Polish President attends Volhynia Massacre anniversary observances

Polish President Andrzej Duda in Ukraine on Sunday took part in observances marking the 75th anniversary of the Volhynia Massacre and paid homage to the victims.

In the morning, the president attended a Mass said by Lviv Metropolitan archbishop Mieczysław Mokrzycki at the Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral in Lutsk, western Ukraine. Also present were Polish Ambassador to Ukraine Jan Piekło, President's Office officials Wojciech Kolarski and Halina Szymańska, and Deputy Foreign Minister Bartosz Cichocki.

After the Mass, President Duda visited the site of the no-longer existing Polish village of Kolonia Pokuta in Volhynia, where he laid flowers on a field. Later, he laid a wreath at a nameless collective grave of murdered Poles at the cemetery in Olyka near Lutsk.

The Volhynia Massacre of Polish nationals in the pre-war eastern-Polish regions of Volhynia and Galicia started on July 11, 1943, when the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) attacked some 100 Polish villages. July 11 marks the massacre's culmination throughout the Volhynia district in what became known as the Volhynia Bloody Sunday.

According to historians, around 100,000 Polish nationals were killed in the massacre, including 40,000-60,000 in Volhynia and 20,000-40,000 in Eastern Galicia, and at least 4,000 on the territory of today's Poland. According to Poland's National Remembrance Institute, some 10,000-12,000 Ukrainians were murdered during Polish retaliatory operations by the spring of 1945.