RUSSIANS JOIN POLES AT
SITE OF SLAUGHTER BY SOVIETS
Associated Press July 29, 2000
KATYN, Russia -- Laying wreaths at the
spot where Soviet secret police massacred thousands of
Polish army officers in 1940, Russian and Polish
officials joined relatives Friday in remembering one of
the Soviet Union's more brutal actions.
memorial dedicated Friday honored 4,421 Polish officers
who were shot and dumped into mass graves in April and
May 1940 -- a slaughter communist authorities concealed
for decades. In 1943, Nazis found the graves of the Katyn
victims, who were among some 15,000 Polish officers
killed by Josef Stalin's secret police. The Soviet
government blamed the killings
on the Nazis, and made discussion of the massacre
taboo. In communist Poland, all information about Katyn
"The word 'Katyn', in Poland and the whole world, will
remain a symbol of genocide and war crimes," said Polish
Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek, who led Poland's
delegation, which included military officers. Russia
finally admitted responsibility for the massacre in 1990,
handing over secret police documents to Warsaw.
"I've come here because my father is lying here. And
there are thousands like me," said Lukrecia Hal, a
retiree who was among hundreds of relatives and other
ordinary Poles who traveled to Katyn in western Russia
for the ceremony.
They laid 1,500 wreaths along the walls, where the
Polish section is marked by a large Catholic cross.
Poland's Roman Catholic cardinal, Josef Glemp, and
Bishop Slawoj Leszek Glodz, Poland's chief army
chaplain, celebrated a memorial mass. Russian Orthodox,
Muslim and Jewish clerics also said prayers.
The graves also contain the bodies of about 500
Russian and other Soviet victims of the Nazis.
who lie here, Russians and Poles -- all of them are
victims of totalitarian systems of the 20th Century.
Poland has never left them behind and will never forget
them," said Andrzej Przewoznik, secretary general
of the Polish Union of Memory group.