Skip to comments.Poland honors Katyn genocide victims at a solemn ceremony in Warsaw (see pictures)
Posted on 11/12/2007 2:48:00 PM PST by lizol
Poland honors Katyn genocide victims at a solemn ceremony in Warsaw
Over the weekend, Warsaw was the venue of a very special celebration commemorating the memory of the victims of the Katyn Forest Massacre - over 20 thousand Polish citizens murdered by the NKVD at Stalin's personal order in 1940.
Eliza Mickiewicz reports
'I would like us to focus on those, whose memory was forbidden on this soil for decades - on the victims of genocide in Katyn, Miednoje, Charkow and many other places.'
...said the Polish President Lech Kaczynski opening the two-day solemn ceremony to honor the victims of the Katyn genocide. He then proceeded to granting posthumous orders to Polish officers executed in Katyn, Charkow and Miednoje and to promoting them to higher ranks. Names of over 14 thousand victims of the Katyn genocide were read out.
'Colonel Jan Pióro, son of Jan, killed in Charków... Colonel Władysław Płonka, son of Wojciech, killed in Charków...'
Thousands of people gathered for the two day ceremony at the Piłsudski square in the heart of Warsaw. Families of victims traveled many kilometers and stayed at the square in cold and rain until late at night or early dawn just to hear the names of their beloved ones mentioned. For the relatives, this symbolic farewell was like a long awaited funeral.
'We thanked our great grandfather for sacrificing his life for us. His memory and the memory of Katyn has always been alive in our family. I was brought up in the patriotic spirit and so are my children.'
Many young people, scouts and students joined the ceremony even if their families were not related directly to the tragedy.
'We are here on behalf of the whole school to pay tribute to those who died in Katyn for the freedom of Poland. We know what Katyn is, we talk a lot about this in history classes and we even saw the movie.'
Relatives of those murdered by the NKVD often spoke of the pain of forced silence about the tragedy which lasted for decades. Poland's communist authorities forbade to talk about the Stalinist massacre and often repressed the Katyn victims families.
'In 1943 the whole world knew who was responsible for the massacre and in Poland it was only in 1980s that we started to talk about this.'
With the ceremony, the recent movie about the Katyn massacre by Oscar winning director Andrzej Wajda and Poland's growing interest in patriotism and history, the memory is about to be brought back, says Ewa Junczyk - Ziomecka of the Presidential Chancellery.
'I am sure that there is no individual in Poland that has any doubts that this tragedy that has been manipulated for so many years, needs to have a clear place in the Polish memory.'
However, with Russian media's recent attempts at falsifying the history of the massacre, the problem remains - will Russia ever admit that what Stalin ordered in 1940 fits the definition of genocide as defined by the UN resolution of 1948? Historian Wojciech Roszkowski:
'These were the Polish officers, Polish policemen and other people belonging to the ruling elite of interwar Poland. The five Cremlin leaders decided to execute them without any court procedure and this is exactly genocide according to the United Nations definition.'
An ecumenical prayer, a Mass, and the firing of salutes closed the celebrations at the Piłsudski square in Warsaw. Bishop Tadeusz Płoski spoke about the need to forgive in spite of all. He also thanked those who never ceased to speak the truth about the genocide, even in times of persecution.
Socialism: planting gardens of stone and watering them with human tears.
For rhetorical hygeine, let’s call it Mass Murder.
Genocide requires a whole other level of murder, of which Stalin was perfectly capable, but did not occur in this instance.
I hope I'm not out of line to ask a question. Stop me if this is too complex or sensitive. But do you have a sense for how young people in Poland today view events like the Katyn massacre and the other assaults on Polish sovereignty in the last century or so?
Do they see it as ancient history that can't repeat itself in the future, or as a warning about things that need to be guarded against in the future?
We see very cool photos here with new hardware (like F-16's), but it also seems like Polish defense spending is rather low as a percent of the economy. So it's hard for an outsider like me to get a sense for how seriously people in Poland today view the need for national defense.
Thanks for your thoughtful comments — one of the fun things about FR is getting different views from a variety of people.
I think events like the last historical “Independence parade”, or military parade on Polish Army Day (August 15), or movies like Andrzej Wajda’s “Katyn” are very helpful in building up patriotism of the young generation.
I went to the cinema to see “Katyn” and after the movie has ended - the audience was leaving the theater in a complete silence - so much moved by the pictures. But most of the audience - at that time - were adult people.
But my wife, who is a school counselor in a gymnasium (which is something between American elementary school and high school - for kids being 13-16 years old ) told me, that when they went to see that movie with the school kids - the reaction was exactly the same.
Nothing like stupid teenager behavior.
“However, with Russian media’s recent attempts at falsifying the history of the massacre, the problem remains - will Russia ever admit that what Stalin ordered in 1940 fits the definition of genocide as defined by the UN resolution of 1948? Historian Wojciech Roszkowski: “
No more likely than our “good friends and allies” the Turks will admit to the Armenian Massacre or the Japanese ackonwledge war crimes.