dead then you really do need to diversify your reading list.

  • $27740841

    If you take the trouble to watch that Channel Four documentary on Margaret Thatcher you will hear it argued that MacMillan, Heath, Heseltine and other ‘wets’ represent the interests of the aristocratic wing of the Conservative Party against the upstart, lower-order Tories who want to spread wealth around a bit. David Cameron and his fellow Conservative ‘toffs’ must really despise these upstarts as evidenced by this readiness to label them as ‘nasty’.
    Again the old tactic – insult, ridicule and dismiss those you don’t agree with so as to avoid engaging with their arguments.

  • http://jabbapapa.wordpress.com/ Julian Lord

    We “right-wingers” have seen little evidence of his sense of humour so far …

  • Jonathan West

    I had thought my blog uncontroversial because it seemed so obviously true, but inevitably it had its critics, those who felt the role Thatcher played in changing the toxic political situation in Eastern Europe – and Russia itself – was negligible.

    I know you thought your blog uncontroversial because you thought it obviously true. But you don’t seem to have addressed any of the facts I provided which explained why neither Thatcher, Reagan nor Pope John Paul II made much of a difference to the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. Had Pope John Paul II’s leadership been decisive, then the first country in Eastern Europe to get rid of communism would have been Poland. It wasn’t, it was Hungary.

    If you want a further indication of her lack of influence in this area (and I acknowledge that you probably don’t) then you might recall that Thatcher was firmly opposed to the reunification of Germany following the fall of the Berlin Wall. Her opposition made not a blind bit of difference.

  • Joe Zammit

    History repeats itself.

    We have the rise followed by the fall of any empire, any government.

    The Catholic Church is the exception because her survival up to the end of time has already been guaranteed by Christ.
    Christ’s word is truth. His word neve fails but always fulfils what it says.

  • Peter

    Great! Communism is largely dead and rightly so It was anti-human because it was anti-God, a system devised by man, making man the ultimate authority, whose ultimate consequence was the wholesale destruction of man.

    However, let’s not be so proud of what we’ve got left, which is the shameful scandal of a world where 80 percent have to live off 14 percent of the wealth, while 86 percent of the wealth goes to an elite 20 percent of the population. (source CAFOD).

    It seems to an object impartial observer that the defeat of Communism has achieved very little if one takes the entire human race into account. In fact, by taking an overall view of humanity, the world has descended into an even more unequal quagmire of destitution, persecution and oppression.

    So before we pat ourselves of the back for the defeat of Communism, we ought to take a closer look at the world around us and see the mess we’ve left in its place.

  • scary goat

    Must admit, although for fairly obvious reasons, I am no lover of communism, on the other hand the fall of the USSR did upset the world balance of power. We now have only one super-power…which doesn’t sound good to me. I don’t know, we can’t seem to win. Humans are a pain in the rear end. Must be something to do with original sin.

  • Scott Jones

    Thatcher would crush solidarity today. And she’d go mental that Poland is subsidised by British tax payers as it is now.

  • 1Maccabeus

    Message received loud and clear, Francis – the world owes its liberty, nay its very existence, to the redoubtable Ms Thatcher, and anyone who presumes to disagree is regarded, with typical English snobbery, as inferior, coarse, substandard and ‘common’.

  • http://jabbapapa.wordpress.com/ Julian Lord

    any of the facts I provided which explained

    cripes your arrogance is stultifying

    The same man who claims that Christianity cannot provide Truth, because of a view that this might be a relative quality, OTOH absolutely insists that *his* “explanations” of so-called “facts” can brook no dissent.

    Newsflash : No, your personal opinions do not enjoy a 1:1 correspondence with reality itself.

  • QAX3kFmH

    I’m just agreeing with you about Lady Thatcher’s role in the end of Communism. That’s all.

  • http://jabbapapa.wordpress.com/ Julian Lord

    I’ve no doubt Brother Bozo agrees with your fantasy …

  • Benedict Carter

    Thanks Gregory, I didn’t understand. :-)

  • Ronk

    “we were the only nation to stand against Hitler until he invaded the USSR”.

    That is, if you are so chauvinist as to think that Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa were merely parts of “Britain”.

  • Ronk

    No, France gave up and signed an Armistice with Germany in 1940, handing over Paris and half of France to direct rule by Germany.

  • ZuZuLamarr

    The Iron Curtain might have fallen down flat but what has it been replaced with?
    Something similar but political correctness has it well and truly sugar-coated, sprinkled with hundreds and thousands and presented in a paper cup!
    Delicious. Not.