I clicked on the link and found the following on the home page:
"A CURIOUS MONUMENT WITH NO EPITAPH
SUMS UP THE YEARS OF BITTERNESS"
By: Patrick Cockburn
United Kingdom, July 2, 2001
LVIV IS a beautiful city full of evil memories. I have always liked
cosmopolitan places and, at first sight, the blend of Italian,
Austrian and Slavic architecture in the heart of the unofficial
capital of western Ukraine gives a pleasing sense of national diversity.
That is a deeply misleading impression. Lviv owes its architectural
riches to its position on one of the main political, ethnic and
religious fault lines of Europe, where cultures met and clashed over
hundreds of years. Once a largely Polish and Jewish city, it is now
wholly Ukrainian. In its placid way, the city is a monument to ethnic
cleansing and the destructive power of nationalism.
People in Lviv have understandably cultivated a certain amnesia
towards the past. Stalin transferred many Poles living in Lviv and
western Ukraine to the parts of eastern Germany he added to Poland at
the end the war.
That is not the only reason the Poles left. Over the past year,
Poland's National Remembrance Institute has been investigating the
massacre of 35,000 Polish villagers by west Ukrainian nationalists in
It is a delicate subject. The Ukrainians I questioned said they had
never heard of it. When I asked Wincenty Debicki, an official at the
Polish consulate in Lviv, about the killings and the impact of the
investigation on Ukrainian-Polish relations, he did not reply directly
but, instead, gave a piece of personal biography.
"I myself was born in Lviv," he said. "I remember as a small boy
having to hide from Ukrainian nationalist groups with my father in
1944 because we were Poles."
The Ukrainian woman translating his Polish interjected to ask in
surprise: "But surely you were frightened of the Germans and Soviets
as well?" After a slight hesitation, Mr Debicki agreed to this more
politically correct explanation.
There are other signs that historic rivalries have not ended.
Traditionally, the Polish gentry were the landowners and the
Ukrainians the peasantry in west Ukraine. After years of
Austro-Hungarian rule, the region became part of Poland after the
First World War. But the cemetery at Lykachiv below a wooded hill on
the outskirts of Lviv, where Polish and Ukrainian soldiers killed in
1918-19 are buried, has a curious monument that illustrates the
longevity of national sensitivities.
The monument is a piece of rock with nothing written on it. It was
originally intended to be the tomb of the Unknown Polish Soldier. An
appropriate epitaph was written. It said the Polish soldier had died
"in defence of Lviv". The Ukrainians objected strongly. They said this
implied Lviv should be Polish. The Poles amended the wording to read
that the soldier had died for an independent Poland. Again, the
Ukrainians said that, since the Polish soldiers had died on Ukrainian
soil, they could not accept this. In the end, the tomb was left
without an epitaph.
* * * *
It would take a dispassionate outsider to approach the delicate
subject of Lwow so well. Thank you, Mr. Cockburn! I personally
witnessed the "amnesia" he described when I visited Lwow. Maybe I'll
relay some examples eventually...
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