Many is the time that we have heard you bemoan the fact that Americans (the young in particular) are so ignorant of American and World History that this level of ignorance helps to undermines the ability of our great country to more effectively compete with the rest of the World because we don’t understand what motivates and drives other nations and their cultures. Consequently we are unnecessarily operating at a great competitive disadvantage. Bill, we are in complete agreement with you regarding this particular insight.
However, to paraphrase former President Reagan who was a true friend of Poland and its fight for independence:” It is time for you to be taken to the intellectual woodshed”.
Your ignorance of Poland in its joint battle against Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939 is deeply disappointing. No doubt, you will be receiving a good deal of comments from a number of individuals who are well versed in the history of the Second World War, the role of Poland and the Poles who fought on virtually every front of that war. In this war Poles were often engaged in actions which directly resulted in saving of the lives of thousands of American soldiers. We would like to talk about one such action which, hopefully, should give you a sense of the Polish fighting spirit, their commitment and effectiveness in the fight against Nazi Germany.
One of the most significant contributions of Poles toward saving American lives was at the Battle of the Falaise Pocket (sometimes called the Falaise Gap) during August 12-21, 1944. This battle was the decisive engagement of the battle of Normandy. In this battle the Western Allies were attempting to surround and destroy the German Seventh and Fifth Panzer Armies who were desperately trying to flee through a corridor known as the Falaise Gap. The Polish 1st Armoured Division under General Maczek was the given responsibility to “Close the Falaise Pocket” by capturing and defending the two critical hills overlooking the mouth of the escape route. Since the German armies had to pass through this point, they were determined to take those two hills whatever the cost. Despite being isolated, the Poles often engaging in ferocious hand-to-hand fighting managed to hang on to those two hills and significantly slowed the German escape. One of the hills the Poles occupied, Hill 262- was the scene of 2,000 Germans killed and 5,000 prisoners taken. Their actions along with those of the Americans, Canadians and British helped to insure that ultimately 50,000 German soldiers were captured. Soldiers who certainly would have inflicted great casualties on the Americans in any future conflict.
General Eisenhower after viewing the battlefield wrote ” The battlefield of Falaise was unquestionably one of the greatest ‘killing fields’ of any of the war areas Forty-eight hours after the closing of the gap I was conducted through it on foot, to encounter scenes that could only be described by Dante. It was literally possible to walk for hundreds of yards at a time, stepping on nothing but dead and decaying flesh.”
Bill, hopefully, you will take the time to speak with some of the very knowledgeable respondents to your comments of September 1st. Perhaps you might even invite some of them on your show to help correct the terrible misimpressions that you have left with millions of your viewers. It takes a ‘truly big person’ to own up to a mistake. Bill, we believe that you are just that kind of person.
Alicja Karlic, PhD — Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of The Polish Weekly/Tygodnik Polski
Frank J. Dmuchowski — Contributing Writer