The Eighth Annual Lady Blanka Rosenstiel Kościuszko Chair Spring Symposium took place on April 7, 2018. Introduced by Dr. Marek Chodakiewicz, six lectures focused on the present situation in Central Europe followed by a more historical perspective on the region. Topics ranged from Russian public diplomacy in Belarus, through Polish public diplomacy in the interwar period, new data on the Katyń Massacre of Polish POWs, mass murder prevention in the Intermarium to March 1968 in Poland. Below, a short summary of the lectures is presented.
1. Russian Lobby in Belarus: Could Belarus be the Next after Ukraine?
Franak Viačorka, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, gave a lecture on the Russian lobby in Belarus. After the occupation of Crimea, Russia began to expand its presence in Belarus. Hundreds of Russia-backed initiatives, formally cultural or educational, or media, emerged. They are driving increasing polarization between pro-Western and pro-Russian Belarusians, which could eventually lead to an open conflict.
2. The Polish Pavilion at the 1939 New York World’s Fair
Mr. Peter J. Obst provided a presentation on the contents, purpose and eventual fate of the Polish Pavilion at the World’s Fair in New York City in 1940. Poland invested a large sum of money into participation in the New York World’s Fair because they wanted to show a true picture of the country as a modern European state, striving for trade contacts. Most of the artwork, artifacts, documentation etc. has been distributed throughout the Western world. Mr. Obst has been working on discovering them and piecing them all together.
3. Wild Bill Donovan, the OSS and the Nuremberg Tribunal
Independent Scholar, Krystyna Piorkowska, provides a lecture on Wild Bill Donovan, the mastermind behind the OSS and modern American Espionage as well as the Nuremberg Tribunal. In 1948, the United States Counter Intelligence Corps investigated the massacre of the Polish POWs that had been captured and held in Katyń. Hundreds of pages of records and coded messages from Katyń were discovered which the Russians had tried to keep covered up. The US CIC and other intelligence agencies continue to work on finding more evidence to unravel the course of events.
4. Application of Historic WWII and Cold War Resistance Experience to Present Day Significance
Dr. Otto Fiala, Resistance Operations Concept Lead (SOCEUR), talked about the concept of resistance and its historic aspects. He provided an overview of SOCEUR and its mission and the lessons learned through the experience of resistance as a way of warfare. For instance, the necessity of pre-conflict agreements and maintaining legitimacy are useful conclusions from the Polish resistance experience during and post WWII. They remain pertinent as evidenced by NATO’s contingency plans regarding the Baltics vis-à-vis Russia.
5. Back to the Future: Genocide Prevention in the Intermarium
Matt O’Brien, chairman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, gave a lecture on genocide prevention in the Intermarium. Both Nazism and Communism used genocide to eliminate factual and potential opposition. Now, the migrant and refugee problem is strongly contested by Russia, while the UN is working to devise prevention methods to make sure the situation does not escalate. New approaches to prevention are necessary to avoid the clash of the Muslim Europe and the Orthodox Christian Europe.
6. The Soviets and March 1968: Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism
Dr. Marek Chodakiewicz, the head of the Kościuszko Chair, provided his viewpoints on the events of March 1968 in Communist Poland. He discussed the difference between the anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism and pointed out that, ultimately, Moscow was sovereign in Warsaw and no policy line was implemented without the Kremlin’s approval. So called “anti-Zionist campaign” occurred within the context of Israel’s drift towards the United States.