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Mass grave of Poles killed by Ukrainian nationalists in 1945 discovered in western Ukraine: official

27.10.2023 09:45
A mass grave containing the remains of Poles who were killed by Ukrainian nationalists in 1945 has been discovered in western Ukraine, according to an announcement.
Michał Dworczyk
Michał DworczykP. Chmielewski/Polskie Radio

The search for the mass grave, located in the former village of Puźniki in Ukraine's Ternopil region, was conducted by Polish and Ukrainian specialists over a four-month period, Polish Cabinet minister Michał Dworczyk said on Friday.

He posted on social media that Poland was seeking permission from Ukrainian authorities to proceed with exhumation and research efforts, as well as to ensure a dignified burial.

"This marks the first instance in over nine years that the remains of Poles, who fell victim to Ukrainian nationalists, have been discovered in Ukraine," Dworczyk wrote.

The search operation was carried out by a team of Polish and Ukrainian archaeologists, aided by anthropologists from the Polish Genetic Database of Victims of Totalitarianism at the Pomeranian Medical University in Szczecin, western Poland, according to Dworczyk.

Poland's state-run Institute of National Remembrance, the Polish Scouting Association, and volunteers from Poland's Freedom and Democracy Foundation also helped in the effort, he said.

Dworczyk noted that Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki visited the site when he was in Ukraine in July.

The Polish prime minister said in July that the World War II killings of Poles by Ukrainian nationalists known as the Volhynia Massacres were a “horrific act of genocide” and said that “there won’t be a full Polish-Ukrainian reconciliation without finding and honouring the remains of all the victims.”

Around 100,000 ethnic Poles were murdered by Ukrainian nationalists in the 1940s, 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, according to Polish officials.

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.


Source: IAR, PAP