Poland marks 1939 Red Army invasion

Events have been held in many Polish towns and cities to commemorate the 75h anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland at the beginning of WWII.

President Komorowski unveils huge epitaph to over 20,000 Polish officers murdered by the Stalinist secret service, known as the Katyn Massacre': photo - PAP/Jacek Turczyk

President Komorowski unveils huge epitaph to over 20,000 Polish officers murdered by the Stalinist secret service, known as the Katyn Massacre’: photo – PAP/Jacek Turczyk

At 3.30 am on 17 September 1939, the Polish ambassador in Moscow was handed a note, in which Moscow announced that the Polish state had ceased to exist.

In the wake of the Soviet invasion, mass arrests and deportations were carried out. By June 1941 over one a half million Poles were herded into trains, to work as slaves and forced labourers near the Arctic Circle and in the steppes of Kazakhstan.

In Poland, the invasion has often been described as a ‘stab in the back’, which Poland received from the Soviet Union seventeen days after the Nazi attack and less than a month after the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia.

In Warsaw on Wednesday, President Bronislaw Komorowski unveiled the Katyn Epitaph – the first batch of plaques with the names of over 20,000 Polish officers murdered by the Soviet NKVD police in 1940.

The epitaph is located in the Warsaw Citadel, the site of a future Katyn Museum, now under construction.

President Komorowski described the search for the truth about Katyń and the memory of that tragedy as one of the most important foundations of a free Poland.

Komorowski admitted that the efforts to gain access to all documents relating to the Katyn massacre possessed by Moscow have failed.

President of the Institute of National Remembrance Łukasz Kamiński has told Polish Radio that the Polish nation has to preserve the memory of its plight under the Soviet occupation.

“World War Two and the Katyń massacre of 1940 are the cornerstones of the nation’s collective memory,” he said, adding that Poland needs a museum dedicated to the Katyń crime.

Lukasz Kaminski also stressed that for the past few years Moscow has been pursuing an aggressive propaganda in regards to Soviet policy during WWII, resorting to Stalinist lies including claims that the Soviet invasion of 75 years ago was undertaken to protect the Ukrainian and Byelorussian minorities in Poland’s eastern territories. (mk/pg)

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