In an example of Russia’s backsliding on history of the Second World War, on 7 May, a memorial to the victims of the “Katyn massacres” was removed in Tver, a city 110 miles North East of Moscow. London4Europe member Jan Ledochowski explains the history and comments on the significance.
The memorial was installed nearly 30 years ago by a human rights group on the former secret police headquarters, but now the local prosecutor have ruled that the plaque was not based on facts.
The Polish group representing families of people killed in Katyn has written the attached open letter to the Polish authorities, appealing to them to protect the truth as vigorously as possible.
In 1939, Germany and Russia attacked Poland and divided it between them. The Polish Army fought Germany but eventually surrendered and officers were taken prisoners-of-war by both sides. As an act of ethnic cleansing, the Russians started deporting millions of Poles, about a third Jews, from its zone to Siberia. And as an act of social genocide, in massacres known as “Katyń”, they started eliminating the Polish elite and murdered all the Polish officer prisoners-of-war, including women pilots and the chief Rabbi in the Polish Army, who remained loyal to their country.
Stalin always pretended the Germans had carried out the massacres and even Britain played the game, preventing the Poles from erecting memorials in central London.
After communism fell in 1990, the Russians, led by their human rights groups, started to accept the truth and even apologised. The massacres then became widely acknowledged and condemned in the UK and elsewhere as a major Russian war crime.
Now we are in a terrible new world. Not only do we have the virus but we have populist leaders, many brought to power with Russian connivance and support, who seem to think that Russia has a natural right to invade and murder neighbours.
We should all fight the new trend and protest wherever and however we can in the name of truth and world peace.
London4Europe blogs are edited by Nick Hopkinson, Vice-Chair. Articles on this page reflect the views of the author and not necessarily of London4Europe.