Thursday

27th Jul 2017

Opinion

Full text of Lech Kaczynski's letter to Katyn families

Dear representatives of the Katyn families, ladies and gentlemen,

Over 21,000 Polish prisoners were in April 1940 taken from the NKVD's [the Soviet secret police] camps and prisons and murdered. This crime of genocide was perpetrated by the will of Stalin, on the orders of the highest authorities of the Soviet Union. The alliance of the Third Reich, the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact and the aggression against Poland of 17 September 1939 culminated in the shocking Katyn crime. These citizens of the II Polish republic, people who formed the basis of our statehood, unconquered in the service of their fatherland, were murdered not only in the forests of Katyn, but also in Tver, in Kharkov and in other known and as yet unknown places. The families of the victims and thousands of other inhabitants of Poland's pre-war borderlands were at the same time deported into the depths of the Soviet Union where their unspoken sufferings mark the path to Poland's eastern Golgotha.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The most tragic station along the way was Katyn. Polish officers, clerics, officials, policemen, officers of the border police and the prison service killed without judicial process or verdict. They were victims of an unsung conflict. They were murdered in violation of the rights and conventions of the civilised world. Their dignity as soldiers, as Poles and as human beings was trampled. These death pits were to forever hide their bodies and the truth about this crime. Their families were deprived the right to public mourning and grief and to a dignified rememberance of their closest ones. The earth covered traces of the crime and the Katyn lie tried to eradicate it from human memory.

Hiding the truth about Katyn - on the decision of those who perpetrated it - became a pillar of Communist politics in post-war Poland: the foundation myth of the PRL [the Communist-era People's Republic of Poland]. This was a time when people paid a high price for remembering the truth about Katyn. But people close to the victims and other brave souls remained faithful to their memory. They defended it and passed it on to following generations of Poles. They preserved it through the times of Communist rule and entrusted it to their compatriots in a free, independent Poland. That is why we owe them all, and especially the Katyn families, respect and gratitude. In the name of the Polish republic I give you profound thanks for preserving such an important aspect of Polish consciousness and identity, even as you defended the memory of your loved ones.

Katyn has become a painful wound in Polish history, poisoning relations between Poles and Russians for long decades. Let us make sure it can finally heal, scar over. We are already on this path. We, Poles, appreciate Russia's actions in recent years. We should go further on this path, which brings our two nations closer, without halting or turning back.

All the circumstances of the Katyn crime must be made public and examined. It is equally important to confirm the innocence of the victims, to release all the documents relating to this crime so that the Katyn lie can fade forever from public discourse. We demand this above all for the sake of the victims and the sufferings of their families. But we also demand it in the name of shared values, which must create the foundation of trust and partnership between neighbouring states in all of Europe.

Let us together honour the murder victims and pray over their bodies. Glory be to the heroes! May they rest in peace.

Translation by EUobserver

Stop blaming Trump for Poland’s democratic crisis

If you were to judge events purely on the US media's headlines, you would be forgiven for wondering if the Polish government had anything to do with its recent controversial judicial reforms.

Stronger EU-Egypt ties must not disregard human rights

The EU’s apparent willingness to water down its stance on human rights in Egypt could seriously compromise its credibility and have far-reaching consequences for its relations with other countries in the region.

Winter is here for Spitzenkandidat, but he'll survive

Candidates from all political families should be presenting their vision on where the Union should be headed. European socialists want to keep the Spitzenkandidat procedure for future elections.

Greece needs a new plan

Two years into its third bailout, Greece needs to combine the necessary fiscal targets with a new vision. This can be done in the context of the ongoing industrial revolution.

Ceta and pesticides: A citizens' rights issue

The trade agreement with Canada will begin to apply on 21 September. But there is still a potential conflict on the right to data protection vs. the right to access information.

Stronger EU-Egypt ties must not disregard human rights

The EU’s apparent willingness to water down its stance on human rights in Egypt could seriously compromise its credibility and have far-reaching consequences for its relations with other countries in the region.

News in Brief

  1. Werner Hoyer re-appointed as EU investment bank chief
  2. Spanish PM denies knowledge of party corruption
  3. France 'routinely' abuses migrants, says NGO
  4. Swedish government rocked by data scandal
  5. Member states relocate 3,000 migrants in June
  6. Top EU jurist says Malta's finch-trapping against EU law
  7. EU judges rule to keep Hamas funds frozen
  8. EU court rejects passenger data deal with Canada

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  2. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  3. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  5. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  6. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  7. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  9. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  10. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  11. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  12. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Ep. 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug

Latest News

  1. Insults fly after EU ultimatum to Poland
  2. UK requests EU migration study, 13 months after Brexit vote
  3. EU defends airline data-sharing after court ruling
  4. Stop blaming Trump for Poland’s democratic crisis
  5. EU-US scrap on Russia sanctions gets worse
  6. Czechs, Hungarians, and Poles have one month to start taking migrants
  7. EU Commission sets red lines for Poland on Article 7
  8. Court told to 'dismiss' case against EU migrant quotas