English Section

WWII massacres straining Polish-Ukrainian relations, official says

04.07.2023 19:00
World War II killings known as the Volhynia Massacres continue to pose challenges to Polish-Ukrainian relations, according to Polish Deputy Interior and Administration Minister Maciej Wąsik.
Exhumations in the Volhynia region.
Exhumations in the Volhynia region.Photo: IPN

In an interview on Tuesday with public broadcaster Polish Radio, Wąsik acknowledged the sensitive nature of the upcoming 80th anniversary of the Volhynia Massacres and emphasized the need for proper remembrance and dialogue.

Wąsik said: "Of course, it is a certain thorn in our Polish-Ukrainian relations. We have to help Ukraine because Ukraine is fighting in the interests of Poland ... Ukraine must win this war. It cannot lose because we cannot allow Putin's troops to stand on the Bug River."

The Polish official recognized the existence of historical grievances and the necessity of addressing them, state news agency PAP reported.

"There are, of course, accounts of wrongs that need to be talked about, that need to be remembered, and that need to be put firmly, and Poland is willing to put these issues firmly," he added.

Emphasizing the importance of honoring the victims, Wąsik stressed the need for exhumations and proper commemoration of Polish victims.

Some 100,000 ethnic Poles in total were slaughtered in the 1940s by Ukrainian forces, according to some estimates.

On July 11, 1943, the day of the worst bloodshed, Ukrainian nationalists attacked 100 villages largely inhabited by Poles in what was then Nazi-occupied eastern Poland and is now western Ukraine.

The massacres were part of an operation carried out by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), whose plan was to have a sovereign and nationally homogenous Ukraine after the war.

The Volhynia region, which was within Poland's borders prior to World War II, was first occupied by the Soviets in 1939, and then by the Nazi Germans in 1941.

July 11 marks Poland's National Day of Remembrance of Victims of Genocide by Ukrainian nationalists.


Source: IAR, PAP