CD Projekt Red has the right to support whatever cause they want and to suspend sales of their products to any given market like Belarus and Russia regardless of the potentially ulterior motives behind such a contentious decision, but they shouldn’t have crossed the Polish cultural red line of concluding their announcement with the slogan “Slava Ukraini” that was shouted decades ago by Hitler’s Ukrainian fascist collaborators who genocided around 100,000 Poles.
CD Projekt Red, the famous Polish video game studio that created the globally renowned Witcher 3 and much less well received though no less talked about Cyberpunk 2077, announced that it’ll stop selling its products in Belarus and Russia out of solidarity with Ukraine. That’s already controversial enough of a decision to make since it by their own admission will impact “individuals who have nothing to do” with the conflict, but it’s nevertheless their sovereign right to do as a business even though it might have potentially ulterior motives. That wouldn’t be worthy of an article in its own right though which is why the present piece mostly focuses on how they just crossed a Polish cultural red line in their announcement by concluding with “Slava Ukraini” (“Glory to Ukraine”).
That slogan isn’t just shouted across the world in support of Kiev nowadays but became infamous when it was shouted by the follows of Hitler’s Ukrainian collaborator Stepan Bandera when they genocided around 100,000 Poles from 1943-1945 in the parts of modern-day Ukraine that used to be controlled by the Second Polish Republic. This isn’t so-called “Russian propaganda” either like some pro-Kiev forces might reflexively claim but is a documented historical fact. The Polish Institute of National Remembrance published a detailed report on Bandera that can be read here and a much more concise one commemorating the victims of what’s known as the Volyhnia Massacre here. The Georgetown Security Studies Review published an article about that slogan’s history here for interested folks to read.
However one wants to spin it, there’s no doubt that “Slava Ukraini” was shouted by literally Nazi-allied fascist genociders who slaughtered around 100,000 Poles. Despite that slogan’s history allegedly predating those dark years, it was indisputably stained after becoming the rallying cry of those who committed crimes against humanity during World War II. It’s equivalent to the swastika, which can no longer be used in civilized society except by the most pious Buddhists, Hindus, and Jains who aren’t flashing it to signal support for the Nazi cause that hijacked it. As a Polish video game studio, CD Projket Red should know this. It’s one thing to support Kiev in the context of Russia’s special operation in Ukraine and another to conclude a controversial announcement with that slogan.
About that announcement, it might not have been made in true sincerity with Kiev’s cause either but could very well have been an attempt to generate some positive publicity after the company became the butt of jokes following its ultra-glitchy and super disappointing launch of the over-hyped Cyberpunk 2077 in late 2020. Multiple controversies erupted soon thereafter upon CD Projekt Red’s clumsy attempts to make amends for launching a title that many concluded shouldn’t have been released before all of its problems were fixed. By suddenly deciding not to sell their products to Belarusians and Russians, who presumably don’t constitute all that much of their business anyhow, CD Projekt Red might have considered this a very cost-effective public relations move.
That might backfire though if patriotic Poles who remember their history push back against the company for concluding their announcement with the same slogan shouted decades ago by Hitler’s literally fascist allies when they slaughtered around 100,000 Poles. Once again, CD Projekt Red has the right to support whatever cause they want and to suspend sales of their products to any given market regardless of the potentially ulterior motives behind such a contentious decision, but they shouldn’t have crossed the Polish cultural red line of concluding their announcement the way that they did. They owe it to their fellow Poles to apologize for that since there’s no denying how stained that slogan has become since World War II, but no one should get their hopes up that this clumsy company will do so.