The pressure to expel the Katyn genocide from public memory is a deliberate and premeditated policy of cynical politicians in Poland and outside of it. If you read Polish press on a regular basis, you very quickly become aware that there are powerful political forces in the country which regard all manifestations of patriotism, historical memory, national solidarity, remembrance of WWII heroes, such as Witold Pilecki, and even paying respect to those who died in service to their country as retrograde attitudes, anti-European, and dangerous to the stability and internal peace of the country. I have the eery impression that the political front in Poland today closely resembles the line which divided the nation in the immediate post WWII years. It looks like the latent civil war has resurfaced and is now being fought by
every means except the the bullets.
The younger generation does not have the first hand experience with and, what flows from it, lacks the "feel" for the mortal combat for national survival waged by the WWII generation of Poles. Here in the United States, where the brutality of WWII was felt on a much lower scale and largely indirectly, the generation which fought the war is referred to as the "Greatest Generation." In Poland most of the media and the dominant political forces have nothing but disdain for those patriots who fought and many of whom died to preserve the nation and to win back it's freedom and independence.
Historically, Polish nation's repository of strength, it's ability to survive all the partitions, invasions, and genocidal policies of the occupiers, has not been it's military or economic strength. The Poles' main sources of strength and the will to survive as an identifiable and
self conscious national entity have been their culture, understood in it's broadest terms, their historical memory--from Mieszko to Sobieski to Drzymala to Pilsudski, and many others in between--and their religion, Catholic to be factually correct. These foundations are now under attack by the dominant elements in the Polish media and politics. Wouldn't it be the cruelest of all ironies that what Poland's powerful neighbors could not accomplish for the past three hundred years, the Poles would do it to themselves now. A nation without a strong sense of it's identity, of it's history, of the heroes who deserve to be it's future generations' role models, of it's cultural distinctiveness is, in Poland's geopolitical situation, a doormat.
It is against this background that we should appreciate the importance of what we, at K-SVM, are trying to accomplish. Preservation of this history in it's unadulterated form, as lived and
experienced by the surviving members of the WWII generation, is our mission and our responsibility to those who will come after us. Permit me to give one, personal, example of what I mean by responsibility. My thirteen year old granddaughter asked me recently if she could interview me, as a "historical figure," for her school assignment. Her introduction to the the interview requires no additional commentary: "My grandfather lived through WWII, he was exiled to Siberia. In this series of questions I wanted to find out from him, what he had to go through and how as a young boy survived the terrible ordeal. You might wander why should I care what happened so many years ago to my grandfather. My answer is very simple, if he did it, and he is my grandfather, then I have it in me to overcome almost any difficulty that life can throw my
Seeing, is only the first step to understanding.
On Sep 21, 2011, at 8:05 PM, Piotr Uzarowicz <puzaro@...
I believe the issue is fairly clearly divided between an older immigrant population and a post-Communist Poland. Frankly, it couldn't have been more clear to me when we screened The Officer's Wife at Camerimage in Poland. Most of the audience was not Polish - the few that were Polish had very pointed things to say about the topic after the screening. (It almost came to blows between two Polish audience members.) Those that were not Polish were visibly moved and upset that this was the first time they had heard
of Katyn. So the tragedy of the plane crash did not bring the Katyn of 70 years ago to the world stage, it was a footnote to the crash.
Katyn is volatile in Poland but not for the reasons that it should be. At least this is my outside, American POV of what's happening with this topic. Katyn has been a political tool for the last 20 years but much more aggressively and divisively so in the last 16 months because of the plane crash. Mention Katyn in Poland today and most likely that person will roll their eyes. They're done with this issue - it has lost all its meaning because of the political games of the Kaczynski's and Tusk's governments. I don't know enough about the political games they played - much less how the media portrayed it all. All I can comment on is what I witnessed.
So, the older immigrant population here in the US is interested
in the topic of Katyn but those people are dying out - the next generations don't know or care enough about the event to continue to be interested. I'd venture that quite a few are like me - they were not told the full story. The post-Communist Poles have been jaded - they've been over saturated with Katyn for the last 20 years and especially over the last year. I'd also guess that the majority of Polish media in the US consists of the post-Communist immigrants and they bring their natural bias to the issue.
