Digging up Sikorski

The more I think about this the weirder it gets. What exactly is the point? Let’s say they dig the poor chap up, go all CSI on his ass and find a bullet in his skull with a great big Union Jack or a hammer and sickle engraved on it. Then what? Is Poland going to break off diplomatic relations with the UK and/or Russia? I think not. Is Poland going to demand a public apology from the UK and/or Russia? There would be no point. No country is going to admit to that kind of skullduggery in living memory. At best it will just sour Poland’s international relations. So why do it?

Let’s plunge ever deeper into fantasy land and imagine the UK or Russia do admit to having killed Sikorski. Then what? Am I supposed to be astonished that assassinations and betrayals happened during the war? I would be astonished if they hadn’t. Surely that’s precisely the kind of thing we expect to happen in wars, that’s why we try and avoid them if possible. Am I supposed to believe that Poland or any other nation behaved with total honesty and honor? Of course they didn’t. Would Poland have secretly bumped off Churchill if it would have made their survival more likely? They would have been idiots not to try.

In reality they won’t find anything conclusive. Even if they do it won’t make the slightest difference. Conspiracy theories feed on details. The more details there are the more potential conspiracies you can squeeze out of them. JFK: one dead president, shot on camera, body in an autopsy suite within hours, result: conspiracy city. 9/11: thousands killed on live tv, years of meticulous forensics, 27 million hours of media coverage, result: conspiracy orgasm. Sikorski was buried in England for 50 years. Then he was exhumed and moved to Poland in 1993. I can think of 250 opportunities for conspiratorial shenanigans in those two facts alone, adding more ‘facts’ isn’t going to help.

This looks suspiciously like digging an official hole that is inevitably going to fill up with junk.

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49 thoughts on “Digging up Sikorski

  1. Bob says:

    Good post

    I guess the main comment I have on the entire situation is ‘typical wasted motion’

  2. What about just learning the truth? Isn’t that interesting and worth digging?

  3. domingo says:

    Island, how about this conspiracy theory – in 1942, during the secret meeting in Wannsee Villa, group of high nazi officials decided on extermination of the Jews – i guess you don’t believe it either?

  4. kate theobaldy says:

    Quite apart from all the bang-on-target points in the post, something must have passed me by here. Wasn’t Sikorski supposed to be killed in a plane crash? So what’s the point of an autopsy? Or does anyone suspect he was shot first, then put on a plane and crashed into the sea to cover it up?

    @domingo: In what kind of universe is your question supposed to make any sense? I absolutely can’t see how it relates to anything Island wrote.

  5. island1 says:

    Maciej Miąsik: But my point is that we won’t learn the truth. Whatever they find there is still lots of room for reasonable doubt given the amount of time that has passed and the fact that the body has already been exhumed once before. Even if they miraculously find some concrete evidence the UK and Russia (or whoever) will just refuse to comment, they won’t release documentary evidence.

  6. island1 says:

    domingo: I do believe in that conspiracy theory and I also believe that it is very possible that Sikorski was assassinated, but there is no way this investigation is going to prove it. You need documentary evidence and lots of physical evidence. There is both for the holocaust (though some people can still find an argument around it), there won’t be either in the Sikorski case.

  7. island1 says:

    kate: One of the theories is that he was shot on the plane and then the plane was deliberately crashed or sabotaged so that it crashed.

  8. kate theobaldy says:

    @island1: Makes sense. Probably they also put him in concrete shoes just to be on the safe side? ;)

  9. domingo says:

    Ooops, my bad, i superficially read Island’s post and had mistaken impression that he is reffering to unexplained circumstances of Sikorski’s death as conspiracy theory. And the easiest way to ridicule a certain theory is to call it a ‘conspiracy theory’.

  10. guest says:

    For me it is 100% clear that Churchill killed Sikorski.

    Just look at the photos how pi$$ed churchill looks when standing next to Sikorski.

    http://images.google.com/hosted/life/l?q=sikorski+churchill&imgurl=5c7875f3abc35a00

  11. domingo says:

    Island, you’re right. But shouldn’t we just let the historians and scientists do their job? I think Sikorski’s corpse is worth examination for the same reasons as Mieszko’s grave or Tutankhamun’s remains are – revealing the historical facts.
    Maybe someday needed documents will be declassified, and finding bullet in general’s head can certainly help to throw some light on the subject.

  12. mcihael farris says:

    “At best it will just sour Poland’s international relations. So why do it?”

