Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Russia / Poland / Katyn Massacre

Russia and Poland Honor Katyn Massacre Dead
Deutsche Welle, April 7, 2010
The Russian and Polish prime ministers marked a turning point in diplomatic relations as they stood side by side to honor the 22,000 people killed by Soviet forces in Katyn Forest in 1940. Russia's Vladimir Putin and Poland's Donald Tusk attended a joint ceremony to commemorate the victims of the World War II massacre ordered by Josef Stalin 70 years ago. Both leaders laid wreaths at a memorial for the Polish officers and intellectuals that were killed. They also shook hands as a gesture of reconciliation. Although Putin stopped short of the outright apology that Poland wanted to hear, he acknowledged that Russia had long denied the truth about the atrocities committed. 'A lie was told for decades, but we cannot blame the Russian people for it,' he said at the ceremony.
He insisted that 'inhuman totalitarianism' was responsible for the 'martyred death of both Soviet citizens and Polish officers.' Tusk emphasized that Russia's hosting of the ceremony had a 'very important symbolic aspect. Are we able to put violence and lies behind us and turn toward reconciliation? If we do, it will be a victory for the soldiers who were killed in Katyn,' he said. Putin and Tusk listened to Christian, Jewish and Muslim prayers for the dead at a monument in the Katyn forest in western Russia, where the Soviet secret police shot some 22,000 Polish officers and buried them in mass graves. The two leaders also laid the cornerstone for a new Russian Orthodox church at the site of the massacre. For years, Soviet propaganda had blamed the massacre on Nazi Germany. It was only in 1992 that the then-President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, admitted Soviet responsibility. [...]"

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