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3 Mar, 2020 01:19

Polish court orders investigation into demolition of Soviet cemetery

Polish court orders investigation into demolition of Soviet cemetery

Hundreds of monuments to Soviet soldiers who died liberating Poland in WWII have been dismantled without much pushback in recent years – until a district judge in western Poland sided with a group of citizens who complained.

In 2017, the mayor of Trzcianka in the Greater Poland Voivodeship ordered the demolition of the Mausoleum of Soviet Soldiers, where 56 Red Army members who died in the battles to liberate the town – then known as Schönlanke – were buried.

On Monday, Judge Marcin Mackowski ordered an investigation into the demolition, based on the complaint by two descendants of the deceased soldiers, represented by the Polish non-governmental association Kursk. The complaint claims that the mayor violated several laws, including interstate agreements between Russia and Poland signed in 1992 and 1994 on the protection of monuments and cemeteries.

Mayor Krzysztof Czarnecki and the town administration were also accused of formulating the order in such a way to make appeals against it impossible.

The most important thing the investigation needs to establish is whether the remains of the Soviet soldiers were still in the ground when the bulldozers came to destroy the mausoleum, Mackowski said.

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Czarnecki’s order came during a campaign of “de-Communization” pushed by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party. He has since been elected to the Sejm, the Polish parliament.

More than 420 memorials to Soviet troops have been dismantled or demolished across Poland between 1997 and 2018, with only 134 remaining, Russian ambassador to Warsaw Sergey Andreev said last year.

Dialogue about history with Poland is pointless so long as Warsaw pursues Russophobic policies and denies the very fact of its liberation by the USSR during World War II, Andreev added.

Russia has been increasingly concerned by the attempts of Polish politicians to rewrite history for short-term political gains, as PiS insists that Poland was a victim of both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union during WWII.

Last year, Warsaw initiated an EU Parliament resolution which claims that the 1939 non-aggression pact between Moscow and Berlin “paved the way for the outbreak of the Second World War.”

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Russian President Vladimir Putin reacted by reminding the Poles that their ambassador to Berlin between 1934 to 1939, Jozef Lipski, was “a bastard and an anti-Semitic pig” who once offered Adolf Hitler a monument in Warsaw if he expelled all the European Jews to Africa.

Polish President Andrzej Duda retaliated by refusing to invite Putin to the ceremony commemorating the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp by Soviet forces in January – and ditching the rival event in Israel, where Putin was invited to speak.

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