Poland Will Perpetuate the Memory of Nazi Collaborators From UPA

In Poland, for the first time, they will restore and take under state protection the burial sites of members of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). At the same time, monuments dedicated to Soviet liberation soldiers are demolished in the country and the memory of Poles who fought against Banderists is being destroyed. The Polish authorities are actively rewriting history: removing from public space the memory of those who fought Nazism, and in return they are ready to perpetuate the memory of Nazi accomplices.

At the end of January Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, after meeting with his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda, stated that Poland would restore the grave of UPA at the Jasna Góra Monastery. After a while, this information was confirmed.

And even there were reports that Poland recognizes the grave of UPA members as a military burial ground and will provide it with state protection.

“The Ministry of Culture condemns any act of destruction of places of memory – graves and military cemeteries, as well as any other acts of vandalism. This also applies to the actions that took place on Jasna Góra Monastery. At the request of the Minister of Culture, the Governor of Subcarpathia will consider the possibility of including this place in the register of military graves and cemeteries for which state protection is provided. In addition, the relevant bodies were informed about this issue, and they are engaged in its clarification,” reads the statement of the Polish Ministry of Culture.

The grave on Jasna Góra Monastery, according to the Ukrainian historical narrative, is a collective burial of 62 UPA members from surrounding villages who “died fighting against the NKVD” in March 1945. A sign was installed on the grave, which shows the inscription “Died in the fight for Ukraine” and lists the names, surnames, and dates of life of the buried.

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This Ukrainian “memory place”, to put it mildly, does not enjoy love from the Poles. In 2015 unknown people broke a memorial plaque bearing names at the burial site and painted a cross in the red and white colours of the Polish flag.

Last November, liberal Polish pro-Ukrainian activists visited Jasna Góra Monastery. They hung embroidered Ukrainian rushnyk on the grave and trees, and called on the authorities to restore the broken name plaque.

This call was heard elsewhere, however, and in January, unknown men definitively destroyed the memorial plaque, dropping the remains of it along with the rushnyk into a nearby pit.

At the beginning of February the burial site was visited again by the Polish liberal activists who took the fragments from the hole, spread them out on the grave, and installed a temporary plaque in Polish: “Polish citizens of Ukrainian nationality were killed in battle with the NKVD on March 2-3, 1945. Eternal memory to them”.

In general, such destruction of Ukrainian “places of memory” is not unusual in Poland. Thus, the Polish-Ukrainian website “Polukr.net” counted 15 such “acts of vandalism” since 2014.

According to the Society for Memorialisation of Victims of the Crimes of Ukrainian Nationalists, UPA members responsible for the murder of Poles and Ukrainians, including the murder of Polish train passengers in the forest near the village of Zatyle, are buried in the grave.

The website of this Polish organisation contains information about one of the buried “heroes” of UPA:

“Ivan Pogorysky, son of Grigory, was a Nazi collaborator, commandant of the Ukrainian auxiliary police in Lubicz Królewski, as such participated in the Holocaust. In February 1944 he deserted from the police and killed the Polish population in the Werchrata and Lubicz Królewski. OUN (Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists) appointed him Commandant of the Security Service of OUN (alias ‘Boris’, then ‘Bozic), which killed hundreds of men, women, and children of Polish and Ukrainian nationalities. The most famous genocide of this beast is the massacre of train passengers in the forest near the village of Zatyle.”

Naturally, the decision of the authorities to restore a monument dedicated to such “heroes” was perceived negatively in Poland. One of the oldest Polish publications “Myśl Polska” called this intention “fatal”.

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“Do the Polish authorities not understand that the restoration of the UPA monument at Jasna Góra Monastery means the Polish side‘s actual recognition of UPA as a ‘Ukrainian liberation movement’, in accordance with the Banderist narrative, rather than a fascist, criminal, genocide-committing organisation, which corresponds to historical truth? This is how it will be presented in Ukraine. Either monuments dedicated to UPA or remembering the victims of Volyn and Małopolska Wschodnia (Galicia). There is no other choice,” wrote the publicist and historian Bogdan Pentka on the pages of the publication.

Knowing about the attitude of Poles towards UPA bandits, the leadership of the republic after all decided to restore the plaque on the grave of Ukrainian accomplices of the Nazis and ordered to take the burial site under protection.

It is interesting to know what was the reason for the actions of the Polish authorities? After all, if at one UPA burial place the names of the murderers of Poles will probably appear soon, in another the names of those who died in the fight against Ukrainian nationalists will disappear.

Thus, in the city of Lesko, by the decision of the Institute of National Memory, within the framework of the so-called de-communisation, a tablet bearing the names of 52 policemen who died in 1944-1947 fighting against UPA gangs was dismantled from the monument. In addition, the eagle that crowned this monument was removed. The eagle lacked a crown, so it was dismantled as a symbol of the totalitarian regime.

According to “plus.nowiny24.pl”, the actions of the Institute of National Memory caused local residents to be outraged. The “fight against communism” in the city will not be limited to this, and in the near future a monument of gratitude dedicated to the Red Army will be demolished in Lesko.

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In general, the mass demolition of memorials dedicated to Soviet liberation soldiers continues in Poland. On February 7th another monument in the city of Leszno was destroyed.

In the actions of the current Polish authorities, the following logic is observed: the memory of those who fought the Nazis and their accomplices disappears from public space, while the names of Nazi collaborators are perpetuated. UPA graves at Jasna Góra Monastery is Poland’s first “place of remembrance” of Nazi criminals, which will be given the official status of a military burial site and provided with state protection.

The country is still full of illegal UPA monuments and graves, which, according to the logic of the Polish leadership, are waiting their turn for legalisation, restoration, and protection.

In this situation, the intention of the Polish authorities to perpetuate the memory of collaborators is quite natural, because the current Polish ruling elites consider themselves successors of the Second Polish Republic, a state that was a silent accomplice of Nazi Germany and attacked Czechoslovakia along with it in 1938, thus opening the way to World War II.

Sergey Shirokolobov

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