"The worst genocidal act of Soviet state terror before World War II, known as the Polish Operation, began 82 years ago,” President Andrzej Duda said in a letter that an aide read during the ceremony.
“Over 111,000 of our countrymen were killed, and almost 30,000 were sentenced to exile, only because they were Polish," Duda added in the letter.
At least 111,000 ethnic Poles were murdered in the former USSR and more than 100,000 others were deported into the Soviet interior, mainly to Kazakhstan and Siberia, as part of the so-called “Polish Operation” of the Soviet Union’s NKVD secret police in 1937 and 1938, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.
It quoted Jarosław Szarek, head of Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), as saying during Sunday's memorial that "a few words in Polish, a Polish prayer, were enough to be handed a death sentence."
The NKVD launched its "Polish Operation" on August 11, 1937, following an order issued by its head at the time, Nikolai Yezhov, the IAR news agency reported.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said last year that “the Polish Operation, approved by [Josef] Stalin and conducted by the NKVD, was one of the worst crimes against the Polish nation committed in the Soviet Union.”
Source: IAR, PAP