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80th anniversary of WWII massacre of Poles by Ukrainians

28.02.2024 15:30
Wednesday marks the 80th anniversary of the 1944 Huta Pieniacka massacre of over 1,000 Polish civilians by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and Ukrainian volunteers from a Nazi German SS division.
Photo:PAP/Vitaliy Hrabar

The village of Huta Pieniacka, which no longer exists, became a grim symbol of the Volhynia Massacres, a series of mass killings of Poles by Ukrainian nationalists during World War II.

Residents of Huta Pieniacka and nearby villages had sought refuge in the area to escape the UPA, but only about 160 survived the ordeal.

These villages were predominantly inhabited by Poles in what was then Nazi-occupied eastern Poland and is now western Ukraine.

The Huta Pieniacka massacre was preceded by a clash between a Polish self-defense unit and a Ukrainian police patrol, leading to an attack on the village on February 28, 1944 in which residents were herded into buildings and burned alive.

The village was then razed to the ground.

The Volhynia Massacres, of which the Huta Pieniacka tragedy was part, saw intense violence by Ukrainian nationalists against Poles in 1943, with estimates by historians pointing to around 100,000 Polish victims.

At Wednesday's ceremonies, Lech Parell, head of the Polish Office for Veterans and Victims of Repression, laid flowers at a plaque commemorating the victims at the Field Cathedral of the Polish Army in Warsaw.

The day's events included a religious service for the victims and a roll call of the dead, news outlets reported.

Jan Józef Kasprzyk, a former head of the Office for Veterans and Victims of Repression, has said that "Huta Pieniacka is a symbol of the tragedy of Poles living in Volhynia."

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.

Last year's ceremonies included the launch of a campaign by the state-run Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) to collect genetic material as a prelude to exhumation work, announced by the history institute's deputy head Krzysztof Szwagrzyk.

A monument erected in 2005, featuring a cross with stone plaques bearing the names of identified victims, stands as a testament to the memory of those lost.

In a gesture of reconciliation, local Ukrainians donated a monstrance from the destroyed village church to the Polish community in 2013.


Source: Polskie Radio, IAR