Logo Polskiego Radia

WWII Ukrainian massacre of Poles 'genocide'

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 10.07.2013 09:14
The Speaker of Poland's lower house of parliament tells Polish Radio that WWII massacres of Poles by Ukrainians were “genocide”, as MPs struggle to find a consensus motion on the issue.

Speaker Ewa Kopacz. Photo: Polish Radio/Wojciech Kusinski

“One has to vote for the truth,” Speaker Ewa Kopacz said, Tuesday morning.

“A hundred thousand Poles, young children, women, men, were killed and these are facts that should be beyond discussion,” she claimed.

Nevertheless, MPs are still divided on how to categorise the killings, with the official 70th anniversary commemorations held this week.

Thursday 11 July will mark 70 years since the launch of the principal wave of the Volhynia massacres.

The killings took place in a Nazi-occupied region that had been divided between Poland and the Soviet Union prior to the Second World War.

Attacks were orchestrated by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), a nationalistic guerilla force, that desired Ukrainian independence.

Poles fought back, and it is estimated that about 2000-3000 Ukrainians were killed in Volhynia, and about 20,000 more when the fighting spread to other areas of south east Poland (1944-1947).

In late June, Polish and Ukrainian church leaders signed an appeal for reconciliation in Warsaw.

Chief opposition party, the conservative Law and Justice, is insisting that the word genocide be used in this week's prospective resolution. Smaller conservative party Solidarity Poland has also taken this stance, as has the government's junior coalition partner, the Polish People's Party (PSL).

However, Prime Minister Donald Tusk's centre-right Civic Platform is more reserved.

Rafal Grupinski, head of Civic Platform's political club, has stated that Kopacz's views on the matter are her “private opinions.”

Last month, the Senate passed a resolution describing the Volhynia massacres as “ethnic cleansing bearing the hallmarks of genocide.”

Prior to that, Father Stefan Batruch, Greek Catholic parish priest in the city of Lublin, told Polish Radio that it was too early to insist that Ukrainians describe the Volhynia massacres as genocide.

“This certainly cannot be done by pushing the other side up against wall with the order: 'Recognise this now,'” he reflected.

Meanwhile, Poland's Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), the state-backed body charged with investigating crimes against Polish citizens, opened an exhibition on the subject at its Warsaw headquarters on Tuesday.

“Poles and Ukrainians: 1943-1945” explores the subject using Ukrainian documentary materials. (nh/pg)

The exhibition "Poles and Ukrainians: 1943-1945" held at IPN's Educational Centre. Photo: PAP/Grzegorz Jakubowski

Copyright © Polskie Radio S.A About Us Contact Us