Monday, 20 February 2012

Polish conservation council against 1940 Katyn massacre exhumations

A Polish governmental conservation council is against the exhumation and repatriation of Polish victims of the 1940 Katyn massacre, when over 20,000 Polish officers were murdered on Stalin's orders.
"Bringing the remains of the victims of the Katyn Crime back to our country is impossible," Dr Andrzej Kunert, Secretary of the Council for the Protection of Struggle and Martyrdom Sites told the Rzeczpospolita daily.
A group of 80 relatives of Katyn victims had earlier appealed to Poland's Foreign Ministry, calling for the remains of those murdered to be brought back from Russia so as to be buried on Polish soil.
The Foreign Ministry directed the request to the Council for the Protection of Struggle and Martyrdom Sites.
However, Poland's Federation of Katyn Families had objected to the proposals from the outset.
“Why do we need such actions?” said Krystyna Brydowska, deputy chairman of the Federation Katyn Families, in an interview with Rzeczpospolita last month.
“After all, we already have cemeteries,” she said.
Over 22,500 Polish citizens, largely reserve officers, were executed on Stalin's orders in April 1940.
The shootings took place at various points across the Soviet Union.
Official cemeteries exist at Katyn and Mednoye (both in Russia), and the foundation stone for a third was laid at Bykivnia, Ukraine, last November.
The Polish military cemetery at Katyn, near Smolensk, was launched in 2000, ten years after Moscow finally admitted guilt for the murders. Until then, the official Moscow line had been that the Nazis were responsible for the executions.
Dr Kunert stressed that one of the paramount problems was in identifying each victim.The majority of the victims have symbolic graves.
However, some relatives of the murdered have more precise information, owing to the presence of personal effects.
Nevertheless, Dr Kunert has added that no stipulation about further exhumations was ever agreed with Russia when the cemeteries were launched.


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