Logo Polskiego Radia

Jersey City Hall changing tack on Polish American statue amid flak?

PR dla Zagranicy
Grzegorz Siwicki 11.05.2018 08:00
Authorities in Jersey City in the US state of New Jersey may soon backpedal on their plan to move a statue that honours Poles murdered by the Soviets in World War II, a Polish official has said.
The Jersey City monument to the 1940 Katyn MassacreThe Jersey City monument to the 1940 Katyn MassacreBild: Eleanor Lang/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Adam Bielan, deputy Speaker of the upper house of Poland’s parliament, said that Jersey City could change its position on the controversial move under pressure from the Polish community in America.

Members of the Polish community in the United States and officials in Warsaw protested after Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop last month announced that the statue would be removed in order to redevelop a public square that has been the monument's home for 27 years.

Fulop said at the time that the monument would be put in storage while the space is converted into a park.

The announcement sparked a trans-Atlantic row, with Polish Senate Speaker Stanisław Karczewski calling the plan "really scandalous" and "very unpleasant" and Fulop responding on Twitter that Karczewski "has zero credibility."

The Polish ambassador to the United States has called for an apology from Fulop.

Karczewski said he had taken legal steps over the mayor’s accusations.

Fulop has since signalled he wants dialogue amid the row over the monument. He also said that the statue needed to be renovated but that it would ultimately stand in a “respected” place.

The monument at the centre of the row features a 10-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 the Katyn Forest in western Russia where thousands of Poles were murdered by Soviet secret police during World War II.

Bielan told Polish public broadcaster TVP Info on Thursday that informal talks were under way on the location of the monument, which was sculpted by Polish-American artist Andrzej Pitynski and unveiled in June 1991.

Soon several meetings will be held focusing on the Katyn monument, he said.

"I cannot disclose all the... information, but I hope the mayor will change his position over the next few days," Bielan said.

"I hope a compromise will be achieved that will be acceptable to us," he added.

After protests and requests from Poles living in America, a court has decided that the Jersey City statue should stay where it is until at least May 29, Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.

Poles living in the United States have formed a new pressure group that aims to prevent the statue from being moved from its current location at Exchange Place in Jersey City, just across the Hudson River from New York City, according to the Polish public radio broadcaster.

Poles living in America have announced plans to stage a series of demonstrations in defence of the Jersey City statue over the weekend.

Around 22,000 Polish prisoners of war were killed with shots to the back of the head in the spring of 1940 on orders from top Soviet authorities in what came to be known as the Katyn Massacre.


Source: IAR

Copyright © Polskie Radio S.A About Us Contact Us