[English] President Kaczynski’s last speech that was not delivered in Katyn
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Ostatnie przemówienie Prezydenta Kaczyńskiego w Katyniu w wersji angielskiej
English version of President Kaczynski’s last speech that was not delivered in Katyn
Below is the text of the speech which Lech Kaczynski, who died on Saturday 10 April 2010, was going to deliver at the 70th anniversary ceremony of the Katyn massacre.
Full text of Lech Kaczynski’s letter to Katyn families in English
Dear representatives of the Katyn families, ladies and gentlemen,
Over 21,000 Polish prisoners were in April 1940 taken from the NKVD’s [the Soviet secret police] camps and prisons and murdered. This crime of genocide was perpetrated by the will of Stalin, on the orders of the highest authorities of the Soviet Union. The alliance of the Third Reich, the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact and the aggression against Poland of 17 September 1939 culminated in the shocking Katyn crime. These citizens of the II Polish republic, people who formed the basis of our statehood, unconquered in the service of their fatherland, were murdered not only in the forests of Katyn, but also in Tver, in Kharkov and in other known and as yet unknown places. The families of the victims and thousands of other inhabitants of Poland’s pre-war borderlands were at the same time deported into the depths of the Soviet Union where their unspoken sufferings mark the path to Poland’s eastern Golgotha.
The most tragic station along the way was Katyn. Polish officers, clerics, officials, policemen, officers of the border police and the prison service killed without judicial process or verdict. They were victims of an unsung conflict. They were murdered in violation of the rights and conventions of the civilised world. Their dignity as soldiers, as Poles and as human beings was trampled. These death pits were to forever hide their bodies and the truth about this crime. Their families were deprived the right to public mourning and grief and to a dignified rememberance of their closest ones. The earth covered traces of the crime and the Katyn lie tried to eradicate it from human memory.
Hiding the truth about Katyn – on the decision of those who perpetrated it – became a pillar of Communist politics in post-war Poland: the foundation myth of the PRL [the Communist-era People's Republic of Poland]. This was a time when people paid a high price for remembering the truth about Katyn. But people close to the victims and other brave souls remained faithful to their memory. They defended it and passed it on to following generations of Poles. They preserved it through the times of Communist rule and entrusted it to their compatriots in a free, independent Poland. That is why we owe them all, and especially the Katyn families, respect and gratitude. In the name of the Polish republic I give you profound thanks for preserving such an important aspect of Polish consciousness and identity, even as you defended the memory of your loved ones.
Katyn has become a painful wound in Polish history, poisoning relations between Poles and Russians for long decades. Let us make sure it can finally heal, scar over. We are already on this path. We, Poles, appreciate Russia’s actions in recent years. We should go further on this path, which brings our two nations closer, without halting or turning back.
All the circumstances of the Katyn crime must be made public and examined. It is equally important to confirm the innocence of the victims, to release all the documents relating to this crime so that the Katyn lie can fade forever from public discourse. We demand this above all for the sake of the victims and the sufferings of their families. But we also demand it in the name of shared values, which must create the foundation of trust and partnership between neighbouring states in all of Europe.
Let us together honour the murder victims and pray over their bodies. Glory be to the heroes! May they rest in peace.
On 10 April 2010, a Tupolev Tu-154M plane was carrying Lech Kaczyński, his wife Maria Kaczyńska, and other members of a Polish delegation (top public and military figures of Polish state) from Warsaw to commemorate the Katyn massacre. The plane crashed while approaching Smolensk Air Base in Russia at 08:56 Eastern European Time (06:56 GMT). The plane hit trees in foggy conditions about 1 kilometre (0.6 mi) from the airport. The governor of Smolensk Oblast confirmed to Russia 24 news channel that there were no survivors of the crash. 96 people were killed in the crash, including many of Poland’s highest military and civilian leaders.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered a government commission to investigate the crash. Russia’s Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, was placed in charge of the investigation.
On 11 April 2010 President Kaczynski’s body was returned to Poland,where he and his wife laid in state at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw. The state funeral was held in Kraków on 18 April 2010. After a Roman Catholic mass at St. Mary’s Basilica, the presidential couple were laid to rest in a sarcophagus, placed in the antechamber to Józef Piłsudski’s crypt beneath the Wawel Cathedral, the resting place of several Polish kings and national heroes. A significant number of foreign dignitaries were unable to attend the funeral, after initially planning to come, as a result of the widespread cancellation of air travel in Europe following the eruption of the volcano Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland.