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BILD interview with President Duda: Putin-Hitler comparison makes waves in Poland – domestic politics

Putin = Hitler? Gladly accepted in Poland. But Stalin would be a better fit, say Polish historians.

Both mass murderers have left their terrible mark not least in Poland. The Austro-German, however, more than the Soviet-Georgian. But both are equally hated. Til today.

That BILD interview with Poland’s President Andrzej Duda (50), in any case, made waves in Poland. Not least in the country’s major daily newspapers, both of which took up Duda’s comparison with Hitler in detail and commented on request:

► “Andrzej Duda is somehow right when he equates Putin with Hitler. The Russian crimes in Ukraine are strongly reminiscent of the crimes committed by the Germans in Eastern Europe during World War II,” says Bartosz Wieliński, editor-in-chief of “Gazeta Wyborcza” BILD.

A left-liberal newspaper that, to put it mildly, is a total enemy of the ruling nationalist-conservative PiS party. It is certainly not easy for him to praise the President, who is close to PiS…

► The conservative-liberal “Rzeczpospolita” also seconded: “The mere comparison of Putin with Hitler doesn’t bother me. Putin is building a system analogous to the Nazi system. It is a system based on institutionalized lies, violence and crime. He commits a crime not only against Ukrainians, but also against his own people,” says editor-in-chief Boguslaw Chrabota BILD.

► The leading English-language website for news from Poland “Notes from Poland” took up the topic broadly, as did the news channel TVN24 on its platform and its PiS-dominated competitor TVP World.

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► The interview was translated into Polish one-to-one on Poland’s largest internet platform onet.pl. The topic even made waves as far as Australia: The local edition of the International Business Times reported extensively on Duda’s comparison.

What did Duda say?

In the BILD interview, Duda not only criticized Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron for their telephone calls with Putin. He made a daring comparison…

“These talks are useless. They only legitimize a person responsible for crimes committed by the Russian army in Ukraine.”

Duda continues: “Did anyone talk to Adolf Hitler like that during World War II? Did someone say that Adolf Hitler had to be able to save face?”

So the question is: Can or must we put Putin with Hitler? to compare?

From Rzeczpospolita’s point of view Chrabota’s point of view is such a comparison: “The current ‘admiration and attention’ and today’s treatment as a partner might lead him to the same pages of history as Hitler, hopefully not. In that respect, President Duda’s words don’t bother me.”

His colleague from “Wyborcza” points out another aspect: “But there is no realistic scenario for the end of the war in Ukraine that would foresee an unconditional surrender by Russia, as happened in Germany in 1945.”

The two top journalists therefore draw different conclusions from Duda, who considers talks with Putin to be pointless, even counterproductive.

Wieliński, on the other hand, says: “Therefore, European leaders must maintain an open channel of communication with Putin, even though he is a war criminal who belongs in a prison cell.”

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Chrabota also “disagrees with this part of his testimony” and stresses: “I believe that as long as there is hope to negotiate the peace that Ukraine, Europe and the world needs, one must talk to Putin. If they see a light in the tunnel, let them talk.”

With the small caveat: “But if they’re wrong, they won’t go down in history as glorious as the signatories of the Munich Agreement.”

From the point of view of the Polish historian Krzysztof Ruchniewicz, Duda “did draw attention to an important problem that remains incomprehensible to some EU members”, namely that bilateral contacts with Moscow are only natural “in normal times”.

The professor at the University of Wrocław (Breslau) told BILD: “However, it seems to me more accurate to compare Putin with Stalin, who is also guilty of enormous crimes and a policy of aggression towards his neighbors.”

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