    Didn’t you just answer your own question? The people pushing for the exhumation want Poland to have bad relations with as many countries as possible (as long as there are no realistic chances of anything like military conflict or trade embargo).
    It shores up support among part of the electorate and nourishes their perpetual feelings of self-righteous anger (one of the most seductive emotions going).

  13. domingo says:

    Now that’s a conspiracy theory:-)

  14. guest says:

    michael farris and island, why are you “afraid” of bad relations ?

    There are any relations with GB. The last time a british prime minister visited Poland was in 19….. ?

  15. kate theobaldy says:

    @mcihael farris: That’s obviously what this is all about. I have a feeling the “exhumers” know well enough they’re unlikely to discover anything. They’re just interested in creating a certain atmosphere. When the Sikorski hype is over, they’ll move on to the next big thing.

    @domingo: “But shouldn’t we just let the historians and scientists do their job?” Certainly, but the question is, how do we define what their job is in the first place? It’s the *political* agenda-setting for historians that annoys me. Certainly, it might make sense to re-examine the remains of Sikorski’s plane, but the idea that exhuming his body might reveal anything new strikes me as pretty odd and motivated by political (as opposed to “scientific”) reasons.

  16. Sylwia says:

    I don’t think it’s going to worsen relations with anyone. There are many WWII and post-war investigations, and they don’t influence politics. It’s not like Poles loved Russia 10, 20 or 200 years ago. What happens is that historians update their books.

    You pay attention to it only because it refers to UK, but I think that such investigations were in fact helpful in our relations with Ukraine or Lithuania. There are many theories anyway, history is fluent, and people believe whatever they want, or aren’t interested at all. Very well this investigation may prove that it was an accident, and it still won’t change anything.

    Perhaps three generations from now Poles will be able to look at history from that period dispassionately, but we need the time to pass. It’s just that it seems archaic when the West have long forgotten and moved on, while we’re catching up.

  17. island1 says:

    guest: The UK and Poland have excellent diplomatic relations (for now). That’s why we had no restrictions on Poles working in the UK, unlike most of the rest of the EU, and vice versa.

    domingo: But there was no political motive in exhuming king Tut or Mieszko, there clearly is one in this case and it looks like a bad and damaging one.

    michael: I hope you’re not right, but I’m afraid you might be. It’s a kind of historical revisionism that says “We only got defeated and occupied because somebody stabbed us in the back, if Sikorski had lived Poland would have resisted Soviet occupation.”

    kate: I’m guessing the plane is long gone, and ever if it isn’t I don’t think it would help. The only ‘proof’ that’s going to persuade anybody is in those secret files. Or more likely it isn’t in those secret files, which will only lead people to suspect they were deliberately destroyed.

  18. domingo says:

    Kate, Michael – any idea who might be these bad people wanting Poland to have bad relations with all countries?
    Believe me, i try real hard, but somehow i cant see any political motivation in exhumation of Sikorski’s grave.

  19. island1 says:

    Sylwia: Some sensible points there. I’m sure you are right that the passage of time will lessen the passion, that’s what makes it a bad idea to do it now. It’s a deliberate attempt to provoke a fight that won’t do anybody any good.

  20. scatts says:

    Still, can’t be much worse than pissing off Sarkozy & Putin, confusing the hell out of the EU……………and so on. May as well piss of the Brits as well. Did we annoy the Germans recently?

    How long before the bickering starts with Obama over the missile payments?

    Who cares anyway, the EU money keeps being shoved through the letterbox and we’re being very nice for Georgia, who is a great ally to have in all sorts of ways (as yet undefined) even if they do take pot-shots at El Prezidente.

  21. domingo says:

    Sure, Scatss, it’s best to sit quietly and follow listen-to-us-we-are-from-civilized-west-so-we-know-better – guys advices.

  22. kate theobaldy says:

    @island1: “I’m guessing the plane is long gone” – well, so am I. But assuming that whoever wanted Sikorski out of the way thought that crashing the plane was efficient enough, only an examination of the plane would provide any evidence. So the plane’s gone? What the hell, let’s simply examine Sikorski’s skeleton instead. This is like the drunk looking for his lost key under the street-light because elsewhere it’s too dark. And it makes it perfectly clear that the thrill is in the chase, not the capture.

    @domingo: “any idea who might be these bad people wanting Poland to have bad relations with all countries”. Err, no. Not really. Now that I think of it. How could I even think there were any such bad people?

  23. kate theobaldy says:

    @domingo: “Sure, Scatss, it’s best to sit quietly and follow listen-to-us-we-are-from-civilized-west-so-we-know-better – guys advices.”

