Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
“We will never be able to understand it”
In the Polish Szczecin on February 9th at the initiative of the society “Kresy Wschodnie. History and Memory” and with the financial and organisational support of the Polish Institute of National Memory (PINM), a monument to the victims of Ukrainian nationalists in Volyn and Lesser Poland in 1939-1947 was solemnly opened.
Lesser Poland is the territory of the present day Ivano-Frankovsk, Lvov, and Ternopol regions of Ukraine, where the percentage of the Polish population is traditionally high. Here and in Volyn in 1943 there were the most bloody massacres of Poles carried out by OUN-UPA.
That’s why the main element of the monument is a demolished roof of a burned house and a list of Polish villages that were destroyed by OUN-UPA militants during the Volyn massacre of 1943.
The date of the monument’s unveiling wasn’t chosen incidentally. On this day 76 years ago OUN-UPA punishers committed the first massacre of Poles, having deprived 173 residents of the village of Parośla of their lives. This became the beginning of the tragedy that was later called the Volyn massacre, where more than 100,000 Poles, including women, the elderly, and children died at the hands of Ukrainian nationalists.
“… We will never understand what has to happen in someone’s brain … so that they rushed towards unarmed, innocent people with an axe. Towards women and small children”said the head of the PINM Jarosław Szarek at the unveiling of the monument
The head of the PINM department in Szczecin Paweł Skubisz drew attention to the fact that Poles learn about the Volyn massacre more and more: “Only in the last few years has information about this reached the conscience of Poles. Previously, the memory of this tragedy was protected only by the Kresy organisations, the families of the dead, and those who endured it”.
Skubisz declared that the current generation of Poles are indebted to the dead, especially in connection with the Kiev authorities’ ban on the Polish side carrying out exhumation work in the places where the victims of OUN-UPA were buried en masse. The relatives of the dead, travelling to Ukraine to visit the graves of relatives, are subjected to psychological abuse by the Ukrainian side, he said.
“It is impossible that in Europe in the 21st century there is a barbarous ban on the burial of victims, and that this became a subject of bargaining and political blackmail,” stressed the well-known critic of the ideology of Ukrainian nationalism, the Roman catholic priest Tadeusz Isakowicz-Zaleski.
Antoni Dąbrowski, who was present at the unveiling of the monument and personally lived through the Volyn massacre, pointed out the responsibility of Kiev for praising murderers from OUN-UPA: “Now [in Ukraine] the murderers who cut Polish children with axes are praised to high heaven with a halo of glory”.
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