“Claims on White Russia…” This is a title of a letter sent to The New York Times and published by the paper on July 4, 1920. By reading it, the very first questions should be: who pretends on it? to whom it belongs? Moreover, these questions bundled together with the title present you with a line of thinking.
It is a popular line of thinking that dominated agendas of big powers that strived to grab White Russia. It is the line of thinking that persistently neglected history and facts. It is the line of thinking that almost erased a nation with a glorious past and distinctive cultural heritage.
Here is how an author of this letter justifies such line of thinking.
To the editor of the New York Times:
Several newspapers have published articles regarding the claims of Poland on a certain part of Russian territory.
The territory, which is known as White Russia, lies in the northwestern part of the great Russian Empire. The number of Poles in this territory, according to the well-known Polish author, E. Pitts?, in his “Polish Encyclopedia”, is estimated to be 8 per cent of the total population. The Russians who inhabited this territory have never separated themselves from the rest of the Russians, and, of course, would never agree to become Polish subjects. Their customs, religion, and, of course, nationality are unquestionably Russian. The difference, if any, in the Language are the same as between the southern and northern parts of the United States.
The territory belonged to Russia from the earliest times, and in the first of the partitions of Poland in the sixteenth century Russia only received back this, her own territory, which was previously lost due to the war terms. Therefore, this territory never belonged to Poland, notwithstanding the later’s claims to the contrary. It would be as reasonable to ask Russians in general if they wish to become Polish subjects as to hold ple…tes only among those in the north-western part of Russia…..
Dr. W. Sveshnikoff
June 22, 1920
Well, I could have jumped into a debate over many things expressed in the letter; however, these historical issues should be addressed separately since they deserve serious attention. Instead, I will suggest another title: Claims rejected: White Russia is an independent country.