A picture of Representative Marcy Kaptur
Marcy K.
Democrat OH 9

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  • Commendation of Dr. Timothy Snyder

    by Representative Marcy Kaptur

    Posted on 2015-01-08

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    KAPTUR of ohio in the house of representatives Thursday, January 8, 2015 Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Speaker, I rise as co-chair of the Congressional Polish Caucus to announce that this week in Washington, at an historic ceremony to be held today at the Polish Embassy, Thursday, January 8, preeminent American scholar and historian Dr. Timothy Snyder will be awarded the Officer's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland by Minister of Foreign Affairs Grzegorz Schetyna on behalf of the nation of Poland.

    We in Ohio are celebrating this occasion because we know the global significance of Dr. Snyder's work. His scholarship allows liberty's flag to fly higher. An Ohioan by birth, Dr. Snyder--now Bird White Housum Professor of History at Yale University--has been documenting the complicated, epic history of what he terms ``The Bloodlands,'' the 20th century history of Europe between Hitler and Stalin. With the opening of the Soviet archives after the fall of the Soviet Union, Dr. Snyder has led a team of incredible scholars from many nations in piecing together the complex, and often under reported history, of what happened to people in Europe before, during, and after World Wars I and II.

    He places the historical and political complexities that led to World War II in a broad, contextual framework unparalleled by other efforts. He factually documents the suffering that innocent people from various nations endured in places that still today have seriously inadequate archival memory of what occurred. Dr. Snyder, in my opinion, is one of the most indefatigable and profound scholars of our time.

    As author of the bill that created the World War II Memorial here in our nation's Capital--which has now been visited by over 42 million people--it is clear to me the American people through their own families understand the magnitude of what was at stake. But as Dr. Snyder rightly points out, ``America's soldiers never reached far enough east. He states, ``American and British forces liberated German concentration camps such as Belsen and Dachau. But the western Allies liberated none of the important death facilities . . . the Red Army liberated Auschwitz, and it liberated the sites of Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzen, Chelmno. Majdanek. American and British forces reached none of the bloodlands and saw none of the major killing sites.'' Even America was shielded from the bloody truth of tyranny's grip on the continent of Europe.

    The people of Poland even more fully comprehend the betrayal and suffering that their Slavic ancestors endured in Poland and Sovietized Ukraine. The Jewish people of the world know too what happened there and why the struggle for Israel's existence continues to this day. The people of Belarus, Hungary, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania and adjoining nations know too. With the systematic ethnic slaughter that occurred, Dr. Snyder's masterful work pays homage to all victims, in the most complete and objective presentation I have read. Yet, still more scholarly work needs to occur.

    This past August, the people of Poland commemorated the memory of the Warsaw Uprising. Those brave Poles honored at that national remembrance lived and died by the motto ``Freedom Means Never Surrender.'' Poland never surrendered. Her capital was levelled. And the martyrdom of Poles--fully twenty percent of the people of that nation--humbles us mortals who stand in awe of their valor against insurmountable odds. What distinguishes Snyder's work is its comprehensiveness and depth in paying tribute to the fallen across that entire war torn region.

    We will fly a flag over the U.S. Capitol honoring the work of American scholar Dr. Timothy Snyder and his legion of dedicated scholars. I have come to respect Dr. Snyder's work because his scholarship helped me reach my own epiphany and conclusion about why it has taken the world so long to appreciate what the people of Poland suffered during that gruesome period. Nearly all of the educated and academic leaders of Poland were annihilated at Katyn in 1940, when over 23,000 were rounded up and summarily shot by Stalin's NKVD, the Soviet secret police. There simply was almost no Polish memory left able to record and relate. It has taken new generations of those able to probe the carnage to enlighten the pages of memory.

    So, please let me express sincere gratitude to the government of Poland for bestowing this great honor on a native son of Ohio who has gone on to serve the cause of historical truth. As a history major myself from my own alma mater--the great University of Wisconsin--I [[Page E36]] recall the words of that University's motto: ``Whatever limitations may trammel inquiry elsewhere, we believe that the great State University of Wisconsin should encourage the continual sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found.'' Dr. Timothy Snyder and his associates surely live those words. Congratulations! Onward truth. Onward liberty.


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