Will Poland Have to Defend Europe from Islam Again?

In 1621, the city of Chocim in today's western Ukraine witnessed a mighty battle between the Polish-Lithuanian Empire and an invading Ottoman army.  Chocim is rightly remembered by Poland as a victory, although the conflict ended in a political draw.  But this stalemate was fought by only about 50,000 men against three times as many Turks and Mongols.  After the death of the Polish commander-in-chief, Jan Karol Chodkiewicz, it was Stanisław Lubomirski (1583–1649), not yet forty years old, who turned the tide in favor of Warsaw.

Chocim was not the first battle in this war against Muslim aggression.  Already in 1619, Poland's King Sigismund III Wasa (1566/1587–1632) had saved the ruler Ferdinand II (1578/1619–1637) by defeating Hungarian vassals of the sultan, saving Vienna and Germany's imperial crown.

Chocim prevented a further expansion of the caliphate, but much of Hungary remained Turkish, and the sultans were only waiting for a new opportunity to push westward.  In 1672, with 80,000 men, Muslim forces were able to reconquer Chocim and entire Polish provinces.  Against Hetman Jan Sobieski (1629/1674–1696), however, the Ottomans suffered a second defeat at Chocim in 1673.

The significance of these Polish accomplishments did not go unnoticed in the free Republic of the Netherlands.  Dutch artist Romeyn de Hooghe (1645–1708) — forefather of all bloggers with his engraved texts critical of the times — sensed the deeper meaning of Poland's victories at Chocim.  For the first time, the Occident was now able to defend itself.  That is why de Hooghe immortalized Sobieski in 1674, showing him as a Hercules and savior of Europe.

The Dutch intellectual was not mistaken.  In 1683, Sobieski, king of Poland since 1674, risked everything in a do-or-die battle against the Turkish army besieging Vienna, whose emperor, Leopold I (1640/1658–1705), had already run away.  This valiant defense of western Europe was the result of Sobieski's grasp of the continent's strategic situation.  Despite the entreaties of his revered French wife, he had refused an alliance with Louis XIV (1638/1643-1715), who was an ally of the caliphate.  Violent encounters with the sultans and their mega-armies, which Poland had experienced in horrific ways, forbade any such favor for the "Sun King" of France.

Sobieski knew well that whoever controlled the Austrian capital would attack Poland again.  Therefore, his own protection and the salvation of Europe coincided in the stirring charge of the Polish hussars downhill to the gates of Vienna.  All by itself, the name of this Polish king terrified Muslim warriors, who fled the field of battle.  As in 1621, a Lubomirski, Prince Hieronim Augustyn (1674–1706), stood out militarily and was the first to reach the walls of the nearly razed imperial city.

The Polish victories over the Ottoman invaders ended some four centuries of the continent living in fear of the banners of Allah.  The Muslim chain of triumphs began in 1291, when the last Crusader state, Acre, was defeated, and reached its first climax with the Ottoman slaughter of the Greeks of Constantinople in 1453.  Muslim domination ended in 1699 with the Peace of Karlowitz between the Ottomans on the one side and Poland, Venice, the Vatican, Russia, and the Habsburgs on the other.

From 1700 on, the then–125 million Europeans had only their continental equals to fear.  The ever more innovative technologies emerging from Europe's property economy, along with a merciless suppression of birth control that caused a population boom, became the pillars for the Occident's conquest of the Earth.  In 1914, there were 500 million Europeans, four times as many as in 1700.  But population pressures cause conflict.  In the three decades up to 1945, around 70 million people were murdered outright, annihilated by famines and bombs, or killed on battlefields.  As Europeans by the millions became cannon fodder, birth rates dropped by at least 40 percent around 1915, heralding a long unnoticed decline.

In 1919, Poland, now re-established as an independent nation, was immediately attacked by Bolshevik troops.  In 1920, the Bolsheviks were defeated before the gates of Warsaw.  Germany and the West remained safe from a communist onslaught for the time being.  But the peace with the Soviets of 1921 proved to be as meaningless as the agreement with the Turks in 1621.  The next attack came in September 1939, after Hitler's Germany had begun its genocides by exterminating the Polish intelligentsia.

After 1970, Europe's falling birth rates — first noticed in West Germany — dropped below the self-preservation level of 2.1 children per woman's life.  At the same time, all wars to defend Europe's colonies, where birth rates were three to four times higher, were lost.

In 1914, Europe had about 330 of every 1,000 military-age men (15–29) worldwide, and, in addition, could employ the most lethal weapons.  In 2021, however, the future of the European Union depends on about 33 children of every 1,000 of the same age (0–14 years) born worldwide.  In Africa and the Arab world alone, there are 315 such children.  Of the E.U.'s global share of 34 children, six live in Germany and three in Poland.  Even together, they could make little difference against the enormous numbers on the opposite coast.  After all, Europeans have to compete with East Asia's model students (150 of 1,000 children globally) at the same time.  (For percentages of children, see here.)

In 2015, Berlin announced that Europe's borders cannot be defended against their illegal breaching by the youth of Africa and the Islamic world.  In November of that year, the author was shocked by one of his students at the NATO Defense College in Rome.  The Royal Air Force colonel loudly wanted to know why Germany was once again plunging the continent into ruin.  The officer had just learned in the author's lecture that Muslims had increased their population twelvefold since 1900, from 150 million to 1.8 billion, and had reached Europe's 1914 world share in young men of military age.  In 2015, some 800 million people in economically hopeless territories were already planning to emigrate to Europe and North America.  The fear of Islam, overcome in 1700, was back with a vengeance.

Understandable is the hope of young Muslims to escape their domestic bloodshed by moving to Europe.  It was Europe in 1945 that invented the right of asylum.  Now, in 2021, the great power Russia, via its satellite Belarus, is pressing young Muslims through the borders installations of Poland and Lithuania into the E.U., in order to further increase the burdens of western Europe.

Unlike the Germans of 2015, the Poles of 2021 immediately fortified their borders.  No one had to prompt them.  They followed the lessons of their history.  Many — even from within their own ranks — slandered the often battered country for its courageous resolve.  But the unflagging operations of the Polish forces also inspire hope in countries such as Spain and Greece on Europe's southern frontiers.  By standing strong along their own borders, the Poles are refuting claims that the continent was defenseless.  Even from the German capital are now heard timid comments on the cluelessness and irresponsibility of the Merkel years.

For the violent border-breachers, there is Warsaw's willingness to refrain from the use of lethal weapons until further notice.  This may not be much, but compared to the alternative, or even to the many battles since 1621, it is not a little thing, either.  Nevertheless, there is a lot to gain from practicing the effective closing of a border.  The Polish example has become a valuable lesson for the entire continent.  As in centuries past, what is difficult but unavoidable for Poland is proving to be crucially important for the future of Germany and the rest of the European Union.

Gunnar Heinsohn (b. 1943) introduced the subject of war demography at the NATO Defense College (NDC/Rome) in 2011 and taught it until 2020.

Image via Pixabay.

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