Poland in touch with New York and Washington over Katyn monument controversy
PR dla Zagranicy
The Polish president's office is in constant contact with diplomatic posts in New York and Washington over controversial plans to remove from Jersey City a monument to Poles massacred by Soviet forces, a Polish official said on Friday.
Krzysztof Szczerski. Photo: Maciej Biedrzycki/KPRP
Polish presidential aide Krzysztof Szczerski also said that President Andrzej Duda "cannot imagine" that the Katyn massacre monument is not being respected in the US, "which so venerates its heroes, especially those who died for their country."
Szczerski's comments were made after Jersey City on Monday announced that the monument would be removed in order to redevelop Exchange Place, which has been the monument's home for 27 years.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said the monument would be put in storage while Exchange Place was converted into a park.
Mike DeMarco, chair of the Exchange Place Special Improvement District which maintains the site, suggested that the monument could be relocated, The Jersey Journal reported.
But members of the Polish expat community in the US and officials in Poland said the monument should not be moved.
Unveiled in June 1991, the monument is made up of a ten-metre-tall bronze figure of a soldier who has been gagged and bound and impaled by a bayonetted rifle mounted on top of a granite base containing soil from Katyn, western Russia.
It was visited by Duda and his wife in 2016 and its sculptor, Polish artist Andrzej Pitynski, was given the Order of the Polish Eagle, Poland's highest state distinction.
In the spring of 1940, after invading Poland the previous year, the Soviets launched a campaign to eliminate Poland's elites, which came to be known as the Katyn massacre.
Some 22,000 Polish officers and other members of the intelligentsia were deported to various sites in the Soviet Union, among them the Katyn forest in western Russia, where each was shot in the back of the head.
The Katyn Massacre was officially kept under wraps by the Soviet Union, and later Russia until 1990. (vb)