Polish, Ukrainian leaders open fourth Katyn Memorial Cemetery
September 24, 2012
Polish and Ukrainian Presidents Bronislaw Komorowski and Victor Yanukovich inaugurate cemetery in Kiev -Bykivnia
Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski and his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovych Friday unveiled a new a memorial to remember thousands of Poles, Ukrainians and other victims of totalitarianism murdered by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's secret police NKVD during World War II.
The memorial on the premises of the Bykivnia remembrance site, outside Kiev, where up to 120,000 people are buried, is called by Poles as the fourth Katyn Memorial Cemetery as it includes some 3,500 out of 22,000 Polish officers murdered in 1940 by NKVD.
In what is known as the ‘Katyn’ massacre, Stalin ordered the killing of Polish officers and other prisoners of war in an attempt to wipe out the country’s elite after the Soviet Union overrun part of Poland in September 1939.
The two presidents laid wreaths at a memorial and observed a minute of silence for the victims.
“This is a life experience of our nations and a drama of our people who lived in the system of totalitarianism, and now have a common vision of the future,” President Komorowski said at the ceremony.
“This memorial will remind us about the tragic page in history we must not forget,” President Yanukovych said. "By jointly exposing and condemning the crimes of the Stalin era and restoring historical justice, we fulfill both our duty to the perished and our duty to the coming generations."
Polish President thanked the Ukrainian leader for helping organize a Polish section at the Bykivnia memorial. Memories of those terrible times unite the Polish and Ukrainian people, the president said.
Meanwhile, earlier on Thursday, Poland protested a photo exhibit that was displayed at a museum depicting provocative pictures of models dressed as Catholic nuns posing next to graves in a cemetery in the western city of Lviv where Polish soldiers were laid to rest after the battle between the Ukrainians and the Poles at the beginning of World War I.
Galina Tayam the organizer of the shoot said the location was chosen solely for the photogenic nature of the Polish crosses.
Nevertheless, Polish diplomats in Lviv protested the “impropriety of the display which could hurt feelings and provoke controversy” and had the exhibit closed.