Jersey City, Polish diaspora reach accord on Katyń memorial

Jersey City authorities and the local Polish diaspora on Monday reached a consensus around the location of a memorial to the 1940 Katyń Forest Massacre, in which the Soviets mass-executed around 22,000 Polish POWs.

The conflict around the memorial arose when city authorities announced its temporary removal from its site near the Hudson River in connection with plans to develop a park on the site. Hefty protests against moving the monument came from the city's large Polish community, as well as from Warsaw.

Under the Monday agreement, the memorial will be relocated to a site about 60 metres away from the present location.

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop told a press conference following the agreement that the city had not intended to show disrespect to its Polish community. He added that the memorial's new site will be modernised in a gesture of respect for its meaning, and leased to Jersey City's Polish community for 99 years.

According to Polish Consul General in New York Maciej Golubiewski, the agreement was the best possible solution for all involved.

The controversy erupted on April 30, when Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said he wanted to relocate the monument, which commemorates mass killings of Polish officers, policemen and administration staff by Soviet security units in Katyń Forest in today's western Russia.

The Polish diaspora and authorities in Warsaw, who had not been consulted, criticised the plans. The mayor then invited the Polish side for talks. On Saturday, Fulop confirmed that the monument will remain by the Hudson River, in a "quieter place" some 60 metres from its current location at the city's Exchange Place.