    Wait a minute… Are you trying to refute the idea that certain Poles wear a chip on their shoulder – or are you trying to *confirm* it?

  24. Domingo says:

    I definitely confirm it, but it’s just me, i’m not sure about rest of Poles.

  25. Ania says:

    Dear Westerners – this is our general’s corpse. Why would we NOT examine it, since we want to find out the result? why was he buried in undershirt and underpants for example – this question remains unanswered. His body was found in that state, although the time of flight took only a few minutes. So the question here is – did he dress down immediately after boarding the plane? What for?

    If you are saying that we should not exhume him for the sake of not irritating the “West”, then you should know that FDR felt exactly the same about irritating Stalin – and we all know the results. A lot could have been different if the Americans were more assertive back then.
    It’s always good to do something, you may even get good results. Not doing anything simply means that the time passes.

    The UK for example have believed in the same rule towards Russia, until the murder of Litwinienko. You are now investigating his death. I could ask why bother, if you know that Russians will not admit and this will sour the relationship? But I will not. I believe that the truth is interesting, and not that convienient truth is interesting.

    Kate, if one of us got murdered, then finding out whodunnit is not really wearing a chip on the shoulder… Unless you are of the school that the women being raped should lie back and enjoy…

    Scatts: I’m sure you are aware that we pay into the EU more than we get back. Are you also aware that foreign companies do not pay tax here, but in their country of origin? It seems that a lot of money goes out in fact.

  26. Jacek Wesołowski says:

    Island — some people just love mysteries so much that when they can’t find a real one, they will make one up. Unfortunately, the murderer of president Narutowicz wasn’t so kind as to commit his crime covertly, and Sikorski’s case is the next best thing.

    There’s a certain journalist who rides Sikorski’s death as his personal hobby horse. I remember being fascinated by his TV programmes on the topic when I was ten or so. Back then, the theory was that Sikorski was drugged and kidnapped. I heard it changed a few times later on, but I didnt’ follow it, because I grew up. Anyway, that journalist is still in the business, and apparently still trying hard to find some mystery he could solve.

    I also agree with Michael’s diagnosis. While there’s probably no “conscious” political agenda, a whole lot of people in this country just love holding grudges.

  27. gast says:

    But you have to admit that the Princess Di hystery was much bigger than the Sikorski exhumation.

    apropos Princess Di. Here are some nice Sikorski and Queen Mum photos. :)

    htt p://special.st-andrews.ac.uk/saspecial/index.php?a=indexes&s=gallery&key=IYToxOntpOjA7czo0OiJhcm15Ijt9&pg=14

  28. domingo says:

    You’re a hipocryte Scatts. Where are your praises of free speech? Sikorski was our greatest leader at that time, why can’t we know the true reason of his death? Why? Because we may piss of the Brits? We better be quiet, because we are UE beneficiaries? Guys, what are you all driving at? That this is another intrigue by ksenophobic, narrow-minded bloody tyrant Kaczynski? Or what?

    Jacek, can you imagine Britons saying “who cares, we all are friends now, let’s sweep it under carpet, because we may ruin our diplomatic relations” if Winston Churchill had died in a mysterious way? I can’t.

  29. Jacek Wesołowski says:

    Well, I know I don’t care how Sikorski died, and even if he was stabbed in the back by king George himself, I’d be very happy to sweep it under some carpet and move on.

  30. domingo says:

    That’s ok if you don’t care, and you are very witty indeed, just don’t mock people who cares.

  31. michael farris says:

    Ania: by all means find out what can be found out. But the results are primarily of historical interest and shouldn’t necessarily influence current policy as there’s no continuity between any of the actors then and the current governments of the countries in question.

    jacek: I tend to agree it’s not a conscious agenda but a generalized hostility toward the outside world is an entrenched part of the mentality of a certain segment of the Polish political establishment (which goes across ideological boundaries).

    doming: I certainly don’t think Poland should passively listen to the west. I can’t think of _anything_ that Poland can/should take from modern Britain, not in terms of politicis (domestic or foreign; education; health care; social or economic policy … nothing and the same mostly goes for the US [except for a basic friendliness toward entrepreneurship sadly lacking in the Polish regulatory environment).
    If anything I think western europeans can learn a lot from Poland.
    Historically, the previous tradition of rule of law (dead in modern Britain and replaced by rule of bureaucrat) is excellent and worthy of adoption but it has to evolve naturally in the country in question and has to evolve hand in hand with _scrutiny_ of law (respect for the observance of law goes hand in hand with respect for the creation of law).

