Poles deported to Siberia remembered in Lublin

Tribute was paid in the eastern Polish city of Lublin on Sunday to Poles expelled from the former eastern borderlands and deported to Siberia by the Soviet authorities. The Lublin ceremonies marked the 80th anniversary of mass deportations.

In February 1940, the Soviet authorities conducted the first of four mass deportations of Poles with about 140,000 Polish citizens sent to Siberia and other far reaches of the Soviet Union.

The president of the Lublin chapter of the Association of Siberian Expellees, Janusz Pawlowski, said at Sunday's ceremony that remembrance of those tragic events needed to be nurtured.

On February 10, 1940, the first deportation started and by June, 1941, the Soviet authorities that occupied eastern Poland at the time had organised four deportations, between April and June 1940 and before the outbreak of the German-Soviet war at the end of May 1941. The exact number of deportees is not known but Soviet security apparatus NKVD files suggest that in the years 1940-41 several hundred thousand Poles were deported.

According to Dr Slawomir Kalbarczyk of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), the number stood at 320-330,000 although Siberian expellees' circles indicate a higher figure. The Association of Siberian Expellees estimated a few years ago that the Soviets had deported 1.3 million Polish citizens, of which one third died.