Washington, DC: Remembering the Heroes of the Katyn Massacre and the Smolensk Disaster
April 22, 2023
The month of April is called the Month of National Remembrance in Poland. It gives an opportunity to remember significant events in the history of our nation as well as to pay tribute to the heroes and the victims of tragedy who died for the freedom and independence of Poland.
We are going to commemorate two particularly important events. The first being the Katyn Massacre, and the second being the Smolensk Disaster. Both of these tragedies took the elite of the Polish State and changed the dynamic of social and political life for many years, not only in Poland but also in Europe as a whole.
In September 1939, a number of Polish officers were taken prisoner by the invading Red Army and put in camps at Ostashkow, Starobels and Kozelsk, USSR. Most of them were not professional soldiers, but reserve officers mobilized during the German offensive. On orders signed on 5 March 1940 by Stalin and the Politburo, over 21,000 such prisoners were shot in April 1940: of these, 4,000 perished in Katyn near the city of Smolensk. For 50 years, Soviet governments denied their responsibility for these atrocities. Finally, in April of 1990, USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev admitted the Soviet Union’s guilt for the killings.
On April 10th, 2010, the Smolensk Disaster decapitated the Polish government. A Polish Air Force Tu-154 airliner crashed near the Russian city of Smolensk. Ninety-six people were killed including the President of Poland Lech Kaczyński and his wife, the former Polish President Ryszard Kaczorowski, the entire general army command, the Chief of the Polish General Staff and other senior Polish military officers, the president of the National Bank of Poland, Poland’s deputy foreign minister, various other Polish government officials, 15 members of the Polish parliament, senior members of the Polish clergy, relatives of victims of the Katyn massacre and the plane crew. They were on their way from Warsaw to attend an event marking the 70th anniversary of the Katyn Forest massacre.
Observances for the honored victims of these tragedies will take place on April 25, 2023 (Tuesday) at the Victims of Communism Museum in Washington, DC. The event will include a historical session on the Katyn Massacre, as an example of Russia’s doctrine over the centuries, starting as tsarist, then communist and now authoritarian, all of which perpetrate a world where the untruth is the foundation of perception, and the truth is the greatest threat.
The Smolensk Disaster Commemoration Committee in cooperation with the Victims of Communism Museum in Washington, DC is looking forward to seeing you on April 25th 2023.
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