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Saturday, 28 February 2009

The President: we want to restore the truth concerning the events


On Saturday, Lech Kaczyński visited Ukraine to participate in the 65th anniversary of the massacre in the village of Huta Pieniacka, situated in Lviv County. The anniversary was organised by Stowarzyszenie Huta Pieniacka (Huta Pieniacka Association) of Wschowa, an association of former inhabitants of the village and their descendants. The celebrations were mostly religious in character. Apart from the presidents of Poland and Ukraine, there were representatives of the Catholic, Greek Catholic and Orthodox Churches participating. The prayers were presided over by M. Mokrzycki, the Archbishop of Lviv.

After arriving in Lviv, the president was welcomed by the Governor of the Lviv Oblast, the Ambassador of Poland in Ukraine and the Polish General Consul in Lviv.

In the afternoon, by crosses commemorating the event in the village, there was an ecumenical prayer preceded by speeches delivered by the presidents of Poland and Ukraine. “We now stand on ground that was soaked with the blood of the innocent,” said Lech Kaczyński, reminding the audience of the tragic history of 28 February 1944. “We have gathered here to say aloud that such a tragedy may never occur again,” he emphasized. He considered restoring the truth concerning the difficult history that Poland and Ukraine share a part of, creating a strategic partnership between the two countries. At the same time, he added that the two countries are now in a “paragon and neighbourly relationship.”

The tragedy of Huta Pieniacka would not have happened “without the permission and inspiration of third parties – two murderous totalitarian states,” that led to a situation in which two nations oppressed by them “became hostile towards each other,” continued Lech Kaczyński. He also highlighted the fact that the tragic events of war have “broken the thread of trust and solidarity between the people of Poland and of Ukraine” for decades. However, he predicted that the truth of these events will, in the words of the Gospel, “set us free” and allow us to build a better future for Poland, Ukraine and all of Europe.

“Let us have the courage and mercy to pray (…) ‘forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us,’” the president continued.

Victor Yushchenko, in his speech, emphasized that it was his duty to be present in that place together with the President of Poland, as Lech Kaczyński accompanied Yushchenko during the celebrations commemorating the inhabitants of Poland and Ukraine that were victims of the tragedy in Pawłokoma, Rzeszów County.

After the prayer, the presidents of both countries went to Brody to place flowers at the monument of the victims of communism. Subsequently, they had a face-to-face discussion.

The main objective of today’s celebrations was to commemorate the victims of the Huta Pieniacka massacre in the spirit of Polish-Ukrainian reconciliation, a reconciliation strongly supported by both presidents. This is a continuation of the efforts undertaken by Lech Kaczyński and Victor Yushchenko in May 2006 in Pawłokoma.

On 28 February 1944 in Huta Pieniacka there was a massacre of the local Polish population. According to different sources, between 800 and 1200 people perished.

In 2005 a memorial cross was unveiled at the site of the massacre. Investigations concerning the massacre are being conducted by the Polish Institute of National Remembrance. (PAP, own information)

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