    It’s probably safe to say nothing especially incriminating was found, but true to island’s prediction that isn’t stopping anybody. A friend was telling me today he’d heard of a new theory of a way that planes can be crashed into the water such that passengers (but not the pilot) will be killed….

  32. Pioro-Boncza says:

    the intrigue in your posts has me more beguiled than the actual death of the general!

    …pardon my ignorance but is the good general in any way related to:

    a: the current foreign minister
    b: the Sikorski aircraft/helicopter manufacturer

    ?

  33. wildphelps says:

    Interesting thread and posts.

    I think one of the points island was trying to make and that was lost is the timing of this whole business. When they moved the General from the UK to Polska, why didn’t they do an investigation then? Why is it imperative to do one now, 15 years after his eternal rest was interrupted?

    There could be several perfectly valid answers for these questions. But based on the actions/behaviors of certain political parties and members of the government, it seems to suggest more of the same: Poland’s eternal victimhood at the hands of the ________________ (fill in the blank on your own).

    This might come across as simplistic, but it just appears to be more diversion from dealing with pressing and future problems. As island noted, not much good comes from any new information found; it cannot be acted upon (Q: what happened when the truth about Katyn became internationally known? A: Nothing) ; it will not alter relations (do you think the foreign ministers around Europe care?); and if nothing new is found, thousands of zloty (that could have gone to any number of worthy causes) were wasted.

  34. island1 says:

    A very interesting discussion. Thanks to everybody for your contributions.

    I’ve definitely come to understand the motive a bit better. I think it’s true that if Churchill or Roosevelt had been killed in similar circumstances there would be a popular need to find out the truth. I suppose Poland inevitably has to go through this period of digging up and examining the painful past; Sikorski, Katyn, collaboration with the communist authorities, etc.

    From my foreign perspective it remains very clear that a sizeable proportion of the nation wants to find a particular answer, that he was killed, rather than the truth. I suspect this belief wont change whatever the result of the investigation.

  35. scatts says:

    Ania – http://www.money-go-round.eu/ and hit “in mil EUR”. You’ll see PL is second biggest recipient after Spain. Whichever category you choose, Poland is blue.

    For Poland specifically – http://www.money-go-round.eu/zeme.aspx?id=34

    As compared to the UK – http://www.money-go-round.eu/zeme.aspx?id=40

    My company could be classed as “foreign” and I assure you we pay one hell of a lot of tax to the Polish state both as a company and via all the employees individually.

    Where do you get your data from?

  36. scatts says:

    domingo – not sure what you’re driving at? I wrote what I had to say about digging up Sikorski five months ago, here http://scatts.wordpress.com/2008/07/01/time-to-disturb-sikorski/

    My comment was aimed at the Polish government and president’s ability to get on with other countries, generally. I think there is room for improvement, you obviously disagree. Fair enough, but don’t call me a hypocrite because I’m not.

    Ania and others, possibly yourself? suggested last time around that free speech comes with responsibilities to use it sensibly. Poland obviously has its right to “free speech” over Sikorskigate but are they using it responsibly or are they, currently, just making more unfounded accusations? It was widely reported that the Polish “findings” are very different from the British version of events. When do you think someone might explain in what way they are different and what the implications of those differences are?

    Personally, I’d like the Brits to open up all secret files that relate to this issue so we can close the case once and for all. It would not surprise me to find that Winston was implicit in allowing Russian agents “access” to Sikorski by allowing them to be on Gibraltar at the same time. Possibly, on paper at least, for relatively innocent reasons although there must have been suspicions that worse might happen. This would at least be consistent with the way the allies pampered to Stalin generally at that time. It would very much surprise me to find any direct evidence that Sikorski was killed by a British agent or that his death was in some way ordered by Winston.

  37. Ania says:

    Scatts – my data comes from the financial system of the company for whom I have worked last year as a Finance Analyst – they have three plants in Poland, apart from other parts of the world.

    Again you are very ithy defending the greatness of your country, which is natural. But you seem to have no other arguments that “leave him alone”.

    I may console your heart – I persnally think it was Pilsudski who scheduled it and it was him who benefitted from it. But I still want to find out more – like is it realy Sikorski in that grave.

    I would also like the Russians to open the files, and they just might. The thing wih Russians, hovewer, is that they are not really bothered with one or two or wenty thousand deaths in Poland – millions were killed in many ways on their territory. At least both me and you can say that we don’t have that much responsibility.

