It's our duty to honour Ukrainians who saved Poles - PiS leader
Poland's ruling party Law and Justice leader told participants of a meeting of Catholic broadcasters Radio Maryja and TV Trwam, in Toruń, northern Poland, on Saturday that it was the obligation of Poles to honour Ukrainians who saved Poles during the Volhynia Massacre.
"The commemoration of those, who during this terrible slaughter and extreme cruelty, sacrificed their lives (...) to save their Polish neighbours, is the duty of the Polish people," Jarosław Kaczyński said.
Kaczyński made the statement during a ceremony at the National Remembrance Park held to honour Ukrainian citizens murdered by Ukrainian nationalists for offering aid to Poles being murdered during the Volhynia Massacre.
The PiS leader underlined that the events of 1943-1945, like the Volhynia Massacre, were a terrible crime. "And there were people who wanted this crime to be forgotten and not to be spoken about, or at least not spoken about in a proper language, which did not use the words like genocide," Kaczyński stated.
"It would be a huge mistake if we did this," he said, adding that it was necessary to speak about such events, not in the name of hatred, and remember them for the sake of the future.
In 1943-45, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), co-founded by Ukrainian national hero Stepan Bandera with his Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists faction, mass-slaughtered 35,000–60,000 Polish nationals in the then eastern-Polish region of Volhynia, and 25,000–40,000 in nearby Eastern Galicia. The purge, aimed to cleanse the areas of their Polish population, became known as the Volhynia Massacre. Its full victim count is still being debated.
The culmination of the massacre fell on Sunday, June 11, 1943, today known as the Volhynia Bloody Sunday. On that day, Ukrainian Insurgent Army units aided by the local Ukrainian population launched a simultaneous attack on around a hundred Polish settlements in Volhynia. The well-organised attack targeted people gathered for Sunday mass in Catholic churches.
Historians say around 100,000 Polish nationals were killed in the massacre. According to Poland's National Remembrance Institute, some 10,000-12,000 Ukrainians were murdered during Polish retaliatory operations by the spring of 1945.