Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Polish artist is criticized by Russia for documenting the rape of women by Russian soldiers in WW II

It's one of the dirty secrets of World War II that is not in the history books:  as Joseph Stalin's Soviet army advanced toward Berlin, Russian soldiers raped millions of women in Poland and Germany. Since Russia was our 'ally' (friend) at the time, this atrocity has been covered up. (An atrocity is something terrible that happens in a war, beyond the actual fighting.)

Recently a Polish art student created a giant sculpture of a Russian soldier sexually attacking a pregnant woman.  He placed this work right next to a sculpture in his town that celebrated the Russian victory over the Nazis in World War II.

The Russian government immediately attacked the sculpture and demanded that it be removed. Unfortunately, officials from that Polish town did remove the piece of art, stating that it was placed in the town illegally.

Yet, I think it's important for the world to know that 1) World War II started because Joseph Stalin and Adolph Hitler made a secret agreement to both attack Poland at the same time and 2) many Russian soldiers were absolute animals in regard to their treatment of women in the cities that they conquered.  English and American soldiers did not acquire a reputation for raping women in World War II.  Russian soldiers did. The Russian government should probably acknowledge the truth and issue an apology for the harm caused by its soldiers in World War II instead of attacking a Polish student who wants the truth to be known.

The article:

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

to condemn s/t - to say that something is wrong

rape - when a man forces himself on a woman to obtain sexual pleasure

to denounce - to state that something is wrong

blasphemous - it's strange that the Russian ambassador would use this word. Blasphemous usually means something that offends a person's religion.  If someone creates a work of art that makes fun of the Christian religion, this would be a blasphemous work of art.

pseudo-art - pseudo means 'a bad imitation' of s/t.  The ambassador is saying this isn't even a good work of art.  I think it's an excellent work of art.  If a person pretends to be an intellectual, but he isn't, he can be called a pseudo intellectual.

depicting - showing (from to depict)

installed - placed

offending - if you are offended by something you are emotionally hurt by it

to cope with  - to deal with something, to be able to handle something emotionally

to feel compelled - to feel as if you have to do something

a stunt - a crazy action; for example, a publicity stunt is something an advertiser might do in a public space to get publicity for a product

the independence of Poland - I think what the ambassador is forgetting is that Poland wouldn't have needed its freedom if Stalin and the Russian army had not attacked Poland in 1939.

hooliganism - this is a strange word-choice as well.  English soccer (football) fans who cause trouble and destroy property are often referred to as hooligans.  So a hooligan is a trouble-maker.

explicitly - openly
World War II has not died around the world.  In China and Korea people still blame Japan for atrocities committed in the war.  In Poland, obviously, people cannot forget how Russia pretended to be a liberator after having helped start the entire war.  Do you think it is important for artists or others to recall what happened 70 years ago or should this be forgotten and buried (covered up)?

The people of Poland simply do not trust Russia.  Poland was one of the first Eastern European countries to join NATO after it left Russia's Warsaw Pact.  Do you think that this artist was motivated by current events and a current distrust of Russia to create this piece?

Do you think the Russian ambassador was right in denouncing this piece of art?

How do you feel about what this Polish artist did?