- http://torontosun.com/News/TorontoAndGTA/2007/04/23/4113358-sun.html Massacre victims are all heroes By CHRIS DOUCETTE, SUN MEDIA Toronto s Polish communityMessage 1 of 1 , Apr 23, 2007View Source
Massacre victims are 'all heroes'By CHRIS DOUCETTE, SUN MEDIA
Toronto's Polish community packed a Parkdale church yesterday to commemorate the 67th anniversary of the Katyn Massacre, a tragic event in Poland's history in which thousands of their countrymen were slaughtered at the hands of Soviet secret police during World War II.
Following the mass at St. Casimir's, the crowd of close to 200 marched several blocks down Roncesvalles Ave. and then laid wreaths at the Katyn Memorial -- a monument that honours those who were murdered in the struggle for freedom.
"They are all heroes," Maria Kaszuba, 78, said after laying a wreath in memory of her father.
The elderly woman was only 10 years old when Zigmund Puchalik was slain. And although it was tough growing up without a dad, Kaszuba said she has felt him watching over her ever since.
Kaszuba's father was killed in the Katyn massacre, which occurred not long after Germany had invaded Poland. In 1943, Germans discovered 4,443 bodies of Polish prisoners -- mostly officers and policemen -- in mass graves in the Katyn forest in western Russia. However, some estimates suggest more than 20,000 people may have been slain at Katyn.
For five decades, the Soviets denied any involvement in the murders and instead blamed the massacre on the invading Nazis. But Russian officials finally admitted in 1992 that documentation had been found proving Josef Stalin had ordered the prisoners to their deaths.
"These innocent people were murdered in cold blood by Soviet and KGB agents," said Juliusz Kirejczyk, vice-president of the Toronto branch of the Canadian Polish Congress.
He said the victims included elite army officers, policemen, scientists, and teachers, all of whom were "unarmed."
Parkdale-High Park NDP MP Peggy Nash praised the Polish community's contributions to Canada.
"The Katyn massacre was a terrible event by an oppressive regime during a very dark period in Polish history," she said
Nash said the thousands who were killed are responsible for the Poland that exists today -- a country that is "free, and democratic, and part of the European Union."