I WAS saddened to read Simon Webb’s article “Were ‘secret’ concentration camps run in Scotland during WWII?” (February 8). A number of accusations proclaimed in this piece distort historical truth and disrespect the memory of Polish servicemen in the Second World War.
I am surprised at the implication of similarity between internment and detention centres for non-commissioned Polish officers in Scotland with Nazi German concentration camps. Making the connection with the emotionally charged term “concentration camp” – nowadays used almost exclusively in connotation with the Holocaust – to describe institutions of different origin, purpose, and mode of operation is misleading. By arbitrarily connecting events and ambiguous statements, Mr Webb paints a contorted picture of British-Polish relations. He also corrupts the legacy of Poles who served during WWII, including in the defence of the Scottish coast, insinuating that half of them were willingly serving in the German Wehrmacht before being drafted to the allegedly anti-Semitic Polish Armed Forces.
Both the article and Mr Webb’s book fail to recognise credible sources, instead supporting the allegations with conspiracy theories, rumours, and propaganda from Pravda – the official newspaper and organ of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. One must remember that the Soviet Union treated Poland as an enemy and had a very specific agenda aimed at discrediting the independent Polish government, and General Władysław Sikorski in particular. Together with Nazi Germany, the USSR invaded Poland in September 1939, deported two million Poles to Siberia, murdered 22,000 Polish officers in the infamous Katyń massacre, and enforced communist rule in Poland after the war.
It saddens me that The Scotsman participated in Mr Webb’s promotional campaign for his controversial publication. Without understanding the wider historical context of this period and subject matter, as well as validating the research by looking into other sources, both the author and your newspaper risk spreading misinformation intended by the Soviet propaganda of the 1940s.
Polish Ambassador, Embassy of the Republic of Poland,
47 Portland Place