I know there's more to this than a simple Old vs. Young argument - but it's definitely a part of it.
I could go on and on with this - maybe we can find a way to build the interest this topic deserves.
It is shocking to hear about this - how about the Katyn families, no interest? Or rather, no knowledge?
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: RE:_Katyn_ andâ€¦_Voyte k
From: Maria Szonert <mszonert@...
Date: Thu, September 22, 2011 8:48 am
To: Witold Lukaszewski <wjlukaszewski@...
Cc: Krystyna <kms0902@...
>, "Stefan Wisniowski (KS)"
>, Cultural Center
>, Aneta Hoffmann <aneta.hoffmann@...
marek chodakiewicz <mjchodakiewicz@...
Dear Witold and all KS Friends.
The conference on the Capitol Hill went very well. All participants appeared and made important remarks.
You can watch all presentations from this conference on the Libra webpage.
Also on the Libra webpage you will find a report from the conference that summarizes the most important point that were made
and many pictures that will give you a better feel for the event.
After the conference we had a very importnant meeting at the Natinal Archives where we were shown boxes of documents from the US congressional investigation into the Katyn crime from 1952/53. We also leared that since the time of declassification of these congressional records several years ago NO ONE from the Polonia community or from Poland was interested in them. The only person that requested access to these document was Allen Paul. He was given a
copy of one document for his updated 2010 version of his book on Katyn. Other than that 'the community does not show any interest in this collection."
I will be posting a short summary of this meeting on the Libra website shortly.
The number of porblems we face is frankly overwhelming. The Polish media attended the conference but provided NO coverage of it whatsoever.
In fact the Polish paper Dziennik Zwiazkowy published the article about the Pucinski Award for Senator Krik but did not mention that
it was at the Katyn Conference and did not mention that Roman Pucinski was the Chief Investigator of the Katyn crime for the Madden Committee.
Please see this article here:http://dziennikzwiazkowy.com/chill/17973-senator-kirk-wyroniony-przez-kongres-polonii-amerykaskiej.html
The censhorship of the word "Katyn" today is as strong as ever both in the Polonia community and in the american media.
> From: wjlukaszewski@...
> Subject: Katyn andâ€¦ Voytek
> Date: Fri, 16 Sep 2011 21:59:44 -0500
> CC: kms0902@...
> To: mszonert@...
> Droga Mario,
> How did the symposium go on 9/15?
> My lunch with Gen. Wesley Clark, held within the framework of the World Affairs Council of Houston, went, I thought,
very well. We sat next to one another so that we had a lot of time to talk. We discussed various strategic issues in Europe, especially Central Europe. Most importantly, I had the opportunity to raise the issues of importance to us. I briefed him on our K-SVM project, my personal experiences, as well as all the other Kresowiacy under the Soviet occupation, the deportations, the formation of the Polish II Corps. At this point I mentioned the genocide at Katyn and our efforts to persuade the President and the rest of the US government to release all the Katyn related documents in the US governments possession. He felt that asking Pres. Obama to declassify the documents by an executive order will not work. He felt that we should proceed on two tracks: legal under the Freedom of Information Act, and political, by mobilizing Polonia's public opinion for that purpose.
> We need to find out what exactly is involved in taking the legal route.
That should not be too difficult. The political track we, as the K-SVM-USA should not travel. However, Katyn is one of the few issues on which the entire Polonia is in agreement and, this being the election season, we have the best possible opportunity to launch a successful publicity campaign in support of the declassification of the documents. This could be attempted by contacting Polish-American publications and requesting that they publish articles, in Polish and English, about Katyn and the documents still held in secrecy. Attempts could be made to move the PAC to act in this case. In fact, Polonia organizations could duplicate some of the methods employed in the pro-NATO campaign in the latter part of the1990's.
> On the lighter side, I told the General the story of Voytek the Soldier Bear. He laughed and asked where he could find out more information on Voytek. I wrote for him the info on the back of my card and assured him that he
will be able to see there the original footage of the Hero.
> Clearly, we need to discuss these issues in greater depth; your suggestions are now in order.
> Hope all of you had a pleasant summer; here in Texas, we are burning up.