Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
A few weeks ago, when “Eurovision” thundered in Kiev, the attention of many Poles was drawn not to the performance of their compatriot, but to the behavior of the host from Lithuania.
During communication with Lithuania the woman transferring the results from Poland greeted the Ukrainian audience with the exclamation “Glory to Ukraine!”. In reply the hosts amicably exclaimed “Glory to Heroes!”, and the audience in Kiev burst into applause.
This incident was reported by the Polish media, which reminded readers that this chant is a greeting of Ukrainian nationalists that came to them in the years of World War II, and was used by them together with the characteristic Roman salute.
Later the event was discussed on “W tyle wizji” on the TVP Info TV channel by the host Marcin Wolski and Magdalena Ogorek – the former candidate for President of Poland from the Democratic Left Alliance. The host urged not to exaggerate the importance of this event and began to insist that there was nothing bad in the greeting.
“For many people it is connected with the tradition of UPA, a Banderist tradition. After war in Ukraine, after events on Maidan, after events in Donbass, it is a normal greeting that will acquire already a new tradition. In a situation when it doesn’t fit in a certain context, doesn’t apply to certain persons, and isn’t connected to the corresponding sign, I wouldn’t look for such far-reaching associations,” said Wolski.
However his position wasn’t understood by Magdalena Ogorek. She stated that its associations are unambiguous: “this is a greeting of OUN members, this is a greeting of UPA”. Ogurek said that she boils from indignation, seeing Bandera Street in Lvov or hearing the greeting “Glory to Ukraine – Glory to Heroes!”
“We remember who welcomed, who killed, and for me these associations are unambiguous,” stated the former presidential candidate.
She also reminded that “memories of Volyn are still very vivid” and “the open wound still suppurates and exudes, casting a shadow on Polish-Ukrainian relations”.
During the discussion on the programme an elderly woman by the name of Franciszka who reacted to Wolski’s statements spoke.
“I was in Ukraine last year, in Ternopol. I sat on a bench with a friend and spoke in Polish. After a while a couple of people approached us, and said: ‘Poles that weren’t finished off have arrived’,” she said. “At the Polish church on the main street? Stepan Bandera,” added the woman.
The 80-year-old Pole proclaimed that she is from Ternopol, and her father was killed by Ukrainian nationalists.
“My father was killed in front of my eyes,” she stated.
According to the woman, now Ukrainians consider Poles as fools who will give everything away.
“We are also told ‘and we will still take from you the land till Krakow’. I am not a prophet, but we will still have problems with them,” said the lady Franciszka.
It should be noted that Poles in Western Ukraine already not for the first time encountered such behavior in this region.
In September of last year the website onet.pl published an interview with the historian Leon Popek. He participated in the exhumation of remains of Poles killed in Volyn and reported about the following case:
“We sat with Ukrainians and spoke frankly. Suddenly one of them told us that he was in Siberia for 20 years because he massacred several Poles, and immediately added that he doesn’t doubt that if he sat in jail once again for as many years, he would do the same. The owners tried to somehow smooth out the situation, explaining that he was drunk, and he was quickly taken away”.
Leon Popek also reported that he was told by one of local residents wearing a fufaika jacket: “Our guys killed you, we took everything away from you, and so what? Look at how you live and how we live. As we didn’t have anything, we still don’t have anything. Only these fufaikas”.
As for the programme on the TVP Info TV channel, judging by the comments on websites and on social networks, the majority of Poles were disgusted by the behavior of the host.
“This is an excellent test. ‘Tell me what you think about Banderists, and I will tell who you are’. Thank you, Mr Wolski!” said one of the readers on the site kresy.pl.
However, the following comment was also noted:
“If Jarek (Jaroslaw Kaczynski) wasn’t so frenzied, it would be possible to agree with Putin and to strike them from another side. It could pass easily, and Lvov would return to the Motherland, haha,” wrote the user Cezary Kubielski on Facebook.
Ternopol, as well as Lvov, until 1939 was a part of Poland. According to the census of 1931 living in Ternopol (Tarnopol) 41% were Poles, 39% were Jews, and only 19% were Ukrainians. Many Poles still haven’t accepted the loss of Eastern Kresy and haven’t lost hope for the return of the lost territories.
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