Poland marks WW II anniversary
Events marking the 67th anniversary of the outbreak of World War 2 are bring
held across Poland.
Michal Zajac reports
To honour the victims of this bloodiest military conflict of the 20th
century a team of experts has been set up to re-assess the actual number of
Poles killed between 1939 and 1945.
The only available figure dating back to 1947 indicates that 6 million 28
thousand Poles lost their lives in World War Two. Most of them, nearly 5 and
a half million were civilians. More than a half of those were Polish Jews of
whom about 3 million perished in mass executions or gas chambers.
The frontline losses amount to less than half a million. Many historians
argue that these figures are incomplete as they do not include those Poles
murdered or oppressed under the Soviet occupation. Renowned historian
Wojciech Roszkowski agrees that the 1947 estimation should be revised.
'This estimate was made in 1947 by a special bureau investigating war losses
in Poland. It was run by the communist authorities that made this estimate
and later destroyed all primary sources.
The problem is Soviet victims whose number is not exactly known. It is time
to re-estimate this figure to try to find out how many Poles perished in the
Soviet Union and how many Poles perished because of Nazi activities. I think
the actual number may be a little higher.'
The project launched today aimed at re-investigating the fate of many Poles
during World War Two is being carried out under the patronage of the
Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and Institute of National
Remembrance, investigating crimes against the Polish nation. Jan Kasprzyk of
the Ministry of Culture said that the research will consist of 2 phases.
During the first stage, hopefully lasting up to two years, we will
investigate and sum up the number of losses and victims of oppression under
Nazi occupation. Then, well run an equally important but much more
difficult to complete project investigating the exact number of Polish
victims of the Soviet occupation.
The ultimate goal of the research is to compile a complete list not only of
those who perished between 1939-45 but also of those who suffered
repression. Historian Wojciech Roszkowski agrees that this will be a complex
'It is a very complicated procedure, the methology of this estimate will be
complicated because we have a point of departure - 1939 population of
Poland - and then we have very imperfect population data from post-war time.
In between there were war losses and migrations connected with mass murders
and loss of lives. So it's very complicated procedure.'
The project was inaugurated today with a panel discussion at the Royal
Castle in Warsaw focusing on the victims of Nazi oppression and research
perspectives facilitating the study.