  38. Ania says:

    Ok, I’ve just taken a look:
    Net income from the EU in % of GDP 1.50 % … how grand…

    This does not show payments, only income.
    And what about all that GDP gowth lost because of slowing the economy to match the Grand West! It pains me to even think about lowering 10% growth to 3%, still three times higher that EU average…

    Now that thing is not your fault, common Briton, it’s our government’s fault. For example it’s using the full VAT rate of 22%, while

  39. Ania says:

    …while everybody else is using lower: the UK now: 15%, Spain: 16% etc. That’s the fault of Balcerowicz changing his excellent early reforms into a pile of manure.

    Oh, no, I’ve just checked on egospodarka.pl – the balance in in plus for us – this year. So my data were outdated.

    Honestly, Scatts, you are many-a-time saying: “our President, our Government”. If that means that you have our citizenship, I can say that you are fitting in perfectly – you are as belligerent as I. If you also like drunken talk about politics and buraczki, I will deem you fully Polish.

  40. scatts says:

    From today’s Poland AM:

    Theories suggesting that General Władysław Sikorski was assassinated appeared to have been quashed on Tuesday when a preliminary report from his autopsy was leaked to the media. According to Onet.pl, forensic experts found no gunshot wounds nor fractures consistent with strangling. Toxycology tests are still in progress that could furnish evidence of poisoning, but the National Remembrance Institute (IPN) has already come under strong criticism from leading historians, who accused the investigators of falling prey to conspiracy theories. Professor Andrzej Friszke said that the only feasible assassination plot was to damage the plane’s engine; but proving that now was next to impossible. IPN officials defended the decision to exhume the General’s remains, stressing it would, at the very least, help finally disprove the conspiracy theories. (Dziennik, p. 7)

    Ania – it would be fair to say that I feel much more strongly that the Polish government is MY government than I do the British one. Believe me, my language would be considerably stronger were I writing about Gordon “Saviour of the Universe” Brown or David “What the hell do I do now” Cameron.

  41. domingo says:

    I’m aware that both our government and president are pretty far from perfection, but this time you apparently exaggerate their role in Sikorski’s case, your arguments seems to be based on political prejudices rather than common sense.
    Most of you would agree that whole case has political background, but you also say that digging won’t bring any convincing evidence – and in fact you were right – it didn’t, as Scatts post says. So where’s the logic? Wouldn’t it be more convenient for politicians if the grave remained untouched?

  42. domingo says:

    I suppose you should rather blame overzealous IPN-officials instead of mr. Kaczynski or Tusk.

  43. scatts says:

    Would IPN have been able to order this exhumation without the approval of either Kaczyński or Tusk?

  44. Sylwia says:

    Scatts, you became a true Polish conspirationalist! I really don’t think any such approval of either Kaczyński or Tusk is needed. There are prosecutors working in IPN and they can just go and ask a court directly, just as a police office doesn’t go to the president to ask for such an approval.

    I think that one orders an exhumation when one knows what one is looking for, and that’s why it wasn’t done earlier. First one needs to even start an investigation, then one needs to have some suspicions in order to know what to look for, and only then there’s any sense to conduct an exhumation. Or at least so it’d seem from all the detective movies, where the first exhumation doesn’t show anything because they look for all the wrong stuff.

    No matter when they do that, they would have to do it one day. Would you prefer to have the results published before the latest elections, just before the next ones, or a month from now?

  45. Part says:

    Well, it was our prime minister, he died in an air crash after Katyn was discovered. If it was UK prime minister, wouldn’t you be at least courious?

  46. Jacek Wesołowski says:

    He also died on July 4, the American Independence Day. This clearly indicates Yankees were involved.

  47. Dawid says:

    Some Poles are overconcerned with history, some don’t give a damn about it, and some foreigners simply don’t get the cultural specificity of Polish relation with history. For decades a healthy discussion on history was impossible in Poland – this is the foundation of many actions that may look strange to the foreign eye.

  48. Polonium says:

    Island wrote “Would Poland have secretly bumped off Churchill if it would have made their survival more likely? They would have been idiots not to try.”

    Then they would have been idiots. There is no way in hell the Poles would have assassinated Churchill to benefit themselves. If they had been worried about themselves they would have signed a nonaggression treaty with Hitler in 36-39 when he repeatedly pleaded with them to. Or they would have extorted something out of the West in exchange for the enigma instead of handing it over for free. Or they wouldn’t have fought at Monte Casino or in the Battle of Britain, dying in droves, and continuing to after the betrayal at Yalta (Tehran actually but it wasn’t public yet.)

    The Poles are not the Brits. They would not assassinate a politically inconvenient ally.

  49. Dawid says:

    Provocative, are you ;)

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