Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Katyń Memorial

In 1939, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union invaded Poland. Germany controlled the west and the Soviets occupied the east.
Polish officers and soldiers, as well as civilian doctors, lawyers, priests and factory owners, captured by the Red Army were later executed by the NKVD (Stalin's secret police that later became the KGB).
The numbers vary but over 22,000 Poles were assassinated and buried in mass graves in 1940. Katyń Forest refers to one of the main execution sites near Smolensk in Russia. Though this was not the only site.
In 1943, the Germans discovered what had happened and told the world about the Soviet atrocities. Later the Soviets maintained that the Nazis were responsible for the killings. And so it went on for decades without any closure for the victim's families.
In 1990, Mikhail Gorbachev admitted that Stalin ordered the executions by the NKVD and confirmed two other burial sites. In 2010, the Russian State Duma approved a declaration officially blaming Stalin and other Soviet officials for ordering the massacre.
Last year the Polish president and other high government officials were on their way to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the massacre when the plane they were traveling in crashed near Smolensk. This just makes Katyń an ever bigger tragedy for Poland.
Many cities in Poland have Katyń memorials. In Wrocław, the memorial is in a park east of the city center. The "Matron of the Homeland" despairs over a dead solider while the angel of death looms over. Like the real victims at Katyń, the sculpture shows the soldier's hands tied behind his back and bullet hole in the back of his head.
Here's a clip I found on YouTube of Russia Today talking about the Katyń Massacre.


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