Poland objects to Russian Red Army memorial in Krakow
At least 1,200 Red Army soldiers were buried in Rakowicki Cemetery in Krakow. The burial site is surrounded by a concrete fence and there is a wooden cross in the center. The unidentified soldiers were killed in camps during the Polish–Soviet War of 1919–21.
Russia has suggested erecting a memorial on the burial site. The fund-raising for constructing the monument was organized by the Russian Military Historical Society in October.
“To remember them [Red Army soldiers] is our duty,” says a statement on the society’s site.
At first Warsaw recognized the mass burial site of the Russian soldiers. However, later Polish officials sent a letter to the Russian Embassy, saying the authorities objected to the memorial plans.
The letter states the country can’t “reply affirmatively to Russia’s appeal,” and expresses the wishes of Jerzy Miller, the head of Lesser Poland Voivodeship, a province in southern Poland.
Miller said of the burial site: “There are not only Red Army soldiers, but also soldiers and civilians of different nationalities”. Allegedly, Poles, Hungarians, Belarusians and Ukrainians are among the corpses.
“We need to carry out a full examination, which could help to determine the number of corpses and their nationality,” said the letter.
Poland’s authorities were planning to place a nameplate with information about buried prisoners of war, who were held from 1914-1921 in Dabie, a village near Krakow.
About 85,000 Red Army soldiers were prisoners of war during the Polish-Soviet War. Nearly 20,000 died in the prisoner-of-war camps as a result of poor sanitary conditions and disease.
Soviet Russia and Ukraine fought against the Second Polish Republic and the Ukrainian People's Republic over control of an area which today spans part of Ukraine and Belarus.
Neither side won, despite both countries claiming victory. Poland said it had successfully defended the state, while the Soviets claimed they had repulsed Poland’s eastward invasion of Ukraine and Belarus.